PUCL 2002

Rights groups fear fate of Nepalese journalists
Tue Jul 16, 2002, 11:00 AM ET

Kalyani, OneWorld South Asia

Human rights and media activists in India and Nepal said Tuesday that they
were concerned about the safety of three Nepalese journalists detained in
the Indian capital last week for their alleged links with Nepalese Maoist
rebels.

The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading Indian rights
body, and the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), a Nepalese media watchdog, said they were apprehensive about the fate of the
journalists, whose whereabouts were unknown.

"As we have no idea where they are, we are gravely concerned about their
safety," said Pradip Ghimire, secretary of the Kathmandu-based CEHURDES.
"In fact, we fear for their lives."

A group of plainclothes police rounded up 13 members of the India Nepal
People's Solidarity Forum, an independent group advocating a dialogue
between the Maoists and the government of Nepal, on July 11 in New Delhi.
The activists, four of whom were Nepalese, had gathered in a public space
to discuss a meeting slated for August.

Gautam Navlakha, an Indian human rights activist who was among those
arrested and later released by the police, told OneWorld Tuesday that they
had been detained immediately after the meeting and taken to a police station.

While the nine Indian activists were released after questioning, the
Nepalese individuals--journalists P. Chetri, Maheshwar Dahal and Aditi
Shah, and a student, Moti Prasad, who had all been legally residing in
India for over three years--were taken to the Nepalese embassy, and
according to an Indian government statement made on Monday, deported to
Nepal early last Friday.

"The action...is reprehensible," PUCL said in a statement following the
arrest. "Holding a meeting is a democratic activity," said PUCL General
Secretary Y P Chibbar. "Whisking them away like this is a murder of democracy."

According to Navlakha, the arrests and deportations were politically
motivated. The three journalists had written in support of the Maoist
agenda, but he stressed that they had not committed any violent acts.

The activists urged the Indian and Nepalese governments to disclose the
whereabouts of the four Nepalese, one of whom is a woman. "We have no idea
where they are now," said Ghimire from CEHURDES. "We have no news in
Kathamndu about the deportation."

PUCL expressed the fear that if the journalists were sent to Nepal, they
"may be in danger as they may not get a fair trial in that country."

A state of Emergency was imposed in Nepal in November 2001 after the
Maoists, an anti-monarchy underground guerrilla group fighting for a
republic, stepped up its battle against Nepalese security forces. Emergency
laws have been used to censor the press and have enabled the arrest
hundreds of people suspected of being linked with the rebels.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a New York based
media rights body, said that since Emergency was imposed on Nepal, more
than 100 journalists had been arrested from different parts of the country.

Of these, 30 were missing, said Navlakha, adding "we have no idea what is
going to happen to the four Nepalese activists. We don't know what awaits
them in Nepal."

Rights Groups Fear Fate of Nepalese Journalists
Tue Jul 16,11:00 AM ET

Kalyani,OneWorld South Asia

Human rights and media activists in India and Nepal said Tuesday that they
were concerned about the safety of three Nepalese journalists detained in
the Indian capital last week for their alleged links with Nepalese Maoist
rebels.

<http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/dn/ow2a.gif>
* People's Union for Civil Liberties
* International Freedom of Expression Exchange
* OneWorld Full Coverage on Nepal
* Human Rights and Peace Campaign

The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading Indian rights
body, and the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), a
Nepalese media watchdog, said they were apprehensive about the fate of the
journalists, whose whereabouts were unknown.

"As we have no idea where they are, we are gravely concerned about their
safety," said Pradip Ghimire, secretary of the Kathmandu-based CEHURDES.
"In fact, we fear for their lives."

A group of plainclothes police rounded up 13 members of the India Nepal
People's Solidarity Forum, an independent group advocating a dialogue
between the Maoists and the government of Nepal, on July 11 in New Delhi.
The activists, four of whom were Nepalese, had gathered in a public space
to discuss a meeting slated for August.

Gautam Navlakha, an Indian human rights activist who was among those
arrested and later released by the police, told OneWorld Tuesday that they
had been detained immediately after the meeting and taken to a police station.

While the nine Indian activists were released after questioning, the
Nepalese individuals--journalists P. Chetri, Maheshwar Dahal and Aditi
Shah, and a student, Moti Prasad, who had all been legally residing in
India for over three years--were taken to the Nepalese embassy, and
according to an Indian government statement made on Monday, deported to
Nepal early last Friday.

"The action...is reprehensible," PUCL said in a statement following the
arrest. "Holding a meeting is a democratic activity," said PUCL General
Secretary Y P Chibbar. "Whisking them away like this is a murder of democracy."

According to Navlakha, the arrests and deportations were politically
motivated. The three journalists had written in support of the Maoist
agenda, but he stressed that they had not committed any violent acts.

The activists urged the Indian and Nepalese governments to disclose the
whereabouts of the four Nepalese, one of whom is a woman. "We have no idea
where they are now," said Ghimire from CEHURDES. "We have no news in
Kathamndu about the deportation."

PUCL expressed the fear that if the journalists were sent to Nepal, they
"may be in danger as they may not get a fair trial in that country."

A state of Emergency was imposed in Nepal in November 2001 after the
Maoists, an anti-monarchy underground guerrilla group fighting for a
republic, stepped up its battle against Nepalese security forces. Emergency
laws have been used to censor the press and have enabled the arrest
hundreds of people suspected of being linked with the rebels.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a New York based
media rights body, said that since Emergency was imposed on Nepal, more
than 100 journalists had been arrested from different parts of the country.

Of these, 30 were missing, said Navlakha, adding "we have no idea what is
going to happen to the four Nepalese activists. We don't know what awaits
them in Nepal."


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