Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In an attempt to censure those journalists and institutions not sympathetic to their platform and implementation strategies, Maoist-affliated union members have triggered strong responses by the international community against their tactics.
I predict that this, with the hindsight of the historical lens, will be a watershed moment in Nepal's history.
Here are a few of the responses:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
"NHRC urges the Nepal government to make necessary arrangement to safeguard media institutions including Himalmedia and provide security to journalists," the Commission said.
OHCHR asked the Nepal Police to complete its investigation the incident as swiftly as possible so charges could be laid, urging state authorities to take all steps necessary to ensure that the media has a secure environment to work in.
Human Rights Organisation of Nepal (HURON) said that although Maoists have attacked press freedom time and again, the government has not taken any action yet. The attack illustrates that the Maoists still do not believe in the principals of democracy.
The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Broadcasting Association of Nepal (BAN), Informal Sector Service Centre and Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES) and even the pro-Maoist Revolutionary Journalists Association also condemned the attack and called for legal action against those involved.
The UML today boycotted a previously scheduled meeting with Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in protest at the Maoist vandalism at Himalmedia. "We wanted to register our strong condemnation against this attack on press freedom and the values of democracy by the ruling party," the UML's Madhab Kumar Nepal said.
European Union: "This aggression represents completely unacceptable behaviour within the framework of normal and democratic political life." "Press freedom is one of the most important components of democracy, and these renewed attempts to subjugate the independent media signals a very disturbing trend that must be stopped."
U.S. Embassy: "We condemn the violent attack on Himalmedia personnel and facilities on Sunday, December 21, as a blatant, illegal assault on freedom of the press in Nepal. It was a criminal act to invade the premises and physically assault the Himalmedia staff: The perpetrators of this assault must be held accountable."
"We encourage the police to complete the investigation of this latest incident of criminal violence against the media as soon as possible and press charges against the perpetrators. There is no justification for the use of violence and intimidation by any party or organization in an attempt to control the media or threaten freedom of the press in Nepal. The culture of impunity that has protected some criminals from prosecution for violent, illegal actions should end."
Reporters Without Borders: "We urge the government to take particular care to safeguard press freedom," Reporters Without Borders said. "After the recent wave of attacks on the media, the Maoist party took no steps to punish those responsible. The government must guarantee the right of every voice to be heard by punishing violators and by not allowing its supporters to act with the impunity."
The International Federation of Journalists: (IFJ) "This attack on Himalmedia is an attack on press freedom and has nothing to do with the defence of journalism or the public interest", said Jacqueline Park, director of the IFJ Asia-Pacific. "We call upon the political leadership in Nepal, including the Prime Minister and the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, to promptly denounce this act of vandalism and take personal responsibility for ensuring that the guilty are appropriately sanctioned", said Park.