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Unions protest suspension of democracy in Nepal

Unions protest suspension of democracy in Nepal

The ITF helped to coordinate an international day of union protest on 10 February, against the suspension of democracy and trade union rights in Nepal. Pickets were held outside Nepalese embassies to coincide with protest rallies that were attempted by human rights groups in Nepal, but swiftly broken up by police.

All democratic freedoms were suspended by King Gyanendra, following his dismissal of the government on 1 February 2005. Political and trade union leaders have since been arrested, union offices closed and meetings of more than three persons have been banned.

Three leaders of the Nepal Trade Union Congress, NTUC were in detention at the time of writing, including its senior vice president Mr Puskar Acharya. Other union leaders were in hiding. Communication with the outside world has become extremely difficult with international phone lines cut off. Email after being closed for some days has been restored but it is not known for how long.

ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder was with union leaders at a conference of the ICFTU's Asia Pacific region in the capital Kathmandu when the royal coup took place. The ICFTU launched immediate protests at the suspension of trade union freedoms and pointed out that Nepal's problems, including the Maoist insurgency, cannot be solved by the suspension of democratic government and the violation of fundamental human rights.

Among the protesters on 10 February, ITF staff in London and Tokyo joined pickets held by British and Japanese trade union centres and ITF-affiliated unions. In Kathmandu human rights activists were arrested as they attempted to stage protests.

Any union wishing to show solidarity is urged to present a protest letter to the Nepalese embassy in their country, and to write to their government demanding that it exert maximum pressure on the Nepalese monarchy to restore all democratic rights and freedoms.

Embassy listings and model letter are available at http://www.itf.org.uk/english/solidarity/nepal.htm


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