Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Monarchists, Not The Maoists, Are Like The Al Qaeda

In Iraq, the Al Qaeda did everything in its powers to disrupt the elections to that country's Constituent Assembly held early this year. They failed, and rightly so. In Nepal, the Monarchists are doing everything in their powers to deny Nepal its elections to a Constituent Assembly. And these Nepali Monarchists are succeeding. So the Nepali Monarchists are the Nepali Al Qaeda, only much more vicious and entrenched.

In The News
  • China aims to boost ties with isolated Nepal Reuters AlertNet, UK turning down Nepal's request for a visit by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, China had also shown it did not want to antagonise India, which has condemned the king's actions and urged democracy be restored ...... royal government was reaching out to China and Pakistan to show that it was not isolated ..... expected to invite Gyanendra to visit China ..... Political parties have vowed to launch a nationwide protests against the monarch on April 8, the anniversary of the establishment of multi-party democracy in 1990...... Islamabad would consider supplying arms to Nepal if Kathmandu were to make a formal request
  • China minister in key Nepal visit BBC News ... the Nepalese authorities are attaching a lot of importance to the visit ..... Mr Li's visit follows trips by junior ministers from Pakistan and Cuba..... Pokhara, a police officer died from bullet injuries after being shot
  • Barun Roy: Nobody gains from a weak Nepal Business Standard, India Foreign tourists, who, like non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the mainstay of the Nepalese economy, are staying away from the country for now...... My flight to Kathmandu from Kolkata was two-thirds empty. At the height of the tourist season, Soaltee is reporting no more than 25 per cent occupancy. Hoteliers at the Chitwan National Park have started laying off staff. Wood carvers and tankha painters of Bhaktapur say they seldom had it so bad........ The political oligarchs totally misused the opportunity that was given them, doing nothing but consolidating their individual wealth....... there hasn’t been a single case of bombing in the valley in the two months that the King has been in absolute power ...... If the pollution in the valley is brought under control and roads, water supplies, electricity, and health services in the interiors are developed to acceptable standards, it can be an attractive nursery for many industries and services, software being one of them. The retirement industry can be another, given the degree of sympathy that a lot of outsiders — Americans, Japanese, Europeans, even Indians — have for this lovely country........ What the country needs is real money for real investments, and that can come only from the global private sector, provided the policies and inducements are right.
  • LOSING KATHMANDU Calcutta Telegraph .... crisis is a product of deep-seated structural issues in Nepalese society ...... Gyanendra, whose paranoia makes them immune to both the interests of their own people and international pressure ...... a result of our encasing Nepal in a relationship of subordination ..... matters from building hydro projects to roads required India’s tacit approval. Even though we were in many ways a benign power, we were ultimately paternalist. The overall structure of the relationship lent itself to creating a politics of resentment in Nepal. And this relationship was driven by our conception of security, not by the imperatives of development in Nepal......... the king’s policies had little to do with effectively dealing with the Maoists. As reprehensible as their methods are, they draw upon legitimate grievances and are a viable political movement. Indeed, the present conjuncture is a unique opportunity to bring many of them into the political mainstream. Some of the Maoists realize that their long-term goals require them to gain broader political legitimacy. Democracy itself can be a path to power. The Maoists have, for the first time, allowed regular political parties to operate in areas under their control...... the Indian government is not doing enough to establish political links with the Maoists. A great failing of our policy is that we often let the intelligence establishment define our political objectives........ Now that there is an opportunity for them to be part of the political dialogue, we want someone to destroy them. ...... The king .. apparently believes that India and the United States of America will not put maximum pressure for fear of sending him closer to China....even our ambassador can be sent away without an audience. ........ impress upon the king that now is his last opportunity ...... a groundswell of republicanism inside Nepal ...... The international community will have to think of a decent exit strategy for the king ...... What India needs in the Nepal crisis is deep links with the important actors, the Royal Nepal Army, the Maoists and others. Foreign offices are not good at cultivating these links....... in the past we have attenuated Nepal’s sovereignty based on our security concerns. Now we should perform a constructive role in maintaining democracy in Nepal....... It is about time that Nepalese society writes a constitution for itself, rather than being handed one by the king....
  • Bangladesh, Nepal among world’s leading disaster hot spots New Kerala, India
  • India, Nepal discuss bilateral issues Economic Times, India Nepal ... continues to receive economic assistance from India.
  • Nepal General Strike Protests King's Power Grab Scotland on Sunday, UK Streets were largely deserted ..... The strike today comes two days ahead of an 11-day nationwide strike ..... Biratnagar... factories remained closed and streets deserted today ... Business and schools also remained closed forces were escorting some vehicles along local highways but only a few were willing to take the risk..... Eastern Nepal has two key border points with India, which hundreds of trucks use daily to deliver goods between the two nations. There was no traffic movement on either border points
  • Nepal’s political parties to step up protests Daily Times The demonstrations on April 8 will coincide with an 11-day general strike starting Saturday that Maoist rebels called ....... We are working on strategies to be bring out the mass protest next week. It will be joint rallies organised by the five major political parties ..... the protests haven’t gained momentum because their top leaders are either in detention, exile or hiding
  • Chinese foreign minister arrives in Nepal Xinhua, China "I believe my visit will help to further promote friendship and mutual understanding of our two peoples." ..... visit is on the eve of the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Nepal
  • China is Nepal's reliable friend: Nepali King Xinhua, China "Nepal firmly supports the one-China policy of your government and will never allow any anti-China activities in Nepal's territory" .....
  • India expects China will give "right" advice to Nepal Press Trust of India, India "I expressed the hope that China as a good friend of Nepal will give the right kind of advice to the Nepalese," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran ..... Saran, who called on Li here today prior to his departure for Nepal .... Li said that just as India is very much concerned about instability in Nepal, so is China. .... The Chinese Foreign Minister, who recalled that Saran had been earlier India's Ambassador to Nepal, asked for India's assessment of the situation in Nepal...... "I said that the steps taken by His Majesty, the King has not led to either an improvement in the security situation in the country nor had led to any economic recovery in the country. In fact, our sense is that in both these areas, the situation has become somewhat worse", Saran said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

King Gyanendra: A Profile

A Profile

"The days of royalty being seen and not heard are over," he says. "And the monarchy is not going to allow anyone to usurp the fundamental rights of the people. All I'm saying is stop saying 'me.' Say 'us.' Stop saying 'party.' Say 'people.'"

