FEBRUARY 1, 2005
Posted: February 4, 2005
HARASSED, THREATENED, CENSORED, LEGAL ACTION
Nepal's king declared a state of emergency and effectively shut down
the independent press with blanket news bans, military patrols at media
outlets, and threatened reprisals against journalists.
King Gyanendra imposed a six-month ban on what state radio described as
critical reporting on government activities. Soldiers were posted at Nepal's
major print and broadcast outlets, controlled television broadcasts, and
vetted news articles, according to CPJ sources and international news reports.
Internet and telephone communication, including domestic land lines and
mobile phones, were cut off today in the initial days after the state of
emergency was declared. Some local reporters anonymously smuggled information
from the country through satellite communications.
Editors at the major dailies Kathmandu Post and Kantipur were
summoned by the principal press secretary of the king and warned that they
may face military punishment, according to sources inside the country. Soldiers
surrounded the offices of The Kathmandu Post and officers
scanned all content before it went to print, according to a local source.
Jana Aastha weekly, which has been critical of the monarch in the
past, was placed under special army surveillance, local sources said. Eighteen
soldiers led by a colonel entered the weekly's offices at 6 p.m. on February
1 and detained journalists there until 11 a.m. the following day, a source
told CPJ. The officer censored all contents and warned reporters to avoid
criticizing the king or the army.
Hundreds of people were arrested in the initial days after the king's declaration,
according to local sources. The Nepalese-language Rajdhani daily
risked government reprisals by publishing the names of those arrested this
Fearing punishment, hotels refused to allow foreign news crews to set up
satellite dishes on their roofs, according to Reuters.
Despite the great risk, Tara Nath Dahal, a prominent journalist and president
of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, issued a statement condemning
the state of emergency.
"This has undoubtedly destroyed the fabric of democracy and has also confirmed
that the lives of ordinary civilians as well as national values are in grave
danger," he wrote. He called the action an "enormous mistake" which has
ended Nepalese citizens' hard-won freedom of expression and press freedom.
Posted: April 11, 2005
BBC World Service
The government began blocking news transmissions from the BBC World Service on its state-run Radio Nepal FM 103 station in the capital of Kathmandu, despite having signed an agreement to air news programs in their entirety the previous November.
The first 15 minutes of the news broadcast at the top of the hour was replaced with instrumental music featuring songs by the late Queen Aishworya, according to local news sources. Then the station reverted to its regularly scheduled, English-language news broadcast.
Local observers speculated that the programs were blocked to prevent news relating to the state of emergency in Nepal from being aired.
After declaring a state of emergency on February 1, the government barred the almost 50 FM radio stations throughout the country from airing news programs. As a result, many radio journalists lost their jobs, and accurate news from remote areas of the country was difficult to obtain.
MARCH 7, 2005
Posted: March 9, 2005
Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Khabarpatrika
Prominent Nepalese journalist and political analyst Dixit, editor and publisher
of the Nepalese-language Himal Khabarpatrika magazine, was detained
and questioned. Dixit, who has criticized the king's February 1 takeover
of the government, was taken into custody shortly after returning from India,
where he delivered a talk on the political crisis in Nepal.
Criticism of the king's actions has been banned in Nepal, along with independent
reporting on the ongoing Maoist conflict there. Dixit is among more than
a dozen journalists who have been arrested since February 1. At least four
remain in prison.
Plainclothes security personnel were waiting for Dixit when he returned
to his home on Monday evening, Kunda Dixit, his brother and a well-known
journalist himself, told CPJ. He was taken into custody and was being held
at Jawalakhel police station. Police have not informed his family of the
reasons for his detention or how long they intend to keep him in custody.
Kanak and Kunda Dixit run Himal, a publishing company that also publishes
the English-language magazine Himal South Asian, which is on an unrelated
hiatus. The editors support a constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy
in Nepal. Kanak Dixit is known internationally for his centrist stance on
politics and his hatred of violence.
