Newspaper Closure: Maoist Madness

Nepal Samacharpatra daily is closed: The Maoists should understand that, though very young compared to the world journalism, Nepali media have gone through variety of tough tests and their effort to intimidate the critical journalism will be proved to be futile.

By Dinesh Wagle

kantipur_reporters.jpg

Some reporters, proof readers and desk editors wait for vans to ferry them home after finishing the days work amidst the strike called by colleagues in printing and marketing department recently.

The Maoists are showing their draconian face everywhere. The latest comes in the form of media intimidation. While senior Maoist leaders are complaining about the big media houses not helping their party, the party’s worker unions are staging protests in newspaper offices aiming to close down the publication. In the veil of fighting for the benefits for the laborers in the printing press and circulation department, the Maoist unions are primarily aiming to stop the newspaper from being published. They tried to create problem in the APCA, the publisher of the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post, a few weeks ago. They tried to stop the publication of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post a few days ago. Because of their protest, Nepal Samacharpatra daily wasn’t published a few days ago (and the paper hasn’t appeared on the newsstands since yesterday).

I am a reporter, not an agent of publishers. Some readers might find me kind to publishers but that is because I denounce the protestors’ intention to close down the publication and support a newspaper’s right to get published at any cost. I support anyone who comes with genuine demands and puts them forward responsibly. When you are working for media, you must understand its nature. A newspaper company is not like a beer factory. Publishing newspaper is not like manufacturing biscuits. You can not just announce that you are going to stop the publication of a newspaper just because you claim that the management is not listening to your voice. You should make your voice louder.

A few days ago, reporters in Kantipur Publications clearly stood against such intention of agitating laborers of the printing press, hawker/cycle boys and marketing department. While we supported some of their demand to create a branch of a Maoist affiliated trade union, we strongly opposed their call to stop working so that the paper wouldn’t be available on market the next day. To stop the publication would mean acting against the freedom of expression and public’s right to information. [The slogan of Kantipur is Your Right to Information.]

“How can you even say that?” reporters protested. “On which moral ground do you raise of voice to open the trade union in the office when you destroy the paper itself? What about our responsibility to readers? Even king Gyanendra couldn’t close this newspaper and now you, the employees of the newspaper, trying to stop it from being published?”

Of course, very few in the world, more so in a country like Nepal, are satisfied with their job. Also the tension between workers and owners is not a new phenomenon. But what’s the use of protest when you are harming your own office? In all these protests, the unwanted infiltration of the Maoist is clearly seen and felt. Their leaders are striking via speeches and their unions are trying to create instability by exploiting the worker’s desire to get better payment and facilities. The Maoists should understand that, though very young compared to the world journalism, Nepali media have gone through variety of tough tests and their effort to intimidate the critical journalism will be proved to be futile.

I was also in the office that day and the newsroom team worked hard and smart to bring out eight pages (regular its 12) of Kantipur without display ads (usually Kantipur prints a lot of advertisements). The good news of the day was that the agitating workers also resumed their work on the last minute as the papers were about to go through the printing press. The Team Kantipur spirit, at last, prevailed.

Unfortunately, the same is not happening in Kamana Prakashan Samuha and Maoist party must take responsibility if it has any morality. Here I reproduce an editorial published today in the Kathmandu Post about the closure of Nepal Samacharpatra:

Nepal Samacharpatra, a national daily, has suspended its publication for the time being since Wednesday (June 20). Its sister publication- Mahanagar- was closed on Tuesday itself. The management of these newspapers has said it was forced to take the harsh decision following the obstructions by the hawkers. This is for the first time that a mainstream national daily has gone out of operation due to rift between the workers and the management. Since continuity is the credibility of a newspaper, this disruption is a huge blow not only to Samacharpatra but also to the free media in Nepal. Even during the draconian rule of King Gyanendra, which tried to gag the independent media, no daily newspaper went out of print for a single day. The closure of Samacharpatra should, therefore, be taken seriously by the media fraternity, civil society and the political parties.

The circumstance under which these two newspapers have been forced to shut down is dubious. Samacharpatra had outsourced its distribution to Customers Solution Pvt Limited. The hawkers, who were actually employees of Customers Solution, created obstructions demanding formation of a trade union in Kamana Prakashan Samuha, the publisher of Samacharpatra. Trade union is the right of employees ensured by the law and no management can – and should – try to trample the right of the workers. But how come the employees of one company demand to form a trade union in another company?

The fact that the hawkers are trying to form All Nepal Communication Press and Publications Trade Union, which is affiliated to CPN (Maoist), raises many questions. Is this the tactic of the Maoists to arm-twist the independent media? Are they trying to send a message to the independent media houses that criticism against them will invite dire consequences? Are the Maoists, who have faced the wrath of the media in recent days, making a strategic but indirect move, to cow them into submission?

Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s comment that “it is an issue to be sorted out between the management and the workers” lends credence to the suspicion that it could be a tactical move of the Maoists. Any media house or an industry is obliged to talk and negotiate with its workers but not with someone who are not even its employees. So, the obstruction by hawkers at Kamana Prakashan is not an issue between the management and the employees. If the Maoists think that they can silence growing media criticism against them by encouraging their trade union to take on the media, this is a strategy completely wrong-headed and could be counter-productive in the long run. The Maoists should not forget that Nepal’s media has already demonstrated adequate fighting spirit to defend its freedom.

Related:

1. Maoist trade union formed at Kantipur
2. Nepal Samacharpatra suspends publication

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79 thoughts on “Newspaper Closure: Maoist Madness”

  1. Bhudai – I’m ok with any order. Once these two ulcers go, people will eventually churn out NC, UML and all these other cancers. But this wait and watch gameplan has proved more harm than good beyond any doubt.

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  2. Patriot: unfortunetly the order matters. If G is gone then the Maoists would have acheived victory. Even with their piss poor performance they are this arrogant and bold. Imagine if Nepal is declared a Republic tomorrow how these jungalis will react. To me G is just irrelevant at this point.
    First thing is first. We need basic law and order. We need to stop these constant bhands – the average working Nepali can’t make ends meet and can’t even leave their house in safety. Under these circumstances forget about things like democracy, CA elections, propotional representation or anything else.

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  3. I get your point Bhudai – but imagine if Maoists were to go first, G would return as the defacto and the political parties would easily be sidelined. We’ll be back to panchayat days and I cant imagine G ruling for 20 yrs, followed by Paras 30 and dont knw abt the young prince (heard he too loves gun toys), excuse me I dont mean to drag the innocent child into this.

    So in effect both options are equally bad but they must go and since both cant at the same time, one must follow the other. Thats why I’m for any order … out of lack of choice. But I agree law & order is topmost priority now.

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  4. Yes Patriot, I have been telling you for a long time that, we can not wait 50 years for our democracy to be institutionalized. The first and the primary need of the hour is our leaders to have political will and good intention towards this nation. Unfortunately they dont and dont seem capable of ever doing so. The king could take over only because of the incompetence and ignorance of the SPA. Now without the king, if the SPA fails who will take over? will that option be better than the king? Or do you believe that this country will perpetually run as a failed state under SPA? And most importantly what do the people get out of this mess?

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  5. It is not the matter of who goes and who stays , truth of the matter is they should know nobody could,should and would remain in power without people’s support, the power of arms let it be with G or with M, will ultimately fade away. As G already realized the fact not even hundred thousand his loyal army couldnot save him from his “ordeal” now, it wouldbe naive to think with some thousand incompetent gangsters you can rein in for a long period of time for maoists and believe me they should consider themselves fortunate if they could enjoy the same ” ordeal “.

    The demise of maoists would be so vicious that even the word Maoist would cease to exist. They have not realized the kind of gangsters they have nortured in the name of YCL. Even when the party wants them to be political they will not give up as they are enjoying all the luxury of extortion,threat ,driving stolen cars, staying in seized property. So even when these maoists go,for instance, they will leave their bastards, the only wayout is we have to take care of them ourselves, unite against them as they did in Terai, let them have their own medicine!! It’s not that all impossible yet, let them realize people would retaliate if things go beyond the limit, criminals deserve not less than criminal treatment!!

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  6. True if the King goes first without proper peoples mandate, then the maoists will not only claim victory they will have victory. People may start to have no choice but to follow them. I’m afraid the maos have to go first.

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  7. What you do is what you get.

    Aren’t the so-called responsible journalists and the media houses the first amongst all to hail the Maoists are the saviours covering their heinous crimes as the acts of bravery and the new messiahs in the feudalistic Nepal? They were the darlings of the media. Even when Pranchanda surfaced from hell to make an appearance, weren’t you the same people who screamed and shouted the coming of so-called ‘new’ Nepal?

    Serves you morons right and all of you belong to hell.

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  8. A message to whoever regulates this site

    Why do you let this complete idiot ( Matribhumi)slag people off?He is a very stupid,uneducated peasant.He knows nothing about nothing.No wonder your country is in turmoil,when you have a mindset like his.Wake up this is 2007 not the 18th century.I notice that my messages are not getting through,yet he is able to have a pop at whoever he likes.Fuckin prick.

    Gary

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  9. I do agree that YCL is the biggest thorn in our quest to move forward towards a more democratic society. They are acting more and more like the Gestapo and I wouldn’t be surprised if they end of being the Achilles’ heel of the Maoists.

