Statement condemning Sagarmatha TV’s yellow journalism‏

Statement of condemnation for public dissemination

August 15, 2012
Kathmandu, Nepal

Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s leading human rights organization which has been fighting for the rights of sexual and gender minorities since 2001 strongly condemns the sensational piece of yellow journalism broadcast by Sagarmatha TV on and after August 14, 2012.

Sagarmatha TV’s Khoj Khabar program which bills itself as “investigative journalism,” put a black mark on the name of the fourth estate in Nepal when it broadcast biased and malicious news item for about 30 minutes on August 14 and again repeatedly on August 15. In this piece, Sagarmatha TV accused BDS of allegations unsupported by
evidence and fact such as corruption and fraud. Here are some of the allegations made by Sagarmatha TV and BDS’ point by point rebuttal of them:

· Sagarmatha TV claimed that BDS has an annual budget of 32 crore rupees. Our actual budget is about Rs. 8 crores.

· The TV channel claimed that BDS leadership have engaged in corruption and lined their pockets. They offered no proof whatsoever to support these baseless accusations.

· They claimed BDS does very little for the sexual and gender minority community. In fact, we have 38 registered CBOs, 53 offices and about 750 staff all over the country serving the community (more than 400,000 LGBTI and MSM has been contacted across the country including 5000+ MSM/TG living with HIV ) with a whole range of services including advocacy, legal assistance, HIV care, counseling and treatment, prevention and the operation of a hospice center.

· The channel claimed BDS fudged the number of attendees on its peer outreach events. This is untrue as we observe stringent standards of monitoring and frequent audits. They offered no evidence for this accusation. As we protect the identity of our LGBTI/MSM community members and staff we didn’t share their names and contact details to the journalists when asked, the journalist took it as BDS not being transparent.

The program also outed three BDS members who are not open to their family and media, these three people are gone underground after they were outed by this media program.

It is suspected that the Sagarmatha TV journalists responsible for this piece are homophobic and the damaging piece they made has the goal of extorting BDS and its affiliated organizations for monitory gain. BDS is proud to announce that it will not bend to such brazen thuggery and condemns the TV channels despicable behavior in the
strongest possible way. BDS suspects that the people behind this malicious piece of reporting are disgruntled former employees who hold a grudge against the organization. It has come to our attention that several former employees who were relieved of their duties for financial mismanagement and incompetence are directly behind this piece of yellow journalism.

Sagarmatha TV has infringed on the human rights and dignity of the LGBTI community by broadcasting images and statements made by BDS staff without obtaining their prior permission. The TV channel has demonstrated complete disregard for the privacy of LGBTI members who are often not out to their families and friends. By exposing their
sexual orientation, several of our staff members have come under tremendous stress and pressure from their family members.

This is a gross violation of human rights and BDS will be contacting the National Press Council, the National Human Rights Commission, UN agencies, and international human rights organizations to lodge a strong protest against Sagarmatha TV and its irresponsible and dangerous conduct. We urge all human rights defenders and fair minded individuals to support us in this attempt to expose the yellow journalism practiced by Sagarmatha TV.

By bluediamondsociety