I think this statement from King G sums it up. Stop saying party, say people. I guess the guy is the ultimate Panche. Political leaders in a democracy are, by definition, going to disagree and disagree a lot. He finds that offensive. It is the mindset of an aristocrat, an autocrat. His gameplan is to stay, and to stay a little more. If he gets his three years - not likely - he will bring in a Musharraf democracy. Elections will be held, but the drama will be just his way of "hiring" a new face, to be dismissed at whim.
  2. TIMEasia Magazine: King Gyanendra: Extended Interview
  3. TIMEasia Magazine: Interview With The King
  4. BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Profile: Nepal's King Gyanendra
  5. BBC NEWS | South Asia | Nepal king's biggest gamble
  6. COVER STORY (Spotlight Weekly)
  7. The Agonist | thoughtful, global, timely .... a man who believes in royalty, who believes that from his birth he has been "higher" than other people...After his father died, Gyanendra became a trusted adviser to his brother, King Birendra, but they fell out in 1990. That was when Birendra agreed to give up absolute power and become a constitutional monarch.Gyanendra opposed the constitutional monarchy from the start...So unpopular is Paras that at first Gyanendra did not dare name him as crown prince and heir, but waited until he had been on the throne a few months, and then rushed the announcement out during a holiday ...... In 2000, Paras allegedly killed a popular singer while drunk at the wheel. Half a million Nepalis signed a petition calling for him to be prosecuted......Most of Gyanendra's life has been devoted to preserving the absolute power of the kings of Nepal and, seen in that light, his decision this week to tear up the constitution and reimpose direct rule is not surprising. It was just the latest in a series of efforts to take back the powers his brother gave away in 1990.
  8. TIMEasia Magazine: A Kingdom in Chaos January 26, 2004 As his servants take their leave with a series of silent bows, it becomes apparent that King Gyanendra spends much of his time in the company of ghosts..... "It is lonely," says Gyanendra, drawing deeply on a cigarette and flicking ash absently onto a tiger-skin rug. "I miss my brothers and sisters. I am a human being after all." ..... "I left this palace 30 years ago when I got married," says Gyanendra in his measured English. "I never thought I would have to occupy it again. It is difficult, but we do the best we can. It's people that change a house into a home, and that's what we've been trying to do." ..... Beset by enemies from within and without, with government control outside of the capital slipping away, Gyanendra alone rules a country that foreign diplomats and many Nepalese believe is verging on anarchy........ the Maoist uprising is currently the deadliest conflict in Asia ... also the most brutal. ...... crowds of Maoists would watch their leaders break every bone in a "class enemy's" body, then skin him and cut off his ears, lips, tongue and nose, before sawing the body in half or burning it ........ the "almost identical pattern" of such atrocities suggested this was "a policy coordinated at senior command levels." ...... the countryside, the majority of which is under the control of neither the Maoists nor the army ....... since 1996, Maoists have destroyed 1,321 village administration buildings and 440 post offices, while police have abandoned 895 stations and teachers have abandoned 700 schools...... "The smell of burning tires on the streets of the capital reeks of democracy in decay," writes Nepali Times commentator C.K. Lal. ....... Gyanendra says he will relinquish power and reinstate Parliament only if the parties unite to pull Nepal back from the abyss ...... in April 2003 the Maoists released a manifesto expressly welcoming "citizens of any foreign nation who were compelled to leave [their home countries] due to their involvement in revolutionary activities." ...... "The future of Nepal, yes, lies in constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy," he says. But he refuses to leave governance solely to them. "The days of royalty being seen and not heard are over," he says. "And the monarchy is not going to allow anyone to usurp the fundamental rights of the people. All I'm saying is stop saying 'me.' Say 'us.' Stop saying 'party.' Say 'people.'" ....... "He's an ambitious man," says sacked Prime Minister Deuba. "He just wants power." ...... "If some people do not understand me, if there is mistrust and a crisis of confidence, let's do something about it." ...... Gyanendra admits that he has reservations about the need to be known and demystified ...... "There is a human face to every King," he says, "but that does not mean he has to flaunt it." Asked about his sense of isolation, he grows defensive. "What makes you think I don't have friends?" he asks. But one such friend, Prabhakar Shunshere Rana, says that, for a King, relatives are the only true confidants. "You can have friends, advisers, all the experts you want," says Rana. "But without family, without brothers and sisters, monarchy is a very lonely place. The late King used to consult with Gyanendra all the time. If you look at Gyanendra now, he's really on his own." ........ Gyanendra says he still dreams of a time when "all of Nepal should have the opportunity to progress irrespective of color, caste and creed." He adds, "If the people are happy, the King is happy."
  9. King Gyanendra: The absolute monarch :: KuraKani.tK :: Dedicated ... He was in favor of absolute monarchy since he was a kid. He was angry at his brother and late king Birendra for accepting to be a constitutional monarch....... Most of Gyanendra's life has been devoted to preserving the mystique and power of royalty. He even played a small part in the drama of Britain's own royal family. When Prince Charles came to Nepal in the late 1970s for some space to think about whether he should marry a young blonde called Lady Diana Spencer, it was Prince Gyanendra who took the English prince under his wing, playing host and devising the "royal trek", a route below Machhapuchhre mountain where Charles walked and meditated on his decision....... after those tumultuous events of his boyhood, Gyanendra had to learn to play the part of the dutiful younger brother. He developed his own business interests: a hotel in Kathmandu, a tea estate in eastern Nepal, and a cigarette factory. He also became a leading conservationist........ After his father died, Gyanendra became a trusted adviser to his brother, King Birendra, but they fell out in 1990. That was when Birendra agreed to give up absolute power and become a constitutional monarch.Gyanendra opposed the constitutional monarchy from the start....... Gyanendra might well get away with his gamble - but for the Maoists. He may have seized absolute power, but it extends only over Kathmandu and a few government-controlled towns outside the capital. ...... The front line is just 20 miles from Kathmandu. Across it, you are no longer in Gyanendra's Nepal, but in the Maoists' Nepal.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

