Journalist community demands release of Nepali editor; calls arrest attack on free speech

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah

Kathmandu, April 24: The arrest of the Himal editor and prominent Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit recently has been widely condemned by the members of journalist fraternity belonging to various parts of the world.

Several prominent editors, journalists and scholars from countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, US, UK, Australia and Sri Lanka have asked the government of Nepal to release the senior scribe, who has been arrested on April 22 (Friday) on charges of corruption.


On April 23 (Saturday), the veteran journalist, who was arrested by an anti-graft body for allegedly misappropriating a huge amount of money by misusing his public post, was admitted to the ICU of a hospital in the Himalayan country after he complained of high blood pressure.

"It is with deep concern that we have learned of the arrest of Kanak Mani Dixit, the widely respected founder-editor of Himal Media and a courageous voice for transparency, freedom of expression and democratic rights in Nepal and across South Asia [Senior journalist held for graft in Nepal]

The charges are related to alleged corruption but Kanak Dixit says it is part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in Government," said a statement jointly issued by the journalists, activists and scholars from across the world.

The journalist community hailed Dixit as a true professional and human rights defender.

"We have known Kanak Dixit as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist whose credentials are built on robust research and tremendous courage. Himal Media, a pioneer in South Asia journalism, has published Himal South Asia, Nepali Times and Himal Khabar Patrika (in the Nepali language). He has written extensively for international media including leading newspapers in India and is chairman of Sajha Yatayat, a state run transportation company, which he has been turning around from a loss-making entity," said the statement.

"Kanak Dixit's detention comes at a time of increased pressure on free media across South Asia. We call upon all national and international media organisations, individual journalists and editors, defenders of media under pressure, on those who believe in the freedom of expression, to seek Kanak Dixit's immediate release and a fair and transparent trial, free of bias," added the statement.
The statement condemned all forms of pressure tactics used by the governments of various countries on journalists.

"We call upon the Government of Nepal to issue a transparent and unequivocal statement on his detention for we are deeply concerned about his safety and rights. We condemn all forms of pressure tactics on editors like him and other courageous media figures such as Mahfuz Anam of the Daily Star in Dhaka, who is facing over 80 cases of sedition and libel in Bangladeshi courts, and other media persons who are committed to the rule of law and justice," said the statement.

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