Journos protest against move to ‘throttle’ media

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 24:

Former president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Taranath Dahal asked journalists to seek people’s help in their fight against the proposed amendment to the Press Law. “The proposed amendment to the Press Law will not only put an end to free Press, but will also treat working journalists as a band of terrorists,” he said adding: “Such a Draconian law exists nowhere in the world, not even in military-ruled states.” “The proposed amendment has a provision where violation of the Press Law would be treated as a criminal offence,” he said. Dahal was addressing journalists who had gathered after participating in a pro-democracy protest programme in which journalists marched from Media Village at Sinamangal to Gaushala with their mouths covered with black bands. They were protesting against the government’s proposal to amend the Press Law.

New FNJ president Bishnu Nisthuri called on all civil society members to protest against the proposed amendment to the Press Law aimed at suppressing voices in favour of freedom.

“The proposed amendment has tried to push democracy and the freedom-loving younger generation a step back,” he said. Nisthuri informed that other professional organisations have said they would join the street protests after some days. Journalist Shyam Shrestha said the present autocratic government wants to rule in darkness by suppressing voices of freedom by gagging the Press. Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of Samaya magazine, said that the ‘illegitimate’ government envisions ‘a mindless press’ by hanging the Damocles’ sword over the journalists.

“We should not stop protesting the proposed Press Law until the government withdraws from promulgating it because the proposed law tries to push the society into the medieval period,” he said. “The law will rob the people’s rights guaranteed by the 1990-constitution.” Harihar Birahi, former president of FNJ, said the proposed amendment was aimed at institutionalising autocratic regime by destabilising the Press because “they felt that the free Press was a major obstacle in their path.” Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress (NC) has said that throttling press freedom would not only divert the journalists from their profession, but also affect people’s right to information.

NSU’s stir plan

Kathmandu: Nepal Students Union (NSU) on Tuesday announced protest programmes to press for release of all the detained political party cadres, freedom of Press and guarantee of human rights of the citizens. The protest programmes include a sit-in programme at Maitidevi at 8 am on May 25, students’ meet at all the campuses on May 26 to garner support the movement called by the seven political parties on May 27, a press statement issued by the student wing said. The NSU also condemned the indefinite educational strike called by the ANNISU-R in Palpa beginning on Tuesday and sought immediate withdrawal of the strike, as it would only hamper the students. —HNS