News Clips March 27,29,30

March 30
  • Royal scandal rocks Nepal Times of India, India Princess Helen, aunt by marriage of reigning King Gyanendra, was given Nepalese Rs.12 million last year from the Prime Minister's Welfare Fund, meant only for the poorest of the poor...... Princess Helen has stakes in the five-star Hotel de l'Annapurna in Kathmandu and a luxury resort in western Pokhara city, Fishtail Lodge ...... The request for allocating the sum to her is said to have come from the palace, possibly from King Gyanendra himself, during his usual weekly audiences with former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in the Narayanhiti Palace on Thursdays....... Some say Deuba - who was sacked by the king in 2002, re-appointed last year, and then dismissed again after a royal takeover last month - had granted the request hoping to remain on the right side of the King.
  • Pakistan offers Nepal $5m trade credit, free trade pact Daily Times, Pakistan
  • Court martial for Nepal officers BBC News, UK three are accused of involvement in the death of Maina Sunuwar, who was being held in custody in a barracks at Kavrepalanchok
March 29
  • Nepal journalists march for freedom New Zealand Herald, New Zealand 200 Nepali journalists defied a ban on protests ....riot police stood guard .... two Maoist rebels stormed set off a crude bomb in the western business town of Butwal .... hundreds of journalists have lost jobs .... many outspoken Web logs, or blogs, have sprung up.
  • Nepal arrests 138 anti-king protesters; 3 soldiers killed Peninsula On-line dragged away by security forces and loaded into police vans .... Maoist rebels killed three soldiers in eastern Nepal after kidnapping them while they were on their way home on leave ..... The three men, who were not carrying any weapons, were attacked with stones, knives and then shot dead in the Maoist stronghold of Ramechhap ..... The guerrillas have vowed to step up attacks on government forces
  • Absolute monarchy to absolute democracy Asia Times Online In order to stop a complete unraveling of the Nepali future, political parties backed by civil society must wrest the state back from the palace and military administration.... the regime change conducted by King Gyanendra was an attempt to bring back authoritarian rule on the pretext of tackling the Maoist insurgency ...... The democratic state is more than capable of confronting the insurgency, as long as the palace and army do not play spoilsport. ..... King Gyanendra's takeover has its origins in a 1960 deep freeze that does not countenance the current socio-political reality ...... it is clear that the royal proclamation was not a knee-jerk action but something thought of months in advance with the help of willing military commanders ..... the longer term plan would be to do away with the 1990 constitution and develop another document which redirects substantial power back to the monarchy. ..... Thereafter, an election would be conducted where a conservative force is made to emerge in order to sabotage the secular system of parliamentary governance...... Gyanendra would be attempting to bring back "guided democracy" .....sycophants and quislings from the early Panchayat era are emerging from the slurry ..... through an interim government put in place at the initiative of the political parties, with or without the palace in agreement. ..... Article 27 (3) of the 1990 constitution, which enjoins the monarch to "preserve and protect" that supreme law, has been used instead to destroy the letter and spirit of that document. ..... clandestine rebel radio broadcasts now fill the resulting vacuum with their vicious propaganda. ...... the advances achieved by print and electronic media over a dozen years of unfettered freedom are being rapidly eroded, and the domino effect on society and economy will be significant ..... The Nepali army can only evolve into a disciplined and professional fighting force if it is kept out of public affairs and brought within full control of parliament...... shifted the attention of the state apparatus from counter-insurgency to the suppression of democratic institutions ...... a means to cynically rally support for an active monarchy. What the king detested were obviously not the individual political personalities, but the very process of pluralism they represented. ....... made difficult by timid leadership, inter-party wrangling as well as confusion over priorities at this instance - whether to go for an all-out fight for the republic or save the rights guaranteed by the 1990 constitution first ...... a future constitutional monarchy can only be ceremonial, without even the residuary powers he prefers to read into the 1990 constitution ...... willful misinterpretation of its various provisions - such as Article 27 on protecting the constitution, or Article 127 on removing "impediments" in its implementation ....... the royal move has accelerated state-weakening trends set in motion by the rebellion ...... development activity is at standstill ...... New Delhi is now more a player in Nepali affairs than at any time in the past five decades. ...... the police force sidelined and sullen ...... The continuous need to raise money through extortion, the lowered motivation of fighters unable to make spectacular attacks on army and police garrisons, and the loss of political control over increasingly militarized cadre are other reasons that the Maobadi are likely over time to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions. ....... unless there is an unprecedented collapse of the insurgency unrelated to the royal takeover, the population is in for a long haul ....... the extended period required for a victory-through-arms will simply entrench the military ....... it is unrealistic to expect more support than this from the outside. The battle for restoration of democracy must now gather steam within Nepal...... Since an extended royal rule is obviously not a possibility, one can make out the contours of a royal plan to build a new political terrain where pro-palace political forces are made to emerge. Loyal royalists would be nurtured so as to support monarchical activism well into the future......... the royalist and Maobadi mind sets are not variables that one can rely on ...... chart an independent course. Only the political parties of the suspended third parliament ..... referendum, election-to-parliament, election-to-constituent assembly, or a roundtable conference of all concerned parties, including the rebels. ....... ensuring the RNA's allegiance to civilian government; instituting a restrictive definition of constitutional monarchy that defines a ceremonial role for the king; removing the "Hindu" appellation from the description of the state; and transitioning to a federal system of governancean interim government under the aegis of the mainstream political parties ..... the political parties must present the palace with a fait accompli in the form of a fully-formed interim government .......If King Gyanendra will not loosen his grip on the state, the state will have to pry it from him.
  • Nepal - Nursing the Pinion .... the policies of those three governments vis-à-vis the ongoing civil war in the Himalayan nation must share considerable blame for the present crisis ...... More than 12,000 U.S. M-16s, 5,000 Belgium FLN sub-machine guns, and some 20,000 rifles from India have filled the arms coffers of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) since 2001. Britain has added helicopters armed with machine guns and rockets. The size of the RNA has grown from 50,000 to 73,000 and is due to reach 80,000 next year. If one counts the police, Royalist forces now number 138,000. While the insurgent forces are small--4,000 core soldiers and about 15,000 supporters--virtually no independent observers believe the central government can defeat them, because the roots of the war are in the social and economic poverty of the nation..... the majority of deaths have come at the hands of government forces ...... Back in early December, The Economist was predicting a coup and provided a virtual blueprint for what happened on Feb. 1. Citing the arming and training of the RNA by India and the U.S., the editors wrote: This (the foreign military aid) helps contain the Maoist threat. But it also bolsters those in the king's camp who think that a military victory is possible and might be easier if the trappings of democracy were jettisoned. The information minister, seen as the king's man in the cabinet, has dropped hints of a more 'authoritarian' government. Many human-rights activists and politicians in Kathmandu expect the king and the army to assume more direct power and, blaming the war, suspend many civil liberties. ....... a statement made last year by former U.S. Ambassador Michael Malinowski that the CPNM "literally have to be bent back to the table." The Bush administration sees the Nepal insurgency as another domino in its international war on terrorism, arguing that the country could become a "failed state" and hence a haven for terrorists. The CPNM has been placed on the State Department's "Watch List," along with Al-Qaida, Abu Sayyaf, and Hezbollah....... there are suspicions in the region that American involvement is also part of an overall U.S. plan to ring China ...... India has stepped up counter-insurgency operations against what it calls "Naxalites" (India's term for Maoist or communist insurgents) in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh....... the groups don't share a common ideology, political program, or even goals ....... India recently arrested Mohan Vaidya in Darjeeling, West Bengal , the number three person in the CPNM ...... The Maoists have even been building fortified trenches on the border to repel such an invasion, although it is a very unlikely scenario....... Some Scandinavian nations have already proposed UN intervention ..... It is a step the Maoists favor, but which the U.S. and the Indians oppose. The former do so because of the Bush administration's reflexive hostility to the world body; the Indians because they fear external mediation might be used to address their own insurgent movements and the ongoing crisis in Kashmir ....... These countries have intervened in Nepal 's civil war for reasons having to do with their own internal affairs, foreign policy strategies, and political ideologies, not because any of them are overly concerned with the welfare of the Nepalese.
  • Pakistan team in Nepal for talks on arms and aid Times of India Pakistan is emerging as one of the royal regime's closest allies ....Pakistan had pledged $5 million in economic aid to Nepal in soft credits and loans
  • Nepal-Pakistan business talks after 10 yrs Khalsa News Network
  • Journalists Rally in Nepal to End Censorship Voice of America
  • Nepal: The King’s Gambit World Press Review The royal government has reacted with defiance saying that Nepal doesn’t need help and can go it alone. Ministers have expressed outrage that the international community is not helping in its fight against “terrorism.” “America has one standard for itself in its fight against terror and another for the rest; India coddles Bhutan’s autocrat king but lectures us on democracy.” King Gyanendra is gambling that given the choice between himself and the Maoists, the international community will ultimately have no choice but to support him. The question is: who will blink first? But two months on, if there have been any major victories against the Maoists, the army is not boasting about them. In fact the security forces have been busy putting down pro-democracy demonstrations by political parties, keeping politicians in detention, enforcing censorship, and intimidating the media. .... very few people support either republicanism or absolute monarchy, and most want the king to remain a constitutional monarch ...... In a meeting with the American ambassador last month, the king is said to have asked for 100 days to lift the emergency. His time is nearly up. ..... The king has opened himself up on three fronts with his takeover: the Maoists, the political parties, and the international community...... It is doubtful that China will jeopardize its growing economic ties and geopolitical rapprochement with India and play tug-o-war over Nepal.....
  • Nepalese police break up anti-king demonstrations Baltimore Sun They arrived in a public bus and quickly pulled out party flags and chanted anti-government slogans, surprising police and blocking traffic for a few minute .... the first time since King Gyanendra's Feb. 1 takeover and suspension of civil liberties that protesters have been able to demonstrate so close to the main government offices....
  • India to double security at Nepal, Bhutan borders Pakistan Times, Pakistan India currently has 25,000 paramilitary members guarding the two borders including provincial police units .... India has hiked the SSB’s annual spending by 47 percent to 5.32 billion rupees (115 million dollars)..... In late 2003 at India’s urging, the Bhutanese army launched an operation to evict separatist rebels, fighting for independence in India’s northeast, from their territory. India honored Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck for his role in evicting the rebels by making him the chief guest at the 2005 Republic Day parade.
  • India to double security at Nepal, Bhutan borders to stem rebel ... China Daily Nepal and Pakistan Tuesday started talks for establishing a free trade area (FTA) between the two countries
  • Nepal, Pakistan start Trade talks Xinhua, China stop the flow of rebels into the country
March 27
  • Rein on Indian firm for king kin Calcutta Telegraph Nepal’s decision to prevent an Indian telecom joint venture from getting new subscribers appears to be aimed at helping a close relative of King Gyanendra to get a foothold in the local telecom market..... the Nepalese move appears to be aimed at favouring a close relative of the king, who is to launch his own telecommunication services in the kingdom
  • Patrolling along Nepal border to be increased: Patil New Kerala Nepal’s Army has said that it would step up its offensive against the Maoist guerrillas to force them back into peace talks after the coup left the kingdom in its worst ever political turmoil.... Gyanendra’s appointed cabinet has drafted a strategy focusing on corruption and poverty, it has announced no strategy for peace with Maoists
  • Nepal's Economy Turns More FragileVoice of America The trekkers are a lifeline for about 75,000 mountain guides and porters, who work for a few months every year in the climbing season ..... Tourism contributes as much as three percent to Nepal's gross domestic product. ..... shrinking foreign aid ..... Foreign donors contribute more than two-thirds of the funds for development activity in the country.... .. poverty has intensified in the past two decades in the country where per-capita income is $230 a year
  • Top News ; Maoists kill six in Nepal: Keralanext The guerrillas tortured to death three soldiers of the Royal Nepalese Army after abducting them from a bus bound for eastern Nepal ...... The government had claimed an improvement in the security situation since King Gyanendra assumed absolute power Feb 1
  • Kathmandu-Lhasa direct bus services from May 1 Gorkhapatra Sajha Yatayat will be running the bus service from Nepal while a private transport company of Tibet will be doing the same from Tibet. ...... The 840 kilometer long Kathmandu-Lhasa bus travel will take two days while the one-way fare is said to be around 50 to 70 dollars. ...... service to be available nine months a year ..... direct air service between Kathmandu and Lhasa is available for only six months a year ....... bus service is also expected to support promotion of economic tourism in Tibet specially by the Nepali Buddhists
  • UN to review Nepal peace mission rolePeninsula On-line, Qatar
  • Indian Policy on Nepal in Quandary as China Consolidates TiesSouth Asia Tribune, VA Nepal is considering taking military aid from China and on the other, Indian Naxalites have begun logistic and moral support to Nepalese Maoist rebels ...... effigies of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister were burnt by pro-Gyanendra elements ...... Jyoti Prasad Adhikari, Press and Culture Officer of the Royal Nepal Embassy at New Delhi told the South Asia Tribune: “I can’t say with authority on the issue of military aid from China, but every country has a minimum requirement of security. However, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, Kritinidhi Bista has already commented on it.” ...... Bista had indicated on March 20, 2005 that Nepal might sign a deal with China for the supply of arms and ammunition for the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). ....... “China is a sincere neighbor, which always wanted stability and prosperity in Nepal. China has become a major power to be reckoned with. ....... Soon after India’s stalling of military aid, King Gyanendra closed down two Tibetan refugee camps. He also closed down Dalai Lama’s office in Kathmandu to send positive signals to China. ....... the image of Indian political leaders is gradually being tarnished. The Nepali underground leaders have also failed to form any common platform to spearhead political agitation in Nepal from India....... Due to External Ministry’s failure to form any definite policy and basically pursuing a reactive ‘wait and watch’ policy ...... Naxalites support Maoists, and Indian communists support Pakistani communists ...... India could impose blockade against Nepal if it seeks military aid from China as it did in 1989 when Nepal had imported arms from China ..... in some quarters it is believed that this time China would protect Nepal if India imposes a blockade ...... Former Nepali Prime Minister Marichman Singh has reportedly said that India has been playing foul game with the tiny Himalayan kingdom for a long period and there are thousands of people in Nepal who are on its pay-roll, and these people are being utilized in the anti-Monarchy agitations....... Naxalites are supplying arms to Maoist forces in Nepal ....... 17 battalions have been deployed along the nearly 1,800 kilometers long Indo-Nepal border. In the wake of Naxalites logistic support to Maoists, 32 additional battalions will soon be deployed ....... “Awaam ke paas agar awaami fauj nahin hai to uske paas kuch nahin hai” (If people do not have People’s Army, then they have nothing). ....... Bhattarai is said to be hiding in the Indian State of Bihar. He and his wife Hishila Yami have been expelled from the party over an invitation from King Gyanendra for peace talks........ It is said that Bhattarai is in favor of a dialogue with the Monarchy whereas Prachand is opposing it. In this regard, according to an anonymous source, a Naxalite leader, namely Vibhash Mondal has secretly moved to Nepal to hold talks on this issue.

