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Has Nepal’s Orange-Revolution Begun?

Has Nepal’s Orange-Revolution Begun ?

By Michael Van De Veer
Kathmandu, Nepal April 5, 2006

(In the Ukraine, thousands and thousands joined in peaceful demonstrations resulting in the change of Government on December 6, 2004. This is known as the Orange Revolution)

The Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, nestled in the Himalayan mountains between India and China, has now passed the 10-year mark in the People’s War declared by the Maoists in 1996. At that time the Maoists controlled no more than 5% of the country. More than 3000 Nepalese have lost their lives in this brutal conflict between the central government and the Maoist rebels.

In 2001 the Maoists claimed to govern in almost 40% of Nepal. With rumors of a Peace Proposal between the Palace and the Maoists circulating, in what many Nepalese consider a Palace-Coup, former King Birendra and his entire immediate family were, on the night of June 1st, slaughtered in the Royal Palace and Birendra’s brother, King Gyanendra ascended to the throne.

It took only a few days for the new King Gyanendra to proclaim a temporary State of Emergency and Nepal’s 1990 experiment with democracy began to fade as the King moved away from Parliamentary rule and a Constitutional Monarchy toward Absolute Monarchy.

On 9-11, 2001, just three months after the death of King Birendra, the attack on the US would push Nepal from the margins of the world stage to front-and-center.

The first country visited by the then U S Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in the aftermath of what was deemed a “terrorist attack on America” was none other than Nepal.

Once an exotic destination for adventure travelers, hippies, and mountain-climbers, Nepal was to become part of the “War on Terrorism” and of the Bush Doctrine of using military force to impose US style “Democracy,” and never negotiating with terrorists.

In keeping with the “War on Terrorism” the US, in 2001 began to reduce its funding for humanitarian-aid and supported, with arms and training, the biggest ever expansion of the Paramilitary Police Force and the Royal Nepalese Army. What had been a combined police and Army force of approximately 20,000 in 1990 was soon to be expanded to over 100,000.

The Nepalese public, weary of the Peoples’ War, distrustful of the Palace, and disgusted with the corruption of the leaders of the Parties . . . tired of strikes, shortages and rising prices, turned their backs on politics as the King consolidated his grasp on the country.

On February-1, 2005 King Gyanendra suspended what was left of all Parliamentary and democratic institutions and took absolute control of Nepal.
Civil society: doctors, civil-servants, radio & print journalist, peace and human rights activist, party members and students began to stir as the Palace stepped up its daily attack, not just on the Maoists but on all democratic forces within the country.

Virtually every Human Rights organization, from the UN Commission on Human Rights to Amnesty International, criticized the Maoists and called for them to cease their actions against civilians. In even more harsh terms these organizations criticize the US trained Police and Royal Nepalese Army for extrajudicial arrests, killings, rapes, torture, disappearances and attacks on fundamental civil liberties, leading the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) in 2005 in a 124-page report, to state that “the rule of law has ceased to function in Nepal.”

By the beginning of 2006, the Democratic Parties have gone though much self-criticism and have initiated an unprecedented 7-Party Alliance with all major Parliamentary Parties agreeing on a common platform to restore Democracy. With the continued Government oppression, many of the parties now demand an END TO THE MONARCHY AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A REPUBLIC.

In the last month the 7-Parties have reached out to the Maoists and struck a 12-Point Agreement that would cause the Maoists to abandon the People’s War and join in the democratic process. The US Ambassador, James Moriarity, said to be an intelligent and kind man by many, saddled with the
unintelligent and unkind Bush Doctrine, has skittered between the Democratic Parties, much like Chicken Little, warning of dire consequences if there is any compromise with the Maoist rebels.

The 7-Parties, now pushed to brink of civil-war, have called for 4 days of peaceful-protest throughout the Kingdom to start April 6. The campuses have turned into battlegrounds with many students being beaten and tear-gassed, as the evenings are marked by torchlight protests.

The Government, a day before the protest, on April 5, has proclaimed that anyone who demonstrates with the 7-Parties also helps the cause of the Maoists and a curfew has been imposed from 11pm till three a.m.. All buses have been stopped from moving toward or entering Kathmandu. Many vehicles have been seized from private citizens. Politicians, journalists, party and student leaders have been placed under arrest and authorities warn of “orders to shoot.”

With former US President Jimmy Carter’s expected arrival in Kathmandu and the 7-Parties readying to take to the streets, the Maoists have declared a unilateral cease-fire in the Kathmandu Valley and the next few days will determine for the near future if Nepal will escape the grip of dictatorship and stage it’s own ORANGE REVOLUTION.


D. MICHAEL VAN DE VEER - Freelance Journalist in Kathmandu
Contributor to UnitedWeBlog(Voice of Democratic Nepal), Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News

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