Journalist federation accuses government of threatening media freedom
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - "The state and political leaders have been promoting impunity by giving protection to criminals involved in crimes against press freedom." Bishnu Nishthuri, former president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, is speaking out following a mission to various districts of the country along the Tarai valley.
Shiva Gaunle, a representative of the Federation, asserts that some journalists have already decided to censor themselves simply to avoid threats and violence. Women suffer most from the situation.
One emblematic case is that of Uma Singh, a 26-year-old woman killed in mid-January. A journalist at a local radio station in Janakpur, she was attacked by 15 people at her home in Dhanusa. After four people were arrested, a clandestine group claimed responsibility for the killing, saying that they had accidentally killed the wrong person. The target of the murder was another journalist, Manika Jha, who had received death threats on January 11, the same day on which Singh was killed.
Maoist militants are involved in many cases of violence against journalists. In a number of these, investigations and trials do not produce any results. On February 3, the wife of Parakash Thakuri, a journalist who disappeared a year and a half ago, received a letter informing her that on October 27, on the decision of the government cabinet, her husband's case had been withdrawn from the district court of Kanchanpur. After Thakuri's disappearance, his wife Janaki had filed charges with the district police, accusing seven local directors of the Nepalese Communist Party (CPN) of kidnapping her husband from his apartment in Bhasi in the district of Mahendranagar.
The Federation reports that in various districts in the west, journalists work in conditions of "psychological terror," under the pressure of threats from groups and leaders of the CPN, and of pro-independence local movements.