I have just found out that Nepal could actually be a dangerous place for me to live! This is certainly not because of my upcoming expedition to Mount Everest but because of a new report stating that journalists live precariously in the Himalayan country. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Nepal ranks eighth in the list of countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis.
The CPJ says that at least five murders are unsolved in Nepal, four of which are believed to have been carried out by Maoist cadres during the civil war that raged in the country from 1996 to 2006.
One sad example is when earlier this year a young female journalist was killed at her doorstep in Janakpur in southern Nepal. The Federation of Nepali Journalists claimed that Maoists were involved in the brutal murder of Uma Singh, who was also a women rights activist.
What is not surprising is the fact that Iraq tops the list, followed by Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Colombia.
However, the killing of journalists is not the only worrying development in Nepal. Another stumbling block to the peace process is the current procedure of turning the Himalayan country into federal states. Due to the fact that some of the 101 different ethnic groups feel treated unjustly by how the groups are being divided, the Terai region in western Nepal has seen increasing violence that has left several people dead. During an interview I conducted with the editor of the Nepali Times, Kunda Dixit, he said that if the these federal units kept on being defined by ethnicity the conflict could explode and a war could break out that would be “Bosnia times ten”.
The country is also still crippled by strikes that are usually called by different ethnic groups and according to the Nepali Times, the month of February saw a strike every single day in the whole of Nepal. So, it is all very well that we are supposed to be having a peace process, however, the reality on the ground looks very different.
You might ask yourselves what all this has got to do with my Everest expedition, however, as a journalist, who lives in Nepal, I feel very strongly about informing my readers about the country I absolutely adore.