Nepal journalist to protest attack on press freedom

Kathmandu, (PTI): Journalists in Nepal will put down their pens, cameras and recorders for an hour on Saturday as a symbolic protest against widespread attack on media houses.

Despite the detention of two Maoist trade union leaders, who allegedly led an attack on the premises of Himal Media, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) have continued their agitation saying there is widespread attack against the press and more culprits need to be brought to justice.

"Our protests continue and the agitation will not end unless the government guarantees security to journalists and protect the press freedom by bringing all culprits to justice," General Secretary of FNJ Poshan K C told PTI.

"Journalists throughout the country will wear black bands around their wrist and will put down their pens, cameras and recorders for an hour as symbolic protest against attack on media," he said.

In Kathmandu, hundreds of scribes would gather at Maitighar Mandala in the afternoon and stage a rally, a source at the FNJ said.

With Nepal's ruling Maoists coming under growing pressure to act against cadres targeting journalists, Ramesh Babu Panta, president of Maoist affiliated All Nepal Hotel and Workers Association and Ramesh K C, Vice-president of All Nepal Communication and Press Workers' Association, the main culprits in the Himal Media incident, surrendered to the police on Friday.

"Though the arrest of the two culprits is a positive development, the action is not enough as there are many more serious incidents and those responsible should be brought to book," K C said.

The Maoist workers have locked up Eastern Regional Office of Kantipur publication in Biratnagar halting the circulation of the The Kathmandu Post and the Kantipur, the two national dailies which are being published from the office, he pointed out.

The Maoist affiliated press workers have obstructed printing and distribution of the dailies from the region, which is an attack against the free press, K C said.

"The Youth Force cadres, affiliated to CPN-UML who attacked the office of Ankush daily in Birgunj in southern Nepal are still absconding and the government has not taken any action against the culprits," he said.

Besides these a number of incidents have occurred in Achham, Dadeldhurab and Sindhuli districts in which journalists were attacked by political groups but the government had not taken action to bring the culprits to justice, he pointed out.