Amnesty wants stop to military aid
Nepal is on the brink of a catastrophe, Amnesty International concludes after a visit of its secretary-general Irene Khan to the country. Because of the fights between the army and the Maoists there were already regularly human rights abuses in the countryside, but after the coup d'etat and the declaration of a state of emergency the situation is also escalating in the cities.
Amnesty regularly expresses its concern over the army, which is responsible for the highest number of disappearances in the world. [..] Torture and executions of prisoners without trial is widespread. The conflict between maoist rebels and the state thus far cost the lives of 111,000 people.
Amnesty yesterday called upon donor countries to suspend military aid to Nepal, because king Gyanendra threatens to "destroy" the human rights. [..]
Activists into hiding after royal coup
Human rights activists in Nepal lead a nomadic life since the king took over power on February 1. Some fled to India, others sleep in a different place every night to avoid being arrested.
[Gopal] Siwakoti is secretary of the human rights organisation Inhured. After the royal coup, he moved in temporarily with a Dutch family in Kathmandu - just like other activists and journalists he prefers to sleep in foreigners' houses, because that's the safest. In the morning they travel by cab, baseball-cap pulled over their ears, to the UN building, where they are protected. [..]
Siwakoti's nomadic existence started within hours of the king having taken over government, when police in civilian clothes visited his house. His organisation opened a helpline half a year ago where people could file complaints and released prisoners could get help so they wouldnt be picked up again immediately. The security troops were not happy with that.
"I am old enough to remember the repressive panchayat regime of the eighties, and had packed my backpack already during the royal proclamation", says Siwakoti. "The army won't immediately kill me but can make life sour for me. Now that the freedom of ownership has been suspended they can buy up my house for a song." [..]
Sushil Pyakurel, Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, looks tired. He too went into hiding after the coup, and only returned back home once the telephone worked again. The secretary gets annoyed when he is asked why the majority of the Kathmandu inhabitants seem to be in favour of the coup. "What would you say if Saddam Hussein had asked you in Iraq whether you were for or against him?" [..]
Pyakurel's name is on a list of prominent activists circulating among security troops. He is one of the many activists who "for his own safety" is not allowed to leave the Kathmandu Valley and whose phone is bugged. He also gets no permission to visit deposed political leaders or prisons. [..]
The secretary is especially worried about his staff outside the capital. They are under strong pressure of both representatives of the army and Maoist rebels. "Our informants are between a rock and a hard place; whatever they say, one of the parties will feel attacked and take harsh measures." [..]
Pyakurel feels reasonably safe now but is not sure it will remain so. "If even the Prime Minister can be arrested, who is still safe in Nepal?" [..]
You got 'em in Peru too tho, dontcha - Maoist guerrillas I mean? Sendero Luminoso? Or did Fujimoro finish those off for good (the one good thing he would have achieved)?
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or CPN(M) is a Maoist political party and military organisation founded in 1994 and led by 'Chairman Prachanda' (born Pushpa Kamal Dahal). It launched the Nepalese People's War on February 13, 1996, and now controls much of the country. Its main goal is to overthrow the monarchy and replace it with a Communist-style republic. They follow the Maoist strategy of people's war in which they attempt to take gradual control of the countryside to encircle the cities, only fighting with government forces on their own terms when they can significantly outnumber their enemy.
It has been alleged, because the CPN(M) have said that they do not accept the orthodox version of what happened in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, that they are another Khmer Rouge in the making.
Under the aegis of the global War on Terrorism and with the stated goal of averting the development of a "failed state" that could serve as a source of regional and international instability, the United States and India, among other nations, have begun providing extensive military and economic aid to the Nepalese government. In response, the Maoist leaders have denounced U.S. involvement and threatened to target U.S. interests.
Nepal is currently one of the few absolute monarchies left on the planet. The king may dissolve parliament at will and frequently has done so. The government has responded to the People's War by banning "provocative" statements about the monarchy, imprisoning journalists, and shutting down newspapers alleged to take the side of the insurgents.
Nepal leaders demand restoration of democracy in Kingdom
New Delhi, Feb 19 (UNI) Several Nepalese political parties today demanded the immediate restoration of democracy and the removal of King Gyanendra's ''autocratic regime which had hindered the progress of Nepal''.
Protesting the February 1 imposition of Emergency by the king who dismissed the democratically elected government, Mr Chitra Bahadur K C of Nepal Communist Party-MASAL said at a rally at Jantar Mantar: ''It is the monarchy which has kept development away from Nepal. The kings have always promoted the panchayati raj which has only hindered progress in our nation.
