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Nepalese rights defender attacked by group linked to political party

On 31 March 2013, Freedom Forum expressed concern over the political pressure exerted on the police administration and the Office of the District Attorney to free the persons detained for attacking rights defender and Freedom Forum executive member Kedar Dahal.

An unknown gang attacked Dahal with khukuri (homemade weapons) near his home at Dakshindholka of Jorpati, Kathmandu, on the evening of 25 March 2013. Following the attack, the police arrested six persons, including an individual named Kishor Bhattarai, and the authorities have been investigating the murder attempt.

The arrested persons reportedly belong to the Youth Force, a sister wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), and members of the Force are exerting political pressure to ensure that the criminal charges against their cadres are lifted.

Dahal is still facing threats to his security, and his family members are also receiving threats from criminal gangs. He is actively working in the sector of child rights and is currently a Secretary of the Child NGO Federation Nepal.

Freedom Forum condemned the undue political pressure and strongly urged the police to carry out a fair investigation.

In a separate matter, on 29 March 2013 press freedom violations occurred in Tanahu, a western hilly district, and in the city of Pokhara, in western Nepal.

In Tanahu, Saroj Pokhrel, sub-editor at the Tanahu weekly, Narayan Khadka, a reporter for Bhanjyang daily, Pratap Rana, a reporter for Damauli FM, and female journalist Soni Khaniya were assaulted by demonstrators who were protesting the death of an individual under police custody.

According to Damauli FM reporter Pradeep Kaphle, during the demonstration a mob assaulted the journalists when it spotted them in their press jackets. A video camera belonging to Pokhrel was seized by the assailants.

Similarly, MB Astha, a reporter with the ABC Television from Pokhara, and Gita Ranamagar, a reporter for the local Golden Eye Television, were verbally abused by a person who had encroached on public land.

"We were photographing certain structures built by encroaching upon the public land. But an unknown person came and said 'we' were bringing attention to the story and botching up the issues. Then he attempted to seize the video camera and asked to delete the scenes," Astha explained over the telephone to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk.

Astha added that the person warned, "You can't report on our huts and houses."

Freedom Forum condemns both incidents as a violation of press freedom and an attack on the journalistic profession and citizens' right to information. Freedom Forum strongly urges the concerned protesters to respect press freedom and return the Tanahu camera undamaged.

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