In an open letter posted online shortly after the February 1 takeover, Kanak
Dixit called King Gyanendra's move "drastic and ill-advised." In a February
2 essay he contributed to the U.S.-based think tank Foreign Policy in Focus,
Dixit warned that, "King Gyanendra's announcement of a takeover for 'up
to three years' provides a long window in which Nepal's highly successful
experiment with democracy of the past dozen years may be eroded."
In a recent trip to India, Dixit reiterated criticism he has voiced in recent
articles written for Indian and other international media, according to
In e-mails to CPJ, Dixit described the efforts of Himal Khabarpatrika editors to publish critical commentary in the Kathmandu-based magazine. "We have achieved a half-way victory with the military censors," he wrote.
"We are able to say quite a lot ourselves, but ... the government could
come down with a heavy hand at any time."
Dixit was released the next day, on March 8.
MARCH 16, 2005
Posted: March 17, 2005
Narayan Wagle, Kantipur
Police delivered a letter to Wagle, editor of Kantipur, Nepal's
largest daily, ordering him to present himself at the criminal investigation
branch of the Kathmandu police office on the morning of March 17. Wagle
told CPJ that he has been asked for "clarification" of news published earlier
in the week.
The police order did not specify which news item led to the summons. Sources
speculated that the order was linked to the newspaper's March 15 coverage
of banned pro-democracy protests the day before. The daily's extensive coverage
included a photo of Bal Bahadur Rai, the elderly former acting prime minister
who was arrested during the demonstrations.
Editors of five Kathmandu weeklies were previously summoned to the District
Administration Office after they ran blank editorial pages to protest censorship.
The Federation of Nepalese Journalists has called for the government to
restore press freedom and to end censorship, harassment, and arrests of
journalists. Hundreds of radio journalists across the country have lost
their jobs, and many newspapers have been forced to stop publishing since
King Gyanendra announced a state of emergency and curtailed press freedom
APRIL 4, 2005
Posted: April 7, 2005
Prabhakar Ghimire, Kantipur
Narayan Sharma, Kantipur
Khuman Singh Tamang, Kantipur
The three reporters for Kantipur, the country's largest circulation Nepali-language daily, were called in for questioning by police in the southern city of Chitwan after their April 3 article, citing unnamed police sources, described the torching of trucks on a local highway during a Maoist blockade, according to a report in Kantipur.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Surendra Bahadar Shah summoned the three journalists April 4 for an interrogation that lasted an hour and a half, CPJ sources said. He pressured them repeatedly to reveal the names of the police sources for their article and threatened to take legal action against them if they refused, the sources said. The journalists were said to have refused to provide the names of their sources.
Chief District Officer Top Narayan Sharma told the reporters to alert local heads of security in the future when writing news items of such a "serious nature," the Nepal News Web site reported. The officers asked the reporters to return in the evening for more questioning and again on the following morning with written statements.
The April 2 truck arsons were widely reported, including in the state media. CPJ sources said the police interrogation of the Kantipur journalists was interpreted as harassment intended to intimidate the reporters.
King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency on February 1, censoring the media in the name of national security. The government issued severely restrictive directives for the media prohibiting them from reporting any news that could be deemed against the spirit of the King's leadership. Incidents of harassment and detention of journalists have been on the rise since then.
APRIL 11, 2005
Posted: April 13, 2005
Robin Poudel, Tanahu Aawaj
Police in the Tanahu district in western Nepal announced they would hold a local journalist for a three-month detention. The journalist, editor Robin Poudel of Tanahu Aawaj weekly newspaper, was arrested on Friday April 8 while covering a demonstration in Damauli that had been called to protest the state of emergency established by King Gyanendra.
According to local journalists, Poudel was held in the Tanahu district police office subsequent to his arrest. On Sunday, he was served a warrant notifying him that he would be detained for three months. The Kathmandu Post reported that the warrant was issued under the Public Security Act, which sanctioned the preventive detention of those considered a threat to domestic security and tranquility, according to Chief District Officer Govinda Mani Bhurtel.
