The campaign to free Kanak Mani Dixit has just gone global with the world’s biggest defender of media rights and freedom of expression now condemning the arrest of the 61 year old editor of Himal Southasia and publisher of Himal Khabarpatrika.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) which represents 600,000 journalists in 139 countries has sought an immediate release of Mr Dixit. “The IFJ demands the immediate release of the journalist and an investigation into the charges,” the Brussels-based organisation urged the Nepalese authorities today.
Mr Dixit, who is also known as a civil society leader and human rights activist, was arrested on April 22 by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). The charges against him are related to his position as the Chairman of transport cooperative Sajha Yatayat. The CIAA claims he has made millions through abuse of his authority – a claim Mr Dixit categorically denies.
Numerous reports in Nepalese-language newspapers suggest the elite journalist believes that he has been vengefully framed because of his role in 2013 when he led a protest against the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki who is the current chief commissioner of the CIAA. Mr Karki, a controversial personality in Nepal’s power circle, was the chief secretary during former King Gyanendra’s regime.
“The arrest of Kanak Mani Dixit raises serious concerns for the statement of freedom of expression in Nepal. The circumstances of Dixit’s arrest are questionable, raising questions about proper judicial procedure. The IFJ urges the Government of Nepal to immediately release Dixit and conduct a transparent investigation into the arrest and the CIAA’s allegations,” the IFJ expressed concern in a press statement released on Tuesday.
It is noteworthy that IFJ had played a crucial role in protecting Nepalese media persons during the armed conflict and also immediately after the royal coup of 1 February 2005 when journalists became the prime target of the security apparatus. Without a timely mission led by IJF’s then president Christopher Warren, the life of some journalists would have been under serious threat, specially that of Bishnu Nisthuri who was the then president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).