  1. From The Base Camp Of Rebels The village, Pravakar told us, was considered as the ‘base camp’ for Maoists operating in this region ..... There were no ambushes, no armed cadres, no nothing...... the closer of Mobile service (especially the pre-paid one) have a huge impact on Maoist communications and the smooth running of their organization in places like Chitwan .... Maoist sangathan (organizational network and functioning) was “pre-paid sangathan" ..... There are two municipalities and 36 villages in Chitwan where nearly four hundred thousand people live. And not a single village has been unaffected by Maoists...... They come over here in the evening, according to a local who didn’t want to be identified, and go back to jungle in the night..... saw several wall paintings with pro-Maoists and anti-King slogans .... was a new painting on the wall ..... Chitwan is considered as a 76th district of Nepal (where there are 75 districts including Chitwan). “Many people from different parts of country come here and live
  2. Walking Through The Gate Of Maoism .... we walked through a newly constructed gate of bamboo sticks wrapped with a red cloth that was full of names of various comrades who were either killed in the war or were in jail ..... “But information about fight taking place definitely comes in to us. That’s not coming in to us these days. So I think there are no fights at all.” Why? ..... A local told me that these days Maoists of all parts of country are gathering in to the eastern region for their conference ..... It seems, without having to fight, cadres are involved in publicity and extortion campaign. It also seems, but not confirmed, that they are campaigning against each others’ camp: Prachanda Vs Baburam.
  3. I Report, You Decide, Were They Terrorists? .... families of those boys have now agreed to accept the corpse of students only after authorities agreed in written form that they were in fact killed by shooting but not in fighting as it was claimed earlier by the authorities.
  4. Prachanda's Father: "Prachanda has not been a good family man." I saw deep pain and agony burning in to his eyes ...... Mukti Raj goes to a nearby temple daily, spends about four hours in the holy place chanting slokas from Mahabharat and Ramayan, and singing bhajans....... His son, Prachanda, the ‘great’ for some and ’satan’ for others, has been challenging the rulers at Kathmandu, capital of the nation of Nepal, from secret hideouts for the last decade ...... I have heard no news from his ever since he went underground ..... ‘hasn’t contacted’ his home ...... he started the revolution in Nepal in the beginning of 1996 after he buried his mother who died a year earlier from blood cancer ..... Some years later, his wife followed him to live the underground life..... “Raja sabai ka bhale bhayeka chhan .... Khai heru, ke garda rahechhan. Desh ko bhalo hune, janata ko heet hune kaam gare bhane ta thikai ho, natra…” .... younger son of Mukti Raj has become a family man ..... “He is doing well, in the UK. He has been a good boy. I wish he had stayed with me. I am all alone.” ...... He didn’t seem to be supporting or protesting what his son is doing in Nepal. But I could read his eyes that were clearly telling that he wants his son to be successful....... Prachanda’s younger brother is currently doing PhD in forestry in a UK university. ...... Why the dad is so happy with the younger sibling? “He sends money frequently,” dad responded instantly, “and tells me, ‘Spend whatever amount you need for your medical expenses. I am here to take care of you’.” ....... The daddy has only one wish that his younger son was here with him to help in daily routine, to accompany in his lonely life. Mukti Raj has become alone in his life since his wife left this world in 1995...... “My grand daughter (in fact his brothers grand daughter) lives with me,” he said. She works as staff nurse in Bharatpur Medical College, a nearby educational institution. “So,” he continued, “sometime I cook, sometime she cooks.” ...... “Oh..him?” shouted the father with love in his heart, “He has taken everything that belonged to him. He sold them all. Now, nothing is here that belongs to him. He sold his property. This house is registered under his brother’s name.” Well, the dad is really not angry with his son........ “Babu, Party ma foot bhayo bhanchan. Ke ho sachhai? Aba ke hola ta?” ["Son, people say that there has been fraction within the (Maoist) Party. Really? What will happen next?"] ...... 70 year old Mukti Raj hasn’t been well for the last three years. Stomach ach and back problems give him constant pain. He has visited Kathmandu- Teaching Hospital and also to Dr Ashok Baskota, country’s top bone related disease specialists. He was also admitted in a local hospital. No one has been able to cure this man...... Well, at one point, Mukti Raj told about the recent visit of security personals in his house. “A month or so ago,” he said, patting once again on his bare thigh, “they (army) came in my house.” He wasn’t there. They politely requested to allow them to search the hosue. They did their duty and went back. “But they haven’t tortured or misbehaved with me [as you might have thought so],” Mukti Raj said....... emigrated from his original place in Pokhara in 1962 in Shiv Nagar VDC. There, Prachanda was directly admitted on third grade. In Pokhara, Prachanda learned alphabets, according to his daddy, in home. In school in Shiv Nagar, he was promoted from class 3 to 5. He passed SLC in 2nd division and went to Patan Multiple College, Patan. He came back to his hometown for further studies in Agriculture. After finishing intermediate degree, Prachanda briefly taught in a primary shcool in Gurkha district ......
  5. Meeting Prachanda's Father ..... happens to be the father of the person who is now shaking Nepal as a whole, and making Nepalese seriously think about their future ..... after 40 minutes the official routine of Curfew starts. Chitwan is not Kathmandu; I came to know this fact today. People here are living strange kind of life. Guys at this cyber cafe just let me enter here for 20 mins to type these words
  6. Organizing Arrest-Free Rally Until then the mediapersons didn’t know where the rally was happening ..... after they arrived, around two dozens activists gathered, took out flags from their pockets and starting moving towards Naradevi, west of Bangemuda, chanting pro-democracy slogans ..... The activists rallied in the 200m long road before the leader of it ordered to ‘disperse’ and all the participants took out the flags from sticks, put it into their pockets and disappeared in the various sides

