Human Rights Day and Nepal
The Human Rights Day 2009 was celebrated on December 10, 2009 around the world, and so was it celebrated in Nepal. Human Rights organizations had planned a lot of programs to promote consciousness among the general public, the civil society, political parties, and everyone else.
Despite everything, human rights abuse did take place and the victim was journalist Tika Bista, who was brutally attacked in reprisal for her work. She was discovered unconscious near her home in Rukum district, western Nepal on Tuesday afternoon, with serious injuries in her head, legs, and arms. The wounds suggested she had been attacked with a razor blade and pushed down a steep hill. Her laptop and mobile phone were found smashed nearby along with scattered documents. Bista, a reporter with the local daily Rajdhani who also contributed to other newspapers was a member of the local chapter of Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
Bista reported receiving death threats from Maoist groups on November 29 after publishing a commentary in the local Jantidhara weekly that criticized local members of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) for using intimidation and threats.
A research conducted by Committed to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that acts of violence against Nepali journalists historically have occurred frequently and without official investigations. The attack against Bista is the most serious journalist assault reported in Nepal since the shocking January murder of Uma Singh, Janakpur based journalist, who was brutally killed in her house by 12 men. She reported about women's rights, domestic violence in Terai, dowry curse, and against the caste system, and on political issues. This incident stunned the Nepali media industry.
Nepal placed eighth on CPJ’s 2009 Impunity Index, which ranks the 14 worst countries in the world for solving journalist murders recorded by CPJ since 1998. 'The media environment for journalists has not improved since Nepal's transition to democratic rule in 2008,' said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
The attack on journalist Tika Bista is a testimony to the fact that although the Interim Constitution of Nepal grants freedom of speech, journalists are targeted time and again to shut them from reporting the truth. This is a serious violation of human rights, and it is government’s responsibility to protect journalists, and to bring the culprits to books.
IN HER OWN WORDS
I received a message 11 days ago from home that my mother had taken ill. I had been in the district headquarters Khalanga due to some personal work. After I received the message, I thought of visiting my mother. I went to bed after going through published articles for evaluating the write-ups and for finding out other issues to write on. The following morning at about 6:15, my mobile rang. I was worried thinking whether my mother was serious. I checked if the call was from home. But the caller ID showed no number.
When I picked the phone, I was wished good morning. When I asked who was speaking, a male voice replied, "Why do you need to know? Writing about the widows? What a famous journalist you have become! How did you have the right to write about Tirtha? Should I send you to heaven? Yadu Gautam is already there and you can meet him there." I felt threatened.
When I asked who he was, he hung up the phone, saying, "Still bragging? Do you wish to be alive or not? Should I list you among the dead journalists?" I received similar threats the following day as well. That night, some fellows visited the area around my house. I reckon they were on a recce. I had written an article about former lawmaker Tirtha Gautam, the wife of UML leader Yadu Gautam, who was murdered by Maoist cadres. I was threatened in connection of that article.
I did not receive any threatening call for 10 days. Yesterday I got a call from an unidentified number that my sister-in-law had fallen sick and was brought to Salle for treatment. Without giving it much thought, I set out for Salle. I was just 50 metres from my house, when I realised that three masked men were behind me. I was terrified. I started running, I called Tej Kumar Sharma, one of my friends. He told me he was in Bagkhor. I then called another friend Dhanbir Dahal and sought his help. Meanwhile, the my stalkers had caught up with me. One of them got hold of me. When I started to shout, I was pushed off the cliff. I don't know what followed.
I'll never be intimidated by such attacks. Nor do I want my name to be among killed journalists.
(As told to Shakti Kumar Pun of The Himalayan Times )