Dozens of journalists were detained after King Gyanendra's state of emergency was declared February 1. Although most journalists were held for several days and then released, as many as ten were in detention at the time, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
APRIL 18, 2005
Posted: April 19, 2005
Surya Thapa, Budhabar
Government officials summoned Budhabar weekly editor Surya Thapa to question him about a cartoon and article published in his magazine. Officials at the District Administration Office in Kathmandu asked Thapa to clarify the intent of a cartoon published on March 30, which compared then-recent developments of the constitution in Bhutan to the state of the monarchy in Nepal. Officials also stated that an article published on March 30 violated a ban on criticism of King Gyanendra's royal February 1 proclamation, in which he dismissed the government and declared a state of emergency. The article in question, titled "Your Majesty where is democracy?" and written by former Prime Minister and member of Parliament Bai Bahadur Rai, questioned the constitutionality of the king's move.
Officials on April 18 asked Thapa to explain why legal action should not be taken against him. Thapa was summoned to the Chief District Office three times since February 1 to submit to questioning about critical reporting in the weekly.
APRIL 26, 2005
Posted: May 4, 2005
Dwarika Uprety, Roadmap
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrest of Dwarika Uprety, publisher of the weekly Roadma. Plainclothes security officers detained Uprety while he was walking to work this morning in the Putalisadak district of Kathmandu, according to the Kantipur news Web site.
The editor of Roadmap, Kamal Koirala, said in a statement that no motive was known for Uprety's arrest.
Dozens of journalists were detained after King Gyanendra's state of emergency was declared February 1. Although most journalists were held for several days and then released, as many as ten were in detention as of mid-April, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
MAY 13, 2005
Updated: June 10, 2005
Som Sharma, Aankha
Maoist rebels abducted Sharma, a reporter for the weekly newspaper Aankha, from his home in the eastern district of Ilam. Rebels released Sharma on July 9 after negotiations with the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).
FNJ central committee member Purna Basnet told The Associated Press that Sharma had been targeted in response to his critical reporting on Maoist activities in the area. He was reported in good health, according to local and international news reports.
MAY 18, 2005
Posted: June 10, 2005
Rebels bombed the state-owned Nepal Television tower in the western district of Palpa, according to local and international news reports. No one was hurt, but broadcasts of Nepal Television in the region were disrupted, according to the online version of the daily Kantipur and The Associated Press. The state television station had been condemning the rebels, who have a strong presence in the western rural districts of Nepal.
MAY 18, 2005
Posted: June 10, 2005
Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Khabarpatrika
Guna Raj Luitel, Kantipur,
Yubaraj Ghimire, Samay
Tara Nath Dahal, Federation of Nepalese Journalists
Dixit, publisher of the magazine Himal Khabarpatrika, was ordered to report to local government officials in the suburban district of Lalitpur near the capital, Kathmandu, for questioning. Officials demanded a written explanation of an article by Dixit that called for a constitutional monarchy.
Several other journalists told CPJ that authorities have not restored their mobile phone service since it was cut off on February 1. Though cell phone service resumed for most citizens in early May, a handful of prominent journalists—including Luitel of Kantipur, Ghimire of Samay, and former Federation of Nepalese Journalists president Dahal—told CPJ that the government has denied them service without explanation.
MAY 19, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
A group of 40 armed men thought to be Maoist rebels stormed the private FM radio station in Attariya, a village in the far western Kailali district, 375 miles west of Kathmandu. The group looted the station's broadcasting equipment, computers, and furniture valued at US $40,000, and then fled, local officials told reporters. No one was injured.
The station had been on the air for one year, during which it aired critical news stories about the Maoist insurgency, according to local reports. Ghodaghodi FM was the region's first community radio and was run by a group called Backward Society Education (BASE).
This was the first reported incident of rebels attacking an FM radio station. The Maoists did not claim responsibility for the incident, but have attacked telecom centers and television towers in other remote areas of the country since they began fighting to overthrow Nepal's monarchy in 1996.
