UN asks Nepal government to find slain woman scribe’s killers (Lead)January 12th, 2009 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Jan 12 (IANS) Condemning the brutal murder of a woman journalist who was hacked to death by an unidentified group in the violence-hit southern plains, the UN Monday urged the Maoist government to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation and bring the killers to justice.Uma Singh, a 24-year-old human rights activist and radio journalist in Dhanusha district in the Terai plains who had raised her voice against violence against women, was savagely hacked to death by a group of assailants at her own residence in Janakpur town, famed for the temple of Sita, regarded as a role model for Hindu women.
Singh, a journalist with private radio station Radio Today and a member of Women Human Rights Defender Network, was attacked Sunday evening and died while being taken to capital city Kathmandu for treatment after the local hospital said it was unable to save her.
“She was an active journalist and a women’s rights defender whose tool of advocacy was through the radio from where she raised the issue of violence against women in the community,” the Network said in a statement Monday.
In the past, Singh had been forced to leave Siraha district in the plains due to the Maoist insurgency and relocated in Dhanusha.
Her murder is another incident in a growing wave of attacks on the media.
“Occurring amid a growing number of reports of incidents targeting journalists throughout Nepal, this tragedy should galvanise those responsible for protection of media freedom to take the necessary action to ensure the security of journalists,” said Richard Bennett, Nepal chief of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Nepal’s biggest network of scribes, said another woman journalist in Janakpur, Monica Jha who worked for the Kantipur daily, had received threats saying it would be her turn next.
Singh’s brutal murder triggered outrage in Nepal with FNJ calling for protests countrywide Monday and a day of mourning Tuesday.
It said Singh’s killing after growing attacks on the media indicated that a free press was being slowly strangled in Nepal.
Former National Women’s Commission chief and present member of parliament Dr Renu Rajbhandari said that at a time Nepal had entered the peace process, Singh’s killing proved that women’s rights and the right to live in a violence-free environment was still a distant dream.
“The murder of a women’s right activist poses a serious challenge to the peace process,” Rajbhandari said.
Singh’s peers have started a campaign in Dhanusha demanding an investigation into the murder.
“This is a clear indication of the rampant culture of impunity,” the Network said in its statement. “The state mechanisms have failed to protect and promote the human rights of all citizens. There is no rule of law, the state structure is a complete façade and it lacks accountability.”
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