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Nepali journalists’ solidarity with Gaza colleagues counters dominant narrative | Himali Dixit

Friday 5 January 2024


Nepali mediapersons gathered on the first day of the new year to mourn the killing of Palestinian journalists, to break the silence, and to stand for a press that speaks out.

As dusk settled on ancient terracotta palaces in a historic town square of Kathmandu Valley on the first day of the new year, a group of Nepali journalists read out loud the names of Palestinian journalists killed in Israeli attacks over the past two months.

“Duaa Sharaf, Yasser Abu Namous, Nazmi Al-Nadim...” …The Nepali journalists read out the names of fallen colleagues one by one, chronologically in terms of when they were killed, starting with October 7.

Israeli attacks in Gaza have killed as many as 74 Palestinian media professionals since then.

“More journalists have been killed in Gaza since 7 October 2023 than all the journalists killed worldwide in the previous 12 months,” noted a statement released by the Nepali journalists.

Bells and conch shells sounded from the temples behind the Nepali journalists gathered at Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. They carried candles and held photos of the 22 deceased journalists that they had found online.

“...Abdullah Darwish, Shaima El-Ghazzar, Hassan Farajallah…” Names of fallen colleagues read out one by one.

The majority of the casualties in Gaza are women and children, journalist and activist Naresh Gyawali reminded the gathering. “This is an attack on civilians and not on Hamas, as Israel continues to claim,” he said.

Gyawali felt that the Israeli forces have especially targeted journalists of the Al Jazeera news network because of their commitment and ability to bring detailed reporting on the crisis in Gaza to a global audience.

“Even as we are attending this vigil, Palestinian journalists continue to report, and they and their families continue to be under attack,” he added.

The journalists observed a moment’s silence before laying out the pictures and candles against the low stage in front of a temple. As they stepped back to look at the lit up images, curious passersby gathered, before dispersing.

During the conversations that took place afterwards, the journalists discussed why Nepal’s own government, press, and civil society have not been more vocal about what they termed as a genocide being enacted by Israel in Gaza.

Many felt that politicians don’t speak out because they want to remain in the good books of the United States and India — both governments are clearly tilted towards Israel.

Reporter Dinesh Pant, one of the organisers of the event, suggested that Islamophobic narratives promoted by the Hindu Right on Indian social media portray Hamas and Palestine overwhelmingly as Muslim and to be reviled.

“The increasing influence of an Indian state-sponsored Hindutva in Nepal has been palpable in recent times and this has limited the outcry on Gaza,” he told Sapan News.

There is also sympathy for Israel in Nepal because of the Nepali workers employed there, and the death of 10 Nepalis in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. Hamas still holds a Nepali worker hostage. There is grievance towards Hamas and Hamas is conflated with Palestine itself, he said.

“The silence of the Nepali press on atrocities taking place elsewhere does not bode well for our ability to protect Nepali citizens against future violence and injustice,” said writer and publisher Kanak Mani Dixit, who had arrived early with the printed photographs.

“The journalists of Gaza continue to be killed and wounded even as they struggle to report the ongoing genocide at the hands of the Israeli military that has taken more than 22,000 Palestinian lives in Gaza,” notes the statement, released 01 Jan. 2024.

The statement was endorsed by the 26 journalists who attended the vigil. In alphabetical order, including myself, these are: Aasim Jamal, Abhash Budhathoki, Anuj Bajracharya, Archana Darji, Daya Dudraj, Dhanu Bishwakarma, Dinesh Pant, Gopen Rai, Himali Dixit, Indra Shrestha, J.B. Pun Magar, Kanak Mani Dixit, Kiran Nepal, Masta KC, Mohd Ayub, Naresh Gyawali, Pinki Sris Rana, Rabi Raj Baral, Saniaa Shah, Sanjeev Satgainya, Sanjeev Sharma, Shamshad Ahmad, Suman Nepali, Sunil Pradhan, Tufan Neupane, Urmila Gamwa Tharu.

The full text of the statement is below:

Journalists of Nepal Support Besieged Journalists of Gaza, Condemn Israel

‘The most frightful attack on journalists in modern times is being carried out by Israel against the journalists of Gaza while the world watches in real-time. We journalists of Nepal denounce the Government of Israel’s killing of more than 70 Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip over two-and-half months of its war with Hamas.

‘More journalists have been killed in Gaza since 7 October 2023 than all the journalists killed worldwide in the previous 12 months. Many of the murdered Gaza journalists also lost their family members to targeted bombardments, and those fortunate to survive have lost close relatives.

‘The journalists of Gaza continue to be killed and wounded even as they struggle to report the ongoing genocide at the hands of the Israeli military that has taken more than 22,000 Palestinian lives in Gaza.

‘Gaza’s media persons have sought to inform the world of the genocide as they themselves suffer without shelter, separated from their loved ones, facing the ever-present threat of bombardment, and searching for food and water like the rest of the isolated population. The state of the journalists’ mental health can only be imagined, as they cover the carnage amidst constant fear of the missile strike or sniper’s bullet, reporting the mass murder of innocent children, women and men, and the displacement of people who were first uprooted as far back as 1948.

‘Our media colleagues of Gaza struggle to communicate with each other and to get news out amidst the destroyed communications infrastructure, electricity outages and internet shutdowns. Even when they manage to get through to the outside world, the propaganda machinery of the Israeli Government and its supporters try to sow doubt about the coverage from the ground. Gaza’s journalists also find it difficult to connect internationally through social media because many global platforms routinely suppress news from Palestine.

‘Amidst the many journalists who wrote their farewells while alive, we recall the words of the journalist Roshdi Sarraj, killed by a missile strike on 22 October. He wrote on Facebook: “We will not leave. And when we do leave Gaza, we will go to the sky, and the sky only.”

‘From Kathmandu, we express our fellowship with the besieged journalists of Gaza and wish them strength to overcome all hardships as they provide witness to genocide.
End credit

(Author: Himali Dixit is a researcher, educationist, and freelance writer based in Kathmandu)

[Credits: Sapan News syndicated feature -]

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