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Human Rights Day and Nepal

Journalist Tika Bista

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 )

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Comments

sunita.basnet's picture

Dear Khus, I am so sorry to

Dear Khus,

I am so sorry to hear the vulnerable situation of the country. It is said that media is the third part of the country but still the journalists are becoming the victims from different unidentified group and people. I cannot even imagine Nepal press freedom are similiar to China press freedom.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Khushbu's picture

We need to stand together

Hi Sunita

Yes, you are right. Our country is in a vulnerable position, and it is sad that journalists are bearing the brunt of such vulnerability time and again. The murder of journalists Uma Singh and Birendra Shah reminds me of how risky a profession it is. Information is power but information can be lethal as well. Press Freedom is guaranteed in Nepal but sadly, it is not enjoyed, but we should not be dismayed. It is our responsibility to bring to light what is there. We should continue to move together with the spirit of a warrior.

Love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

JaniceW's picture

Shocking news

Khushbu,
Namaskar. It was shocking to read that this assault happened on Human Rights Day but perhaps that was the point. Thanks to your story, I wanted to read more about Bista and was relieved to see that there have been some arrests and as predicted, the suspects are central members of the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the UCPN-Maoist. Bista's courage is so inspiring and I thank you for bringing her work to our attention.

With all the upheaval in your government including Dahal resigning, it is not surprising that attacks on the press go unpunished. Until Nepal can bring peace to its citizens, it seems that anyone who speaks out against the Maoists will be under threat. It is great to see you using your VOF training to get these powerful stories out and draw the world's attention towards these issues, but please stay safe and keep alert of anything that seems suspicious. Hardik subhakamana,
Janice

Khushbu's picture

I will stay safe

Namaskar Janice

Yes, there have been some arrests, as reported in today's papers, and i hope that whoever is responsible for such brutality be punished. I too have been so inspired by Tika Bista's courage. Even when she was in hospital, she had the audacity to say that she will not be intimidated by whatever she has faced, and i was awed.

I have learnt to speak for issues i believe in through you and through World Pulse. The VOF program has transformed me as an individual and helped me grow as a journalists, and i will certainly not let the efforts go into vain. I will use every bit of it to let the world know of the issues that plague my beautiful country.

Thank you so very much for your e-mail and your concern. I promise you i will stay safe, and be careful.

Dherai maya
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

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