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B. Lamichhaney: Human Rights Situation in Nepal!

Human Rights Situation in Nepal!


Bhupal Lamichhaney

Obviously after April 2006, the human rights situation in Nepal improved, when 19 days of the people movement ended King Gyanendra’s all authority and created conducive atmosphere to a ceasefire in the brutal war between the government forces and the Maoists of Nepal.

After declaration of ceasefire, civilian casualties mainly caused by the conflict dramatically declined. The human rights abuses such as extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, and torture were also markedly reduced.

On November 8, 2006, the government and the Maoists signed a comprehensive accord to establish a constituent assembly to draft the country’s new constitution which will decide the fate of the monarchy, to establish an interim government, and to establish an interim parliament.

This agreement, in the preamble, has openly mentioned respect for human rights and democratic values and principles. The accord showed concern over “disappearances” and need to accelerate the process of returning displaced people to their villages.

Many Nepali people continue to speak aloud showing concerns about the country’s human rights and political situation. However it is true, the hope and jubilation followed the declaration of the dissolved parliament reinstated, which resulted peace process. Many people including Human rights activists complained that the peace agreement could not create any monitoring mechanisms to tackle violations. Both warring parties, and particularly the Maoists, regularly violated the letter and spirit of the ceasefire code of conduct.

Till to day the human rights violators from both sides seem enjoying impunity. There were many incidents that drew the attention of many Nepalese as well as international observers regarding gross violation of the human rights. For instance the Human Rights Watch in its recent reports writes, “Both sides failed to institute accountability for past violations by their troops. The Maoists freed some of those responsible for a 2005 bombing attack in Chitwan, which killed 35 civilians and injured dozens of others, after sentences of two to three months of “corrective punishment.” The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) monitoring mission complained of ongoing failure by the renamed Nepali Army (formerly the Royal Nepali Army) to honor its commitment to provide access to documents related to disciplinary procedures and courts martial”.

Maoist forces have not released any of the thousands of children under age 18 believed to be serving in their ranks, and Nepali rights groups reported ongoing recruitment campaigns throughout the country. Farmers and businesses increasingly complain about being forced to “donate” to the Maoists. However, the Maoist leadership issued a directive to its cadres to halt beatings, abductions, killings, and extortion but without any effect. Nepali human rights groups continue to register ongoing violations by Maoist cadres.

Nepali human rights groups as well as monitors from the OHCHR in Nepal documented dozens of abductions of individuals by the Maoists, including at least 16 members of other political parties.

From Monday onwards the Maoists will be the part and partial of Nepal Government. They will be joining the interim legislature as well. However, still many issues concerning human rights are yet to be addressed. The new government will have ample of challenges.

Nepal ranks near the bottom of nearly all indexes of human well-being and development. The decade of brutal conflict seriously hampered development initiatives in health care and education. Economic was shattered because of the frequent strikes and bandhas. Continuous fights made people difficult to travel from one place to another resulting lack of business and commerce. The tens of thousands of displaced people are still living under very bad conditions with tremendous economic pressure. Although, after the peace agreement some displaced Nepalese returned to their homes, but thousands of others remained displaced. They have not returned because of a fear of ongoing suppression by Maoists.

Nepal has more than 100,000 refugees from Bhutan. Thousands of Tibetans continue to cross over glaciers and mountain passes to escape the Chinese government’s atrocities. Some of them also want to visit the exiled Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Welfare Office in Nepal which had been serving fled Tibetans even during dictatorial Panchyat system the absolute rule of present King’s father. He had allowed the office to function in Nepal on humanitarian ground. But it was closed in 2005 shortly before the King took power. The office is still closed. However, the number of Tibetans crossing the high mountain glaciers has not reduced.

How the interim Government of Nepal comprising the Maoists will handle the refugee case and other human rights issues will be an interesting observation.

*************

Bhupal Lamichhaney: working independently on nonviolence activism for human rights and democratic values can be reached at bhupall @ yahoo.co.in . His ideas and views can be received in: http://npd.blogtoolkit.com , http://bhupall.blogspot.com


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