Film on Nepal army torture blocked, says director
Agence France-Presse in Kathmandu
The makers of a film depicting torture by Nepal’s army accused the government of censorship on Friday after they had to cancel the movie’s release because of delays in getting approvals.
The film Badhshala, meaning “Slaughterhouse” in Nepalese, is based on the infamous saga of torture and disappearances carried out by a Kathmandu-based battalion during the country’s 1996-2006 civil war.
The army has raised objections to the four-million-rupee ($46,512) film which was scheduled for release Friday, saying it could harm the peace process and was made using army uniforms without permission.
Director Manoj Pandit said he had given up hope of gaining the necessary permits and called the affair “an attack on artistic freedom” in Nepal.
“The government has ignored its own deadlines for a decision,” said Pandit, who delivered a DVD to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in a last-ditch effort to win the right to release the film on Friday.
“I wanted to portray the incidents of torture so they will serve as history for our future generations,” he said.
Yadunath Panthi, a spokesman for the ministry of communications, said: “The government hasn’t yet made a decision, so we can’t call this censorship.”
More than 16,000 people died in the civil war between Maoist rebels and government forces, and more than 1,000 are still missing.
Human rights groups have recorded abuses including torture by both sides and say little has been done to bring those responsible to justice.
“It’s embarrassing to live in a country that sends its troops all over the world on peacekeeping missions but can’t respect the basic right to free speech at home,” said the film’s producer Mohaan Dotel.