1. MoU with OHCHR: Not a stamp of legitimacy on the coup
As Nepalese Foreign Minister
Ram Nath Pandey signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Louise Arbour a few hours before the expiry of the deadline
for submission of the draft resolutions on country situations
under item 9 of the 61st session of the Commission
on Human Rights on 11 April 2005, King Gyanendra tightened
his grip on power by appointing five
regional administrators for the country's five development
regions and 14 zonal administrators to replace bureaucrats. He also extended the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities
Prevention Ordinance for another six months.
Under the MoU, the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
will set up field offices at the regional level in Nepal
to "monitor the observance of human rights and international
humanitarian law, bearing in mind the climate of violence
and the internal armed conflict in the country". Based
on the information collected by the field offices, the High
Commissioner for Human Rights will submit periodic reports
on any human rights violations committed by the Security
forces and the Maoists to the Commission on Human Rights,
the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General. The OHCHR
will also advise His Majesty's Government on matters related
to the promotion and protection of human rights in Nepal
and will provide advisory services and human rights support
to representatives of civil society, human rights non-governmental
organizations and individuals.
The establishment of field
offices by the OHCHR is an important step to report to the
international community about the gross human rights violations
in the country. However, international community must be
mindful of the fact that for the government of Nepal it
is a ploy to avoid censure by the international community
against the coup. The government of Nepal had earlier failed
to implement its 25 point commitments on human rights made
on 26 March 2004 as well as the statement of the Chairperson
of the Commission on Human Rights of April 2004.
the coup d’état on
1 February 2005, King Gyanendra took a series of measures
to take full control over the administration of the country.
King Gyanendra brought alive the fossils such as
Tusli Giri, Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers, from
the Panchayat era who had taken retirement from active public
On 17 February 2005, King Gyanendra set up the Royal
Commission on Corruption Control (RCCC) undermining the
existing bodies such as the Commission for Investigation
of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). Mr Bhakta Bahadur Koirala
who was the Secretary of Home Affairs during the repression
of the People’s Movement of 1990 and was found to be the
most culpable by the Mallik Commission that inquired into
human rights violations during pro-democracy uprisings in
1990s was appointed as the Chairperson. The Supreme Court
judges too were brought under the ambit of the Royal Commission
on Corruption Control.
A month later on 17 March
2005, King Gyanendra delivered the final assault on the
National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC) by forming
a cover up high-level nine-member Human Rights Committee
headed by the Attorney General. The nine-member committee
will include the secretaries of the Ministries for Home,
Defence, Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Parliamentary
Affairs. Secretaries of the Ministry of Women, Children
and Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry
of Education and the National Director at the Human Rights
Promotion Centre are also in the committee. The Secretary
at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers
is the committee’s member- secretary.
With Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Nepal, Justice
Hari Prasad Sharma wholeheartedly supporting the February
1 royal move “to rectify bad governance, eradicate corruption
and instill transparent public life” at the 11th conference
of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific held on 20 to
24 March 2005 in Australia, King Gyanendra did not require
to make any interference with the judiciary.
On 25 March 2005, King Gyanendra
innocuously promulgated the Local Administration Fifth Amendment
Ordinance 2061 to revived the post of 14 Anchaladhishes,
the chief administrators of 14 anchals, regions -mainly
political appointees abolished after the 1990 movement.
There was no hue and cry.
On 11 April 2005, King Gyanendra made the final move
to take full control of administration of the country by
appointing five regional administrators for the country's
five development regions as well as the zonal administrators
in the 14 administrative zones to replace bureaucrats.
The King has appointed former Anchaladhis (zonal
commissioner during panchayat-time) as the new regional
Khadka in the eastern region
Chakrabarti, former Royal Nominee in the upper house, for
the central region and
Chhatra Bikram Malla, former Army officer, Mrigendra Kumar
Singh Yadav, former member of Rashtriya Panchayat and leader
of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) leader and Ganesh
Sherchan, former panchayat-time assistant minister for the
In the post of 12 zonal administrators, the King has
appointed university teachers, former administrators and
supporters of the single-party panchayat system. Among those
appointed as zonal administrators are:
Shyam Kishor Singh, professor of political science for Mechi
Bahadur Chand, former Deputy Inspector General of Police
for Koshi zone,
Kumar Subba, RPP Central Committee Member for Sagarmatha
Jungali, Office Secretary of the RPP (Nationalist) for Janakpur
Koirala for Narayani zone,
Dr. Shekhar Gurung for Bagmati zone,
Bahadur Karki, a member of anti-corruption team during Lokendra
Bahadur Chand government for Gandaki zone,
Krishna Pant, retired administrator for Lumbini zone,
Ram Ji Bishta for Dhawalagiri zone,
Bahadur Thapa Magar, retired regional administrator for
Tamata for Karnali zone,
Bahadur Pal for Bheri zone,
Bahadur Dhimal, former Rashtriya Panchayat member for Seti
Man Byathit, expelled cadre of CPN-UML for Mahakali zone.