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Online Coverage Of The Maoists

I just bumped into a trove of stuff. Looks like our BRB has been getting published widely in the global ultra left circles.
  1. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on the Royal Dictatorship and the Need For a Democratic Republic in Nepal
  2. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on the Failure of the Peace Talks in Nepal
  3. Women’s Leadership and the Revolution in Nepal
  4. A Communication from the Revolutionaries in Nepal on the Current (September 2002) Situation in the Civil War
  5. Comparisons Between Recent U.S.-Backed Coups: Caracas and Kathmandu by Wayne Madsen
  6. Birthpangs of Democracy in Nepal: Commentary from Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
  7. The Letter of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on the Palace Massacre in Nepal
  8. Nepal: Two Futures, Two Roads by Li Onesto

  9. Dispatches: Report from the People's War in Nepal

  10. People's War In Nepal
  11. Photos From The People's War In Nepal
  12. Interview with Prachanda

In The News
  • FEATURE-Orphans bear brunt of Nepal's brutal war Reuters AlertNet, UK Two-and-a-half years ago, Sinam's mother was shot dead by the Nepali army, allegedly for violating a curfew in the countryside..... Her father became an alcoholic ..... she looks completely lost...... "Children write to us that they are scared they will be abducted, scared they will be beaten or killed, scared that they will be blown up, and too scared to go to school." On a recent trip to the Maoist heartland of Nepal, a Reuters team saw children scarcely more than 10 years old carrying rifles, members of a Maoist village militia. Locals said children as young as 14 or 15 are recruited into the Maoists' frontline fighting force, the "People's Liberation Army"...... The teacher said Maoists came to his school almost every month and took children off for several days of indoctrination. Others are asked to join the militia forces, or to work as porters or messengers..... Maoists plan to introduce their own curriculum, and have already forced rural schools to observe a minute's silence at morning assembly instead of singing the Nepali anthem..... they are asked to pay five percent "tax" to the rebels, except when the Maoists come on a "emergency fundraising" drive -- and ask for an entire month's pay ...... Side by side, victims of the security forces eat, sleep and play with the victims of the Maoist rebels. .... 10-year-old Hira Pariyar. Her father was killed by the police in 1996, just a month after the Maoist revolt began. Her mother married again, and left Hira and her brother Krishna to fend for themselves.
  • Nepal-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission meeting on Mar 26 New Kerala, India
  • Swiss cut back aid projects in Nepal Swissinfo, Switzerland "We are working in an environment which is partially unreal, as what we read and see in the capital Kathmandu is very different from the information we are getting from the field" ...... I think the picture you get abroad is probably more accurate than the one we get in Nepal ..... "The picture we get in Kathmandu is a rosy one that does not correspond with the reality of escalating conflict and increased insecurity." ..... 73 per cent think the conflict between government forces and Maoists could be resolved through talks .... people in the countryside were defenceless ...... During the nine years of insurgency there has not been a single incident in which a tourist was attacked......
  • Nepalese Parliamentary Parties Back Maoist Call For Constituent ... Indymedia Ireland The wildcard in Nepal's civil war has been the marginalized parliamentary parties centered in the capital city. .... victims of the army's rapes and abuse ...... the Maoists have galvanized the lower classes, particularly the desperately poor peasants, into a cohesive fighting force that cannot be defeated by the monarchy...... U.S. ambassador James Moriarty told the BBC that failure to bring the "mainstream" parties back into alliance with the monarchy could result in victory for the Maoist rebels....... The Congress Party, UML and the other main "legal" parties declared in a March 16 New Delhi meeting that "This will be our last fight with the king. There will be no more compromise." They have accepted the Community Party of Nepal's main demands for an end to the monarchy, the establishment of a republic and the calling of Nepal's first constituent assembly...... Li Onesto, a journalist with the Chicago-based Revolutionary Worker, trekked into the heights of the Himalayas to meet with the rebels in their base areas, mass organizations and scored a unique interview with the CPN's leader Prachanda. Her recent book Dispatches From the People's War in Nepal ..... Her portraits of common people in struggle and their inspiring belief that they can remake the world against centuries of oppression is a tonic to the lowered expectations and defeatism afflicting much of the post-everything left.
  • Soldiers kill three students in Nepal: report New Kerala, India Nepalese soldiers in plain clothes shot dead three students seeking donations ahead of a Hindu festival and then tried to allegedly cover up the triple murder..... Narayan Bahadur Kanaugee, 17, Tek Bahadur Gaha, 15, and Dal Bahadur Darlami, 15 ..... According to a statement issued by the army headquarters in Kathmandu, the teens were terrorists extorting money from passenger and car drivers. ..... relatives of the students took out their bodies from the graves in which the soldiers had buried them, two of them still in school uniform, and took them to a hospital at Tansen town for autopsy...... The killings were reported in details only Sunday by a web site, United We Blog.
  • Nepalese soldier arrested for murder New Kerala The soldier was under the influence of liquor when the incident occurred
  • Let exams be unhindered, UN to forces, Maoists New Kerala over 300,000 Nepalese teenagers ...... Schools have fallen victim to the conflict (between the communist guerrillas and security forces). They have been used for political purposes and as barracks. They have been attacked, destroyed and their grounds mined and dug with trenches....... Maoists have threatened to disrupt examinations if their demand that the government open more examination centres in remote towns and villages was not met. .... House owners are reluctant to take in young people from areas known as Maoist strongholds for fear that they might have guerrilla links and invite the wrath of the army...... In the past, there have been several instances of the guerrillas and the security forces clashing on school premises, causing the death of students in the crossfire.
  • Govt-Maoist word war hits a new peak Times of India ....independent journalists who have contacts with the Maoists say there are some differences in the leadership but not to the extent as propagated by the RNA ..... Some Maoists have told me that Bhattarai and Prachanda do have their differences
  • UN to review Nepal role in peace missions? New Kerala, India .... Nepalese soldiers deployed on UN peacekeeping operations were involved in sexual abuse in Congo .... the government of the kingdom of Nepal is a generous contributor of troops and civilian police to UN peacekeeping operations ..... peacekeepers in Congo persuaded abandoned orphans to consent to sexual encounters by offering gifts as trivial as two eggs ..... Nepal has about 3,000 military personnel engaged in several UN missions around the world, including Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Kosovo, Lebanon, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Haiti, Sudan and East Timor...... Their deployment in UN missions is a matter of great pride for the army.
  • Three Nepal scholars barred from India meet New Kerala, India Lokraj Baral .... Krishna Khanal and Krishna Hachchethu ..... An indignant Baral told the Kathmandu Post newspaper: "If we are a threat to the state, we ask to be imprisoned. If not, why are we being treated like this?" ...... He also told the daily that professionals should not be treated as politicians...... The new regime has also said it could impose curbs on movements of its citizens as well as others living in the kingdom.
  • 17,000 Nepal women forced into prostitution in India Xinhua, China
  • Nepal says it is self-sufficient as far as its military ... New Kerala, India

Friday, March 25, 2005

Nepal Communist Party (Progressive)

It is this king and his coterie that have been in the way of lasting peace and progress for the country. The Maoists have time and again expressed their desire for UN mediation to lead to an all-party government and elections to a Constituent Assembly. It is this junta that will not accept that roadmap to peace. And so it is for all forces domestic and international to act like it is this junta that is irrelevant to Nepal's future, that this junta does not have the powers to hijack the future of this country. It is my firm belief that in the current climate when all global forces are lined up against this king and his gang, if the democrats and the Maoists were to forge a strong Democratic Coalition, this regime will collapse. It is time we stopped acting like we are at the mercy of a change of heart on the part of the Monarchists. They should not be given the powers to set the timetable for peace. Homework time.

My first choice is to include all democratic parties without getting into technicalities. We all know what the parties are. Might as well go ahead and recognize them in the absence of constitutional bodies whose job it is to do so. We have the UML, the Koirala Congress, the Deuba Congress, the RPP, Thapa's newly formed RJP, the Mandal Sadbhavana, the Tripathy Sadbhavana, and the Jana Morcha.

The 4S Campaign is for an all-party government and a constituent assembly. The government in waiting is to have the following composition:

Prime Minister: Girija Koirala
Deputy Prime Minister: Madhav Nepal
Deputy Prime Minister: Hridayesh Tripathy
Ministers: Sher Deuba, Pashupati Rana, Prakash Lohani, Badri Mandal, Amik Sherchan, Baburam Bhattarai and about a half dozen others to reflect the gender, ethnic, caste and regional diversity of the country.

