Nepal: Journalist Birendra Shah killed

English PEN condemns the murder of Birendra Shah, a Nepali freelance journalist, whose body was found on 8 November 2007 after being kidnapped by Maoist cadres on 5 October 2007.
According to PEN’s information, Birendra Shah, who worked for the publication Dristri Weekly as well as the privately owned Nepal FM Radio and Avenues TV, was abducted on 5 October 2007 by local Maoist cadres in the Bara district, south of Kathmandu. Following widespread protests at Shah’s disappearance by Nepali journalists, which were violently suppressed by the authorities, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (‘CPN-Maoist’) party conducted an internal investigation into the kidnapping. On 5 November 2007, Maoist party leaders held a press conference at which they confirmed that members of their party were responsible for the kidnapping of Shah, and that he had been murdered by them on the day of his abduction. The CPN-Maoist statement named a senior cadre, Lal Bahadur Chaudhary, and two associates, who were said to be personally responsible for Shah’s abduction and murder.


According to PEN’s information, Shah had gone to investigate a report on timber smuggling with another journalist when he was abducted. He had recently published critical reports about local Maoists and he is said to have been targeted because of ‘personal disputes’ with Chaudhary, who has reportedly fled to India to avoid arrest. The CPN-Maoist party has distanced itself from the murder, and states that the three cadres have been expelled from the party and will now face disciplinary action. The government of Nepal has not yet responded to the CPN-Maoist statement.

After a ten-year long insurgency, a peace agreement was reached by the government of Nepal and the CPN-Maoist party in November 2006, in which both sides agreed to respect press freedom. However, in recent weeks this fragile peace process appears to be deteriorating, tension between the army and the Maoists is growing and reports of attacks on journalists and media outlets have been escalating.
English PEN expresses renewed concerns that journalists and writers continue to be targeted with apparent impunity in Nepal, and urges the authorities to take immediate action to ensure all crimes against journalists are vigorously investigated and those responsible brought to justice. PEN also reminds the Nepali authorities of their commitment to press freedom, as laid out by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a signatory.
Please send appeals:


• Condemning the killing of journalist Birendra Shah and calling for his killers to be brought to justice;
• Expressing renewed concern for the safety of journalists and writers in Nepal, and calling on the Nepali authorities to take all necessary measures to protect journalists who are being targeted with apparent impunity solely for their reporting.
Appeals to:


His Majesty the King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
C/- The Chief of Protocol Division
Dr. Rambhakta P.B.Thakur
Protocol Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Shital Niwas
Fax (C/O the Foreign Ministry): 977 1 4423951 / 4416016
Salutation: Your Majesty
Minister of Information and Communication
Rt.Hon. Krishna B. Mahara
Ministry of Information and Communication
Singha Durbar
Fax: 977 1 4261979 or 977 1 4221729 or 977 1 4227310
Email: and
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister Rt.Hon. K.P. Sitaula
Minister of Home Affairs
Singha Durbar
Fax: 977 1 4211 232
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister Niranjan Thapa
Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Singha Durbar
Fax: 977 1 4220 684 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Dear Minister


Please note, you may also send appeals via the Nepalese representatives in London:


HE Mr Jhabindra P Aryal
Nepalese Embassy
12A Kensington Palace Gardens
London W8 4QU 

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