With the King being Commander-in- Chief of the Royal
Nepal Army, the control over the administration is complete.
offices must not be at the expense of democracy:
While the Memorandum of
Understanding signed with the OHCHR is an important step
to monitor gross violations of human rights and humanitarian
laws by the Royal Nepal Army and the Maoists, international
community must not put the stamp of legitimacy on the coup
and successive illegal measures. The call for restoration
of multi-party democracy, release of all political detainees,
lifting of restrictions on press freedom etc within a specific
time frame must be clearly demanded under the resolution
on technical assistance under agenda item 19 of the CHR.
The restructuring of administration
in Nepal through ordinances shows that King Gyanendra has
no immediate plans to restore democracy and meet the demands
of the international community. The Narayanhiti Palace believes
that international scrutiny will come to an end with the
adoption of the resolution under item 19. At the same time,
the repression on political activists, students, journalists
and human rights defenders, academicians etc continue unabated.
As the MOU has been signed
with the OHCHR, international community must increase its
coordination to put further pressure by suspending aid until
King Gyanendra restores multi-party democracy. International
community must also hold consultations on immediate setting
up of the field offices of the OHCHR in Nepal.
The suspension of aid by
Denmark for the projects
related to rural energy, community forestry, industrial
environment and the Revenue Administrative Support Project
is welcome. At the same time,
assistance of Rs 29.72 million for rehabilitation of Fatehpur-Kunauli
Road Phase-II in eastern Saptari District of Nepal by India
raises concerns. The
government of Nepal simply does not have the capacity to
undertake development activities or deliver humanitarian
Unless the troika of the
United States, United Kingdom and India take strong measures,
King Gyanendra is unlikely to relent under the pressure
of countries like Denmark and Switzerland. Otherwise, the
release of G P Koirala and the signing of the MoU with the
OHCHR might as well prove to be pre-mature euphoria.
The RNA claimed hundreds
of casualties on the side of the Maoists. Because of the
ban on press freedom, it has not been possible to verify
the claims of the RNA.
On 6 April 2005, Royal Nepal
Army claimed to have gunned down 85 alleged Maoist insurgents
during various security operations since February 1. 12
security personnel also lost their lives during the same
On 6 and 7 April 2005, at least eight alleged Maoists
were reportedly killed in security actions across the country.
On 6 April 2005, the security forces killed one rebel each
in Rautahat and Dang district, while three rebels identified
as Vijay Adhikari, Kamal VK and Nikan were killed in Kalikot.
Three rebels were killed at Okhare area of Dang district
on 7 April 2005.
On the night of 7 April
2005, the Maoists reportedly attacked a security base at
Khara in the mid-western district of Rukum. As on 10 April
2005, the security forces claimed to have recovered 113
dead bodies of Maoists from the encounter site. Three security personnel were
also killed in the incident. 35
more bodies of Maoists were reportedly found buried in Arma
and Muru areas near Khara.
King Gyanendra also continues with the repression
on the political activists.
On 12 April 2005, 30 political activists detained
in Bhaktapur were handed three-month arrest warrants under
the Public Security Act. The political activists include
Modnath Prashrit, Shanta Manawi, Goma Devkota and Devshankar
Poudel of the CPN-UML; Meena Pandey, Duryodhan Singh and
Ramchandra Adhikari of the Nepali Congress; and Deep Kumar
Upadhayay and Rudramani Bhandari of the Nepali Congress-D.
Police also detained seven political cadres from Nepal Majdoor
Kishan Party, including the party’s central committee member
Dilli Prasad Kafle at Khalanga in Jumla for protesting against
On 10 April 2005, several more political leaders and
activists were reportedly sent to jail for three months
under the Public Security Act. Four opposition leaders including Pratap Lal Shrestha
were jailed in Tanahun. 8 opposition leaders including NC
convention member Tulsi Giri in Syangja, and two leaders
including former minister Yamlal Kandel in Surkhet were
sent to jail. Baglung district CPN-UML committee members
Janak Poudel and Khem Prakash Pathak, who were arrested
on 9 April 2005, were also handed over warrants for three-month
detention under the Public Safety Act.
