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Media offices burned, vandalised; television station office, journalists attacked

(FNJ/IFEX) - The numbers of attacks on Nepalese media houses and media personnel are increasing. Such attacks and threats targeted at media by various groups - both known and unknown - hinder not only the media and media personnel from performing their duties but also restrict people's right to information. Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) always believes in the necessity of complete media freedom for the development of democracy, and the country as a whole. FNJ has recorded all these incidents of attacks on media as media rights violations and asks the government to be serious about the security of journalists and people's right to know.

The eastern regional office of National News Agency (RSS) in Biratnagar was vandalized on 13 November 2008 by an unknown group. Issuing a press release, FNJ has strongly condemned the attack and asked the local authority to apprehend the guilty parties as soon as possible.

In a separate incident, the offices of "Himal Khabar Patrika" magazine were burnt down on 16 November by a group of people from the Customer Solution office in Maitigar, Kathmandu, the capital city.

Around 9:45pm (local time), about 8-10 people entered the premises on motorbikes and took 5,000 copies of the magazine. The assailants, who had covered their mouths with scarves, burned the magazines and stole three mobile phones from staff. They even broke the land-line telephone set.

Shiva Devkota, editor/publisher of "Nuwakot Jagaran" weekly, was also attacked by a group of people while taking part in the program "Janajagarn Aviyan" (a public awareness campaign) - organized by Nepali Congress on 17 November, in the Nuwakot district of central Nepal. His right hand was seriously injured in the attack.

FNJ condemns all the attacks on media and media personnel and asks all the concerned bodies including the government to act seriously for the security of journalists, investigate the incidents and punish the people involved.

In a separate incident on 18 November, the Regional Bureau office of Avenues Television was attacked by a group led by Bishnu Prasad Sharma, calling himself the legal adviser of Khumbuwan Rastriya Morcha (KRM) district committee, in Itahari, Sunsari, an eastern region of Nepal.

The head of the bureau, Sachin Pokharel, and correspondent Somnath Bastola were threatened and office assistant Deepak Karki was attacked. The group also threatened that they will attack the office with bombs.

Issuing a press release, FNJ secretary Ramji Dahal stated that the group attacked the TV office and staff after learning that the station has collected information in order to issue news about a land dispute complaint and ongoing investigation at the KRM Sunsari district committee.

FNJ denounced the attack on the press and media personnel and said that it is very shameful that journalists and media houses are still being attacked because of news reports, even in today's information society. FNJ urged the concerned group to make an apology and not to repeat such action in the future. The government should be serious about the safety of journalists, FNJ further stated.

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