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Editor receives threats; four newspaper reporters assaulted by school teachers; journalists harassed, prevented from reporting on protest at hospital

(FNJ/IFEX) - FNJ denounces a number of recent violations and attacks against journalists in different parts of the country.

Ganesh Kharel, a member of FNJ's Dhanusha district chapter and the editor/publisher of "Janasaugat" weekly, which is published in Janakpur, has been receiving threats from the Terai Rashtriya Mukti Sena (Terai National Liberation Army, TNLA) for more than a week.

An individual, who introduced himself as Baba Khan and claimed to be from the TNLA, has been repeatedly calling the journalist on his mobile phone, sometimes at midnight. The caller warned Kharel he could be the target of a physical attack if he continues to publish the magazine in Nepali. Kharel indicated that the caller's telephone number was saved in the call register of his mobile phone.

In a letter to FNJ, Kharel explained that he is under stress, feels threatened and appealed to all concerned for his safety.

On 4 August 2008, the head of TNLA's eastern region, Akash Tyagi, warned all Janakpur journalists to stop publishing and broadcasting news in Nepali, or risk facing retaliation. Baba Khan told Kharel that Tyagi is his leader.

FNJ urged the TNLA to stop threatening the journalist. It condemned the threat as "disgraceful behaviour" and a vicious violation of the right to information and freedom of expression. Every citizen has the right to use any of the languages spoken in the country, FNJ stressed. The organisation asked the local authorities to provide protection for the journalist and to ensure that there is a proper working environment for journalists in the district.

In a separate incident, on 23 August, journalists Milan Kumar Raut, Dipendra Timilsina, Mohan Bhattarai and Rohit Ghimire, of "Anamolmani" weekly, published in Morang district, eastern Nepal, were attacked by a group of school teachers led by Ishwor Anshu Magar. Magar is the proprietor of the local Annapurna Boarding School.

According to "The Kathmandu Post" daily newspaper, the group went to the weekly's offices and assaulted the four journalists. The assailants were angered by the satirical content published in the weekly on the occasion of the Gaijatra festival.

Every year, Nepali journalists are free to publish or air satirical materials in a special edition on the occasion of the Gaijatra festival. This ritual has been in practice without censorship and penalty, even under the monarchy.

FNJ condemned the attack on the journalists. The organisation asked the local authorities to punish the guilty and provide protection for the journalists.

Finally, on 26 August, Shiva Prasad Dahal, treasurer of FNJ's Kavre chapter, Khuman Singh Tamang, a correspondent for "Kantipur" daily, Kedar Timsina, of "Annapurna Post", and Prakash Khanal, of "Sanjibani" daily, were mistreated and harassed by a group of protesters in Dhulikhel, Kavre, a district close to Kathmandu.

According to FNJ secretary Ramjee Dahal, the journalists went to Dhulikhel Hospital to gather information on a protest organised by the relatives of Sabina Lama, of Phoksingtar, Kavre. Lama died during treatment and her family blames her death on the doctors' negligence.

The journalists were manhandled and harassed by the protesters who prevented them from reporting on the incident. According to Dahal, the assailants damaged Khanal's camera and warned him not to take any photographs.

FNJ condemned the incident and urged those concerned to allow journalists to gather information in the future.

For further information on recent threats against journalists by the TNLA, see:

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