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Journalists attacked by Maoist supporters

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - Kathmandu, May 10, 2010 - The Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), a Kathmandu-based freedom of expression monitoring group, has condemned the increasing incidences of attacks on media personnel, including photojournalists in the capital, Kathmandu.

On 9 May 2010, a group of Maoist cadres assaulted and injured Prabin Maharjan of Associated News Agency (ANA) and Rabindra Shrestha, a camera operator with the private channel Avenues Television, while they were covering ongoing anti-government demonstrations led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) at Maitighar Mandala in Kathmandu. The Maoist cadres also harassed Shruti Niraula, a journalist with the private channel Sagarmatha Television.

The incident comes a day after Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal publicly threatened Kathmandu-based journalists and intellectuals for not supporting the indefinite strike called by his party. The UCPN (Maoists) called off its six-day nationwide strike on 7 May after a large number of people across the country peacefully protested against it.

CEHURDES condemns all threats and intimidation against free expression activists, media personnel and members of civil society. We call upon the UCPN (Maoists), the single largest party in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, to honor the people's right to information and ensure freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the new Constitution. We also call upon the Maoists to publicly ask its cadres to refrain from targeting media personnel and free expression activists across the country.

At this time, when Nepal is going through one of the most critical junctures in its history, CEHURDES believes that journalists should be allowed to play an independent and proactive role towards establishing sustainable peace in the country.

We also call upon the government to ensure the safety and security of media personnel and free expression activists across the country and to bring the perpetrators of all attacks against the media to justice.

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