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CTU calls on Government to act on Nepal

MEDIA RELEASE

18 April 2006


CTU calls on Government to act on Nepal

The CTU is calling on the New Zealand Government to use its influence to end the repression in Nepal by the King and the army.

“224 union leaders and activists have been arrested merely for exercising thsir democratic rights” CTU president Ross Wilson said today.

A copy of a letter faxed by the CTU to the King of Nepal today is set out below.

ENDS


His Majesty
King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Narayanhity Royal Palace
Durbar Marg
Kathmandu
Nepal

By fax: +977 14 413577

Your Majesty,

Arrests and violent repression of strike

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU), which represents more than 300,000 workers in New Zealand, strongly protests against the violent crackdown by your police forces on the general strike which had been called for by the Seven Parties Alliance (SPA), a wide ranging political coalition which comprises the three national trade union confederations, the ICFTU-affiliated National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), the General Federation of Trade Unions (GEFONT), and the Democratic Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT). At the time of writing, 244 trade union leaders and activists reportedly remain in detention.

The general strike was scheduled to last from 6 to 9 April, but was prolonged by the SPA in response to the excessive violence used by your police troops. Immediately after the strike was called for, your government issued a ban on rallies and public gatherings. On 4 April, Surya Mohan Subedi, Nar Bahadur and Gyanendra Kunwar, all from the General Federation of Trade Unions (GEFONT), were arrested. In Biratnagar, 16 people were seriously injured after the police attacked their rally. One of them died later, despite being transferred to a hospital.

According to our information, on 6 April, eight trade union officials were arrested: Lalit Basnet, GEFONT Vice-Chairperson and Member of Parliament; Rajendra Bastakoti, Hetauda District President, and Mohan Sing Moktan, Vice-President of the Federation of Agriculture Workers (FAWN); Lila Bahadur Dahal and Raj Kumar Lama from the Nepal Street Vendors' Union (NEST); Narayan Adhilkary from the Nepal Independent Chemical and Iron Workers' Union (NICWU); Raju Acharya from the National Federation of Informal Sector Workers (CUPPEC); and Purna Shrestha from the GEFONT Zonal Office.

On 7 April, the second day of the strike, about 100 people were arrested, six of whom are GEFONT members. On 8 April, Devi Prasad Phuyal (NEST) was brutally beaten by the police and had to be taken to hospital. On 9 April, Chet Badur Magar, Security Guard at the GEFONT Headquarters, was relentlessly beaten and badly injured by the police. He also had to be taken to hospital.
Yesterday we were advised of the following further arrests: Anjan Shrestha, NTUC member, who suffered an eye injury upon his arrest; Ganesh Pandey, Secretary of the NTUC Yatayat Mazdoor Sangh Center, arrested on 11 April; Hari Raj Poudel, Ex-President of the Nepal Teachers' Union (NTU), Chitwan District, who was arrested on 9 April, together with five other district officials; Manju Bhattarai, NTUC member, arrested on 9 April; Dilla Ram Bhusal, Kathmandu District Secretary of the Nepal Tourism and Hotel Workers' Union (NTHWU), arrested on 9 April; Umesh Mishra, NTUC member, arrested on 9 April; Uttam Tiwari, Sunsari District Secretary of the Nepal Factory Labour Congress (NFLC), who suffered a head injury upon his arrest on 9 April; Hem Bahadur Banjara, Kaski District President of the Agricultural Workers' Union (AWU), who was illtreated and severely injured by the police upon his arrest, and has been transferred to a hospital later on; Tikaram Kandel, Nepal Financial Institute Employees' Union (NFIEU) member; and Radheshyam Pathak, NTUC Nawalparasi District President, who was arrested on 10 April; Nara Bahadur Khatri, President of the Nepal Independent Food & Beverage Workers' Union (NIFBWU); and Baikuntha Humangain, NEST member.

The CTU is extremely concerned about the further deterioration of the political situation in Nepal, especially about the arbitrary detentions and the disproportionate use of violence by your police troops to restrict peaceful rallies and demonstrations. We firmly condemn this violence, which has already cost several lives, as well as the arrests of trade union officials, who are only exercising their legitimate right to freedom of association, as guaranteed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87. Although your country did not ratify this convention, it has an obligation, through its ILO membership, to enforce respect for the principles enshrined in it.

I urgently call on you to take the necessary measures in order to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all the trade union officials and other activists that remain in detention. I also urge you to refrain from the use of violence when dealing with peaceful demonstrators.

Yours sincerely

Ross Wilson
PRESIDENT

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