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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



JANUARY 2, 2004
Posted: May 21, 2004

Maheshwar Pahari, Rastriya Swabhiman
IMPRISONED

Pahari, a contributor to the local weekly Rastriya Swabhiman (National Pride), was detained in the village of Khorako Mukh, in Kaski District, in western Nepal. While no group has taken public responsibility for detaining Pahari, local sources believe that he was arrested by government security forces, who are locked in an armed struggle against rural Maoist insurgents.

It is unclear where Pahari is being held, and his relatives reported to the Red Cross and the Nepalese National Human Rights Commission that he "disappeared," according to Amnesty International. The Informal Sector Service Center, a local human rights organization, told CPJ that Pahari was transferred to a jail in Kaski on May 14.

Pahari was previously arrested in November 2001 and detained for 13 months on suspicion of being a Maoist sympathizer, according to Amnesty International. However, local journalists believe that his latest detention may be linked to his journalistic work and told CPJ that Pahari is not involved in the armed struggle.

Rastriya Swabhiman stopped publishing in August 2003 after a cease-fire between the government and the Maoists was broken, but journalists from the paper continue to publish online and often report on human rights abuses carried out by government security forces, according to local sources. One source told CPJ that at the time of his arrest, Pahari was traveling into a Maoist-controlled area to report on rebel activity there, and that news of his trip had been posted on a pro-Maoist news Web site.

Pahari maintained close contacts with sources in the Maoist movement, and some sources told CPJ that security forces may have detained him to gather intelligence about the rebel leadership, which went underground after the cease-fire broke.

The Maoists, who model their movement after Peru's Shining Path, have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal's constitutional monarchy.


FEBRUARY 1, 2004
Posted: February 10, 2004

Dristi
ATTACKED

Police entered the offices of Dristi, a weekly newspaper affiliated with the opposition party United Marxist Leninist Communist Party of Nepal, beat several employees, and vandalized the facility, according to local journalists.

Saroj Adhikari, a reporter with the newspaper, and two other staff members, Kedar Adhikari (it is unclear if they are related) and Ram Krishna Rana, were injured in the attack, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies, a Kathmandu-based press freedom group.

In the days before the attack, Dristi had published headlines mirroring the opposition parties’ demands for elections. The incident came two days after Nepal’s opposition parties defied a ban on public gatherings by staging large protests in the capital, Kathmandu, calling for democratic reforms. Police used water cannons and batons to break up the crowds, and international news wire services reported as many as 20 arrests and numerous injuries.

It is not clear if the newspaper was deliberately targeted, or if it was a victim to a random act of violence by police.

The opposition parties called a daylong strike on February 2 to protest the alleged police brutality during the January 30 demonstrations, and thousands took to the streets in downtown Kathmandu again calling for new parliamentary elections.

At least two journalists covering the demonstrations on January 30, Ramesh Chalise, a cameraman with Nepal TV, and Tanka Pant, of the daily Samacharpatra, were hurt in the resulting chaos, according to local journalists.

MARCH 13, 2004
Updated: August 9, 2004

Dhaniram Tharu, Swargadwari FM
IMPRISONED

Tharu, an anchor, producer, and director of local-language programs for Swargadwari FM, was arrested by Nepalese security forces along with several of his co-workers in Nepalgunj, a town near Nepal's southwestern border. Swargadwari is a community radio station based in the neighboring Dang District, a conflict-ridden area under the control of Maoist insurgents.

The radio station, which is popular among residents in the area, has won praise from local journalists for its independent editorial line.

Tharu's colleagues were released the day after their arrest, but Tharu remained in detention. No group took public responsibility for holding the journalist. According to The Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a local human rights organization, Tharu was transferred to a jail in Nepalgunj on March 16.

