Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed to learn that Gopal Budhathoki, the editor of the weekly Sanghu and former vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, has received more than 200 telephone and online messages in the past 10 days threatening him with deadly reprisals.
“We call for the immediate deployment of all necessary police resources in order to quickly identify those responsible for these threats,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The scale of the harassment requires an appropriate response from the authorities, one that guarantees Budhathoki’s safety without delay.”
The death threats follow the publication on 4 February of a profile of Ang Kaji Sherpa, the general secretary of the Nepalese Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), a political organization that fights for equal rights for Nepalese citizens of all ethnic groups.
Since 5 February, Budhathoki has received several hundred phone calls – many of them threatening and insulting – at all hours of day and night from around 250 different numbers in Nepal and abroad (mainly Hong Kong and Germany). Of these, a total of 156 came from the same number.
He is also being harassed on his Facebook page (screen captures), where messages have been left threatening to hang him, burn him alive or bury him alive.
Screenshots of the threats received by Gopal Budhathoki on Facebook
“I am on a constant state of alert,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “My family is more than terrified and is under constant tension.” He fears that he could be attacked during his daily commute from his home to his office by motorcycle.
Dev Prakash Tripathi, the head of the Print Media National Network (of which Budhathoki is the treasurer), has filed a complaint with the police about the threats but no arrests have so far been made.
A decade ago, when Maoist rebels and government forces were at war, Budhathoki was detained illegally several times by the authorities.
Harassment of journalists is increasing steadily in Nepal. On 24 January, 22 journalists working for various media fled the western district of Dailekh after being threatened by members of the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal. Nepal is ranked 118th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.