Although, a total of 171
political activists arrested on April 8 were reportedly
released on 9 April 2005, eight detainees including NC central
committee member Farmullah Mansur, who were arrested in
Bara, were handed down three-month detention warrant by
police under the Public Safety Act.
On 8 April 2005, five major political parties held
nationwide demonstrations against February 1 royal proclamation.
About 1,000 activists were reportedly arrested and over
150 persons were injured in police baton charge across the
country. In Kathmandu district, 107 persons were reportedly
arrested by the police. They included former ministers Deep
Kumar Upadhya, Sushila Snwar, Moda Nath Prashrit, and Bramha
Narayan Choudhari. In Birgunj, about 120 activists were
reportedly arrested, including former MP Khaga Raj Sharma.
Some leaders were picked up from their home prior to the
actual demonstration. Police also arrested 100 leaders and
cadres in Sarlahi, 61 including NC leader Tek Bahadur Gurung
in Chitwan, 82 including Upper House MP Lalit Basnet in
Hetauda, 57 in Banke, 39 in Pokhara, 42 in Syangja, 14 in
Baglung, 10 each in Nepalgunj and Tanahun and 9 each in
Siraha and Gorkha districts. Former minister Yam Lal Kandel and
another UML cadre were arrested in Birendranagar of Surkhet.
Of those arrested, 96 in Sarlahi, 44 in Banke and 15 in
Surkhet were released later. Police also arrested 9 protestors
in Siraha, 5 in Palpa and 4 in Nawalparasi. In Tanahun,
7 demonstrators including NC leader Ram Chandra Pokharel
were seriously injured in police baton charge.
On 6 April 2005, police arrested 10 political activists
for demonstrating in support of democracy and fundamental
rights in Patan of Lalitpur district. Those arrested included
Pradeep Mardan KC, Urmila Karki, Umesh Bajgain, Yagya Raj
Pant, Hari Krishna Byanjankar, Bishnu Tripathi, Tej Limbu,
Januka Lama, Rajiv Poudel and Pradeep Lama. In Dharan, police
arrested nine political activists, including six women –
Nara Kumari Limbu, Indira Palikhe, Shyama Regmi, Padma Rai,
Amrita Ghale, Kamala Rai, Bishnu Kumar Limbu, Ganesh Limbu
and Nara Bahadur Limbu.
7 April 2005, Nepal government made public the status of
60 people missing during the nine-year-old conflict. According
to the statement of the Home Ministry, 33 people are still
in detention, 16 were released shortly after interrogation
and 6 were released after a period of detention. The Home
Ministry further claimed that 4 people had escaped the security
cordon while one Laxmi Pandey from Nawalparasi was never
arrested by the security forces. The government has reportedly
made public the whereabouts of total 442 people so far.
On 12 April 2005, University teachers across the country resorted
to “pen down” to protest arrest of academicians. On the same day, Appellate
Court of Pokhara reportedly ordered the local administration
to produce Kamalmani Dhakal, president of Nepal Student
Union, campus committee of Prithivi Narayan Campus, Pokhara,
before the court.
On 10 April 2005, police arrested Lawas Kumar Rai,
student leader and chairman of Patan campus unit from the
On 7 April 2005, Police detained
Prof. Bhupati Dhakal “Kamal” immediately after he came out
of Padma Kanya Campus in Kathmandu where he participated
in an interaction programme titled “Current political context
and academic freedom.”
Earlier Police had obstructed entry of members of Nepal University Teachers Association
into the programme venue and barred the media from covering
Bhupati Dhakal has been given detention order of three months
under the Public Safety Act. According to Nepal University
Teachers Union (NUTA), over half a dozen university teachers
are still in detention since February 1.
On 7 April 2005, security
personnel arrested Chandra Bhandari, former general secretary
of the Nepal Students' Union (NSU), student organization
of the Nepali Congress (NC), from Gaushala in Kathmandu.
On 5 April 2005, police reportedly arrested two teachers
at Saptagandaki Campus – Nanda Lal Poudel and Tika Ram Devkota. In the night on the same
day, police raided the boys' hostel at Tribhuvan University
in Kathmandu, and arrested six student leaders – Ganesh
Bahadur Bishta, Dharma Bhandari, Tika Phulara, Narendra
Bhatta, Chiranjivi Poudel and Shankar Dhwaj Nemwang.
