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Journalists and media outlets caught in crossfire in Nepal

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 27 November 2015.

Reporters Without Borders condemns last night's bomb attack on Radio Parasi, a radio station in Parasi, in the southern district of Nawalparasi, which has been the target of many threats in connection with its coverage of protests by the Madhesi ethnic minority.

Thrown at the radio station at around 11 p.m., the bomb caused no injuries but badly damaged its premises and, as a result, Radio Parasi has suspended broadcasting until further notice. The Nawalparasi police are investigating the attack, whose perpetrators have yet to be identified.

According to Radio Parasi manager Meghraj Gautam, the station has been repeatedly threatened by people accusing it of pro-government bias in its coverage of the Madhesi protests. The past few months have seen many clashes between residents and the authorities in these traditionally poor southern lowland plains bordering India, which are known as the Terai.

“We condemn this attack on Radio Parasi and call on the authorities to conduct an independent and thorough investigation with the aim of quickly identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

“It is unacceptable that media outlets and their journalists, who just do their job of providing news and information, should be caught in the crossfire between the government and ethnic militants.”

Journalists have repeatedly been the victims of violence by both protesters and police during the past four months of demonstrations by members of the Madhesi and Tharu minorities in the southern plains in protest against Nepal's new constitution, which in their view discriminates against them.

Bulbule FM reporter I Singh Rokaya sustained a gunshot injury to the leg when police fired on demonstrators in Surkhet on 10 August. Bikram Rauniyar, a photojournalist who also reports for Mountain Television, was beaten by police on 7 September.

Om Prakash Shah of the weekly Bilochan, Shatish Datt of the weekly Mithila, Ashutosh Prasad Singh of Radio C FM and Parish Karna of Chandra FM were attacked by police on 22 November while photographing the body of a Terai demonstrator killed by the police.

Demonstrators attacked Jitendra Narayan Yadav, a reporter for the national daily Gorkhapatra, and Makalu Television reporter Navin Karn on 9 September. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at photojournalist Ram Sarraf's home a few days later. Members of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) attacked News 24 TV reporter Irfan Ali in Birgunj, near the Indian border, on 20 November.

Activists damaged the cars of several media outlets, including the Annapurna Post newspaper on 23 August, and the daily Nagarik on 2 September. Tharu activists also burned copies of the Annapurna Post in the southeastern city of Biratnagar and copies of the Sanskar Khabar newspaper in Bara. The premises of Phoolbari FM, a local radio station in the western town of Tikapur, were set on fire on 25 August.

Nepal is ranked 105th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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