72 scribes attacked, threatened this year

Kathmandu, June 7:

At least 72 journalists have been subjected to death threats, violence or threats of violence by armed militants in southern Nepal this year amid ethnic unrest and anti-government riots, according to an international media rights group.

Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers has expressed its condern about the safety of journalists in the south, where activists demanding greater rights for the region’s people are becoming increasingly active.

Nearly 60 people have died in violent protests this year.

“Armed militants are harassing journalists with the aim of silencing them or turning them into propagandists. The authorities must do everything possible to put an end to this climate of open hostility,” the group said.

Information and Communication Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said earlier this week the government plans to introduce laws to protect journalists. The report called on Mahara “to quickly intercede with all affiliated organisations to get them to stop the attacks and threats against journalists.” At least nine armed groups - including ethnic minority activists and Maoist youth cells - are active and do not hesitate to resort to violence, Reporters Sans Frontiers. No threats by the Maoist groups were reported to the group after late March.