Since King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency on February 1, Nepal's more than 50 FM radio stations have been severely restricted, and banned from airing news reports.
MAY 30, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
Staff, Communication Corner
The director of a banned radio production and distribution company filed a legal challenge with Nepal's Supreme Court, inspiring local radio journalists to protest.
In his May 30 petition to the court, Communication Corner Director Gopal Guragain said that the government's May 27 ban was an illegal effort to curtail press freedom in Nepal. Guragain asked the court to issue a stay that would allow the company to continue to operate legally, Nepalnews.com reported.
The Supreme Court responded on June 1, requesting the government provide a written explanation within 15 days for its order to shut down Communication Corner. The court also asked that representatives from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC) and the Ministry of Defense appear in court tomorrow, the daily Kantipur reported.
The MOIC ordered the private company's closure on May 27 citing "written complaints that it is being operated illegally," according to local news reports.
Guragain defied the government order, saying that the company had not broken any laws, that its license and taxes were all in order, and that he would keep the company open. Founded five years ago, Communication Corner produces daily radio news programming for over 10 FM radio stations throughout Nepal, including news bulletins and current affairs programs.
Local journalists unified in support of the station. On June 1, a coalition of radio journalists calling themselves the Save Independent Radio Movement mailed an old radio and a copy of Nepal's constitution to Information Minister Tanka Dahal in protest, according to The Associated Press. The act came on the fourth of seven days of planned demonstrations by the group, calling for an end to the ban and to media restrictions.
JUNE 3, 2005
Posted: June 9, 2005
Nepal Telecom Company
Armed Maoist rebels destroyed a telecommunication tower in Chinchu in the Midwestern district of Surkhet by detonating a pipe bomb late at night, according to local press accounts. Local phone service has been disrupted.
The tower carried hundreds of local phone lines and its destruction has cut off the region from the rest of the country making it impossible for local journalists to transmit news stories by phone or fax.
Local sources say that the area is known to be rife with Maoist activity. The rebels have frequently targeted telecommunication towers, television towers, bridges, power stations, and other so-called "soft targets" that are government-owned since they began fighting against the Nepalese monarchy in 1996.
JUNE 3, 2005
Posted: June 15, 2005
Bikram Giri, Kantipur
Maoist rebels abducted Giri on June 3 while he was traveling near the village of Changru in the far western Darchula district, according to Kantipur. Giri was released June 10 after the Federation of Nepalese Journalists appealed to the Maoists.
JUNE 8, 2005
Posted: June 9, 2005
Riot police in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, arrested dozens of journalists who were protesting the government's emergency press restrictions and proposed media law amendments that are expected to codify and stiffen those constraints. Local sources said police detained as many as 50 journalists, including the president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Bishnu Nisthuri.
Hundreds of journalists gathered at the Bhrikuti Mandap exhibition grounds in central Kathmandu for the afternoon demonstration organized by the FNJ. Activities in the exhibition grounds are restricted by the government; public demonstrations have been banned throughout the city center since the king declared a state of emergency on February 1, according to local news reports.
Police surrounded the grounds and tried to bar journalists from leaving, according to press reports. Fighting broke out when journalists tried to leave, and several were injured when baton-wielding police officers advanced and forced the journalists into police vans, according to the Press Trust of India news service. The journalists were freed the following day, according to international news reports.
JUNE 9, 2005
Posted: June 15, 2005
Guru Prasad Gautum, Federation of Nepalese Journalists
Several Nepalese journalists were injured, at least one seriously, as police clashed with reporters and photographers demonstrating against government media restrictions and detentions in protests across the country, according to local news reports.
Guru Prasad Gautum, secretary of a local chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, was hospitalized after police beat him severely in the stomach during a protest in Kailaya, a town in the Bara district, south of the Kathmandu Valley, according to news reports. At least eight other journalists were injured when police baton-charged the rally, which was organized to protest this week's detention of more than 50 journalists in the capital, Kathmandu, according to local news reports.