Local sources told CPJ that Tharu may have been targeted for his journalistic work. During a seven-month cease-fire between Maoists and the government beginning in January 2003, rural journalists felt more freedom to report on Maoist activities, and at that time Swargadwari aired critical stories about the government and security forces, as well as more detailed reports on the rebels. According to INSEC, security forces believe that Tharu is close to his Maoist sources, especially since he frequently reported from remote rural areas where the rebels are assumed to be based.

According to INSEC, security forces also suspect Tharu of helping local bonded laborers publish and distribute pamphlets exposing their situation. Members of the journalist's caste, Tharu (it is common in this area of Asia for people to have the same last name as the name of their caste), have historically been a disadvantaged group in Nepal, especially in rural areas where Tharu families have long worked as indentured laborers. Perhaps as a result, many Tharus support the Maoists, who have promised to redistribute land and wealth to Nepal's landless masses.

Tharu was released in Nepalgunj on July 12, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), a local human rights group.

The Maoists, who model their movement after Peru's Shining Path, have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal's constitutional monarchy.


APRIL 4, 2004

Updated: August 9, 2004

Khadga Bahadur Swar (aka K.B. Jumli), Nepal Samacharpatra
IMPRISONED

Local authorities in the western Jumla District arrested Jumli, a correspondent for the Nepali-language daily Nepal Samacharpatra, which is based in the capital, Kathmandu. Jumli also worked as a primary school teacher in the district.

According to local sources, the Jumla District local administration office accused Jumli of being involved in Maoist activities and ordered him imprisoned for 90 days under the Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Control and Punishment) Act, known as TADA. The Nepalese government has been fighting Maoist insurgents, who model their movement after Peru's Shining Path, since 1996.

Parliament passed TADA in April 2002 to replace the ordinance of the same name enacted in November 2001 when King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency. TADA stipulates that any organizations or individuals supporting the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and its activities are considered terrorists, and that individuals can be detained without trial for up to 90 days on suspicion of planning terrorist acts.

Local sources told CPJ they believe that Jumli's detention might be linked to his journalistic work. His reports often criticized the local administration and Nepalese security forces, and he maintained contacts with Maoist sources. Some sources told CPJ that security forces may have detained Jumli to gather intelligence about his sources, since the Maoist leadership went underground after a cease-fire broke down in August 2003.

Jumli was released in July and continues to work for Nepal Samacharpatra, according to local sources.

APRIL 15, 2004
Posted: April 21, 2004

Sukadeb Dahal, Commander Evening Daily
IMPRISONED

Dahal, a reporter for the private, Kathmandu-based Commander Evening Daily, was arrested on Thursday, April 15, in the town of Bhaktapur, about 8 miles (12 kilometers) east of Kathmandu. Dahal was covering a rally organized by opposition political parties to protest King Gyanendra’s assumption of executive powers.

The king dismissed an elected government in October 2002 and appointed a government loyal to him. He has been locked in a constitutional stalemate with Parliament since. Dozens of similar protests were held in April throughout the country, with students and members of opposition parties calling for political reform.

Dahal was released after five days of detention in nearby police barracks, according to FNJ Secretary-General Tara Nath Dahal, who is not related to the journalist.

APRIL 16, 2004
Posted: April 21, 2004

Journalists
HARASSED, ATTACKED

According to local and international press reports, security forces harassed, physically attacked, and briefly detained hundreds of journalists after authorities banned protests in the capital, Kathmandu, and neighboring towns in early April.

On April 16, security forces arrested and detained up to 75 journalists who were covering a rally in Kathmandu organized by opposition political parties to protest King Gyanendra’s assumption of executive powers. The king dismissed an elected government in October 2002 and appointed a government loyal to him, sparking a constitutional stalemate with Parliament. Dozens of similar protests were held in April throughout the country, with students and members of opposition parties calling for political reform. According to news reports, thousands of demonstrators and opposition members have been detained at the protests.

According to local news reports, the journalists were detained on April 16 for several hours and released without charge. Several were also beaten by security forces. On April 17, Minister of Home, Communications, and Information Kamal Thapa promised to investigate the attacks, and on April 19, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa said he regretted the use of force against journalists during protests, according to press reports.

