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Infiltration into Nepal Rallies

Infiltration into Nepal Rallies: Security or Maoists or Minors?

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

"We can kill you but nothing will happen to us" one of the security men infiltrating into the groups of the state-run T.U. Teaching Hospital students' rally said to one of those students injured by the beatings of the security men. The injured student said that a man helped them bringing bricks while they were rallying in support of the seven-party alliance, and then inciting them to throw the brick at the security men. Later, the same person came as the security man and hit them with a baton saying nothing would happen to him even if he killed them [1]. It shows that the government authorities sent security men in civil dress to infiltrate into the students' rally and incite them to violence for suppressing the rally by force on the pretext of controlling the violence. The authorities also must have assured the security men of they could even kill the protestors with impunity.

At Gongabu, Kathmandu, on April 11, 2006, a group of protesters demonstrated shell casings holding in their hands and said that those shells were fired at the protestors from the home of the recently promoted AIG (Additional Inspector General) Rup Sagar Moktan. One of the security men cooled down the protestors promising them to bring whoever might be in the home firing at the protestors to justice [2]. However, the state-owned newspaper [3] ran the news saying the protestors of the seven-party alliance attacked on the home of the AIG Moktan, and further stated that the protestors tore down the compound wall, then the security posted at the home fired in the air to disperse the crowd until help arrived. As usual, the state-run newspaper attempted to put lies as truth. Everybody watching the private TV channels' night news on April 11, 2006 saw the hundreds of protestors injured by the bullet wounds at Gongabu. If the security had fired only in the air, how the gunshots coming from the home of the AIG Moktan injured so many people.

The Home Minister or the spokesman for the government needed to explain to the people why the security posted at the AIG Moktan's home fired at the protestors peacefully demonstrating against the king's regime. On April 11, 2006, at the press conference, Minister of State for Information and Communications, and spokesman for the government, Shrish Shumsher Rana said, "the press should not remain in confusion that the present agitation does not have the infiltration of the terrorists, as shots have been fired aiming at the security forces in Banepa, Gongabu and Chitwan" [4]. However, the spokesman failed to say whether the shells fired from the home of the AIG Moktan, were the shells of the terrorists or the armed police force posted at the Moktan's home at Gongabu. So, it was hard to believe in having any truth in what the Minister of State Rana said.

In a press conference held on Tuesday, April 11, 2006, to a query, why the security forces had baton-charged small children who were participating in the protests, Minister of State Rana put up a counter question, "Is it lawful to involve minors in protests?" [5]. It was clear from what the Minister of State Rana replied to the reporters that the king's government had no responsibility for protecting the children, and must have given the security men instructions to hit anybody on the streets rather than taking care of minors and protecting them from the crowd. It went contrary to the Home Minister's claims for deploying the security men only for protecting the lives and property of the people.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Nepal and local NGOs were concerned with the reports of child injuries, arrests and detentions during the recent anti-government rallies in the country and called on both the security forces and the protestors to protect children from abuse, as many young boys, especially homeless street children, seen walking side by side with adult demonstrators raising anti-king banners. Many of these children were arrested by the security forces and taken into custody. "We call on the security forces and the political activists not to abuse one of the Kathmandu's most vulnerable populations - its street children" the Child Protection Centers and Services (CPCS) said. In addition, UNICEF also stated that it received some very disturbing reports of children being beaten up after their arrest and detention.

Several children between 10 and 14 years of age were arrested in Kathmandu and other cities. "Children have no place being near demonstrations that could turn violent," UNICEF representative in Nepal, Suomi Sakai said. She further explained while children do have the right to freedom of expression under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), their parents and guardians have the responsibility for ensuring their children exercise the rights in an age-appropriate manner. Ms. Sakai wanted to send a message to the rally organizers that they have responsibility for ensuring children are not harmed, particularly the homeless children. During a press conference on Tuesday, April 11, 2006, government spokesman Shrish Shumsher Rana accused the democratic parties of abusing the rights of children by making them participate in their rallies. He even went to the extent of accusing the parties of using them as 'child soldiers'.

In response, the parties accused the government of violating the rights of children by using unnecessary force against innocent children, who have been subject to police brutality. "The armed police injured my head and kicked me," said 12-year-old Sudan Lama, showing his bandaged head. "Many of my friends had to go to the hospital for treatment after they also got beaten up," he said. Activists expressed concern for the night curfew imposed in Kathmandu too since last week many children are not aware of this.

The CPCS said that the children are usually unable to reach their shelters on time, and as a result, they end up" at the mercy of the security forces, who have over the past few days not shown any sympathy to those who have no home to go". [6] The international law prohibits hitting anybody above the neck, and using live ammunition to control rallies. However, the Home Minister of the autocratic regime does not seem to care for the need to comply with the international law.

Talking to the reporters on April 10, 2006, Home Minister attempted to prove the terrorists had infiltrated into the protestors of the seven-party alliance and fired shells at the home of the former DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police). On April 11, 2006, the protestors refuted the claim of the Home Minister for firing at the home of the former DSP by someone from among the protestors, saying that there was no home of any former DSP at Gongabu.

Home Minister Kamal Thapa and the Spokesman for the government, Shrish Shumsher Rana had been making wild speculations about the infiltration of terrorists into the rallies of the seven-party alliance and that they were going to damage the lives and property of the common people. However, the armed security men had been the threat to the lives and property of the common people as they had been hitting the weakest persons such as minors, women and old people even if they were not parts of the rally against the current autocratic regime throughout the country during the last several days.

