The Constitution of Nepal 2072 has been implemented from Sunday as President Ram Baran Yadav officially declared its promulgation. It is a historic moment for Nepal that federalism, republic and a secularism have been institutionalized.
During the few days leading to the promulgation of the constitution and even after, several journalists have been physically abused by police and threatened by unidentified people for expressing their disagreements with the constitution. Similarly, an online news portal and a radio FM station in Terai have been forcibly shut down by Nepal Government for publishing stories unpalatable to the ruling parties.
Attacks Against Journalists
A few members of Armed Police Force physically abused and broke the camera of photojournalist Bikram Rauniyar despite his repeated statements that he was a journalist.
५ बर्ष पेट काटेर क्यामेरा किनेको थिए , आज त्यो पनी रहेन ? रहयो त केवल याद pic.twitter.com/1ekmhVJDu2
— Bikram Rauniyar (@mahottari) September 7, 2015
He was physically abused as well.
After Rauniyar posted on Twitter that he had it taken him 5 years of his savings to buy a camera, Madhesi Youth and Story South Asia ran independent fundraising campaigns on his behalf so he can buy another camera.
Similarly, a journalist Ujwal Prasai has been threatened for his life by two unidentified men.
Two men thraten to finish me for what I write. I fear death. I will not stop speaking / writing.
— Ujjwal Prasai (@UPrasai) September 19, 2015
A widely read journalist Khagendra Sangroula, who writes mostly in Nepali and often in a direct manner critical of government’s decisions has also been threatened by three unidentified men.
कमलादीमा पछाडि आवाज आयो—यो लेखक अभैm हाम्रो बाटोमा हिँड्दैछ,यसलाई मार। तीन तीघ्रे थिए। त्रिमूर्ति मान्यवर,गुण्डा लगाएर मलाई किन मार्ने? — Khagendra Sangroula (@belakoboli) September 20, 2015
Nepal Government Encroaches Freedom of Speech
Hulaki News Forcibly Shut Down by Nepal Government
An online newsportal Hulakinews was forcibly closed by local telecomm operator Ncell due to the written orders by Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). No reason for this closure was specified. However, Ncell’s parent company, Teliasonera has issued a statement to support press freedom, inquire with NTA about the reason for this closure and has restored hulakinews. The statement is titled, “Freedom of Expression – Unconventional request as to blocking of a website in Nepal” and reads,
In Nepal, mid-August, the website www.hulakinews.com, by a written order from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), was blocked by the local operators, including TeliaSonera’ local subsidiary Ncell. The order was unspecified as to period of time but was then unblocked end of August.
Ncell has kindly requested the NTA to inform about the legal basis of such a blocking-request.
The Policy of TeliaSonera is not to engage in the politics of the countries in which we operate. We do not comment on politics or make political statements when representing our company. However, TeliaSonera does engage in dialogue regarding requests from authorities that affect our business and customers of companies in which we have ownership interests.
A Dozen Journalists Arrested in Birgunj
According to The State Daily, on September 16, “security personnel have arrested more than a dozen journalists today from Maisthan, Birgunj staging protest.
The journalists were staging protest during prohibitory orders were issued by the authorities. The protest was organized in support of Madeshi and Tharu demonstrating bodies demanding new demarcation of state and halt the constitution making process. The motto of the protest was also to enforce state to stop brutality on innocent people.”
FM Station Shut Down by Government in Terai
Similarly a FM station in Terai has been closed down by the Nepal government for broadcasting news unfavourable to the ruling parties. The government has accused the FM station of aiding in the unrest by broadcasting inflammatory news.
Journalist and FM Stations Attacked All Over Terai
Similarly, journalists have been attacked by protesters in central and far west Terai. Fulbari FM station in Tikapur was also attacked and burned down by angry protesters.
Similarly, several journalists have been attacked, according to International Federation of Journalists (IJF). According to a news report published by Big News Network,
An FNJ team visited Tikapur, in Kailali and Nepalgunj, in Banke in western Nepal and concluded that journalists are under attack from both state and anti-government protesters, as well as state security officers. The team listed a number of incidents, including an arson attack at Fulbari FM on August 25 that resulted in the radio station having to close for an indefinite period. Station managers of Ghodaghodi FM, Dhangadi FM, Paschim Today FM and Kailali FM have also been attacked over last two weeks.
It is alarming to see so many attacks against journalists, FM stations, and other journalistic establishments from both sides, protesters and the government.