Local journalists organized their own protest on April 17, during which as many as 200 journalists were detained, some overnight, and many have called for Kamal Thapa’s resignation.

MAY 7, 2004
Posted: May 11, 2004

Several journalists
ATTACKED, HARASSED

Police officers beat and detained journalists who were covering a student-organized mock political referendum in Butwal, a town about 174 miles (280 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Kathmandu.

The demonstration was held as part of ongoing protests against King Gyanendra's assumption of executive powers, which occurred after the king dismissed an elected government in October 2002.

At 9:30 a.m., police broke up a large crowd of participants in the mock referendum, which asked respondents whether they favor absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, or a republican democracy. According to CPJ sources, police officers targeted and arrested a group of about 15 local journalists who were covering the event. Dozens of students were also arrested, according to news reports.

Later, police assaulted several journalists who had been present at the protest at a nearby restaurant, sources said. The journalists were dragged from the restaurant and beaten with batons and rifle butts, then arrested.

According to local sources, the journalists injured in the attacks included Jitendra Gurti Chhetri, a stringer for the India-based satellite television channel Nepal 1; Dipendra Baduwal, of the Kathmandu-based daily Kantipur; Dipak Gnyawali, of the Butwal-based daily Bhabana; Sher Bahadur Khatri Chhetri, editor of the Butwal-based daily Jana Sangharsa; Bishnu Ghimire, of the Butwal-based daily Lumbini; Dipendra Kunwar; Yuvaraj Pandey; and Ram Prasad Acharya.

All of the arrested journalists were released after several hours in police detention.

On May 8, after the Federation of Nepalese Journalists condemned the Butwal assaults on journalists, two police officers were arrested pending an investigation into their alleged involvement, and a third officer is also being investigated, according to the news Web site Kantipur Online (http://www.kantipuronline.com/).

After a ban on public assemblies was announced in early April, hundreds of Nepalese journalists were harassed and detained while covering political demonstrations. The ban was lifted last week, but opposition parties have vowed to continue their campaign of protests against the king's hand-picked administration, and security forces continue to break up demonstrations. On May 7, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned in an apparent attempt to defuse the country's mounting political crisis.


MAY 16, 2004
Posted: May 19, 2004

Jagat Nepal, Kantipur Television Network (KTV)
ATTACKED

Police attacked Nepal, a senior journalist working for privately owned Kantipur Television Network (KTV), in the capital, Kathmandu. According to local sources, Nepal was covering a political demonstration organized by student groups as part of ongoing protests against King Gyanendra's assumption of executive powers, which occurred after the king dismissed an elected government in October 2002.

A police officer who had been traveling in a police van alongside protesters approached and assaulted Nepal from behind, kicking him in the back of the head. Nepal later spent two hours in the hospital and was released with injuries to his head and neck.

Sources told CPJ that the police had recognized and targeted the journalist, who is known for his aggressive coverage of attacks on civilians by Nepalese security forces. Nepal was wearing a clearly displayed press ID card.

After a ban on public assemblies was announced in early April, many Nepalese journalists were harassed and detained while covering political demonstrations. While the ban was lifted in May, opposition parties vowed to continue their campaign of protests against the king's hand-picked administration, and security forces continue to break up demonstrations. On May 7, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned in an apparent attempt to defuse the country's mounting political crisis.


MAY 18, 2004
Posted: May 21, 2004

Radio Nepal
ATTACKED

Maoist rebels looted and destroyed equipment from an FM transmitting station belonging to state-owned Radio Nepal in the village of Jhalari in Kanchanpur, a district on Nepal's western border.

According to a report on the news Web site Kantipur Online (http://www.kantipuronline.com/), a group of Maoists looted equipment, including the station's transmitter, and set fire to the generator and antenna.

