As the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) is debating a ‘media policy’ clearly against a free media, there are signs that Nepali journalists might come under increased attack.
The draft policy not only talks of “neutralising” media critical to the Maoists, but also says “we must get the neutral ones into our fold”. In a context where more than two dozen journalists have lost their lives to Maoist as well as state violence, this news is chilling.
The national daily from Kathmandu that scooped the draft policy aptly commented that the Maoists would be using the media as a support rod, as a tool for defence as well as offense. The draft also says that it would use the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) — an umbrella organisation of working journalists — in its mission. It also plans to increase its proximity to journalists, particularly editors, so that the media does not oppose the party.
All these moves need to be seen with how pro-Maoist trade unions obstructed major publications in the past. The UCPN-M has stood firmly against the independence of the judiciary, and its top leaders, including Prachanda, used rallies and other platforms to warn the media that criticising the Maoists will not go unnoticed. Apart from issuing such threats, the party now owns print, radio as well as television channels which are used as ‘propaganda machinery’, as well as for the vilification and denouncement of its enemies and critics.
With the latest Maoist declaration that it would start a campaign asserting national independence and sovereignty, the party machinery is inventing more enemies and branding them as “local agents” of “hegemonic and foreign forces”. While the Maoist still say officially that they respect media freedom, their notorious youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL) has circulated an issue of its weekly bulletin Lalrakshak identifying ‘foreign agents’ and ‘enemies’ of the revolution.
Feb 06, 2010