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Maoist groups attack journalists covering strikes

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 16 June 2009, the All Nepal National Free Students Union (revolutionary), a student wing of the Unified CPN Maoists, vandalized a vehicle carrying FNJ secretary Ramjee Dahal. Mr. Dahal had left Kathmandu for Nepalgunj that morning to participate in a program organized by the FNJ. Kiran Nepal, editor of the news magazine "Himal Khabarpatrika", along with the magazine's managing editor, Indra Shrestha, and reporter Rameshowor Bohara were also in the vehicle.

The vehicle's headlights and various other parts were damaged after students began pelting stones in the Dhamboji market at around 11:00 a.m (local time). The students continued to throw stones even after the journalists showed them their identity cards.

In a separate incident, journalists covering a strike called by the Young Communist League (YCL), a sister organization of the Unified CPN Maoists, have also been the target of repeated attacks against them and their vehicles. On 15 June, strike organizers vandalized the vehicle of Kantipur Publications in Chabahil, while Basudev Krishna Shastri, the host of a Kantipur TV program, was assaulted by strike organizers in Gairegaun. A similar attack was made on an Image Channel vehicle in Kupandole.

Strike organizers also obstructed the vehicle of "Nepal Samacharpatra" editor Badri Tiwri in Sinamangal, forcing the vehicle to turn back. Similar attacks were reported by Krishna Neupane, a correspondent for Avenues TV, whose motorbike was vandalized in Sitapaila, and by Bhojraj Ghimire, an FNJ staffer who was obstructed when strikers in Dhumbarahai verbally attacked him and attempted to set fire to his motorcycle while he was driving.

There have been several other reports of journalists being threatened in the capital, Kathmandu.

FNJ condemns these attacks on journalists who have been working to provide information to the public. FNJ urges all political parties to make public their positions on freedom of the press and requests that they honour their commitments in this area. FNJ demands that the government take appropriate action against those involved in these incidents and provide appropriate compensation to the victims.

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