'' Now again King Gyanendra is saying he imposed emergency for the people of the country but anyone can see that they are not happy. '' Addressing the 1,500 strong crowd, Mr Shekhar Koirala of the Nepali Congress said: ''We will fight for the end of this autocratic regime which is not acceptable to the people of Nepal who have lost every fundamental right. People are being oppressed by this regime which has arrested thousands of political activists and even journalists are not being spared.
''This muzzling of the press cannot go on for long. We will agitate everywhere relentlessly for the restoration of peace in our country.'' He requested Nepalese people the world over to unite on this day, celebrated as ''Democracy day'' in the himalayan kingdom, and express their solidarity in this fight for fundamental rights.
Later, talking to UNI, he said all the six major political parties who have recently formed an alliance are unanimous that democracy has to be restored.
''Only if a constituent assembly is formed can the sovereignity of the people be restored. The only question in front of us now is who will call for this constituent assembly and what will the role of the king be in the new set up.
''At present there exists no constitution in Nepal, King Gyanendra has murdered whatever existed before. This is why the constituent assembly must be formed, in a free and fair atmosphere, which can then decide whether we will have a republic or a proper constitutional monarchy.
By Constitutional monarchy I mean one is which the military and the police are not under the king but under the parliament. We might even have to dismantle the Royal Nepal army like it was done in Iraq,'' he said.
About mass desertions from the military, Mr Koirala said: ''I know that the lower ranks are fleeing as they too want democracy.
The common man in the country is suffering today and this has to end.'' About the Maoists he said: ''Even they know that they cannot do anything on their own and for us to join forces some preconditions exist. They will have to shun violence and guns as we are for only non-violent methods. We have already begun peaceful demonstrations in Kathmandu and other areas and about 200 people were arrested yesterday.'' Mr Pradeep Giri of the Nepali Congress (Democratic) said the international community, especially India, needs to support this movement and for this all military aid should be stopped at once.
''India's support is vital for us,'' he said.
The three main Nepalese outfits, based in India, which took part in the protest include the Pravasi Nepali Sangh, Nepali Jan Sampark Samiti and the All India Nepali Ekta Samaj.
Only a few weeks ago, the rebels abducted hundreds of school children for a week long "re-education" course on Maoist ideology right under the noses of the security forces on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
As one analyst put it, the government appears to be caught in a classic catch-22 situation.
Until there is substantial social and economic development in the areas of the countryside where the Maoists hold sway, the insurgency will continue.
But development cannot happen until the government gains even limited access to these areas, and access can only be achieved by using highly unpopular and potentially counterproductive military means against a well-organised guerrilla army.
Govt to regulate HR groups
KATHMANDU, Feb 25 - The government is preparing to regulate human rights organizations including Amnesty International-Nepal (AI-N) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), news reports Friday said.
The current government is disappointed with the exposure of the country's human rights situation in the international fora, according to a highly placed government source.
"In international forums, Nepal has been portrayed as a country with poor human rights record," the source said, adding, "So the government wants to check these organizations."
Meanwhile, travel restrictions imposed by the government has troubled people from various walks of life.
Dr. Om Gurung, professor at the Tribhuvan University and Former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Aryal were stopped at the Tribhuvan International Airport in the eleventh hour while trying to board a flight to attend separate programs.
So far, about a dozen people who are under government's travel restriction list have already returned from the airport in the past few days. (dds)
Nisthuri, Nepal and Baral released
KATHMANDU, Feb 25 - The government on Friday released nine high-profile detainees. Bishnu Nisthuri, general secretary of Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Homanth Dahal, a Cabinet minister in the Deuba government, CPN-UML leader Pradip Nepal and Asta Laxmi Shakya, CPN-ML leader C.P.Mainali, NC leader Nona Koirala, Professor Lokraj Baral and Khagendra Bhattarai, former president of Nepal Lecturers Association and Shiva Bahadur Basnet were brought to the district administration office in Kathmandu and released in the supervision of district court officials, according to our correspondent Kedar Ojha.
Upon being released Nisthuri said, "This is a positive move and it seems that the government has understood the importance of press."
"I would also like to thank national and international organizations who stood behind us during the period and created pressure for our release," Nisthuri told Kantipur Online.
Nisthuri hoped that all the other detainees too would be released soon. (hb/ dds)