Category Archives: Nepal Press Freedom

Badhshala- A Bad Director Can Never Make a Good Film

Letter written by the Defence Ministry.

Letter written by the Defence Ministry. Click to enlarge

This is yet another example of former adversaries- the Nepali Army and the Maoists- coming together to cover their dirty secrets (conflict-era crimes).

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

Habituated to the filthy political drama, the government imposed a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala (Slaughter House) in a clear sign that the government is going to be a butcher for the Freedom of Expression (FoE). In a letter (see pic above, and below by Ministry of Information and Communication to Nepal Film Development Board) sent to Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), Ministry of Defense has asked to impose ban on the movie citing on the vague reason: ‘…some issues including use of Army regalia in the movie’. Republica, in an editorial, writes:

In a deplorable move, the Ministry of Defense, [currently led by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai],  has requested a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala, citing a rarely invoked rule. Apparently, the filmmaker should have taken permission to use Army regalia in the movie. But many Nepali movies have previously depicted characters in Army uniforms without any interference from the government. Hence the Defense Ministry’s reasoning falls flat at the outset. All previous movie bans were conducted by censor board (for example, the movie ATM that was banned for vulgarity). This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has gotten involved in preventing a movie’s screening.

American judge Potter Stewart says: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

So, the question is has our government lost its confidence? And whether it is heading towards an authoritarian regime? Many say that is exactly what is happing. Continue reading

About these ads

Populist Government’s Bumper Offer to Media Houses

Populist Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has now tried to lured media fraternity by offering, what media report suggests, ‘unnatural facilities’.

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

If you can’t beat them, join them. Or, bribe them. If it turns out to be true, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government’s attempt to appease the media sector only exposes the real character of an ultra-leftist government. It will be a kind of bribe but with completing legal formalities.

Following sharp criticism for what it has been doing, the government has tried to appease media outlets by providing lucrative facilities. The government which, according to its own word, is committed to welfare of people has shifted its priority and started to appease different sectors which ruling UCPN (Maoist) used to brand as “agents of feudalism and expansionist forces.”

A 10-point incentive package has been forwarded to the Social Committee of the Cabinet and is likely to be okayed by the Cabinet this week, Prakash Acharya quotes an unnamed sources at the Office of Prime Minister as saying in The Himalayan Times. Continue reading

Press Council Nepal: From a Watchdog to the Maoist Lapdog

Awadesh Kumar Yadav

Awadesh Kumar Yadav

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

The present Press Council Act in Nepal need to be revisited, restructured and reformed to ensure the independence of the council and to establish it as a true ‘watchdog mechanism’.

After the appointment of new chairman at Press Council Nepal (PCN), the need of reforming the existing legal provision has further garnered its relevancy.

In what appears to be a controversial move of the Government of Nepal, it appointed former Supreme Court Justice Awadhesh Kumar Yadav as the Chairman of Press Council Nepal on January 25, 2013.

Reportedly, Yadav as the apex court Justice had issued an order to prevent the prosecution of a war-era criminal case against then Maoist lawmaker Keshab Rai. Continue reading

Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Nepal’s Free Media

These are not very good times for the relationship between the Nepali media industry and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. They are at loggerheads, most recently, over a statement issued by the embassy on 27th blaming “certain print and television media” reporting “against products manufactured by Indian Joint Ventures in Nepal.” Past allegations of this nature, said the embassy, have been found to be false after thorough investigation by Nepal Government agencies.

The most damning part of the press statement is in the second paragraph. “The Indian JVs have informed the embassy that they have been approached by such media houses for release of advertisements and are being threatened with negative publicity if those requests are not met.”

Then the embassy provided us some background info on Indo-Nepal relationship telling us how much importance the JVs have in that.

“These Indian Joint Ventures make a substantial contribution to the Nepalese economy, employment, revenue to the Government and exports from Nepal. They maintain the highest standards of quality, which is proved by the fact that exports of their products are accepted across the globe. These companies are the pride of Nepal and a symbol of close relations between India and Nepal.” Then the embassy adds: “The baseless adverse publicity against the products of such joint ventures will not only hit the Nepalese economy and exports but will also deter new foreign direct investments into Nepal.”

Last, but not least, the embassy says: “We hope that concerned authorities will take suitable action against such unethical practices.”

Anything wrong with the statement? Nothing, had that been issued by a commercial company with business interests in Nepal. But the fact that it was issued by the official representative of the Republic of India in the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal is troubling. The Indian embassy, under the able leadership of Rakesh Sood, in Nepal is not the East Nepal Company. Therefore it shouldn’t behave in a way that reminds us the East India Company. [Nepalis didn't experience that, by the way, as they were never colonized by the British.] The embassy should have told the complaining JVs something like this: “This seems purely a commercial issue. You guys, being multinational companies, should know how to sort this out.”

But the embassy didn’t say that. It acted like the publicity wing of Dabur Nepal, the Indian company in Nepal, whose product- Real juice- got bad publicity because worm was reportedly found in its tetra pack.

The funniest thing is the company in question, Dabur Nepal, didn’t send letters or rebuttals to the media outlets that reported about its product.

