Global bodies condemn crackdown on journos

Kathmandu, February 2:

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today condemned the “targeting, arrest and abuse of journalists” in yesterday’s protest against the restriction on media freedom in the country.

“Journalists in Nepal have every reason to protest the king’s continued campaign of intimidation against the independent press,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.

“Instead of using force to prevent these demonstrations, King Gyanendra should rescind repressive media regulations introduced in the past year, and allow the press to fulfil its obligations to provide news and information to the people,” Cooper said in a statement issued today. At least 33 journalists were arrested during the protest, which was part of the FNJ’s programme to commemorate the anniversary of the February 1, 2005 royal move.

“The events of the last 24 hours are appalling and intolerable. The violent intervention of police and the targeting of journalists during peaceful protests is totally unacceptable,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren in a statement.

“In the lead up to the municipal elections on February 8, the government has proven its assurances of a return to democratic rule are only empty promises,” Warren said.

“These brutal and oppressive actions by the government must not continue, and journalists must be allowed to continue their work independently, without fear, intimidation or abuse,” Warren said.

Warren urged the king to restore “the fundamental democratic rights of the Nepali people and supporting a free and independent media” and voiced IFJ’s solidarity with the journalists of Nepal in their fight against oppression and expressed the IFJ’s unwavering respect and support for the FNJ’s efforts.

The “International Mission for Press Freedom and Free Expression in Nepal,” has also condemned the persistent repression of the media and the increasing crackdown on the freedom of expression after 1 February 2005.

“Due to the continuing deterioration in the press freedom and freedom of expression situation, the International Mission also wishes to announce its collective intention to return to Nepal in March 2006,” the mission said in a statement.