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Journalists assaulted in Sunsari; threats issued against the press in Mugu

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - 19 April 2011 - Freedom Forum expresses concern over the continued incidents of press freedom violations across the country.

Freedom Forum has become aware of an 18 April incident involving teachers at a children's daycare school in Itahari-1, Sunsari district, southeastern Nepal.

Manoj Bhujel, a reporter for News 24 Television, and Deepak Karki, camera operator for Avenues Television, were harassed by the school's assistant principal, Meena Sherpa, and teacher Ashwin Khanal. The journalists were reporting on the fact that a large number of parents had gathered at the school premises to complain about exorbitant fees.

Principal Maya Sherpa, Assistant Principal Meena Sherpa and teacher Ashwin Khanal insulted the journalists, using foul language. They also struck the journalists with their sandals.

According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Vice-Chairman in Sunsari, Santosh Yadav, the school has increased tuition fees by more than 100 percent, which is against proper procedures.

Freedom Forum has also become aware of death threats issued in recent days against journalists in Mugu, a distant hilly district in the mid-western region of the country.

According to Bimal Hamal, certain political parties and unknown individuals have threatened the journalists with physical harm or even death. This appears to be in retaliation for the journalists' coverage of growing corruption and irregularities in the district. Their reports on the issue were published in the local newspaper, the "Mugu Post", and a number of national newspapers.

According to local photojournalist Kavi Raj Karki, an unknown individual recently tried to attack three journalists and threatened to break their hands.

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Freedom Forum expresses grave concern over the aforementioned incidents. The daycare school's attempt to hide information by attacking journalists and the growing insecurity for journalists in Mugu are deplorable acts. Freedom Forum strongly urges the local Mugu administration to provide ample security for the threatened journalists, and calls on the local Sunsari administration to sanction the teachers who assaulted the press.

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