Sources told CPJ that the attack was organized to prevent locals from having access to pro-government news.

Members of the Maoist insurgency have threatened and attacked journalists whom they accuse of being biased toward the government. In February 2003, rebels threatened Deepak Bahadur Thapa, a reporter for the private, Kathmandu-based daily Nepal Samacharpatra who was accused of being biased against their movement.

JUNE 24, 2004
Posted June 25, 2004

Rewati Sapkota, Rajdhani
HARASSED

Nepalese security forces arrested and detained Sapkota, a senior reporter for the daily Nepali-language Rajdhani. According to news reports and local sources, several soldiers in plainclothes arrested Sapkota without showing an arrest warrant at his house in Kathmandu, the capital, and detained the journalist for six hours.

Local sources told CPJ that Sapkota was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location by car. There, he was questioned about phone calls he had allegedly received from members of Nepal's Maoist rebel movement. The soldiers later released him without charge.

No official reason for Sapkota's detention has been given, but CPJ sources said that Sapkota uses information from sources within the Maoist movement in his reporting and that security forces may have detained him to gather intelligence about the Maoist leadership, which has been in hiding since the breakdown of peace talks with the government in August 2003.

In May 2002, Sapkota was detained by police officers for four days and questioned about suspected Maoist leaders as well as several Nepalese journalists. He was also physically tortured and threatened during his detention. In November 2002, Sapkota was among some 14 journalists who filed lawsuits against the government seeking compensation for being illegally detained.

The Maoists, who model their movement after Peru's Shining Path, have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal's constitutional monarchy.

JUNE 17, 2004
Posted: June 25, 2004

Subid Guragain, Rajdhani
ATTACKED

Soldiers from the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) assaulted Guragain, a reporter for the national Nepali-language daily Rajdhani, in southeastern Sunsari District.

A source at Rajdhani told CPJ that the soldiers knew Guragain was a journalist and that they targeted him because his reporting had criticized Nepalese security forces, which are fighting a civil war against a Maoist rebel insurgency.

After protests from local journalists' groups, the RNA headquarters in the capital, Kathmandu, put out a press release apologizing for the assault and stating that the soldiers responsible would be punished, according to local sources.

JULY 31, 2004
Posted: August 10, 2004

Durga Thapa, Nepal Samacharpatra
KIDNAPPED

Maoist rebels abducted local journalist and human rights worker Thapa, who had been reporting on the rebels' practices of extorting money from local businesses and workers in districts where Maoists have a stronghold.

Thapa, an employee of the local human rights organization Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC) and a local correspondent for the Kathmandu-based daily Nepal Samacharpatra, remains captive in a labor camp since his abduction. Rebels seized him after they met with a delegation of human rights activists and journalists, including Thapa, in the Surkhet District in midwestern Nepal. The group had traveled to the district to inquire about a string of recent abductions. The Maoists stated that they intend to hold Thapa for 25 days on charges of acting "against the people's government," according to local media sources.

In the beginning of July, rebels warned Thapa to stop reporting cases of extortion, according to CPJ sources and local media organizations.

Nepalese journalists have faced increasing pressure, threats, and manipulation from both security forces and Maoists since the collapse of the cease-fire agreement in August 2003. According to CPJ research, journalists in the rural areas of the conflict are at particular risk.

AUGUST 3, 2004
Posted: August 10, 2004

Bhupendra Sahi, Gorkha Patra
Kamal Kumar Neupane, Rajdhani
THREATENED

Sahi, of the state-owned daily newspaper Gorkha Patra, and Neupane, of Rajdhani daily, fled their homes in the remote western Dailekh District on August 3 after Maoists threatened to cut off their hands, according to local news reports. The two journalists had reported on local Maoists who were demanding steep levies from rural businessmen.

Nepalese journalists have faced increasing pressure, threats, and manipulation from both security forces and Maoists since the collapse of the cease-fire agreement in August 2003. According to CPJ research, journalists in the rural areas of the conflict are at particular risk.

