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NEPAL: Nepal cracks down on reporting on Maoists

Nepal's government prohibits newspapers from covering the Maoists in favor of reports provided by security forces

The Daily Star
Thursday, March 3, 2005

Kathmandu -- Nepal has cracked down on reporting of the long-running Maoist insurgency, ordering editors only to publish information provided by the security forces or face punishment, state-run radio announced yesterday.

"Unless any publication or broadcasting house acquires information (from) sources of security bodies, publishing interviews, articles, news, information, reading materials, opinion or personal views that directly or indirectly instigate or support terrorist and destructive activities and terrorism will be punished," it said, quoting an information and communications ministry statement.

The media has already been restrained from publishing criticism of King Gyanendra's seizure of absolute power and declaration of emergency rule last month, during which a number of journalists were detained without trial.

Information and Communications Minister Tanka Dhakal, meanwhile, Wednesday urged the media to "restrain itself, be restrained, responsible and disseminate objective information", state-run news agency RSS said.

"The government has just tried to make the information and communications sector systematic so that the morale of the terrorists will not get a boost in the course of dissemination of information," RSS quoted Dhakal as saying.

"This measure is not censorship," he said. "Terrorism can be blunted only if the mass media fulfils its duty and responsibility in a responsible manner.

Meanwhile, hundreds of students held a hurried anti-monarchy demonstration Wednesday at Ratna Rajya college in Kathmandu to protest King Gyanendra's seizure of power and declaration of emergency rule a month ago, witnesses said.

During the five-minute protest, the students chanted anti-king slogans and others such as "Long live complete democracy", "Release all the student leaders and activists" and "Restore fundamental human rights."

Moreover, US ambassador to Nepal James Moriarty was prevented from meeting a former prime minister who has been under house arrest since King Gyanendra seized power in the Himalayan country a month ago, the US embassy said Wednesday.

Asia Institute