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B. Lamichhaney: Nepal’s High Price for Democray

Nepal’s High Price for Democracy - New Delhi the Capital!


By Bhupal Lamichhaney

New Delhi, the capital of India, not Kathmandu has become the 'Centre' of South Asia in connection with the on-going conflict in Nepal that has already taken more than 15,000 lives in its decade long, senseless blood bath to uproot parliamentary democracy and establish ‘One Party Communist Rule’.

National as well as international actors in Nepal's conflict are in Delhi, which has the fame or defame of brokering a 'Peace Pact' between the Nepali Congress, the Rana Rulers, and the King of Nepal in 1951. This tripartite compromise known as the ‘Delhi Treaty’ is still infamous in Nepali Politics. The leftist politicians, especially the Communists of Nepal, have become champions in denouncing the Delhi Treaty. They are of view that the treaty led New Delhi to intervene in every internal matter of Nepal. Their jaundiced eyes always see Nepali Congress as well as the King as mere stooges of Indian hegemony.

Since 1951, a lot of water has flown in the Ganges and in Mechi - Mahakali. Traditionally anti-Indian vocalists in Nepal are the Communists and the Royalists. But ironically, after causing the death of so many thousands of innocent fellow citizens, the Communists are now in deep labor pains (in an air conditioned palace in Delhi) to transform their ideological war for one party dictatorial rule to a competitive multi-party political system under the sponsorship and witness of Indian, US, and UK envoys to Nepal.

Delhi is hosting the leaders of the communist parties of Nepal, the Maoists and the UML, as well as their archrival, the Nepali Congress, the oldest and largest democratic party, which they label as pro Indian because of the Delhi Treaty. All are in deep consultation for finding out a formula for the poor and ignorant people of Nepal.

It is a positive development that the communists of Nepal have now realized democracy, peace and human rights are not just a national agenda. This is for the people of the world. Support and help to find a solution for democracy and human rights is always welcome. India, the largest democracy of the world and the United States, the first democracy, would not have achieved their objectives had some other nationals not supported them.

Like the legacy of Maoist China, however, we must beware of leaders who preach a ‘democracy’ that only suits their own specific goals. Democracy is democracy; there exists no legitimate deviation or modified form of reference. Neither fascist dictatorships nor communist regimes are capable of democratic thought or action, regardless of what they say or call themselves.

The longing for freedom, democracy, and human rights will never die in spite of great suppressions and conspiracies. Brutal regimes of the world try hard to undermine democracy and freedom, but never endure in the end. In modern history, we can find many horrifying examples of genocide and crime against humanity. However, the commonalities of these genocides are that people never bowed to the suppressive regimes. Their precious lives were sacrificed for freedom but they never surrendered to the terror and brutal cynical atrocities of their notorious dictators.

Before the word 'democracy' ever emerged, people stood boldly in front of tyrants for their freedom. Desiring freedom of movement and the right to choose one’s way of life is not under a particular government’s whim to give or deny, it is the right of all innocent humanity. In ancient religious books, we find numerous accounts of revolts against harsh rulers who oppressed their subjects with malevolent edicts and regulations against their will and without their consent.

Almost all the ancient stories give account of the struggle of people for survival and freedom. In other words, the stories of the Prophets and Gurus are the shown pathways for greater freedom. Because of rebellious and modern thought of that particular period, many people lost their lives. People stood upright for their beliefs, willingly selecting death over the domination of tyrants. Their stories are examples of how people in ancient times paid the price for democracy too.

The price for democracy is so high that people in this 21st century are still paying for it. It seems people must go on paying the price eternally. No matter where it is, in whatever country, democracy remains the costliest entity on earth.

Naturally, the struggle for freedom takes on different shapes and forms depending on people’s needs in different regions of the globe. In the US gay marriage and abortion rights have become mainstream issues to more accurately define democracy. In Nepal, people are fighting and dying for the re-establishment of representative government against the forced Royal dictatorship thrust upon them after the bloodless coup on February 1, 2005. In India, people continue to fight against their centuries old caste system. In china, people lose their lives even if caught practicing Buddhism or Flagon Dong.

In many Muslim countries, women cannot walk along the street with their heads unveiled. There are instances that the Muslim women lost their wrists and hands for exposing them while driving a car.

Is it not surprising that Americans are now loosing their lives for sake of freedom of Afghans and Iraqis? In the past, did not French people loose lives for American freedom? Nepali, British, and Americans for India’s freedom? In fact, many Nepalese lost their lives not only for India’s freedom and security, but also for the security of many other peoples around the world. Should there be any boundary in promoting freedom and democracy for anyone?

Whether native or immigrant, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, man or woman, Christian or Jew, Buddhist or Jain, Hindu or Muslim, gay or lesbian, no matter every one who wants freedom must pay a price. The price is so dear but worth paying. In Nepal, we know this all too well.

So, what can we say regarding Kathmandu’s unique relationship with New Delhi? In all political struggles of Nepal, has not India always played a perceptible hegemonic role communicating with all the forces including the insurgents? We appreciate this multilateral attempt to bring the Maoists of Nepal into mainstream politics. Can it possibly bear fruit given the past and present actions and relations of the Maoists in South Asia?

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Bhupal Lamichhaney is vice president of Human Rights Organization of Nepal (HURON) one of the oldest HR organizations in the country. He has been writing articles on democracy and human rights in English and Nepali languages.

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