AUGUST 11, 2004
Updated: November 4, 2004

Dekendra Raj Thapa, Radio Nepal

KILLED-CONFIRMED

Rebels in midwestern Nepal's Dailekh District claimed to have killed Thapa, a journalist for state-run Radio Nepal and head of a local drinking water project. Local sources told CPJ that Thapa's murder was connected to his work as a journalist. After the slaying, local rebel commanders told Thapa's family that they intended to kill 10 other journalists in neighboring districts, according to local news reports.

Maoists abducted Thapa on June 26, and a rebel commander said on August 16 that they had executed him on August 11, according to local news reports.

Maoist rebels posted leaflets in Thapa's hometown in Dailekh on August 17 "charging" him with 10 counts of crimes against what the rebels refer to as their "people's regime." Among other accusations, the rebels accused Thapa of spying for state security forces while using his profession as a cover.

Thapa belonged to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and was an adviser to the local branch of Human Rights and Peace Society, a Nepalese human rights group. A delegation from FNJ met with Maoists in Dailekh to make appeals on Thapa's behalf before the rebels say they killed him.

Journalists took to the streets of the capital, Kathmandu, on August 18 to protest Thapa's killing, according to local news reports. Local journalists said that his murder and the subsequent death threats were intended to silence the press in the Maoist-controlled midwestern districts of Nepal.

In a rare response to journalists' outrage, Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara wrote a letter to FNJ in September in which he called the murder a breach of policy, promised to investigate the killing and to respect press freedom, and stated that the party had conducted "self-criticism" on the matter. Despite these claims, no person has been held responsible for Thapa's murder.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2004

Journalists at Kantipur Publications, Kantipur Television, Space Time Network and Channel Nepal
ATTACKED, THREATENED, HARASSED

Crowds attacked newspaper and television offices in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, during violent protests that followed the slayings of 12 Nepalese contract workers by militants in Iraq.

At mid-day, crowds set fire to vans and motorcycles and wrecked equipment inside the premises of English-language Kantipur Publications and the affiliated Kantipur Television, according to another affiliate, Kantipur Online. Mobs also destroyed vehicles, cameras and computers at the offices of Space Time Network and Channel Nepal, according to local journalists.

Protesters accused the government of not doing enough to secure the release of the 12 workers, who had been held hostage for nearly two weeks, according to international news reports. Some shouted for revenge as they attacked sites connected to Muslims, who constitute about 4 percent of Nepal's population.

Kantipur Online reported that police ignored the news agency's repeated calls for assistance. A source at Kantipur Publications told CPJ that several journalists there were injured, and speculated the attack was related to its reports defending the Nepalese Muslim minority.

At Channel Nepal, a CPJ source suggested the group might have targeted the news offices because the channel's owner, Jamim Shah, is Muslim.

Demanding revenge for the killings, thousands of demonstrators also attacked the capital's only mosque today, breaking windows and setting fire to carpets. One protester died as a result of wounds received during the rioting, according to international news reports.

The violence came a day after a video was released showing Iraqi militants slitting the neck of one Nepalese worker and shooting 11 others. The 12 contract workers disappeared soon after entering Iraq from Jordan on Aug. 19.

NOVEMBER 4, 2004
Posted: November 10, 2004

All Journalists

HARASSED, CENSORED

Maoist rebels announced a ban on reporting in some areas of the Maoist stronghold of midwestern Rukum District, including the Village Development Committees of Chubang, Mahad, Ranmamaikot, Pwang, and Purtenkada. Local news reports citing Maoist District Chief Bishal said that journalists would also be required to seek permission from the "people's government" before traveling to other areas of the district. The ban comes just months after Maoist leadership pledged to respect press freedom.

Despite recent talks of a ceasefire, the Royal Nepalese Army launched security operations on November 6 in Rukum and neighboring Rolpa District following reports that Maoists were gathering in these areas.