In the town of Butwal in western Nepal, police briefly detained another nine journalists, including FNJ Rupandehi district secretary Deepak Gyawali, who were also protesting the detention of their colleagues in Kathmandu, according to CPJ sources. Six journalists were hurt when police used their batons to round up protesters, journalist Dilip Bhattarai told CPJ from Butwal.
The journalists in Kathmandu were released from police custody on June 9. They had been detained while protesting the government's proposals to codify emergency press restrictions by amending the media law.
JUNE 13 2005
Posted: June 21, 2005
Dozens of Nepalese journalists were arrested in the capital, Kathmandu, and the neighboring district of Kavre as protests against media restrictions continued across the country. More than 40 journalists were briefly detained in police stations in Kathmandu, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and other local sources.
Hundreds of journalists and their supporters gathered in Ratna Park, an area in the capital where the government has banned mass demonstrations, according to local journalists. Shortly after their protest began, riot police with batons began arresting the protesters, according to local and international news reports. The FNJ reported that 46 journalists, including FNJ President Bishnu Nisthuri, were loaded into vans and taken to Janasewa, Singha Durbar, and Kamalpokhari police stations across the city.
Some journalists were injured as baton-wielding police attempted to round them up, FNJ and local journalists told CPJ. Journalists were demonstrating against reported government proposals to institute restrictive media laws, as well as the arrests and overnight detentions of journalists protesting in Kathmandu on June 8.
Despite the arrests, police were unable to stop the rally. Protesters continued marching through the restricted area, and the demonstration culminated with speeches calling for an end to restrictions on the press.
In the town of Banepa, Kavre district, as many as 52 journalists, lawyers, and other citizens, were arrested while protesting the government's repressive actions toward the press. They were released later in the day.
Nepal's King Gyanendra dismantled the independent press when he seized power from the multi-party government on February 1. While some restrictions have been eased, a ban on FM radio news broadcasting and other limits on independent reporting remain in place. Journalists have stepped up protests since reports of a government proposal to codify and intensify current media restrictions were leaked to the press at the end of May.
JUNE 22, 2005
Posted: June 24, 2005
Police arrested 10 journalists who were protesting media restrictions in Banepa, in the central district of Kavre, according to nepalnews.com and local sources. Journalists had gathered to read poetry and sing in support of press freedom and democracy. They were arrested after entering an area where public protest had been banned and were released five hours later, according to nepalnews.com.
The protest was part of a program organized by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists to protest restrictions on the media imposed after Nepal's King Gyanendra took power in a royal coup on February 1. In June, journalists stepped up protests against a ban on private FM radio news broadcasting and reports of proposed media law amendment to codify and strengthen existing restrictions.
JUNE 22-23, 2005
Posted: June 30, 2005
Kishor Karki, Blast Time
Kishor Shrestha, Jana Aastha
Police questioned Kishor Karki, editor of Blast Time, a daily newspaper based in the town of Dharan, about his reporting on a clash between the government and Maoist rebels, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).
Citing orders from the chief district officer, a police inspector questioned Karki for two hours on June 23 in an effort to compel him to reveal the source for his reporting on violence in eastern Bhojpur district on June 22, the FNJ said in a written statement. The editor did not disclose his source.
In a separate incident on June 22, two plainclothes military officers entered the offices of the Kathmandu-based weekly Jana Aastha three times to question staff members about a June 22 article on the activities of a general in the Nepalese army, editor Kishor Shrestha told the Committee to Protest Journalists. Shrestha said that he also received a phone call at his home.
Military officers demanded that Shrestha and other journalists at the newspaper reveal the source for the June 22 article, the editor said. The reporter who wrote the story was not in Kathmandu, and other Jana Aastha journalists refused to disclose the source. Officers left only after threatening to return.
"The staff were very much afraid," Shrestha told CPJ. "The officers said, 'We're not going to forgive you. There's no excuse for this.'"
