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Newspaper editor threatened; police attack journalists

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is alarmed by the growing number of incidents of press freedom violations across the country.

Narendra Nath Yogi, chief editor of the "Karnali Sandesh" weekly which is published in Jumla, a remote hilly district in the midwestern region of Nepal, received a threatening phone call on September 8, 2011 as a result of a news report he published on September 7.

Chief Editor Yogi told Freedom Forum's Monitoring Desk that a person named Min Bahadur Thapa, who called himself the chairperson of the Karnali Transport Bus Entrepreneurs' Association, told him over the phone, "Why did you publish that news about the association? I can physically hurt you at any time."

According to Yogi, the threats stem from an article about a complaint that women of the Kodari Village Development Committee had lodged with the police on September 3 against some people affiliated with the Bus Entrepreneurs' Association.

The caller also threatened to harm executive editor Baram Bahadur Mahat and Prem Bahadur Thapa, an employee of the weekly.

These incidents show that journalists in Nepal have been under attack from various sectors. As a result, they are bound to practice self-censorship, which is detrimental to press freedom and to people's right to information.

Freedom Forum urges the concerned bodies to respect press freedom and protect journalists' right to report on the news.

The organisation is also concerned about a press freedom violation that occurred in Dailekh, a far western district in the hilly region of Nepal, on September 12.

Police officers beat up journalists Bhupendra Shahi, a reporter for Avenues Television, Ratna Shahi, a reporter for Himalayan Television, and Puskar Thapa, a reporter for the "Annapurna Post" daily, while they were returning home from the local Panchakoshi Community FM station at 9:00 pm in the district headquarters.

In a conversation with Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, Shahi reported that the head constable on the patrol said, "These journalists work for TV stations. They make up news about everything so let's beat them up."

Then the police patrol began randomly kicking and baton-charging us, he added.

Freedom Forum condemns the incident because the police officers who are supposed to maintain the peace and protect citizens are instead involved in creating fear and beating up journalists. The district administration must take action against the people involved in the beating.

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