UWB is strongly against protest programs in newspapers and media house that aim at stopping the newspapers from reaching to the public.
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.
[1. Maoists hinder delivery of THT, Annapurna Post-News from the Himalayan Times: The Maoist-affiliated trade union workers, who have been delivering The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post, today hijacked the delivery vehicles of the dailies in Kathmandu and dumped all the copies in front of the newspapers’ offices.
2. Surrender we’ll never (the paper’s stand on the issue)
3. Newspaper Closure: Maoist Madness (our previous blog on a similar Maoist strike against media before)]
We urge the reporters and other staffs of the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post to counter the ill intended protest strongly and stand tall for the freedom of expression by continuing reporting and producing the papers. We fought against an autocrat called Gyanendra and we must deal with the neo-autocrats in the veil of Prachandapath.
There is a whole lot of debate about APCA house (the source of investment and the provision of Foreign Direct Investment in media sector.) We are not dead against FDI in media but the government should regulate it with proper laws. We want transparency. It’s an international trend for newspaper of one country trying to open its edition in another country in one form or the other. Proper laws of the land should deal with such cases. And that should be fine with Nepalis too.-Wagle
Here is a press note issued by Ram Pradhan, editor of the Himalayan Times, for International Media Network Nepal Pvt Ltd
21st July 2007
1. For the last 3 days there has been a disruption in the distribution of AP and THT. On 21st July it did not reach the market because all distribution in Kathmandu was hijacked by the Maoist affiliated trade union. The Maoist affiliated trade union workers (delivery boys) creating obstruction beat up dispatch staff of Annapurna Post and The Himalayan Times. We conclude that such act is a blatant attack on the independent press and interference in the people’s right to information.
2. The delivery boys are not affiliated to the publishing organisations of Annapurna Post and The Himalayan Times. Nine distribution agencies including RB News are involved in the distribution of these dailies and they manage all the things related to the distribution of these dailies. It is no concern of the publishers of Annapurna Post and The Himalayan Times on what kind of individuals are involved in the distribution of the papers and how much salary is paid to them.
3. The act of the Maoist affiliated trade union into unilaterally and illogically demanding that delivery workers be given permanent employment is a mockery of the labour laws in this country. We conclude that this demand to make the delivery boys employees of the publication houses is an act of going way beyond the legal parameters. It is the duty of the newspapers to disseminate information without let or hindrance of any kind.
4. We believe that the rights of working staffers should be protected. However, the act of piling newspapers in the front door of their offices by taking control of the vehicles carrying the papers in the name of workers is a criminal offence. It is highly regrettable that the government is a silent spectator even at a time when a criminal act is being committed in media houses with impunity. The government has proved to be powerless to protect the right and independence of journalists.
5. It is notable that such disruptions occurred not only in Annapurna Post and The Himalayan Times but also in Nepal Samacharpatra and in Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post some weeks ago. The publication of Nepal Samacharpatra was intact halted. Incidents like these show that there is planned offensive against the private media houses. This should be taken with utmost seriousness and there is the need to raise strong voices for press freedom.
6. We know that some senior Maoist leaders are directly protecting the attack on the free press. It is white terrorism. We urge all to be aware and alert about incidents that seriously undermine and jeopordise the process of peaceful transition in the country.
7. There is no option other than to suspend publication of papers if the government continues to be a hapless onlooker and keeps tolerating the unjustified defiance of the Maoists. We urge all media houses, journalists, political parties, international community, civil society, readers and world agencies concerned with the development of media, protection of journalists and their rights, and press freedom to take the matter very seriously and express their solidarity for the freedom and independence of press in Nepal.
Ram Pradhan – Editor, The Himalayan Times
For International Media Network Nepal Pvt Ltd