Dec 3, 2010

Nepali Journalists are being slain in broad daylight and their killers are not brought to justice

Mikel Dunham an author (Buddha's Warriors) who is now in Nepal researching another book reported  that the violence against journalists there is increasing. Although all are heart-wrenching stories one case really shocked me most - where a 20 year old female radio journalist was hacked to death by more than 12 men.

Given the situation in Nepal, I am not surprised that there is chaos but didn't expect it to be of this kind. It is very sad/tragic. Apart from just reporting mere happenings, Journalists are people who often put their lives on the line to voice the sentiments of the public and to keep a check and balance on the powers that be. The fact that Nepal became a Democracy way before Bhutan should mean that the values of freedom of expression/speech should have been embedded in this society way before Bhutan. But it certainly is not the case.

This problem - where journalists/writers/bloggers/media people are gunned down, hacked to death or become the target of any form of violence -  I hope will never see the light of day in Bhutan.

Public figures particularly are targets of criticisms and so are government policies. In countries like ours, perhaps because of our lack of understanding the media, officials/people don't seem to be able to accept this without taking it personally. Sometimes this not only leads to hating the journalist meting out the criticism but extends to wanting to harm him/her. Of course this is not limited to govt officials only. It can be anyone that the press has angered.

Fortunately in Bhutan, we have not seen (aside from the calls/visits asking a paper to repeal/refrain from writing a story or maybe even in some instances giving verbal threats) any form of violence yet.  But we cannot - once again - compare with Nepal who has over 30 million people and no government.

Journalists from Bhutan should extend support to other journalists in the region who see such persecution (in this case Nepal) and perhaps even write about it so that we can educate our people that these are abhorrent acts.

No person - even if it is a journalist who may have written something you don't like - deserves to become a victim of such violence.  There are channels through which you can deal with a journalist who made factual errors, defamed you, or written something you don't like.

And remember that while the job of a journalist is - in essence - to speak/write the truth, the recent Radia tape scandal in India can also show that there are, like any profession, exceptions to the rule.

Going through proper channels shows the ability of the person/authority to deal with such dissent by rule of law and proves how civilized/advanced/progressive a society is.

In looking around the world and the very dangerous plight of many journalists, it makes me proud to think that - so far - Bhutan has been able to deal with freedom of speech/press without violence. Please continue to make me proud.
Some Areas around the world where crimes against journalists are increasing
Latin America
South Caucasus
Middle East and North Africa


Anonymous said...


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sonam ongmo said...

Thanks. That is V important:) looking into it now. are you rep of GoDaddy or are you a Bhutanese who was surfing domain names and came across this?