07 February 2005
Nepalese call for New Zealand Help to Restore Democracy
New Zealanders have a special responsibility to help the people of Nepal to restore democracy, Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.
Ross Wilson and CTU secretary Carol Beaumont have just returned from a union conference in Nepal, where the King staged a coup and assumed absolute power last week.
The King’s decree turned the Asia-Pacific conference of union leaders into an unlawful assembly of illegal organisations, despite union rights being guaranteed by international law.
“It is estimated that 1500 have been arrested, including leaders of political parties,” Ross Wilson said. “Union leaders expected to be arrested as soon as unionists from other countries attending the conference left Nepal.”
The Nepalese he spoke to believed that New Zealand could play an influential role in persuading the King to restore constitutional democracy.
“Because of New Zealand’s close connection with Nepal through mountaineering, trade and aid, the Nepalese look to us to help them at this time of national constitutional crisis.”
The United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, as well as many governments, have strongly condemned the action of King Gyrendra in not only assuming absolute power but also outlawing unions and freedom of assembly, suspending free speech and terminating all access to telephones or internet.
“The CTU will be asking the Government and prominent New Zealanders associated with Nepal to take what action they can to help restore democracy and peace,” Ross Wilson said.