JUNE 13 2005
Posted: June 21, 2005

Many journalists

Dozens of Nepalese journalists were arrested in the capital, Kathmandu, and the neighboring district of Kavre as protests against media restrictions continued across the country. More than 40 journalists were briefly detained in police stations in Kathmandu, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and other local sources.

Hundreds of journalists and their supporters gathered in Ratna Park, an area in the capital where the government has banned mass demonstrations, according to local journalists. Shortly after their protest began, riot police with batons began arresting the protesters, according to local and international news reports. The FNJ reported that 46 journalists, including FNJ President Bishnu Nisthuri, were loaded into vans and taken to Janasewa, Singha Durbar, and Kamalpokhari police stations across the city.

Some journalists were injured as baton-wielding police attempted to round them up, FNJ and local journalists told CPJ. Journalists were demonstrating against reported government proposals to institute restrictive media laws, as well as the arrests and overnight detentions of journalists protesting in Kathmandu on June 8.

Despite the arrests, police were unable to stop the rally. Protesters continued marching through the restricted area, and the demonstration culminated with speeches calling for an end to restrictions on the press.

In the town of Banepa, Kavre district, as many as 52 journalists, lawyers, and other citizens, were arrested while protesting the government’s repressive actions toward the press. They were released later in the day.

Nepal’s King Gyanendra dismantled the independent press when he seized power from the multi-party government on February 1. While some restrictions have been eased, a ban on FM radio news broadcasting and other limits on independent reporting remain in place. Journalists have stepped up protests since reports of a government proposal to codify and intensify current media restrictions were leaked to the press at the end of May.