By Dinesh Wagle on June 26th, 2005 in Wagle Street Journal
Press Freedom for Democracy Nepali journalists think that nationwide rallies will help keep the issue of democracy and press freedom alive
An American reporter asked me this morning about the journalists’ ongoing agitation against autocracy in Nepal. “I’m wondering if journalists feel, now more than ever, that,” he asked, “they alone must lead efforts to restore media freedom and democracy back to Nepal?”
Fighting For Our Lost Freedom: Journalists in the Indra-Chowk corner meeting this afternoon. Press freedom for democracy, reads the left banner. The right one screams, “Let us protest the barbaric oppression against the press.” Pic by Wagle.
And my answer was, “You are partly right. But they cannot do it alone without political parties involvement. And even political parties cannot do it on their own without general public’s support. But, unfortunately, general public seems to be too tired of protest rallies…or more importantly, they are skeptical about the political leadership. King is exploiting this skepticism. Majority of people here does not support the king. But, for now, they also do not support the parties as well. But, king is trying to show that people’s indifference toward parties means they support him.”
This afternoon I went to participate in a protest rally organized in Bhotahitti- Indra Chowk, Kathmandu, upon the call of Federation of Nepali Journalist. Journalists chanted slogans like “Let FMs read the news”, “Down with draconian press law”, “Release all detained journalists”, “Restore Press Freedom” etc. The rally, attended by some one hundred scribes, turned into a corner meeting in Indra Chowk.
FNJ has called for boycott of royalist minister’s photos in tomorrow’s publications. The umbrella organization has also called for boycott of today’s official programs to be attended by ministers. This boycott is part of the ongoing protest program of FNJ. There is also a debate going on among Kathmandu journalists regarding the boycott tactic. Some consider boycotting against professionalism and stress that writing news about the rulers mismanagement and corruption will help the agitation.
Shyam Shrestha, editor of Mulyankan Monthly addressed the meeting. Then Shiva Gaunle, acting president of FNJ warned the government that one day journalists will be forced to boycott the news and programs of the king himself.
As we were returning from the corner meeting, I found myself walking with Shiva Gaunle. I remembered the American reporter’s question in the email and threw that to Gaunle, adding how long it (the rallying) will go? “Look, we have no option other than continuing it,” he said walking through the busy street of Indra Chowk-Ason-Bhotahitti. “Our rights have clearly been curtailed and some other are clearly under threat. We should keep doing what we are doing now.” His view was that for the shake of keeping the issue alive, journalists should continue their struggle.
Yes, the rallying has shown some effect. The draconian press law, that initially triggered the agitation programs, has not received royal approval though it has already been passed by the Information and Communication ministry.
But is it possible that some one hundred journalists gathering in a busy hub amidst tight escorting of riot police and chanting slogans for freedom and democracy will actually bring back democracy in Nepal? I was curious to hear his analysis. And his views were not different than that I emailed to the American reporter. I told him that people’s trust over parties and expectations from those political organizations have eroded in the past years. “There was a possibility of regaining that lost trust and confidence,” I said, “if internal democracy had flourished and democratic norms were exercised within Nepali Congress. The ongoing district/village ‘democratic’ exercise or conventions have been disastrous.”
“Yes,” Gaunle said amidst the hustling and bustling of Ason, “and expect even more such disasters in the CPN UML, second largest party in the dissolved parliament. No body in that party, especially those near to General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, is for a change.”
He said that journalists alone cannot restore democracy in Nepal adding, “Their movement could be considered as a ‘satellite’ activity for the Mass Movement.” He said, “This protest of journalists is preparation of a small fire. We are just keeping the fire burning. But there should be a big fire, with big logs inserted into the burner. For that, parties should come up with credible and appealing leadership. Look, Nepali Congress is set to put a stamp to Girija Prasad Koirala’s leadership in it’s planned Kathmandu General Convention.”
I think parties are missing the excellent opportunity. People are not for this king. They are against him. But they want parties to come up with new ideas. Unfortunately, parties seem not to be listening that voice. I wonder, as the American reporter wondered in the email, who long we will have to rally like thisâ�¦
5 Responses to “Rallying to Keep the Issue Alive”
1. JPT Says:
June 27th, 2005 at 2:41 am
ok I have nothing to comment here. I will keep my mouth shut even though when I see Journalists and Lawyers in street and claiming to be more successful than the political parties. Yes I have nothing to say because we need to protest against whatever is happening in the country. But again you do feel sorry for yourself when you see professional people like these so utterly dissatisfied that they have to come out in the street. Who are next now ? Teachers ? Doctors ? Engineers ?
I am very much impressed though by FNJ’s decision not to publish ministers’ photos tomorrow. Actually you should stop it completely to cover news like innagurational ceremony done by one of these jokers. And I am sure that methods like these would bear more fruits than the street rallies.
2. Shyam Says:
June 27th, 2005 at 2:26 pm
Nepali Journalists are for sale. Now as the the new law will not allow them to be sold they are up against it. Here is the real story about Yubraj Ghimire, one of prominent Journalist in Nepal. If he can stoop so low don’t know what other will do. [icd]
UWB: Before you speak about Yubaraj Ghimire, please tell us about yourself. If you can’t, stop posting nonsense things in the veil of anonymity.
3. Smart Says:
June 27th, 2005 at 2:48 pm
What a revelation about Yubaraj Ghimire by Shyam. [icd]
4. Ram Says:
June 29th, 2005 at 1:43 pm
Please tell us about Yubaraj Ghimire. Is it that he is agent of the terrorist? This every one knows.
5. AG Says:
July 7th, 2005 at 5:24 pm
what do you want to say? What makes you to think on that way? MERO GORU KO 12 TAKKA ko ukhan jasto bhayana. kalam le nasakera tarbar uthayeko suhayena.