On 6 April 2005, the RNA
in a statement reiterated that its doors were always open for the national and international
human rights activists to meet detainees held in the barracks
across the country. The statement clarified that “security
forces have not restricted free movement of national and
human rights workers” nor will there be “restriction in
the future as well.”But on 8 April 2005, police
denied access to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
team consisting of commissioner Kapil Shrestha to meet detainees
at ward police office at Tinkune in Kathmandu.Earlier
on 6 April 2005, the local administration reportedly barred
National Assembly members from meeting their colleagues
who have been kept under preventive detention at Mahendra
Yuvalaya at Jawalakhel since February 1. Five members of
the National Assembly, Kashinath Adhikari, Bachaspati Devkota,
Beduram Bhusal, Ranga Nath Chaudhary and Laxmi Das Shrestha
had gone to the detention centre to meet three detained
lawmakers, Bir Bahadur Singh, Lal Bahadur Bishwokarma and
Akkal Bahadur Bista. But the police told them that they
had no permission to meet the detainees. Three other lawmakers,
Shukra Raj Sharma in Pokhara, Ashok Koirala in Biratnagar
and Mohan Bam in Dhangadi, are also under preventive detention
since the royal takeover.
On 10 April 2005, security
personnel prevented Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
president Subodh Raj Pyakurel from meeting CPN-UML general
secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, who has been under house arrest
since February 1st.
On 12 April 2005, security personnel barred former
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba from meeting Bamdev Gautam
of the CPN-UML, and members of his own party Bimalendra
Nidhi and Bal Krishna Khand at separate detention centers
On 6 April 2005, Human Rights Promotion Centre under
the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
said that there was no restriction on national and international
human rights observers from traveling within the country
or from going abroad. The statement clarified that no obstructions
had been created in the traveling of individuals associated
with human rights.
This is an incorrect statement.
As Asian Centre for Human Rights in its previous briefing
papers reported, many prominent human rights activists,
politicians and academicians have been prevented from going
outside of the Kathmandu valley.
On 7 April 2005, the Supreme
Court issued an interim order to the Home Ministry not to
enforce travel restriction on former Speaker and member
of the present constitution drafting committee, Daman Nath
Dhungana. He was prevented from flying to the United States
in March 2005. The court said, "Dhungana's travel restriction
cannot be enforced without meeting the provisions in the
Public Security Act 1990."
On 10 April 2005, security
personnel at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) barred
Prof. Lok Raj Baral, a political scientist and former Royal
Nepalese ambassador to India, from flying to the United
States to participate in a conference at the invitation
of the Kennedy School of Governance of the Harvard university.
Security personnel reportedly told Baral that they had orders
not to allow him to travel abroad. However, no further reason
was given. In March 2005, he was prevented from flying to
India to participate in a seminar.
5. Restrictions on the press freedom
Complete restrictions on
press freedom continue unabated. In order to further tighten
the repression on press freedom, the government has reportedly
decided not to give government advertisements to the private
media. On 16 March 2005, the Ministry of Information and Communications
sent an instruction to various ministries, commissions,
secretariats and government agencies stating that advertisements
were only to be given to media fully owned by the government.
The circular said the Ministry had taken the decision on
15 March 2005 as a new advertisement policy for state agencies
was being discussed. The ban on news reporting
by the FM radios continues.
On 7 April 2005, Krishna Prajapati, a correspondent
of Sandhya Times daily published from Kathmandu,
was reportedly detained at Banepa.
On 8 April 2005, police detained Kashinath Yadav,
the editor of Brahmastra daily, and Rabindra Singh,
a correspondent of Kalaiya weekly. They were on the
way to cover reports on protest by the political parties
in Birgunj. Kamal Raj Regmi who was taken into security
custody some days ago was sent to jail on 8 April 2005 citing
In Dharan, police have reportedly
warned the local media and reporters of the national dailies
against publishing any news or photographs related to protests
of the agitating political parties against the February
1 royal proclamation. On 8 April 2005, the Area Police Office
summoned Kishor Kumar Karki and Keshav Ghimire, editor and
news coordinator of the Blast Times daily; Bimal
Shakya and Rajesh Bidrohi of Morning Post daily;
Pradeep Meyangbo local reporter of the Morning Post
and Robin Giri of Annapurna Post and ordered them
to follow the instructions.
