Update: The CPN-UML boycotted a scheduled meeting of the political coordination committee, which was supposed to be attended by Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, as a mark of protest against the Maoist attack on Himalmedia Pvt Ltd on Sunday. The UML also issued a statement condemning the Maoists for “brutal attack” on Himalmedia. Former CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal visited the Himalmedia office and expressed solidarity with the media. “This is condemnable attack and is aimed at intimidating the free press,” Nepal said after the visit. (source)
Himal Magazine journalist Damabar Krishna Shrestha, who was injured, talks about the attack.
Activists of the ruling party CPN-Maoist today attacked one dozen employees, including scribes, of the Himalmedia Pvt Ltd, the publisher of Nepali Times, Himal Magazine, Wave Magazine. The Maoist cadres vandalised the Himalmedia office at Hattiban in Lalitpur and attacked the staffers including Publisher and Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashutosh Tiwari, Executive Editor Kiran Nepal and senior correspondent Dambar Krishna Shrestha among others.
According to the Himalmedia, a group of about 50 persons led by the Maoist affiliated All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Workers’ Union (ANHRWU) Chairman, Ramesh Babu Pant, barged into the meeting hall and attacked the mediapersons at around 12 pm today. The group entered the meeting hall and started vandalising the office frantically, Publisher Dixit confirmed. The Himal Media said among them 25 had entered the office saying that they were supposed to participate in the meeting. Other activists stayed outside the office.
Injured scribe Shrestha informed that the attackers warned that anything could happen within 24 hours as the Himalmedia published news against them. “We said we wanted to talk, but they started beating us,” he added. The Himalmedia has claimed that more than 12 staffers have been injured.
This is the latest in a series of attack against the Himalmedia. The company’s CEO Tiwari, and his driver were targeted on Oct. 25 when two men on a motorcycle hurled rocks at their vehicle. And less than a month after that, an unknown gang of eight barged into the distributor’s office of the Himal Khabarpatrika at Maitighar and captured 5000 copies of the magazine stored at the customer’s solution for distribution and set them on fire using kerosene on November 17.
NHRC, OHCHR, RJAN, political leaders condemn media attack
Leaders of the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress and officials of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) visited the Himalmedia office today and condemned the attack on press. They said the attack is a direct interference against the press freedom. The NHRC has urged the government to maintain necessary arrangement to safeguard media institutions including Himal Media, press freedom and the journalists. Mentioning the incidents of killings, violence, attacks, threats, seizures, arson, etc. have been increasing targeting media institutions and media professionals, the NHRC stressed that proper security to them has not been provided.
NC leader Nabindra Raj Joshi and UML leader KP Oli were also present during the visit.
Meanwhile, Revolutionary Journalists’ Association Nepal (RJAN), a group of pro-Maoist journalists, regretted the attack on Himalmedia office. Issuing a press statement today, RJAN Chairman Mahesh Dahal demanded that the government to probe into the incident and bring the culprit to book. “We urge all sides to respect the press freedom,” the statement added.
Similarly, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)-Nepal condemned the attack against staffers at the Himalmedia publishing house in Kathmandu and dubbed it as an attack against freedom of expression. In a statement issued today, the OHCHR-Nepal said that its officers followed up the incident in support of investigators from the NHRC. “In Janakpur on 20 October, several persons reportedly raided the office of the local Terai Times newspaper, assaulted staff, and damaged and stole equipment. The incident followed publication of a news article suggesting that the Maoist youth front Young Communist League (YCL) was providing protection for prostitution,” the OHCHR said in a statement. OHCHR-Nepal urged the state authorities to take all steps necessary to ensure that the media has a secure environment in which to do its work.