But this is assuming all parties accept the 4S Campaign. If there are parties now that do not agree to the idea of a Constituent Assembly, we should work on them. And if we fail, we should kick them out of the coalition. There might be some bad blood between some of the names mentioned here, but this is not a mutual love coalition. This is a coalition with a sole agenda of holding elections to a constituent assembly.

And I would like to suggest that the Maoists do some homework of their own. The Constituent Assembly is their idea. In coming to the idea, the other parties are doing some major homework. It is for the Maoists to reciprocate. And I suggest they do that by giving a fresh look to their ideology.

I believe they should start with their name. I am aware Mao's contribution was that he saw revolutionary potential in poor farmers and peasants as opposed to the traditional industrial base sought by the communists. And so his teachings seemed to make sense for Nepal, a country where 9 out of 10 people are farmers. But the Nepali Maoists need to move beyond cult of personality, and change their name to Nepal Communist Party (Progressive). That means they will continue to be wed to the ultimate goal of a classless, communist utopia, and they will continue to draw upon the works of all major commuist figures, from Marx to Mao, but communism is not Marx, Lenin or Mao any more than physics is Albert Einstein. Physics is a discipline. Similarly the Nepali Maoists should be dedicated to the scientific process. Be constantly studying the local and external conditions, for one.

Used to be doctors performed surgery without using anesthetics. You got to feel all the pain, while your limb got sawed off, for example. But we live in different times. Surgery can be painless. And I think the communists should similarly renounce violence as a political weapon for good. What made some sense a hundred years back is actually counterproductive today, and is to be even less relevant down the line as the human population as a whole gets better educated and information is more easily accessible by the masses. Instead, shoot for what I would call Total Democracy.

Step 1, Total Democracy. Ban political fund-raising and instead the parties get public funds that is directly proportional to the number of votes they secured in the last held national elections. Every elected leader, from local to national levels, is on a decent, monthly salary, so it is an attractive career option, like being a teacher, or a health worker, or a doctor.

Step 2, Transparent Democracy. All expenses by the state, to the last paisa, are posted online and archived. Ditto for the property owned by all politicians and bureaucrats, to be updated annually. Also applies to all public words by all public officials. All political deliberations at all levels of government.

Step 3, Scientific Democracy. To be defined later beyond what is not obvious by the name. It builds on steps 1 and 2, rather than taking away from them.

So Maoists, change the name of your party, redefine your ideology so as to renounce violence as a political weapon for good, and let's create the world's very first democracy. Let's make peace on our schedule, and not on that of the Monarchists. Let's force them out instead of waiting for them to volunteer out, an unrealistic scenario.

The ICG Report

Nepal: Dealing with a Human Rights Crisis

NEPAL: dealing with a human rights crisis
Asia Report N°94 – 24 March 2005



II. the Human Rights crisis 2
A. A Catalogue of Abuses in a Climate of Impunity 3
B. An Unrestrained and Politicised Military 4
C. Limited National Human Rights Protection Capacity 5
1. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 5
2. The Judiciary 5
3. National Human Rights NGOs 6
D. Ineffective International Response 7
III. The Royal Coup And Beyond 8
A. Arrests, Disappearances, Military Actions 8
B. Censorship and Suspension of Other Rights 9
C. Vigilante Action: A Revival of the Village Militias Plan? 10
D. Prospects for Democracy and Development 11
IV. 2003-2004: A year of missed opportunities 12
A. The Doramba Case 12
B. Leverage on the Maoists 12
C. Commitment Paper as Fig-leaf 12
D. Toothless Chair Statement at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights 13
V. what needs to be done 13
A. Action by the Nepali Government 13
B. Action by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 14
C. Action at the Commission on Human Rights 15
D. Other International Action 15
VI. How to get there 16
A. International Actors and Mechanisms 16
B. Effective Action 18
1. Beyond technical assistance 18
2. Towards a successful monitoring operation 19
3. Preconditions for a successful monitoring mission 19
VII. Conclusion: Human Rights and Peacebuilding 20

Map of Nepal 22
About the International Crisis Group 23
Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia 24
Crisis Group Board Members 26

Asia Report N°94 24 March 2005
NEPAL: dealing with a human rights crisis

Executive Summary and recommendations

In the wake of the royal coup of 1 February 2005, Nepal's human rights crisis is spiralling out of control. A year after the international community first formally expressed concern at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights, the Maoists continue to operate outside the law while state security forces act with impunity and without civilian control. The 61st Commission on Human Rights now underway gives Nepal's friends their best opportunity to begin to reverse the trends by establishing a strong UN human rights monitoring mission that could form the core of action towards peace.

Using extortion and coercion, the Maoists are imposing an authoritarian regime on steadily increasing swathes of rural Nepal. State forces are engaged in well documented, systematic violations from extra-judicial executions to illegal detentions, "disappearances" and torture.

By its willingness in recent years to give the royal government the benefit of the doubt and sidestep serious criticism and remedial action, the international community finds itself confronted today with what it fears the most: a no-party state that has decimated democracy, kills people at will in the countryside, forbids freedom of expression or dissent and demands unquestioning support for its unelected leader. It now recognises the gravity of the situation. A joint statement by bilateral donors and the UN in Nepal has warned that "insecurity, armed activity and CPN/M [Maoist] blockades are pushing Nepal toward the abyss of a humanitarian crisis".

The repeated gentle urgings of the past have done nothing to prevent the dismantling of democracy. Apart from the assault on fundamental rights, the royal coup and the royal government's subsequent actions have emboldened the Maoists and made any resolution of the conflict all the more distant. As Crisis Group has warned before, the Maoists are the only party in Nepal's complex conflict with a clear strategy. The king's seizure of absolute power has not brought with it any new strategy that can hope to address the challenge of the insurgency.

Human rights issues have assumed an increased significance, as one of the few available avenues through which the international community might be able to influence the resumption of the peace process. In this context the 61st Commission on Human Rights, meeting from 14 March to 22 April 2005, has a particularly important role.

The priorities are to:

secure a strong resolution calling for restoration of basic freedoms and guaranteed protection;
ensure that the resolution has robust enforcement mechanisms, and compliance is measurable against clearly defined benchmarks;
put in place an effective UN human rights monitoring mission to complement and strengthen national efforts;
call for both the government and the Maoists to sign a Human Rights Accord (HRA) as a first confidence-building measure towards a resumed peace process;
ensure that any military assistance to the government, as well as new Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) participation in UN peacekeeping operations, is tied to concrete improvements in human rights;
use effective human rights monitoring as a means of engaging and exerting leverage on the Maoists; and
link human rights efforts to a wider, coordinated international push for peace, with a contact group of key powers and the UN supported by donors working on the development and rights tracks.

This report describes the current human rights crisis, offers practical policy recommendations for tackling it by all relevant players, and explains how such measures would contribute to the longer-term conflict resolution effort.


To the Nepali Government:

1. End the suspension of constitutional rights imposed since 1 February 2005 and:
(a) release politicians, human rights defenders, journalists and others from preventive detention;
(b) lift the state of emergency; and
(c) remove media censorship to allow the reporting of human rights violations and honest war coverage.
2. End the practice of enforced disappearances by security forces, investigate all disappearance cases and prosecute perpetrators.
3. Renounce the use of vigilante groups, village militias and other extrajudicial means to contest the Maoists.
4. Cooperate with the international community to tackle the human rights crisis by:
(a) accepting a strong UN-led international human rights monitoring mission;
(b) accepting appointment of a Special Rapporteur and issuing a standing invitation to the thematic mechanisms of the UN Commission on Human Rights to visit Nepal;
(c) allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to fulfil its mandate; and
(d) encouraging the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to accept standing offers of technical assistance from the international community.
5. Take immediate steps to demonstrate concrete commitment to ending the culture of impunity towards human rights abusers by:
(a) guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and ensuring security forces' full cooperation with the courts;
(b) prosecuting those responsible for the Doramba killings as demanded by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in September 2003;
(c) investigating and prosecuting in the civilian courts other cases of alleged rights abuses, including gender-based violence;
(d) issuing clear instructions to all security forces that any use of torture or other human rights violations will be punished; and
(e) recognising that its National Human Rights Action Plan is an insufficient and inappropriate response to the current situation and urgently developing effective measures to address the human rights protection crisis.
6. Strengthen the legal framework for human rights and international humanitarian law by:
(a) signing the National Human Rights Commission's Human Rights Accord (HRA);
(b) repealing or amending the Public Security Act and Terrorism and Destructive Activities Ordinance;
(c) ensuring full compliance with existing commitments under domestic and international law;
(d) signing the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions; and
(e) signing the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court.
7. Strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission by:
(a) extending the term of the current Commissioners;
(b) ensuring that the Commissioners and other NHRC officers are free to travel and fulfil their mandate;
(c) respecting the physical integrity of its offices in Kathmandu, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj so it can protect sensitive information on victims and their relatives; and
(d) ensuring that other agencies such as the Human Rights Promotion Centre and the security forces' human rights cells are not used to undermine its work.