The embassy’s views are highly exaggerated when it says the Indian JVs “are the pride of Nepal.” NO, they are NOT. Are Toyota, Coca Cola and Blackberry the pride of India? But yes Dabur, Nepal Unilever and Asian Paints in Nepal symbolize business relations (not close ties though) between our two nations. Dabur or Unilever are not in Nepal because they wanted to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Profit is THE priority and that is paramount. We Nepalis do understand that and we are perfectly fine with that…as long as the companies abide by the rules, sell quality products and refrain from neglecting and compromising on quality. If Dabur goes, another company will soon come to sell us juice and hazmolas before we get thirsty and face problems with digestion. They are not distributing their products for free by bringing them from India. We also know that Nepal-India relationship is not based on such shaky foundations that rely on tetra-packs juices. We also know that if a company sells something substandard they are often reported in the free presses of the world. Nepal is no North Korea and no Myanmar (Burma) whose dictator General gets red carpet welcome in India. We have a free press, vibrant and very much functional, far more responsible than the Indian press DESPITE the fact that we are only two decades old. We are vibrant, responsible and functional especially when we are compared to some Indian papers that have more than 15 decades of history and experience. [The report of worm found in Real juice was first published by Naya Patrika, a daily tabloid. It was also carried by Sagarmatha TV, a news channel. Kantipur TV, not newspapers from Kantipur Publications, broadcasted a report on that on it's late night news show, not regular and prime time news bulletins.] Continue reading

Maoist, the Party of Prime Minister, Attacks Himalmedia, the Newspaper House

Update: The CPN-UML boycotted a scheduled meeting of the political coordination committee, which was supposed to be attended by Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, as a mark of protest against the Maoist attack on Himalmedia Pvt Ltd on Sunday. The UML also issued a statement condemning the Maoists for “brutal attack” on Himalmedia. Former CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal visited the Himalmedia office and expressed solidarity with the media. “This is condemnable attack and is aimed at intimidating the free press,” Nepal said after the visit. (source)

Himalmedia attacked
Himal Magazine journalist Damabar Krishna Shrestha, who was injured, talks about the attack.

Activists of the ruling party CPN-Maoist today attacked one dozen employees, including scribes, of the Himalmedia Pvt Ltd, the publisher of Nepali Times, Himal Magazine, Wave Magazine. The Maoist cadres vandalised the Himalmedia office at Hattiban in Lalitpur and attacked the staffers including Publisher and Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashutosh Tiwari, Executive Editor Kiran Nepal and senior correspondent Dambar Krishna Shrestha among others. Continue reading

Yes, Comrades Did It. Maoists Say They Killed Birendra Sah

The Maoist communists today admitted that they killing journalist Birendra Sah after abducting him.

The CPN Maoist today admitted that their cadres killed Bara-district journalist Birendra Sah. Unveiling the report of the high-level committee it had formed to probe into the case, the Maoists have also expressed commitment to give all possible support to the state to initiate legal action against the assailants. The report states that Sah was murdered by Maoist cadres Kundan Phaujdhar and Ram Iqbal Sahani under the orders of their area in-charge Lal Babu Chaudhary. Sah was shot in his temple and chest in an open area inside a jungle in between Juguwa village of Sapahi VDC and Sukhuwa village of Kakari VDC in Bara district. Sah’s body was buried in a ditch near the incident site, according to the report based on the statement recorded by Chaudhary. Sah was abducted from Pipara Bazaar of Bara district on October 4. Continue reading

Nepal Press Freedom Update: Papers Back on Stands, Maoists Back Off, Editors Unite

Update: In a separate agitation program today, police detained over 35 journalists from the southern gate of Singha Durbar, the central administrative block as some scribes were protesting against the recent Maoist attack on the press. Demanding reinstatement of 49 scribes who were sacked from state-owned Gorakhapatra, press freedom, among other, the journalists were staging a sit-in at the south gate of Singha Durbar today. (more)

……..
In a pleasant development in the struggle for press freedom, Nepali media emerged victorious yesterday after the Maoists backed off from their strikes in media houses. Meanwhile, prominent editors of the country have come under a common umbrella called Editors’ Alliance. Here’s the summary of the development:

Court Issues Stay Order: The Patan Appellate Court on Wednesday (15 Aug) issued a stay order requiring a Maoist-aligned trade union not to obstruct the printing and distribution of The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post dailies. The court noted that the obstruction has infringed people’s constitutional and legal right to information.

Mahara Urges Dialogue: Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara has urged the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and other media organizations to resolve the present crisis seen at media houses through dialogues. “We have a special request to the FNJ and other organizations to take positive initiative to resolve the dispute between working journalists and the managements of media organizations,” Mahara said in a statement. “The government is seriously concerned due to the uncomfortable situation at Gorkhapatra Corporation, HBC FM , Annapurna Post, The Himalayan Times and other institutions in recent days,” Mahara said. (source)

Shalikram Jamarkattle, Chief of the Maoist trade union, has said that his organization wouldn’t obstruct the publications of newspapers from 15 August. He issued a statement on 15 August saying that while launching agitation for the rights of workers, his trade union wouldn’t close down offices and disrupt printing and circulation of the newspapers. He also said that other forms of agitation would be opted. He also requested his union’s branch in the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post not to obstruct the publication of the dailies, Annapurna Post reported in its 16 August edition. Continue reading

A Notice That Wasn't Printed in the Himalayan Times….

