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Nepalese journalism in crisis
Five Journalist Leaders Arrested in Nepal
IFJ Calls for Their Immediate Release from Detention
IFJ President Christopher Warren
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has demanded the immediate release of Murari Kumar Sharma, President of the IFJ affiliated Nepal Press Union (NPU) and several of his colleagues, who were arrested on June 29, 2005 while staging a peaceful protest in Kathmandu.

Police arrested five journalists — Sharma, NPU Vice-President Bindu Kanta Ghimire, NPU central committee members Kiran Pokhrel and Shital Koirala, and district unit President Shiva Devkota — as they tried to enter a government building to hand over a memorandum to the Minister of Information and Communications.

The IFJ joins local Nepali journalists' organisations in condemning the arrests of these journalists and calls for their immediate release from detention.

"These latest arrests are an outrageous clampdown on Nepali journalists' right to freedom of expression, not to mention their right to freedom of association," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"To detain these union leaders as they peacefully protested on behalf of the thousands of Nepali journalists suffering under the Government's repressive policies is an attack on all journalists in Nepal," said Warren.

"It demonstrates the obvious contempt that King Gyanendra's regime holds for freedom of expression and association and does not bode well as we approach the six-month mark since the February 1 coup," he said.

In another disturbing development, Maoist insurgents have threatened a leading journalist and his family with physical violence in yet another attempt to stifle press freedom.

Umesh Gurung, reporter with the state-owned Radio Nepal and Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) member, was warned this week by Maoists to give up his job and support the insurgency.

Gurung had also been placed under house arrest by Maoists earlier this year and only escaped when fellow journalists were able to rescue him.

The IFJ joins in with the FNJ in appealing for the Maoists to recognise Gurung's right to continue his journalism work in safety.

Furthermore, the IFJ calls on both sides of the conflict respect the freedom of press in Nepal. Journalists must not be targeted as political victims.

"The IFJ strongly condemns these calculated attacks against journalists made by both Maoists and Royalists. Journalists are not legitimate targets in the conflict and must be allowed to work independently," said Warren.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

For more information on the crisis in Nepal see
www.ifj-asia.org/nepalcrisis.html

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668




 

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