On 9 April 2005, Police reportedly questioned Kathmandu
Post reporter, Ghanashyam Khadka regarding the news
on political parties' demonstration and police intervention,
which was published on the edition of the same day. Armed
security personnel reportedly arrived at his residence in
Tanahun in a van around 3.15 pm and took him to District
Police Office. DSP Devilal Khanal and Inspector Himalaya
Kumar Shrestha reportedly interrogated him and used force
to retract the report in writing, which he refused to do.
On 10 April 2005,
sub-editor Robin Poudel of Tanahun Aawaj weekly was handed
a warrant for 3-month detention under the Public Security
Act. He was arrested from Damauli on 8 April 2005 while
collecting news regarding protests demanding restoration
of complete democracy.
Apart from lack of independence of judiciary, there
is no respect for the Court in Nepal.
The Maoists continue to be responsible for violations
of international humanitarian laws.
On 7 April
2005, at least 25 persons including four security personnel
were injured in an explosion carried out by suspected Maoists
in the mid-western town of Nepalganj in Banke district.
Three of them were injured seriously.
On 8 April 2005,
two Russian tourists were injured in a Maoist triggered
bomb blast near Jiri along Araniko Highway, some 75 kilometres
east of Kathmandu. They were heading for the Mount Everest.
One of the injured, Sergey Kaymanchnirkov reportedly sustained
serious injuries on both of his legs. The Russian government
thereafter asked its citizens to refrain from traveling
On the night of 8 April 2005, the Maoist rebels shot
dead Bidhay Sagar Mahato, a farmer of Babargunj VDC-4 in
Sarlahi. According to police, a group of six to seven armed
Maoists came to Mahato's house and took him some distance
away from his house and shot him dead.
On the morning of 9 April 2005, Maoist rebels shot
dead Bharat Dev Bharati, the Chairman of Town Development
Committee of Surkhet valley, at his residence in Mulpani
area of Uttarganga VDC in Surkhet district. A group of three
rebels came to Bharati's house and opened fire at him, killing
On 10 April 2005, a minor
boy identified as Bam Bahadur Karki (9) reportedly died
after a bomb allegedly planted by Maoists exploded in the
terrace of his house at Padampur of Latikoili VDC in Surkhet.
Another unidentified youth was injured in the blast.
On the evening of 11 April 2005, Maoists shot dead
Balanand Kafle, acting Chief District Officer of Bardia
at his residence. Two Maoists reportedly came on bicycles
and fired at Kafle’s temple and neck while he was entering
his quarter at around 5.25 pm. He later succumbed to his
injuries in a hospital.
On the evening of 11 April
2005, at least one dozen people, including five policemen,
were injured when suspected Maoist rebels exploded an improvised
device at Mahendrapul area in the western town of Pokhara.
The Maoists’ ongoing blockade
has negatively impacted upon lives of all sections of society.
Students appearing for the
Public Service Commission examination in Dipayal have reportedly
been y facing great financial crisis, as they could not
return to their homes due to lack of transportation. They
have started to sell even their clothes, ornaments to pay
for food and lodging. Farmers in Ambhanjyang and other VDCs
in Makawanpur district have reportedly started feeding milk
to their cattle after they could not take the milk to the
dairy. Narayan Devkota, chairman of District Productive
Cooperatives said, “The farmers who had taken loan for dairy
business, are sure to suffer due to the current problem”.
Due to lack of transportation
facility, many patients who are in need of urgent medical
attention are unable to be taken to hospitals for treatment.
In Dipayal, all the four ambulances available for service
have reportedly been struck somewhere in the midway along
the Bhimdutta Punta highway due to the blockade, causing
untold suffering for the people.
The security forces escorted
as many as 300 to 500 vehicles going out of the Kathmandu
everyday.To foil the Maoists’
blockade, security personnel used force on the traders. On 6 April 2005, the security forces forced
open shops in Nepalgunj.
On the afternoon of 9 April
2005, at least five passengers, including a minor, died
while 27 others sustained injuries, 12 seriously, when a
bus (Na. 2 Kha. 3813) escorted by security forces ran over
a Maoist-laid landmine at Sakhawachwok along the Chandranihaharpur-Gaur
section of the highway. Those killed on the spot have been
identified as Hushnahari Khatun, 10, Samid Miya Kawari and
Mukesh Kumar Saha, an Indian national. Two died at Army
hospital in Kathmandu. The bus was heading towards Gaur,
the headquarters of Rautahat district, from Kathmandu.