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Journalists are being Killed by Maoists In Nepal

Journalists are being Killed by Maoists In Nepal

By Kamala Sarup

''The situation in Nepal is going from bad to worse,'' said IFJ President Christopher Warren. ''The continued violence directed towards the Nepalese media, including killings, detention, abduction and intimidation of journalists, media workers and media organizations can not be allowed to continue,'' said Warren.

"The criminalization of politics, the corruption of police, the violence of terrorists and rebel groups have all contributed to the creation of a climate that legitimizes the use of force against journalists. Increasingly journalists are seen as legitimate targets in conflict. It is only through journalists coming together collectively that media unions and organizations can stand up for press freedom". Warren further said.

Nepali Journalists have been subjected to threats, arrests and other untenable actions by the Maoists. The frequency and severity of such assaults have increased in recent years. A number of journalist have been killed or made to disappear. Besides, other people who thought their vested interests were threatened by the media exposes have taken to physical means to silence the Fourth Estate. This amounts to the rule of the jungle.

However, the international community has rightly been taking note of this situation and putting pressure on the authorities concerned. Christopher Warren, president of the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), currently in Nepal, has expressed serious concern over incidents of murder, abduction, and intimidation of journalists by both the State and the rebels.

On 2 September 2004, Bijaya Mishra, journalist for Kantipur in Siraha, eastern Nepal received death threats from CPN-Maoists for failing to report the arrest of a local CPN-Maoist leader. Mishra was told he would suffer the same fate as murdered journalist Dekendra Thapa who was killed on 11 August.

Last month, the rebels had murdered Dekendra Raj Thapa, a reporter with the state-run Radio Nepal in Dailekh district.

Nepali Journalists and people of all walks of life across the country continue to condemn the killing of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa. Maoists admitted that they had ‘executed’ Thapa after detaining him for nearly six weeks. Thapa is the second journalist to be killed in the country this year. A Paris-based press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked and revolted by this barbaric murder.

Gyanendra Khadka, a journalist with the government news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti , was also killed by Maoists on September 7, in Jyamire, in Nepal’s eastern Sindhupalchowk District.

Eight reporters were killed last year; 176 were arrested, kidnapped, or detained; and dozens more were tortured. No legal inquiry has investigated these killings. The kidnapping and murder of a journalist, or of any civilian, violates the most fundamental principles of humanity. We Nepalese people condemn the murder of Thapa and urged the PM to ensure that a vigorous investigation is undertaken so that Thapa’s killers may be brought to justice. Journalists have been beaten, gang-raped, or subjected to other forms of torture, including threats against their children since this conflict began. This conflict, however, appears more dangerous than any other.

“We have launched campaign against violence and the killing spree, and we urge all to support, consolidate with our resolve and go hand in hand for peace and fundamental human rights,” said Tara Nath Dahal, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ). The Maoists have presented themselves in a barbaric manner, said Dahal. “Time has come to ask the Maoists whether they are a political party or a group of criminals,” he said. “The Maoists have lost the sense to tolerate comments and criticism against them,” he said, “And started killing the journalists by violating and challenging the freedom of press.”

Krishna Pahadi, president of Human Rights and Peace Society, said that gun has prevailed over principles and ideas. “We are always for the principles and idea and against the arms.” Politics of killing cannot be accepted at any cost, he said. “Maoists have strayed away from political track as they have threaten to kill 10 journalists in Dailekh and Achham districts.” The Maoists would turn into a gang of criminals if they do not correct in time,” he added.

Maoists have become anti-freedom and anti-democratic forces. On one hand, they pretend that they believe in democracy, but on the other, they have continued killings, abducting and coercing innocent people and the messengers of fundamental rights. Maoist rebels have been violating the national, humanitarian and international laws by killing the innocent and people without arms. It is against Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. They have no right to kill anybody. Their policy to eliminate people without hearing is entirely inhuman and illegal. Human Rights activist said in Nepal.

Continuing their coercive acts and threats, including inflicting bodily harm to journalists in different parts of the country, a young journalist in Nepal are harassed and tortured by the rebels.

In an utterly gruesome act by the Maoists, 16-year-old Anup Gurung, a scribe with the Purva Mechi weekly, was made to carry a sack full of rice from Talgaun in Sulubung VDC to Mabu VDC for about five hours on Sunday afternoon.

Gurung was accused of not publishing news items favoring the rebels? activities in the area. He also said that while carrying the sack of rice, they did not allow him to take rest during the entire duration of the walk.? I threw the sack in a nearby field and managed to escape as I couldn't bear the weight any longer,? said Gurung.

The deliberate and indiscriminate killing of journalist by Maoists in Nepal violates the basic principles of international humanitarian law. Even if we see International humanitarian law, which governs the conduct of the parties in an armed conflict, comprises a series of treaties and conventions, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols. Any journalists covering war should be able to report effectively on violations of the rules of war, including war crimes; second, because a number of provisions of the conventions apply directly to journalists. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, journalists must be treated humanely.

Maoists should remember that media can be an instrument of conflict resolution. It is a media that reduces conflict and fosters human security. The latest killings have given a new sense of urgency to the campaign. This is clearly tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable. Such behavior is unacceptable and must be punished. The long civil war in Nepal places it among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

The murders of journalists each year receive little attention and often go unpunished. These deaths, whether as a result of conflict, illustrate just how important it is to provide journalists with more protection. The problems in Nepal deserve mention because journalists are most at risk.

There must be no impunity for the killers of journalists and media workers. The deliberate targeting of journalists by those who seek to prevent the media from exposing their activities represents a worrying trend in Nepal. If the killers learn that by killing a journalist the media will come together and give them more media attention, that is not true. It is another bad and blood-stained year for press freedom. These attacks are not just attacks on individuals; they are assaults on the Fourth Estate and the Freedom of the Press and Information.


(Kamala Sarup is a Co-Ordinator of a media watch group - The Peace Media Research Center)

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