…because of the Maoist disruption in the production of the newspaper. UWB reproduces the full text of a notice issued by the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post (published in today’s edition of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post):

YCL Threat to Kantipur Journalist: Hari Bahadur Thapa, Chief Reporter at Kantipur, nation’s largest and most influential newspaper, said that he received threat on phone today morning “from a person who didn’t identify himself but warned me not to publish anything negative about YCL” (Young Communist League), the youth wing of CPN Maoist that is involved in intimidation through Nepal in recent months. “You have been maligning YCL,” the person told Thapa. “Completely stop this act.”

“Please come to our office and tell which news report you find objectionable,” Thapa told the person.

“Yes, we will come to the office but in a different form,” said the person and slammed down the phone.

Thapa called back at the number but found out that the phone belonged to a shop in the city and the shopkeeper said he couldn’t identify the person.

This threat comes at a time when senior Maoist leaders are expressing against the professionally run independent newspapers in the country that they say are trying to spread rumor or malign the Maoist party and not writing for the poor.

YCL tries to abduct reporter: Meanwhile, Drishti, a pro-leftist vernacular weekly, has issued a press statement a while ago saying that a group of about 18 YCL members reached the weekly’s office at 1 PM today and tried to abduct its reporter Madhav Basnet. The group first surrounded the office as they tried to take away journalist Basent. “This kind of act that has been coming against the journalists and media houses recently from the Maoist is a mocks our press freedom,” said the statement.

Notice Issued In Public Interest

This is to update all our valued readers, advertisers and society at large on the recent developments with regard to the disruption in the production and distribution of the newspapers, The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post.

The latest Chronology of events is as follows:

9th August 2007 (Thursday): A petition was filed by APCA Nepal against the office bearers of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Communication and Printing Publication Workers’ Union (ANCPPWU) which had threatened to disrupt the distribution of the two newspapers from Saturday. APCA sought a stay order against the defendants as their activities violated rights guaranteed under Caluse 6 (6) and 9 of the Citizens Rights act 2012 BS.

10th August 2007 (Friday): A single bench of Justice Buddhi Prasad Regmi summoned the defendants to appear in court on 13th August (Monday) when the bench was to conduct a hearing and decide on whether or not to issue a stay order. The defendants refused to accept the Patan Appellate Court’s summons. Continue reading

Jobless Journos of Gorkhapatra

The Maoist minister is trying to turn the state-owned publishing house a Maoist recruitment center

The other day, Gorkhapatra Corporation, the government owned publisher of dailies Gorkhapatra and the Rising Nepal, refused to renew the contract of 49 journalists, rendering them instantly jobless. Of the 49 working journalists, many were appointed during King Gyanendra’s direct rule as justified by the corporation for the refusal to renew the contract. But the question is: How many of them were pro-king journalists? Minister of Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara should be able to answer this though he has maintained a tight lip. The Maoists have formed labor unions and have talked about the rights of laborers in public gatherings. On this count, Mahara has turned his back conspicuously. Gorkhapatra Corporation has been a recruitment center of successive information and communication ministers. Mahara, being a Maoist, cannot be an exception. He apparently wants to fill the corporation with pro-Maoist journalists. Continue reading

Maoist Madness in The Himalayan Times

UWB is strongly against protest programs in newspapers and media house that aim at stopping the newspapers from reaching to the public.

The Himalayan Times Protest

To stop a newspaper from being circulated, like in the photo, is a crime against free society. Workers stop the circulation of the Himalayan Times. Pic via THT

The protesters in APCA House, the publishers of English daily The Himalayan Times and Nepali daily Annapurna Post have disrupted the distribution of papers as they are demanding facilities and benefits from management. The Maoist as a party is clearly behind this disruption and the national leadership must be held responsible for this mayhem in media sector. Maoists are trying to intimidate media by staging such drama in the name of facilities and benefits for workers. Yes, anyone including the Maoists can have peaceful protest for whatever the reason but while doing so no one can undermine people’s right to information. We respect and defend the agitators’ right to protest and demand facilities but we condemn their act of preventing the papers from being circulated. To stop papers from reaching to subscriber’s home or to try to stop a newspaper from being published is a crime against democracy and free society.

Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara of the Maoist party is encouraging such act by not acting against it and that only shows what his party might do in future. We know Maoists are not satisfied with the professional/commercial media houses in Nepal whose media outlets enjoy good circulation and ratings. Intimidation is not the way to counter those media and no newspaper in good conscience can become a Janadesh (a Maoist mouthpiece). Open your own newspaper, if you can, and join the competition. Provide quality content and readers/audiences will be yours. After all, the present media houses are not distributing their papers for free. People buy and when they do that they do that by their choice. Professional Commercial media needs to be flourished in Nepal for the shake of institutionalizing democracy in the country. Continue reading