The CPN-M has made this a dark time for press freedom by restricting the publication of Kantipur's two dailies, Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post. A senior leader of the party, standing outside the main gate of Kantipur publications, vowed to stop both dailies and Kantipur television forever, and even went so far as to threaten the publishers and journalists with bodily harm. The Kathmandu printing press was vandalised indiscriminately, while Maoist cadre entered the Bharatpur press to stop publication. Likewise, the press at Biratnagar was cordoned off with promises never to let anything print again.
The few copies that managed to get published were quickly captured from the market, burned straight off the back of vehicles, and on Tuesday, Kantipur's central office at Tinkune was blockaded. The Maoists have used all their power to close down Kantipur Publications, and have already threatened grave consequences should any copies be printed. For any political party to do so is a grave insult to human rights and the very idea of freedom of speech. The Maoists have made clear their subversive nature, and their desire to restrict freedom whenever it suits them.
Disregarding a court order, the Maoist-affiliated trade union has attacked the press and made a mockery of law and order. Despite being a member of the eight-party alliance, the Maoist role in the disruption of the peace process is very clear.
Press freedom is a necessary facet of the peace process. It seems that the Maoists are making good on their promises to disrupt the constituent assembly polls. The Maoist actions are testing the mettle of the other political parties and the eight-party alliance.
This action, under the guise of worker dissatisfaction, has shocked not just the free press but all private businesses. Disrupting the political environment, the environment for elections, and the peace process, the Maoists are taking advantage of the growing uncertainty. It is the wish of all political parties, concerned agencies, the free press, the public, and the international community that elections be held and positive steps be taken towards lasting peace. It is time that everyone stood against such atrocities and for the freedom of all.