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From The Nepali Press
Mind your language



We have constantly been using words like "martyr" and "sacrifice" while reporting on the conflict. The Maoists declare their dead martyrs and the security forces describe deaths in the ranks by calling them birgati (martyrdom). These words glorify death beyond the physical end of being and give continuity to a cycle of violence by suggesting revenge. This cycle of violence needs to be broken. Sacrifice, like martyrdom, also carries with it a political meaning, in addition to religious connotations. Because words like sacrifice and martyrdom encourage more violence, we are better off not using them.

We have also misused words like "encounter" and "clashes". It is necessary to specify what kind of encounter took place, or whether it was a clash-and for a "clash", both sides need to have exchanged fire. Likewise, terms like "gory" death don't tell us why the death was gruesome, but only sensationalise it. There are other examples of misuse: "human shields" can-and has been-misused to refer to "infiltration". Another widespread practice is prefixing every Maoist institution or action with "people's". To show our neutrality we should perhaps not talk about a Maoist "people's court" just a Maoist court.

There are many more expressions that are used in media: criminals, crisis, cruel, deviant, gang, so-called, systematic, etc. Using them incorrectly affects the balance of reports and can even be an obstacle to peacemaking. If we want to take the country on the path of peace, it is time we paid attention to our choice of words in reporting the conflict. More importantly, has the conflict dug out words that normalise violence, and made their use a part of our daily lives?


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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