To the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist):

8. Cease human rights violations and adhere in full to international humanitarian law, in particular by:
(a) respecting the rights of the civilian population and hors de combat security forces;
(b) releasing political detainees immediately;
(c) halting the intimidation, torture and killing of political workers, journalists, activists and others; and
(d) giving and enforcing clear instructions to all cadres on human rights and international humanitarian law.
9. Build confidence and work towards the rapid resumption of the peace process by:
(a) signing the Human Rights Accord;
(b) cooperating with national and international human rights monitors; and
(c) developing transparent methods for dealing with rights abuses, including gender-based violence.

To the Member States of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR):

10. Use the 61st CHR to address Nepal's human rights crisis by:
(a) establishing an effective international human rights monitoring presence in the country through deployment of a clearly mandated mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) staffed by international monitors and national support staff sufficient to work across Nepal's difficult terrain and led by a head of mission of sufficient UN rank and ability to collate, evaluate and act on the information gathered by monitors;
(b) appointing a Special Rapporteur; and
(c) encouraging the royal government to issue a standing invitation to the thematic mechanisms of the Commission to visit Nepal.

To the Wider International Community, including CHR Member States, Diplomatic Missions to Nepal, and Bilateral and Multilateral Donors:

11. Use available leverage to end the culture of impunity by:
(a) preparing to suspend the Royal Nepalese Army from UN peacekeeping operations if it does not improve its record;
(b) making human rights protection a condition of military and other assistance; and
(c) demonstrating that it is prepared, through the UN Security Council, to authorise the International Criminal Court to exercise jurisdiction over exceptionally serious violations of international humanitarian law by either the state or the Maoists unless such violations cease and/or are submitted to fair and impartial domestic investigation and prosecution.
12. Support Nepal's National Human Rights Commission by:
(a) demanding that the royal government respect its statute in both letter and spirit so it can fulfil its mandate;
(b) insisting on the extension of the current Commissioners' terms; and
(c) planning, funding and implementing (most probably through the UN) all appropriate assistance it requests.
13. Help build non-governmental human rights capacity by:
(a) defending and strengthening national human rights NGOs, including women's organisations, and relevant professional associations, such as the Nepal Bar Association and the Federation of Nepali Journalists; and
(b) developing practical programs for protecting human rights defenders.

Kathmandu/Brussels, 24 March 2005

Asia Report N°94 24 March 2005

NEPAL: dealing with a human rights crisis


Nepal is suffering a worsening human rights crisis as the nine-year-old Maoist (Communist Party of Nepal/ Maoist, CPN/M) insurgency intensifies. The royal coup of 1 February 2005, which imposed a state of emergency, has exacerbated an already dire situation. The weeks since 1 February have seen the arrest of hundreds of politicians, human rights defenders, journalists and others; an increase in clashes between rebels and state security forces; blockades by the Maoists and the continuation of their practices of abductions and extortion; severe press censorship and restrictions on monitoring efforts by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC); and worrying signs of state-sponsored vigilante action resulting in lynchings, the burning of villages and brutal Maoist retribution. An 18 March 2005 statement by bilateral donors and the UN in Nepal has warned that "insecurity, armed activity and CPN/M blockades are pushing Nepal toward the abyss of a humanitarian crisis".

As Crisis Group reporting has warned, the king's actions have made any resolution of the conflict much less likely. This analysis is shared by most of Nepal's powerful international friends. The increasing cycle of rights violations has undermined both sides' efforts to win popular support, and systemic abuses have sabotaged the Royal Nepalese Army's attempts at a "hearts and minds" campaign. Global concern at the deteriorating situation is virtually unanimous. Governments, multilateral bodies and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have amplified the grave worries articulated by Nepali civil society groups and activists. Past failures to address the human rights crisis have not only allowed a culture of impunity for state security forces but also deprived the international community of potentially the most effective means of exerting serious pressure on the Maoists.

The royal coup has, however, brought opportunities for fresh efforts to develop an effective, coordinated international response to the conflict. Well planned international pressure and assistance could both address the immediate political challenges and build toward a sustainable peace process. Steps to deal with the human rights crisis would also be confidence-building measures -- the essential precursor to a negotiated settlement. The 61st Commission on Human Rights (CHR), meeting from 14 March to 22 April 2005, should capitalise on these opportunities.

This policy report outlines the broader political context of human rights in the conflict and details both the steps that should be taken, focusing particularly but not solely on the current CHR meeting, and their place in the peace process. It aims to complement the large body of published reporting by specialist human rights agencies and NGOs. The robust international response to the royal coup has demonstrated that there is a widely shared consensus on the need to help Nepal resolve its conflict. United political will can be effective. The challenge now is to build on the short-term consensus with forward-looking measures directed towards a negotiated long-term settlement.

II. the Human Rights crisis

The human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically since the end of the last ceasefire in August 2003. It is characterised by:

serious rights violations committed by both sides, Maoist and state, including for both 2003 and 2004 the highest number of newly reported disappearances in any country;
an atmosphere of impunity on both sides, with few restraints on combatants and extremely limited willingness to enforce military discipline in order to achieve observance of international humanitarian law;
an increasingly politicised military, which has exerted a stranglehold on peace talks without delivering security from Maoist attacks;
weak domestic capacity for monitoring and addressing rights violations; and,
an ineffective international response.

The human rights crisis is, like other effects of the conflict, hitting the civilian population hardest. Disregard for human rights has also damaged the credibility and support base of both sides.

The Maoists have targeted teachers, journalists and political workers and have used an array of violent and coercive tactics to intimidate and exploit the civilian population. Their atrocities -- many publicised by the journalists, activists and politicians detained following the royal coup -- have dented what public support the insurgents had. The Maoists may calculate that brutality serves them well at this stage of guerrilla warfare but it undermines their chances of ever earning mainstream acceptability and widespread support. Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), pointed this out during her January 2005 visit to Nepal: "I would warn the leaders of the insurgency not to misread developments in the wider world nor to believe that they can operate outside of the law".

The state, especially if it is to deliver on the repeated promise of a "hearts and minds" campaign, does not have the luxury, legally or strategically, of disregarding its domestic and international responsibilities. Respect for human rights, as many military advisors have sought to remind the RNA, must lie at the core of any effort to restore faith in the state and government. State abuses, ever since the brutality of the police operations in Rolpa which preceded the insurgency, have fuelled popular resentment and played into the hands of the Maoists. There is increasing evidence that many of the several thousand people so far killed by the state, most in the period since the army's deployment in November 2001, were not Maoists or were executed in cold blood.

Widespread detentions and intimidation of democratic politicians and human rights defenders have followed the proclamation on 1 February 2005 with which the King formalised his de facto assumption of absolute power. Censorship, restrictions on communication and movement and other measures mean that the full impact of the military takeover is unknown, even in the Kathmandu valley. Information from the 75 districts, many of which are practically cut off from the capital, may not be available for months. The full impact of the period immediately following 1 February will only become clear when measures have been taken to establish accurate monitoring of the situation.

The donor community has repeatedly criticised the government's human rights record, calling for it and the Maoists to sign an HRA as recently as 9 September 2004. That statement, from the major European donors, the European Commission delegation, the U.S. embassy and the Canadian mission to Nepal, asserted that "both sides to the conflict continue to be responsible for gruesome and continuing human rights violations". The European Union (EU) Troika which visited Nepal in December 2004 recalled, "the international community's appeals to both sides of the conflict to urgently sign the human rights accord as a first step towards curtailing the indiscriminate and arbitrary violation of rights". Unfortunately, there has been little practical pressure for implementation of these appeals. Recent high-level visits, culminating in the UNHCHR's, have emphasised the gravity of the situation. Louise Arbour spoke of the "grave human rights crisis" afflicting Nepal and the "rampant abuse of basic human rights" brought about by the armed conflict.

