Nepal: Revolutionary Editor Killed in State Custody

International Outrage at the Murder of Krishna Sen

Revolutionary Worker #1160, July 28, 2002, posted at

"The Nepalese government ... has allowed torture of journalists and human rights activists to become commonplace...We urge you to order the security forces to stop these acts of torture. We also call on you to promptly investigate the circumstances of this murder."

Robert Ménard, general secretary of Reporters Sans Frontičres,
in a letter of protest to Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba

"There is a body and it has marks consistent with torture."

Diplomat in Kathmandu talking about Krishna Sen,
quoted in a report by the BBC


Krishna Sen was the editor of two newspapers--the weekly Janadesh and the Janadisha daily, which openly supported the Maoist People's War in Nepal.

On November 28, 2001, the Nepalese government declared a state of emergency and unleashed its army to wage a "search-and-destroy campaign" in the countryside against the People's War. The police raided the offices of Janadesh and Janadisha , arrested staff members and confiscated office equipment. After this, 37-year-old Krishna Sen went underground.

Under the state of emergency, all kinds of political and civil rights have been suspended and all Maoists have been declared "terrorists." The government issued a list of Maoists with a "price on their head" and Krishna Sen was reportedly on this list.

On May 20, the police arrested Krishna Sen, along with three others.

At the end of June, Reporters Sans FrontiŠres (Reporters Without Borders)--which defends imprisoned journalists and freedom of the press throughout the world--reported that Krishna Sen's body had been handed over to his family for cremation. RSF said the government had tortured Sen, trying to get him to reveal his contacts with Maoist leaders.

The weekly newspaper Nepali Jana Astha gave a detailed account of Sen's torture and death in custody and said the police had manufactured a fake encounter to justify the murder and even prepared a medical report to support this story.

The Nepalese government refused to say anything about what happened to Krishna Sen.

Organizations of journalists and legal and human rights activists in Nepal and internationally have condemned this murder and are waging a campaign to force the Nepalese government to release a detailed account of what happened to Krishna Sen. In a sign of protest many journalists put on black armbands.

A commentary in the mainstream Kathmandu Post said: "Sadly, the nation has not been told in what circumstances apparently an unarmed citizen's life was taken. His only custodian, since May 20--the state--has maintained a mysterious and mischievous silence on the sordid saga. Total silence or feigning ignorance about the Sen episode by the concerned agencies of the state is all the more serious and reprehensible. On the other hand, this silence only confirms that Sen met his end in a gruesome manner that words cannot explain. The continued silence on the part of the Deuba government in the Sen case will be taken as proof of connivance at the highest political level."

Krishna Sen was first arrested back in April 1999. He was detained under provisions of the "Public Security Act," which sanctions preventive detention for those considered a threat to domestic security and tranquility. Sen's arrest was prompted by that week's edition of Janadesh , which featured an interview with Baburam Bhattarai, a top leader in the CPN (Maoist). The same day Sen was arrested, police confiscated 20,000 copies of Janadesh in order to prevent the interview from being widely read.

The Supreme Court ordered Sen's release on August 10, 1999. But police and district officials then conspired to keep Sen in detention by forging release papers and re-arresting him on trumped-up charges.

In February 2000, prison authorities forced Sen to sign papers certifying his release from jail. But instead of being released, Sen was secretly transferred to another district where new false charges were filed against him and he was re-arrested for illegal arms. His case was repeatedly postponed throughout the year, despite widespread protests from journalistic and human rights organizations. Finally in March of 2001, Nepal's Supreme Court ruled Sen's detention illegal and ordered his release.

On the afternoon of March 15, Krishna Sen was turned over to a delegation from the Federation of Nepalese Journalists. Upon arriving in Kathmandu he said, "I will continue to write for the sake of the people and the country."

Krishna Sen dedicated his life to the liberation of the people. And for this, the Nepalese government targeted him for harassment, imprisonment, torture and death. Revolutionaries mourn at the news of his death. And freedom-loving people everywhere should expose and protest this act of vicious brutality by the reactionary ruling class in Nepal.

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