    The madhesi groups challenging the Maoists have been a reality check not only for the government but also for the Maoists who thought they could rule with impunity. Their egregious violations of human rights and reign of terror will no longer be tolerated by the people of the plains. It seems the Terai-basi have more cojones than the hill people.

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  10. neither G nor maoists are good. waiting for trisul baba’s n another mata’s forecast: an “earthquake”. After that we can descide on fate of Nepal.

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  11. The YCL caught Prasai and when their extortion tactic with him was not successful made a public spectacle of their “arrest”. But, when a crook amongst their own was caught with arms by police they close down Sarlahi. And now to add insult to injury to the citizens of Nepal THIS:

    YCL issues death threats to Madi blast victims

    NAWALPARASI, June 23 – The Maoist youth wing Young Communist League (YCL) have issued death threats to persons injured in the Bandarmudhe blast, one of the worst attacks during the insurgency.
    The YCL on Friday evening threatened to kill post holders of the Bandarmudhe Victims’ Committee who have been raising their voices against the Maoists demanding reparations, among others.

    The YCL cadres threatened the committee’s deputy chairman Krishna Adhikary not to “act smart” and “speak against the Maoists.”

    According to Adhikary, the village had grown fearful after the YCL members publicly threatened to kill four persons on the committee.

    According to a local, the YCL members said that the Bandarmudhe incident would not “cool down” until 2/4 people were “set right.”

    Previously, the Maoists had asked the victims not to meet the press, warning them not to “widen the fissures” by publicizing their demands through the media.

    Earlier, following differences between victims’ families of the Madi incident and Maoists, the latter on Friday announced that their party has postponed construction work of the yet-to-be-built memorial pillar commemorating those killed in the incident.

    The bereaved families had been demanding that a line be carved on the memorial pillar stating ‘Maoists, declared terrorists by the then government, caused the bombing’ and demanded action against the guilty, among nine other demands.

    Following the dispute Prachanda’s visit to the area was cancelled while package distribution program and construction of a memorial pillar was indefinitely postponed.

    Chairman Prachanda has repeatedly apologized for the Madi incident. Maoists also claim that the party has started providing employment to the victims in the ministries under Maoist ministers.

    At least 39 passengers were killed while 72 others were seriously injured when Maoists blew up a passenger bus at Bandarmudhe River in Madi nearly two years ago. Twelve of the injured cannot move without support.

    The Maoists drew widespread national and international criticisms for the incident

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  12. Please somebody GET RID OF THIS MAOIST KO PUCHHAR CALLED KRISHNA SITAULA NOW:

    NA-PLA merger possible before CA polls: Sitaula

    Kantipur Report

    KATHMANDU, June 22 – Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said Friday that the NA-PLA merger could happen before the CA polls if all the required homework is completed on time.
    However, Minister Sitaula said that the government still needed to do some homework before integrating the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel into the Nepal Army and other security departments.

    The government on Thursday had decided to form a taskforce headed by Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel to devise a modus operandi for the merger of PLA into the NA.

    Home Minister Sitaula, who is also a member of the taskforce, said once the procedure is devised by the taskforce and ratified by the Council of Ministers, the integration process will begin.

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  13. Looks like the Maoists are getting their rear ends kicked in the Terai. Today the MPRF ‘vandalized’ their office in Parasi.

    Its good to know that Maoists are getting their due, but the MPRF may be as dangerous to Nepal in the long run as the Maoists.

    But we Nepalis are so short sighted. We’re ready to cheer the MPRF today, even if it means that in a couple of years they’ll start playing ethnic politics in the Terai.

    You know your country is in trouble when you’ve to to choose between two murderous villains.

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  14. Wagle has already started with ” these things did not even happen in King’s rule,” my man! you got long way to go with strings of regrets littering the floor before this dust storm you’ve created by beating up on wrong side of your brain settles. I remember how you felt offended when ISP closed in protest of atrocisties by the businessmen. How sweet it is to see you naked with your lies, propoganda and tunnel vision. Grow up rather than be wanna-be-Kevin Site coz you can never be.

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  15. Maoist ‘crown prince’ goes to China
    By Sudeshna Sarkar. Kathmandu, Nepal, 02:01 PM IST

    When they fought their 10-year ‘People’s War’ inspired by Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s teaching that power comes ‘out of the barrels of a gun’, Nepal’s Maoist guerrillas were condemned by Beijing for ‘bringing disrepute’ to their great leader. But now Maoist supremo Prachanda’s son is on a China tour on the invitation of the country’s intellectuals.

    Ever since the insurgents made their peace with the Nepal government and became a dominant partner in the ruling coalition, Beijing has been doing some quick re-thinking on its Maoist policy.

