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 for 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 himalmag.com.
Signed: S. Mishra, Member-Secretary, for The Southasia Trust Executive Board
(Himal started publication in 1987 as a Himalayan journal and converted to a Southasian magazine in 1996. The Southasia Trust is a non- profit entity registered in Lalitpur, Nepal.)
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