AUGUST 1, 2005
Posted: August 2, 2005
Harihar Singh Rathour, Kantipur and Kathmandu Post
Pushkar Thapa, Annapurna Post
Kamal Neupane, Nepal Samacharpatra
Security forces in Nepal's mid-western Dailekh district harassed the three journalists in retaliation for their reports alleging that the Royal Nepalese Army recruited children to work as informants.
Harihar Singh Rathour, a reporter for Kantipur daily and Kathmandu Post; Pushkar Thapa, a reporter for the daily Annapurna Post; and Kamal Neupane, a reporter for Nepal Samacharpatra followed instructions to report to Major Hikmat Bista at the army barracks of the Bhawani Baks battalion, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and the local human rights group INSEC. A fourth person, INSEC representative Naman Kumar Shahi, was also summoned.
FNJ reported in a statement that the major asked the journalists and the human rights worker to issue corrections to their reports that the army was training children to participate in its fight against Maoist rebels. They refused to issue corrections and maintained that their reports were accurate.
The harassment followed several related incidents in the days since the newspapers first carried their reports.
The chief of the Bhawani Baks battalion wrote a July 26 letter to Rathour, calling his July 20 Kathmandu Post report, "RNA using Dullu kids as informants," misleading and summoning the journalist to the army barracks to provide clarification, according to INSEC. On July 28, the journalist reported to the barracks and submitted a written statement testifying to the article's accuracy, according to local news reports.
The following day, security forces took Neupane, Thapa, and Shahi to the local army barracks and interrogated them about their own reports on the allegations, according to INSEC.
On July 31, security forces took Neupane and Shahi to the army barracks, where they were directed to provide fingerprints, according to local and international news reports. Security personnel threatened the two men by hinting that the army could label them Maoists, according to news reports and FNJ sources.
AUGUST 6, 2005
Posted: August 17, 2005
Blast Times Daily
The Communist Party of Nepal banned the vernacular daily in the eastern Ilam district of eastern Nepal. The Blast Times Daily is published out of Dharan, a nearby city.
In a press statement released on August 1, Maoists charged the newspaper with printing false reports about former Maoist District Secretary of Ilam, Sushil, as part of a drive to discredit the rebel leadership.
The Maoists are a rebel organization known for their potent brand of revolutionary communism. The Nepalese Press is a frequent victim in the decade-long, ongoing struggle between the ruling monarchy and the radicals. In 2002 a Blast Times Daily journalist was abducted and tortured by security forces.
The Ilam district branch of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) condemned the latest attack. In a press statement, the journalist group expressed deep dismay over the prohibition order and asked that it be repealed. "This is an indication of dictatorial rule of the Maoists," the FNJ said. "It shows that they are against free press and flow of opinions."
JULY 20, 2005
Posted: August 17, 2005
Gopal Baskota, Drishti Weekly
Baskota, the executive editor of the Kathmandu-based weekly Drishti, and editor and publisher of the weekly Shambhu Shrestha, received threatening phone calls.
Baskota said he is unsure of the reason behind the threats. Local sources told the CPJ Drishti often covers issues dealing with crime and corruption. Both the Maoists and the government security forces denied involvement in the threats.
Three unidentified men had been in Baskota's neighborhood in Lokanthali earlier in the week, inquiring about his whereabouts, Shambhu Shrestha reported.
On July 22, an inspector from the Nepali Police force visited Baskota's residence and offered protection. Local news reports say the editor declined protection.
AUGUST 25, 2005
Posted September 2, 2005
Information and Communication Minister Tanka Dhakal confirmed that the government had initiated legal action against Kantipur Publications following the publication of an allegedly "objectionable" cartoon.
Dhakal said "The government action has begun. You will know the details once we reach a conclusion on what should be done," Kantipur reported. The minister also called a cartoon that ran on the front pages of the leading daily Kantipur and its sister English-language publication the Kathmandu Post "objectionable and stinking." The political cartoon depicted the constitutional monarchy as a dead animal.