    As a sign of that, the son of Maoist supremo Prachanda Thursday flew to Hong Kong en route to visiting Beijing and Shanghai, just a day after China’s new ambassador to Nepal said Beijing was yet to establish formal relations with the rebels.

    Prakash, whose rise in the party created heartburns in the past, began acting as his father Prachanda’s armed bodyguard after the guerrillas came overground following the peace pact. Prakash is accompanied by top Maoist army ‘general’, Barsha Man Pun, better known as Ananta, on his China trip.

    Though the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army soldiers have been corralled in seven cantonments, its top ‘generals’ or deputy commanders however are outside, including in parliament, after having been ‘transferred’ by their party in other departments.

    Prakash and Ananta are visiting the Chinese cities on the invitation of a group of Chinese intellectuals, who, in state-controlled China, have to be endorsed by the government.

    While there is talk of Prachanda himself and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala having been invited to China, the Maoist young brigade is already on its way to paper the rift between their party and the country that’s been their ideological mother.

    The Maoist ‘crown prince’s’ visit came a day after the new Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Zheng Xianglin, said his government was yet to establish formal relations with the Maoists, earlier branded as ‘anti-government forces’ by Beijing. China earlier has sold weapons to King Gyanendra’s royal regime to battle the insurgents.

    ‘However, the Maoists are now part of the coalition government,’ Zheng said. ‘We have to have dialogue and contact with all government officials, including the Maoists.’

    Beijing is stepping up its overtures to Kathmandu following sweeping changes since last year after King Gyanendra had to step down due to an uprising.

    Next month, a Chinese delegation would arrive in Kathmandu to discuss economic cooperation. Later, a second delegation would come to discuss political and diplomatic issues.

    Currently, China is building a civil servants’ hospital in Kathmandu, a polytechnic, roads and an ayurvedic centre.

    The Maoists however hold no grudge against Mao’s country for the earlier cold shoulder.

    ‘We want to have harmonious relations with both our neighbours India and China,’ Maoist leader C.P. Gajurel, current head of the party’s foreign division, had earlier told the media.

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  16. my useless opinion is that whatever contributes to make elections happen does not justify its means but God we need elections.
    Closing a newspaper is it worse than closing an entire nation?????
    mrs kc

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  17. dear reply2all,
    why do you think i call myself sad&depressed. dude no matter how bad it is its never good to give up. its hard to be optimistic especially from inside of nepal, but still man we should not give up fighting for a better future.

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  18. dear reply2all,
    why do you think i call myself sad&depressed. dude no matter how bad it is its never good to give up. its hard to be optimistic especially from inside of nepal, but still man we should not give up fighting for a better future.

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  19. trivia about chinese maoist:
    the only 2 places where you can see maoism is 1)tiananmen square where there is a huge portrait of mao 2) in mao mausoleum.
    maoism in china is long gone, but our backward leaders have welcomed it with garlands. this is something that has been extinct for years now.

    about maoist being democratic in nepal, thier ideology and democracy are something like water and oil, they just dont mix together. i dont even see any point on them bragging to be democratic.

    democracy for communists are no different than communism to democrats.

    so wrapping it all, maoist will never be democratic party so CA and maoist is just a stab on nepal’s back.

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  20. Between this and the “zero tolerance policy towards homosexuals” (and I am sure there’s lots more I didn’t hear about), I guess we can get ready for the next Khmer Rouge here.

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  21. Gary,
    Brits like you have no role in taklking about a country that u tried to rule. Of all the people, Brits like u refuse to give citizenship to people that fought for your plundering monarchy. Of all the people, a stinking Brit is the last person I will take advice and opinion about my country from. Where were you and your so called “advice” for the past hundred years that you enslaved us ?
    I don’t need to wait till Sept, I called you and will continue to call you a swine.
    BTW calling me a Brahmin….I am sure you must be one of the “Lords” or “Sir” go and shove that aristrocratic hierarchy up your rear end and while you are at it, please brush your teeth toothpaste has been around for quite sometime you know.

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  22. I too agree with the comments of Mr Wagle but he should also see the genuine demands of some 320 cycle boys of the APCA publications. It has been the trend that no problems in Nepal were solved without going for a complete shutdown. That’s what the innocent and helpless young boys resorted to. They are not much aware of the impact of closing a publication house. So we first need to know about their plight before criticising their act. Many of them even don’t know about their affiliation with the Maoist trade union. So why don’t u try to get the exact information about the poor boys? They are receiving Rs 1,500 for their work when the price of kerosene was Rs 20 and we all know how much the price of a litre of keresone cost now. Criticizing without knowing the facts is not fair indeed.

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