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Journalists attacked by strike enforcers in Nepal

As the deadline for the promulgation of the new Constitution (January 22 2015) is drawing closer, various political parties have begun organizing banda (general shutdown) as a pressure tactic to influence the conversation. However, the banda has paralyzed normal life and sometimes journalists are at the receiving end of resulting tensions.

Protestors shout slogans as they try to break through the barricade during a general strike in Kathmandu, 20 January 2015
Protestors shout slogans as they try to break through the barricade during a general strike in Kathmandu, 20 January 2015

REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

This statement was originally published on on 21 January 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the Nepal Press Union (NPU), in condemning several incidents of attacks on journalists and media workers during the general strike on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 across Nepal.

The FNJ noted seven attacks across the country by those enforcing the strike, which was called by opposition political parties led by the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

According to the FNJ, two vehicles carrying newspapers of Kantipur Publications were vandalized separately in Siraha and Chitwan districts, in central and southern Nepal. The protesters also destroyed copies of Kantipur Daily in Kathmandu.

Protesters vandalized a vehicle of Mountain TV and assaulted cameraman Shrijana Kuikel and reporter Sharmila Thapa. There were also attempts to attack Mountain TV's news chief Surya Khadka, anchor Rohit Bhandari and driver Rupak Shrestha in Kathmandu.

Also in Kathmandu, a number of journalists including, Bhisma Ojha of National News Agency, Upendra Man Singh of Associated Press, Devaki Bista of Himal Khabar Patrika and Chara Chandra Bhandari of News Abhiyan, had their equipment damaged by protesters. In eastern Nepal, Tika Khatiwada of Sandakpur daily was attacked and his motorcycle keys stolen.

Journalists were also threatened, according to NPU Image Channel TV and Annapurna Post Daily journalists were threatened with 'any consequences' by protesters during the strike.

The FNJ and the NPU have demanded that attacks on media be stopped immediately.

The FNJ said: "It's indeed a matter of deep concern that protestors attacked journalists and vandalized vehicles belonging to the media. We believe such deeds are against democratic values and freedom of the press. The FNJ also requests the government to pay special attention to the security of journalists and media houses."

Jane Worthington, the IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: "These journalists were doing their job in covering the protests and should not be faced with attacks and assaults in doing so. Media freedom is an important component of democracy and should not be attacked. We call on the Nepali government to call for end to attacks on the media. Security of journalists should remain an upmost priority."

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