media freedom

Himal Southasian magazine to suspend operations

A statement from The Southasia Trust said it was forced to end publication because of ‘non-cooperation by regulatory state agencies’.

Kathmandu-based magazine Himal Southasian has announced it will suspend its publication by November 2016. The Southasia Trust’s Executive Board came to the decision earlier this week, citing “non-cooperation by regulatory state agencies” as the cause, adding that they had “made it impossible to continue operations after 29 years of publication”.

A statement from the trust said that grants meant for the magazine were often not approved for several months, “obtaining work permits for non-Nepali editorial staff became impossible, and there were unreasonable delays in processing payments for international contributors”. It added that the decision to end publication was not a sudden one, but that the magazine had faced several challenges recently.

Here is their statement in full:

Himal Southasian magazine to suspend publication

The Southasia Trust regrets to announce the suspension of publication of Himal Southasian, the pioneering magazine promoting ‘cross-border journalism’ in the region. A decision to this effect was taken by the Trust’s Executive Board on 22 August, due to non-cooperation by regulatory state agencies in Nepal that has made it impossible to continue operations after 29 years of publication.

Reflecting the trend in other parts of Southasia in terms of independent media and civil society organisations, Himal is being silenced not by direct attack or overt censorship but the use of the arms of bureaucracy to paralyse its functioning. Though Nepal has been a leader of free press since the introduction of democracy in 1990, continuous socio-political chaos over two decades has progressively weakened the commitment of the political class to open society.

Relying as it does on external funding support, Himal’s publisher The Southasia Trust has adhered to the strict regimen of rules and regulations that govern its day-to-day functioning. Government officials in the various regulatory departments privately admit that the Trust has been in full compliance but regret their inability to process papers due to “pressures”, citing powerful state entities who they refuse to name on the record.

With no notification or explanation, grants meant for Himal were not approved over seven months of waiting, obtaining work permits for non-Nepali editorial staff became impossible, and there were unreasonable delays in processing payments for international contributors. Our dwindling workforce tried to overcome these and other challenges, but in the end suspension was the only option.

The decision to suspend publication was not sudden. We continued in the production of high quality journalism in print and on the web despite repeated challenges over the past three years. We persevered through the repercussions of the political attack on Himal in Parliament in April 2014, as well as the escalating targeting of Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal’s founding editor and Trust chairman over the past year.

Himal Southasian will continue to publish till November 2016 and meet all its outstanding obligations before suspension of operations. The editor Aunohita Mojumdar and her team remain committed to independent journalism and Himal will resume publication when circumstances in Nepal (or elsewhere) make it possible. We will keep our subscribers as well as the larger public informed about developments through notices at www.himalmag.com

Signed: S. Mishra, Member-Secretary, for The Southasia Trust Executive Board

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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