Nepal: Photojournalist's house targeted with Molotov cocktail; anti-press attacks continue
Sept.17, New York: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by increasing attacks on journalists in Nepal amid ongoing political unrest in the country.
Security forces and protesters have clashed violently in recent weeks as a proposed draft constitution aims to split the country into seven federal provinces. Some groups have opposed the draft and claim the new borders will limit their political representation, according to news reports. Dozens of people, including police, have died in the violence.
"We call on Nepali authorities to ensure journalists are able to safely and freely report on events on the ground during this tumultuous time in the country," said CPJ Asia Program Research Associate Sumit Galhotra. "Any and all attacks against journalists should be swiftly investigated and the perpetrators held to account."
On Sunday [September 13], unidentified assailants hurled a Molotov cocktail at the house of photojournalist Ram Sarraf in the southern district of Parsa, according to news reports. The assailants fled the scene and no one was injured in the attack. The motive behind the attack was unclear, but Sarraf, who works for The Himalayan Times, has been closely reporting on violent clashes in the region. Police said they were investigating the attack.
On September 7, police beat Bikram Rauniyar, a photojournalist and correspondent for Mountain Television based in Mahottari district, with a stick and a gun as he was covering clashes between police and protesters in the southern city of Janakpur, according to the journalist and the local media organization Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). Rauniyar told CPJ that he identified himself as a journalist but police continued to beat him and that he sustained minor injuries on his back. He said a police officer also seized and broke his camera.
On September 2, protesters smashed the windshield of a vehicle belonging to the daily Nagarik as the van was returning from delivering newspapers in southeastern Morang district, according to news reports. In early September, the Kathmandu Post reported that protesters set on fire a motorcycle belonging to Navin Karna, a correspondent for Makalu TV.
Journalist security and impunity in anti-press attacks remain a major concern of local journalists and media workers almost a decade since the end of the armed conflict between Maoists and the government, CPJ found in a joint mission to the country in April.
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