The editors of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post, and the director of Kantipur Publications, which owns both publications, were summoned to a meeting with the Kathmandu chief district officer on August 22. Soon after the meeting the editors learned from sources that police were preparing to arrest them.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005
Tilak Mahat, Rupandehi FM
Mahat was attacked by police along with other journalists covering pro-democracy protests at Bagh Bazar in the capital, Kathmandu. He received four stitches for a head wound. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) said that police appeared to be violently targeting journalists covering the tense protests.
Police used tear gas and batons against protesters who called for a return to democracy and a restoration of multi-party rule. Hundreds of protesters were arrested.
Mahat, a reporter for Rupandehi FM in western Nepal, was showing his press card when he was attacked, according to the FNJ and local news reports.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2005
Posted October 11, 2005
Harihar Singh Rathour, Kathmandu Post, and Kantipur
Authorities detained Harihar Singh Rathour, correspondent for the Kathmandu Post and Kantipur, without charge in the mid-western district of Dailekh. Authorities threatened to hold him under the Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance for allegedly collaborating with Maoist rebels. The ordinance allows for detention without trial for renewable periods of up to 90 days. The Kathmandu Post quoted local battalion commander Col. Nainaraj Dahal as saying, "We will initiate action against Rathour."
Rathour told the Associated Press that a group of 15 local journalists planned to leave the region because of harassment in retaliation for their reporting. "Because we refused to censor news about the army's activities, we were being harassed and even threatened. So all of us decided to flee to safe areas," he said. Police detained Rathour and the others briefly on September 18 but most were able to leave the area later. Rathour was re-arrested on September 19.
On September 16, army spokesman Brig. Gen. Deepak Gurung accused Rathour of receiving payment from the Maoists. Rathour denied the allegation and said that he was targeted because of his reporting on the army, the Web site Nepalnews reported. Rathour and the others have been under pressure from officials since July when they reported that the army had recruited children as informants. Rathour's report in the Kathmandu Post prompted angry denials from army officials.
OCTOBER 4, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005
Maheshwar Pahari, Rastriya Swabhiman
Imprisoned reporter Pahari died after being denied proper medical treatment by authorities. Pahari, 30, who worked for the weekly Rastriya Swabhiman, died of tuberculosis, according to local journalist groups, in a hospital in Pokhara, 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Kathmandu. Local doctors recommended Pahari be transferred to Kathmandu for better treatment, and members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in Pokhara offered to pay to send him, the FNJ said. But officials refused, citing security concerns. He was allowed treatment for various, serious health problems at the local hospital only after repeated appeals by his wife Durga Pahari, local journalists told CPJ.
Pahari was detained by security forces in the village of Khorako Mukh, in western Nepal's Kaski district on January 2, 2004. He was held incommunicado for several months. Local journalists believe that his detention was linked to his journalistic work. Pahari maintained close contacts with sources in the Maoist rebel movement, and some sources told CPJ that security forces might have detained him to gather information about the leadership of the insurgency against King Gyanendra.
Pahari was held under an anti-terrorism law, which has been used to jail journalists since it was introduced in November 2001. Authorities released and re-arrested him four times after January 2004 in order to comply with that law, which limits detention without trial to six months. In May, he was released from Kaski jail and arrested before he could leave the compound, local human rights and media advocacy groups reported.
OCTOBER 9, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005
A restrictive media law was implemented by Nepal's King Gyanendra. Local journalists said the ordinance codifies severe restrictions on the press that were announced when the king sacked the multi-party government and claimed absolute authority on February 1.
The king's cabinet first passed the law in May but delayed its implementation when journalists launched a wave of protests, according to local news reports.
The new law bans FM stations from broadcasting news, according to local reports. Radio stations in Nepal started airing news programs in August for the first time since February after the Supreme Court stayed a government order banning FM news broadcasts. The ministry issued a warning today to private FM radio stations to stop broadcasting news in compliance with the new ordinance, according to local reports. As many as 2,000 radio journalists face unemployment.