As a part of the assurance
given by King Gyanendra to US Ambassador, G P Koirala was
released on 1 April 2005 as promised. New Delhi immediately
welcomed it. But on 3 April 2005, the Nepali Police arrested
two leaders of the Nepal Student Union (NSU)- a pro-Nepali
Congress (NC) student wing, NSU vice-president Pradip Poudel
and NSU leader Dharma Khanal from the residence of NC president
Girija Prasad Koirala, indicating King Gyanendra’s views
on democracy. It remains to be seen as to whether King Gyanendra
releases Madhav Nepal and others and restores the press
freedom by 8 April 2005. Even if King Gyanendra were to
release Madhav Nepal and others and restore press freedom,
there is no reason to expect full restoration of democracy.
often blames the over ground political parties of Nepal
for the lack of unity and lack of public support because
of rampant corruption. While the allegations might be true
to some extent, international community has consistently
contributed to the weakening of the democratic movement
in Nepal and strengthened the autocratic measures of King
remained a mute witness to dissolution of the parliament
on 22 May 2002 and subsequent dismissal of Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba on 4 October 2002.
Most importantly, in April-May
2004, the five-party alliance of Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, Peoples Front Nepal
(PFN), Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party (NWPP) and Nepal
Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi) launched anti-regression movement against King Gyanendra.
The Ambassadors of the United States, United Kingdom and
India reportedly advised the leadership of the five-party
alliance to reconcile with King Gyanendra as their movement
might strengthen the Maoists. In fact, King Gyanendra categorically
told then Indian Ambassador and India’s present Foreign
Secretary, Shyam Saran that neither G P Koirala nor Madhav
Nepal would be accepted as Prime Minister. Therefore, Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed
as the Prime Minister.
especially the United States, United Kingdom and India also
supported the only approach adopted to resolve the Maoist
conflict i.e. military approach in the name of launching
united fight to weaken the Maoists before initiating any
substantive peace process. In fact, talks between the government
of Nepal and the Maoists never reached beyond discussion
on agenda. As the talks on agenda became serious in August
2003, the Royal Nepal Army perpetrated Doramba massacre
on 17 August 2003 to derail the peace process. It is clear
that the Narayanhiti Palace is against peace with the Maoists.
Only continued conflict with the Maoists could justify the
intervention of King Gyanendra. India’s objection to third
party involvement in Nepal and the treatment of the Maoists
as “untouchables” by international community have helped
King Gyanendra. The demand of the Maoists
on 5 April 2005 for an international monitoring team to
probe human rights abuses in Nepal is unlikely to find echo
The agreement between New
Delhi and other members of the international community is
limited to restoration of democracy and the release of detainees.
While New Delhi would like to play a central role for resolution
of the conflict in Nepal, it is increasingly running out
of options given the determination of King Gyanendra to
rule with an iron hand.
In an attempt to counter
New Delhi, on 17 March 2005 Nepalese Foreign Ministry
issued a statement expressing unequivocal support to the
controversial law recently enacted by China that authorises
the use of force against Taiwan - if the island decides
to press for independence. This was followed by the visit of Chinese
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing
to Kathmandu on 31 March 2005. Kathmandu also believes that
forthcoming visit of King Gyanendra to China to attend the
annual meeting of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) from 22 to 24
April 2005 and Pakistan’s offer of military assistance
will counter New Delhi’s overtures to the democratic forces.
has no roadmap to resolve the Maoists conflict in Nepal
apart from the restoration of democracy. By offering a deal
to drop the country resolution on the situation of human
rights in Nepal in exchange for the release of political
detainees and restoration of press freedom, international
community has further succumbed to King Gyanendra and underestimated
his craze for power. A country resolution without the cooperation
of the government of Nepal might mean nothing but it is
an expression of the statement of the international community.
As this Briefing Paper shows,
there is no improvement of the situation in Nepal. The RNA
and other security forces continue to perpeterate gross
human rights violations including extrajudicial executions.
In late March 2005, three school students– Naryan Bahadur Kanauji Magar
(17), Tek Bahadur Gaha (15), and Dal Bahadur Darlami (15)
– had been shot dead at the highway near Tansen, the district
headquarters of Palpa by plain-clothes security personnel
susepcting them to be Maoists. The victims were collecting
‘donations’ from vehicles and passengers for ‘Fagu Purnima,’
a festival of colours.
“Kathmandu valley” increasingly appears to be equivalent
of the whole of Nepal. As the Maoists’ bandh came into effect
from 3 April 2005, businesses and transport in most districts
came to standstill. But life in the capital remains unaffected.
So long the supply line to Kathmandu remains open, peripheries
do not matter to King Gyanendra. On 3 April 2005,
the RNA personnel reportedly escorted over 800 vehicles
leaving Kathmandu along the Prithvi highway. On 4 April 2005, the road permits of
seven oil tankers owned by the private sector were cancelled
for not cooperating with Nepal Oil Corporation, Western
Regional Office, Bhalbari in transporting petroleum products
from the Indian Oil Corporation to Bhairahawa and to Kathmandu.
There are no reports of the humanitarian crisis in rural
Nepal as reports relating to the Maoists cannot be published
without the prior sanction of the RNA. Mass influx of Nepalese
into India speaks of a humanitarian crisis in the making.
Around 300 Nepalese have been crossing over to India every
day at Dhangarawa point alone.
King Gyanendra continues
to suppress all forms of dissent and continues to confine
key leaders to Kathmandu valley. On 25 March 2005, security personnel at the Tribhuvan
International Airport in Kathmandu barred Prof. Dr. Lok
Raj Baral, Prof. Krishna Khanal and Dr. Krishna Hachhethu
from taking the Jet Airways flight to Delhi on the way to
Goa to attend a conference. On 5 April 2005 afternoon, security
personnel at the Tribhuvan International Airport barred
three politicians including former MP and central committee
member of CPN (UML), Pradip Gyawali, joint general secretary
of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Khem Raj Pandit, and spokesman
of Nepali Congress (Democratic), Dr Minendra Rijal from
flying to Colombo to take part in a seminar.
The complete restrictions
on the press freedom continue and at least a dozen journalists
including Lavadev Dhungana (Panchthar district), Gopal Baraili
(Dhankuta), Manohar Pokhrel and Arjun Shah (Saptari), Rishiram
Pokhrel (Tanahun), D. R. Panta (Dadeldhura), Sharad Adhikari
(Dang), Ganesh Lama and Surya Thapa (Kathmandu) and Madhu
Acharya (Kavre) remain in custody.The judiciary and National Human Rights Commission
have abysmally failed to address such gross violations.
Yet, international community
including India appears to be obsessed with supporting national
mechanisms to address the crisis in Nepal and therefore
suggest a resolution on technical cooperation under item
19 of the 61st CHR. The term of the NHRC expires in May
2005 and it is clear that the term of at least one member
will not renewed. There is also no guarantee that even members
of the NHRC can return to the country if they truly speak
about the prevailing situation in Nepal. On
4 April 2005, ten major human rights organisations of Nepal
criticised the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of
Nepal for issuing an "incomplete" statement on
April 1 regarding human rights violations and excesses committed
by the vigilantes in Kapilavastu. Like the Supreme Court, the
much-vaunted NHRC too succumbed.
The NHRC can never replace the judiciary and
when the judiciary fails, the NHRC cannot be expected to
When the international community fails, NHRC cannot
be expected to stand alone but fall in line.
Yet, it might be easy
for international community to blame the Nepalese over ground
political parties who are battered by King Gyanendra and
his RNA and the Maoists and often restrained by international
community. Time has come for international community to
retrospect their own role in Nepal.