On Monday, April 10, 2006, a day after Home Minister Thapa claimed to have found the evidence of rebel infiltration into the protests launched by the seven-party alliance, UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officials found army infiltration into the rally of the seven-party alliance held in Kohalpur, Banke. A team led by OHCHR-Nepalgunj Chief, Andrew McGregor found a soldier in civil dress with a grenade at the rally. Then, the team saw dozens of plainclothes soldiers with explosives from nearby the Royal Nepal Army base infiltrating into the mass rally [7]. The Home Minister or the spokesman for the government needed to explain to the Nepalis whether the security men in civil dress infiltrating into the protestors were the men for causing violence and terrorism, and whether it was the state terrorism sponsored by the Home Ministry or not.

On April 11, 2006, a group of tourists gathered at Thamel, Kathmandu and attempted to rally displaying banners with the words 'stop curfew, start talks'. The security men quickly took the banners off the hands of the tourists and then rounded them up and put them into a police van and taken to the unknown place. Was the rally of the well-wishers tourists' threat to the lives and property of the people? They simply wanted not curfew but a normal life and peace in Nepal. Hence, we do not see any reason for taking them into custody not allowing them to speak up their minds. A small group of tourists placed some banners on display on the tiers of the temple at the Durbar Square on the same day. Similarly, a group of tourist also held a small rally in Pokhara in support of peace on April 11, 2006 [8].

Handpicked Home Minister is not accountable to the people. He is for protecting the autocratic regime not the lives and the property of the people. Hence, he was not caring for any loss of life and the property of the people. The people in the Gongabu area said that the security men sent by the Home Minister for the so-called protection of lives and property of the people fired rubber bullets at the peaceful protestors on April 11, 2006 and took away the injured people with them; as a result, fifteen people have been disappeared [9].

National Human Rights commission called Senior Superintendent of Armed Police Force (SSAP), Madhav Thapa for questioning about the indiscriminate firing at the demonstrators at Gongabu on April 11, 2006. SSAP Thapa mercilessly beat up the American Doctor, Brian Cobb while he was providing first-aid treatment to the injured people by the armed police at Gongabu on April 11, 2006. The Home Minister further punished Dr. Cobb and his colleagues sending them out of the country within 24-hours. Political party leaders promised to bring security men violating human rights and using firepower for suppressing the rallies to justice after the revival of democracy.

German Doctor Angel and American Doctor Brain Cobb left Nepal on Thursday afternoon, April 13, 2006 after the government forced them to leave the country canceling their visa. Police arrested Dr Cobb from Gongabu on Wednesday, April 12, 2006, and detained him for six hours. He was not allowed to inform the American embassy while under detention. He was released on condition that he would present at the immigration department on Thursday, April 13, 2006. He told reporters that the police treated him like a 'criminal'. Senior Superintendent of Armed Police Force Madhav Thapa beat him up severely on Tuesday, April 11 while he was providing treatment to the injured demonstrators and police personnel at Gongabu. He said that SSAP Thapa gouged out the eye of one of the demonstrators with his baton on that day. The German Embassy in Kathmandu confirmed the cancellation of visa of Dr Angel. When contacted for comments on these things, officials at the Armed Police Force headquarters did not want to speak on the issue. [10].

Home Minister Kamal Thapa and Minister of State for Information and Communications Shrish Shumsher Rana in tandem have been doing everything anti-people and anti-human rights. So, even the employees of the state-run enterprises have joined the movement against the autocratic regime. One of the employees of the state-rum telecommunication enterprise in a question to the recent government notice of prohibiting the employees of certain enterprises that provide essential services such as telecommunications said that first the Minister of State for Communications Shrish Shumsher Rana should be brought to justice and sent to jail for snapping the mobile telephones again. The employees of telecommunications have been demanding the restoration of the mobile telephone services as the suspension of the services has already caused the loss of 4 billion rupees to the state-run company. Under the pressure of the Telecom Company employees, the government restored the services of mobile phones on April 13, 2006.

On Tuesday, April 11, 2006, the Home Ministry said that the security men were going to conduct large-scale home searches in Kathmandu alleging the terrorists taking shelter in the houses. It was not the first time the Home Ministry deployed the security men for searching the terrorists in Kathmandu; in the past the Home Ministry sent the security men at midnight to the homes of innocent people, and terrified the women and children. The security men violated the basic human rights of women and children to privacy. Kathmanduites were terrified by the midnight knocks of the security men on their doors in the past. So, the history was repeating as the Home Ministry was sending the security men to the homes of the innocent people. We do not know how many innocent people would need to suffer from the searches to be conducted by the security men.

The irony was that the Vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Tulsi Giri said that the back of the Maoist was broken up but the Home Minister is so scared of the Maoists with broken backs, and makes troubles to the innocent people on the pretext of conducting searches for Maoists, and orders to shoot live bullets at the protestors against the autocratic regime on the pretext of terrorists infiltrating into the rally. How long will continue such a state terrorism?

Footnotes

[1] Kantipur TV evening-news footages on April 11, 2006
2] Kantipur TV evening-news footages on April 11, 2006
[3] The Rising Nepal April 14, 2006
[4] The Rising Nepal April 12, 2006
[5] The Rising Nepal April 12, 2006
[6] Reuters AlertNet, UK April 13, 2006 16:20:40 GMT
[7] eKantipur.com April 11, 2006; eKantipur.com April 11, 2006
[8] Nepalese private TV footages April 11, 2006
[9] Nepalese private TV footages April 11, 2006
[10] nepalnews.com ia Apr 14 06

ENDS


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