Gagging Media in South Asia: Solidarity Statement against Himal Editor Kanak Dixit’s Detention

New Delhi, April 23 — Editors and media figures as well as intellectuals and scholars from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, UK, US, Australia and Sri Lanka have called for the release of Himal editor and prominent Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit who was arrested yesterday in Kathmandu by anti-graft officials.

The following is the text of the statement:

It is with deep concern that we have learned of the arrest today of Kanak Mani Dixit, the widely respected founder-editor of Himal Media and a courageous voice for transparency, freedom of expression and democratic rights in Nepal and across South Asia. The charges are related to alleged corruption but Kanak Dixit says it is part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in Government.

We have known Kanak Dixit as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist whose credentials are built on robust research and tremendous courage. Himal Media, a pioneer in South Asia journalism, has published Himal South Asia, Nepali Times and Himal Khabar Patrika (in the Nepali language). He has written extensively for international media including leading newspapers in India and is chairman of Sajha Yatayat, a state run transportation company, which he has been turning around from a loss-making entity.

Kanak Dixit’s detention comes at a time of increased pressure on free media across South Asia. We call upon all national and international media organisations, individual journalists and editors, defenders of media under pressure, on those who believe in the freedom of expression, to seek Kanak Dixit’s immediate release and a fair and transparent trial, free of bias.

We call upon the Government of Nepal to issue a transparent and unequivocal statement on his detention for we are deeply concerned about his safety and rights. We condemn all forms of pressure tactics on editors like him and other courageous media figures such as Mahfuz Anam of the Daily Star in Dhaka, who is facing over 80 cases of sedition and libel in Bangladeshi courts, and other media persons who are committed to the rule of law and justice.

Kanak at Azadi Gali 2007

Sanjoy Narayan, Editor, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajdeep Sardesai, Chief Editor, India Today TV Group, New Delhi
Siddharth Varadarajan, Founder Editor, The Wire, New Delhi
TN Ninan, Chairman, Business Standard Pvt Ltd, New Delhi
James Astill, Political Editor, The Economist
Maja Daruwala, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi
Sevanti Ninan, editor, The Hoot, New Delhi
Salil Tripathi, Journalist and Author, London
Imtiaz Ahmed, Executive Director, RCSS, Colombo
Mahfuz Anam, Editor, The Daily Star, Dhaka
Sara Hossein, Lawyer, Bangladesh Supreme Court
Zafar Sobhan, Editor, Dhaka Tribune
Afsan Chowdhury, Senior Journalist, Bangladesh
Dr. Naila Zaman Khan, Professor of Child Neurology and Development, Bangladesh
Lubna Mariam, Cultural activist, Bangladesh
Kalpana Sharma, independent journalist, Mumbai
Sanjib Baruah, Professor of Political Studies, Bard College, New York, US
Bina D’Costa, Australian National University
Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press
Patricia Mukhim, Editor, The Shillong Times
Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen, New Delhi
Lalita Panicker, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Laxmi Murthy, Consulting Editor, Himal Southasian
Seema Guha, senior journalist (freelance), New Delhi
Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, The Wire, New Delhi
Aruni Kashyap, Writer and Asst Professor of English, Ashoka University, Haryana
Dr. Xonzoi Barbora, TISS, Guwahati
Dr. Sanjeeb Kakoty, Associate Professor, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Management Shillong
Dr. Anjuman Ara Begum, Forum-Asia, Katnmandu
Sanjoy Hazarika, independent columnist, New Delhi
Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
Beena Sarwar, journalist, Karachi / Cambridge MA
Nalaka Gunawardene, columnist, Ravaya newspaper, Sri Lanka
Urvashi Butalia, founder, Zubaan Books, New Delhi
FUKUNAGA Masaaki, Tokyo Japan

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