Down With Maoists: Press Freedom Will Prevail in Nepal

Update 2: The Patan Appellate Court this afternoon issued a stay order: not to stop the publication of the papers. The order, issued by Justice Jagdish Sharma Poudel, also says not to organize protest programs in the office premises that the Maoist unionists were doing in the past several days and the order also says not to stop the advertisement flow in the papers.

The Maoists, Ayatollahs of Nepal, obstruct the printing of two of the biggest and best known newspapers in the country

Demonstrating the true and bitterly ugly nature of the Maoist trait, the Maoist-affiliated trade unionists obstructed the printing the Kathmandu editions of two of the biggest newspaper of Nepal: Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post. Hundreds of thousands of readers across the country today (also the Right to Know Day), especially those in Kathmandu and surrounding region, were deprived of two best known dailies papers that symbolize the democratic achievement of Nepal. [Bharatpur and Biratnagar editions of the papers were published.] Both papers were established as the pioneering private sector independent daily newspapers after democracy was restored by a popular uprising in 1990. Even during the dark old days when the autocratic Gyanendra regime tried to block the publications of the papers by imposing curfew in the city and not providing curfew pass to the publications, both papers were published albeit with less and black and white pages.

Kantipur journalists press release

This is the digitized copy of a press release issued by the Kantipur branch of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) today that condemns the Maoist union’s obstruction of printing of the papers. All reporters and editors of both Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post are united against the Maoist highhandedness. They have vowed to fight against the Maoist unionists. The statement, signed by FNJ Kantipur branch president Yuvraj Acharya and central secretary of FNJ Balaram Baniya, says that though many of the demands raised by the Unionists were genuine and supported by the journalists themselves, the act of obstruction in the printing process is condemnable. The journalists have urged the unionists to continue their talks with the management to solve the problem without disturbing the publications of the papers. The statement says the Kantipur branch of FNJ has taken such incidents by the Maoist-aligned union as a ploy to snatch around 900 employees’ jobs. (click here for large file of the statement)

Update 1: The editors and reporters of Kantipur Publications, who are against the Maoist unionists’ act to disrupt the printing of the papers, today afternoon gathered and condemned the Maoist act. Almost all staffs of the Marketing department, many of whom were actively involved in the Maoist union at the time of its formation a few weeks back, have also said that they are against the economic blockade to the publication and against the obstruction in printing the papers.

After the Kantipur branch of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) issued a statement condemning the Maoist unionist’s act, the Union has also issued a counter statement saying that they were not responsible in disrupting the printing. They instead blame “the management and the pro-royalist journalists of Kantipur Publications” for the printing disruption. This is a blatant lie because the Marketing department worked yesterday and they had sent the slug (the pages of the newspapers with details of the advertisement placement) to the editorial section and the journalists actually wrote news and articles, the designers designed the pages, the scanners scanned the pages and they were sent to the press that is about 10 kilometers away from the head office of Kantipur Publications. As the papers were about to be printed, about a dozen Maoist Unionists went and said they won’t allow the printing.

So the disruption of the printing doesn’t have support of the journalists and staffs but was done by only a handful of hardcore Maoist cadres who are mobilized by the central leadership of the Maoist trade union. An editor of the Post said: “These Maoists are trying to play propaganda with us journalists. Just imagine what they have been doing with the general public.”

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