BIRTHDAY BLOG: Today happens to be the third birthday of United We Blog!, Nepal’s pioneering web site. But, as in a person’s life, UWB has also gone through many ups and downs. They say, history repeats. It has been repeated, albeit in the form of tyranny raising its ugly head. We celebrated the first birthday anniversary of the site while the country was fighting king Gyanendra’s autocracy (that he imposed in Feb 1, 2005 coup). Today the Maoists are trying to intimidate the free press by attacking Kantipur Publications, the largest independent media house in Nepal, where many of the UWB bloggers work. We will fight the Maoist’s intervention in the media as well.
Maoist Young Communist League workers, seen in the photo above, dominated a corner meeting held by Maoist trade union in front of Kantipur Publications. Speakers in the program included Shalikram Jammarkattel, chairman of Maoist trade union, who spoke against the Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post newspapers and journalists working there. Journalists in the papers described act as an example of Maoist effort to intimidate the press. Branding this act as brazen Maoist intervention in the internal matter of the newspaper, reporters said they were not afraid of any such effort. Pic by Suraj Kunwar Read here about other updates on this topic.
When an America lady recently asked me which the most unforgettable day in career was, I hastened to say that it was February 1, 2005.
On that ill-fated day, when I entered my office complex, army personnel greeted me instead of our security guards. In the evening, as deadline neared, army officers who did not have an iota of knowledge of journalism censored our news. That was definitely the nadir of my career.
Then, I would not know another more sinister moment is awaiting me. We recently witnessed authoritarian tendency that has grown in our own premises. I told her that the Friday (September 28) was another black day. It was so because in the history of Kantipur Publications, it was the first time The Kathmandu Post and Kantipur dailies were forced not to publish.
So-called trade union affiliated with Maoist has been obstructing the collection of advertisements (the backbone of our business) and forcing the publishers to halt the publication. That day, I printed the Op-ed pages of TKP and Kantipur (from the Internet) to satiate my reading. I found my friend Dinesh Wagle’s article on pro-democracy movement in Burma. Ironically, on the one hand, he was condemning the Burmese junta for suppressing the peaceful protest; his article was not printed due to the disruption from homegrown juntas masquerading as a trade union, on the other.
Dinesh, nevertheless, published a rejoinder piece on the topic in yesterday’s edition of the paper. But, today morning it saw another blow. Like an old man searching for his stick, out of habit of reading these dailies as my morning staples with a sweet cup of tea, I went to the gate a few times to bring the newspapers. But, the delivery boy was nowhere to be seen. I got panicky until 8:30 am when an Image Channel newsreader informed me that the previous evening, Maoist miscreants not only tried to burn the office building, but also damaged the vehicle of Managing Director Kailash Sirohiya. The most widely circulated two dailies of Nepal did not see the light of the day for the second time in a week.
Unfortunately, these two are not the only incidents of intimidation and attack in our publication. Angered by the beheading of twelve innocent Nepali people in Iraq by a terrorist outfit called Al Ansar Sunna, a motivated mob barged into Kantipur Complex on September 1, 2004. The miscreants put fire on over two dozen motorbikes and few cars, destroyed a number of computers. The office premises of Nepal’s biggest media house were reduced to a battlefield.
Yesterday, a handful of goons tried to enact similar scenes. But, their attempts were promptly prevented. It’s hard to understand why Maoists, who are seeking reentry into political mainstream, are trying to vandalize a publication that was instrumental in the e April movement which restored democracy.
A free press in the bedrock of democracy. When a country has to confront the most complex challenges of reconstruction and reformation, the role of free and fair press becomes immensely significant. But, Maoists seem to fail to understand this emerging reality. As a result, its authoritarian streak has grossly diminished its image of a democratic for in making.
The so-called activists of Maoist affiliated trade union are trying to behead press freedom. These people seem to represent the other extreme: they think by wielding a gun, they can stifle the media. Even dictator Napoleon Bonaparte had realized the power of pen. These neo-tyrants would eventually wake up from their deep slumber.
Deepak Adhikari, a UWB blogger, is a reporter with Nepal, a weekly political magazine published by Kantipur Publications. He maintains a personal blog.