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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



JANUARY 10, 2003

Rabin Prasad Thapalia, Ruprekha
THREATENED

On February 24, Thapalia, a young reporter who has contributed to the weekly newspaper Ruprekha, which is published in Nuwakot District, told journalists in the capital, Kathmandu, that he had received death threats from Nepal's Maoist rebels. Thapalia showed journalists two letters he had received in response to an article he wrote for Ruprekha following a Maoist attack in Arghakhanchi District in September 2002. Thapalia's article had focused on the widows of government security officers killed by the rebels.

The first letter—dated January 10, 2003, and signed by a Maoist leader named Rakshyak—complained to Thapalia that his article "termed us terrorists and praised the role of the army, the hired dogs of King Gyanendra," according to a translation prepared by a CPJ source. The letter stated that Thapalia had one month to submit a detailed criticism of his article to the Maoists' local headquarters and to issue a public apology. Otherwise, said the letter, "We will be compelled to give you safaya," or the death penalty.

Under pressure from relatives worried about his safety, Thapalia says, he published an apology in Ruprekha but then received another letter from the Maoists at the end of January saying that the apology was inadequate. The second letter issued another ultimatum, giving Thapalia 15 days to comply with the order to criticize his article "word by word"—adding that, "We are still committed to giving you the death penalty if you fail to do so."

Thapalia, who was studying journalism at a college in Kathmandu, did not respond to the second letter.


FEBRUARY 15, 2003

Deepak Bahadur Thapa, Nepal Samacharpatra
HARASSED

In mid-February, reporters for the national newspaper Nepal Samacharpatra learned that Thapa, Accham-based correspondent for the paper, had been confined to his village, Thapsa Gaon, in the western district of Accham, for the last three months on the orders of local Maoist leaders who control the area. The Maoist leadership threatened Thapa, saying he would be in danger if he attempted to leave the village, according to Nepal Samacharpatra editor Kapil Kafle. The rebels have accused Thapa of writing against their movement, Kafle said.


AUGUST 28, 2003

Ramahari Chaulugain, Sanghu
IMPRISONED

Chaulugain, a reporter for the weekly Sanghu (Bridge), was kidnapped near the paper's offices in a suburb of the capital, Kathmandu, by an unknown group suspected to be linked to government security forces.

While the motive for Chaulugain's kidnapping is unclear, his disappearance marked the beginning of a wave of attacks on journalists by government security forces and Maoist rebels following the rebels' decision to break a cease-fire agreement on August 27.

No known charges have been filed against him, and his whereabouts are unknown. Government forces detained at least four other journalists in the weeks following the end of the cease-fire.


SEPTEMBER 9, 2003

Subhashankar Kandel, Janadharana
IMPRISONED

Kandel, editor of the weekly Janadharana (People's Opinion), was reportedly taken from his home in Balaju Banasthali, in the northern part of Kathmandu Valley, by plainclothes security forces. The incident occurred amid a wave of attacks on journalists by government security forces and Maoist rebels following the rebels' decision to break a cease-fire agreement on August 27. According to local journalists, Kandel was interrogated about books found in his home relating to communism, Maoism, and Leninism.

No known charges have been filed against him, and his whereabouts are unknown.


SEPTEMBER 13, 2003

Sitaram Baral, Janaastha
IMPRISONED

Baral, assistant editor of the weekly Janaastha, was abducted in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, by government security forces amid a wave of arrests and attacks on journalists that began after rebels broke a cease-fire agreement with government forces on August 27.

Four days later, authorities released Baral, according to local journalists. Local sources alleged that during his detention, Baral was blindfolded and subjected to interrogations and "mental and physical torture." He was hospitalized after his release.

Premnath Joshi, Shangrila Voice
IMPRISONED

Joshi, editor and publisher of the English-language monthly Shangrila Voice, was arrested by government security forces at his home in the capital, Kathmandu, in the middle of the night on September 13 and taken to an undisclosed location.

Joshi's arrest came amid a wave of arrests and attacks on journalists by government security forces and Maoist rebels following the rebels' decision to end a cease-fire agreement on August 27. No known charges have been filed against the journalist, and his whereabouts are unknown.


SEPTEMBER 16, 2003

Gyanendra Khadka, Rastriya Samachar Samiti
KILLED—UNCONFIRMED

Khadka, 35, a journalist with the state-owned news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), was brutally murdered in Nepal's eastern Sindhupalchowk District by a group of suspected Maoist rebels.

According to RSS, the rebels took Khadka away from a school where he taught part-time and led him to a nearby field, where they tied his hands to a pole and slit his throat. No motive is known for his murder, but during Nepal's 7-year-old civil war, both rebels and government security forces have targeted journalists.

Khadka is the first journalist to be killed in Nepal since the rebels broke a cease-fire agreement with government forces in August. His murder came amid intensified violence in the country, as well as increased attacks on journalists.

Khadka's murder has outraged the journalist community in Nepal. A group of at least 30 journalists gathered to peacefully protest the killing on September 11, but police dispersed them and detained them briefly for defying a ban on demonstrations.


SEPTEMBER 21, 2003

Nawaraj Pahadi, Antarang
IMPRISONED

Pahadi, an editor for the weekly Antarang, was arrested by government security forces in Lamjung District, in western Nepal. Local sources told CPJ that he was detained on the order of a local government official in reprisal for publishing articles about corruption. According to the daily Space Time, Pahadi was arrested for publishing allegations of irregularities at the Middle Marsyangdi Hydro Power Plant. No known charges have been filed against him, and his whereabouts are unknown.

NOVEMBER 18, 2003
Posted: July 23, 2004

Dhana Bahadur Magar, Federation of Nepalese Journalists
IMPRISONED

Magar, a central council member of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and secretary of the FNJ's Kathmandu office, was taken into custody by security forces.

In the wake of the government's broken cease-fire agreement with Maoist rebels, many journalists were targeted and detained by security forces. While the majority of journalists were held briefly and then released, Magar was held for eight months. According to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy Studies in the capital, Kathmandu, he was released on July 21, 2004.