Govt ‘forces’ INSEC to drop radio programme

Kathmandu, November 15:

The Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) is concerned over the government’s interference in its decade-long radio programme ‘Human rights education programme’ being aired on Radio Nepal. Following censorship and interference in its programme, the INSEC has decided to withdraw its programme from the state-owned radio. The radio listeners’ clubs in the country have threatened to launch a movement against the government’s restrictions on the media.

The Human Rights Organisation submitted a letter to Radio Nepal’s managing director Tapannath Shukla yesterday, anno-uncing the termination of its agreement with

Radio Nepal.

Subodh Pyakurel, chairman of INSEC, said INSEC was the first human rights organisation to broadcast such an educational programme on human rights awareness, adding, the government’s interference was an indication of the state’s intention to curb civil rights. He was speaking at a press meet organised by INSEC here today.

Radio Nepal had refused to air INSEC’s programme on the enforcement of the Code of Conduct that INSEC had prepared on November 12. “Senior officials, including the director of Radio Nepal, listened to the programme, but refused to air it. Instead, they asked us to produce another programme, to which, we did not agree,” Pyakurel said. This step was a clear indication that the censorship “had crossed its limits,” he said.

There are over 1,000 listeners’ clubs in the country. A representative of radio clubs said they would start movements in districts and villages against the government restrictions on media. “When the state starts tightening its grip, people will start looking for an alternative,” Pyakurel said.

The government had reportedly summoned programme coordinators of Human Rights Education Programme for a meeting on July 19 and had directed them to censor their programme. INSEC aired its programme concerning a six-month restriction on the press imposed by the government on May 7, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

The Communication Ministry had reportedly sought Radio Nepal officials’ clarification for broadcasting the programme.