A. A Catalogue of Abuses in a Climate of Impunity

The main violations of human rights are widespread "disappearances", torture, extrajudicial killings, rapes, illegal and arbitrary detention and severe restrictions on freedom of assembly, speech, association and movement. Many have been thoroughly documented in reports by the major international human rights organisations. The judicial system is dysfunctional. The RNA, which has never been under effective civilian control or oversight, frequently ignores the Supreme Court habeas corpus orders, and there are many documented cases of re-arrest of those released by judicial order.

The U.S. State Department's report on human rights practices emphasised that impunity on both sides remained a problem throughout 2004. According to Human Rights Watch, "Both parties have engaged in systematic human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law with impunity". Placing Nepal at the top of the list of priorities for the CHR, Amnesty International's representative at the UN in Geneva, Peter Splinter, reiterated that "Nepal is on the verge of a human rights catastrophe -- basic human rights have been suspended; impunity is rampant. The international community must take immediate and decisive action to pull Nepal back from the verge". Louise Arbour made the point most effectively:

Regrettably, there is an alarming, and growing, number of cases in which the fundamental rights of the people of Nepal have been abused by agents of the state and in which victims have been unable to obtain redress. A climate of impunity prevails in this country as a result of which the rule of law, the fundamental glue of any society, is being worryingly eroded.

This intervention in particular stung the military and led to an indignant rebuttal:

[The] Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has strongly objected to the term "impunity" used by various human rights organisations including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louis Arbour while associating the RNA with the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. RNA Spokesman Brigadier General Deepak Gurung during a regular press briefing in Kathmandu Friday [28 January] claimed that [the] RNA as a constitutional body is "very much conscious of human rights and has never gone beyond the limits of legal boundaries" to carry out its function in defence of the Monarchy, country and the people. "The word impunity is a loosely used word by various sources at various times to tarnish the image of the RNA", added Gurung.

The best documented and most significant illustration of RNA impunity is the case of the killing of 21 people in the village of Doramba, Ramechhap district, on 17 August 2003, the very day that the third round of peace talks got underway after a three-month hiatus. The NHRC set up a high-level enquiry team, which included a leading forensic doctor, two former Supreme Court judges and a prominent publisher, to look into the incident which the RNA had tried to portray as two Maoist ambushes. The enquiry found that the 21, most of whom were Maoists or sympathisers, had been detained for several hours before they were marched a further two hours, then executed, most with shots to the head from close range while their hands were bound.

The RNA reluctantly reopened its investigation and on 31 January 2005, hours before the royal coup, announced that the major in charge of the operation would be removed from the army and imprisoned for two years for "excessive use of force". While this is a historic decision -- the first clear case of an RNA officer punished for a human rights violation -- the inadequate sentence, lack of transparency of the military trial and timing make the process very unsatisfactory.

B. An Unrestrained and Politicised Military

The army will now be under considerable pressure to make good its oft repeated promise that it will defeat the Maoists within six months. Given its clear inability over three years to hurt the ever more powerful Maoist forces, there is a great danger civilians will continue to bear the brunt of government military operations. The RNA fully controls both the national police and the paramilitary Armed Police Force and in effect rules the 75 district headquarters, which have become increasingly militarised, with local military commanders holding sway over the nominal civilian local power, Chief District Officers.

The military's arbitrary detentions have been "legalised" by the Terrorist and Destructive Activities Ordinance (TADO), signed by the government of Prime Minister Deuba in October 2004. Intensified conflict is now to be expected, and the probable result is an increasingly polarised society. Many civilians who are trying to stay out of the conflict will be forced by the security forces into the arms of the Maoists. This will make the search for peace more difficult and the civilian population increasingly vulnerable to violations of their rights.

In mid-2004, the RNA made public its wish to set up a military bank. The army's senior officers already control a sizeable welfare fund based on earnings from UN peacekeeping duties. It runs petrol pumps as a commercial enterprise but its accounts and other activities remain murky, and the army has resisted public scrutiny. The army also has its own schools and hospitals while hundreds, if not thousands, of rank and file soldiers are used as domestic servants by both serving and retired senior officers. The international community has largely turned a blind eye to RNA efforts to increase its economic independence. But further moves toward entrenching the military as a state within a state are deeply disturbing, as the experiences of Pakistan and Indonesia indicate.

C. Limited National Human Rights Protection Capacity

State mechanisms for human rights protection are at best dysfunctional and at worst actually designed to fail. Outside of government mechanisms, the human rights movement has been severely weakened by measures since the 1 February coup. Press restrictions and curbs on expression have made it almost impossible to do effective human rights monitoring.
The statutory body for protection of human rights, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), is a relatively weak institution that has not received government support since its creation in 2000. It and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been regularly refused unhindered access to detainees, particularly those the RNA holds with dubious legality. The population outside Kathmandu has increasingly turned its back on the judicial system. Measures suspending basic constitutional rights and empowering the security forces in effect make it impossible for Nepalis to carry out human rights defence activities without unacceptable risk.

1. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

The NHRC is the main institutional defender of human rights. Its recent successes in documenting violations, notably the Doramba massacre, have made it the target of official ire, and commissioners have been under considerable pressure. Over the previous eighteen months, the credibility and capacity of the NHRC had been significantly improved through technical assistance, training and advice on monitoring techniques. However, the limitations imposed since 1 February have severely weakened its capacity to carry out its mandate. It remains, nonetheless, a key partner for donors and any UN monitoring mission. The mandate of the current commissioners expires on 25 May 2005. The international community must ensure that the commissioner appointment process follows the spirit and letter of the founding statute, but without a parliament, there is no legal way for new commissioners to be nominated. Ironically, the NHRC has become a severe irritant to the RNA since the U.S. Congress passed legislation late in 2004 which makes Washington's military aid to Nepal contingent on the army's cooperation with the NHRC. The temptation for the regime to end NHRC independence, therefore, is considerable.

2. The Judiciary

While the NHRC is constrained by the government, the judiciary has remained ineffective due partly to its own shortcomings. Even before the royal coup, the RNA routinely ignored writs. When they were accepted, as in a few habeas corpus petitions, detainees released by the courts were promptly re-arrested, sometimes within the court compound. Given this, it is unsurprising that the courts have been meek about pushing the legal boundaries in the present emergency. A case in point is the Supreme Court's refusal to register cases even under constitutional provisions not suspended by the emergency.

Nepal's judiciary has always been constrained by royal prerogative. Nevertheless, during the partyless Panchayat system from 1960 to 1990, the judiciary won a certain reputation for taking up cases of political detainees and often ruling in their favour. Ironically, the democracy years since 1990 did much to damage the independence of the courts. The seminal case of the period, the dissolution of parliament by a communist prime minister in 1995, led to verdicts that institutionalised horse-trading in parliament and general political instability. It also led to the politicisation of the courts. Certain judges were openly seen as tilting towards a particular political party.

Since then, the slide has been relentless. The first emergency rule, imposed in November 2001, allowed the security forces to seize initiative from the judiciary. An RNA official complained in early 2004, "We arrested the Maoists but the courts released them due to lack of proof or other reasons. So what were we to do? We arrested them again from the court compounds". The courts have not faced up to the RNA challenge. While Supreme Court justices have reprimanded the RNA a few times, they have rarely followed up with action. In the current climate, there is even less reason to hope that the courts will dare order the RNA to behave.

Much of the reason for this is the judiciary's traditional deference towards the monarchy. Nepal's 1990 constitution bars any cases against the royal family, a point zealously enforced by the courts. Another important reason is a selection method for justices and judges which gives the palace final say. Since the king has shown determination to push his own candidates in other constitutional bodies, his shadow looms large over the courts. Just how large is illustrated by another recent case. Before the February coup, the coalition government was in turmoil over the issue of calling elections or reviving the dissolved House of Representatives. The Nepal Bar Association met Chief Justice Govinda Bahadur Shrestha in November 2004 to press for a speedy hearing on reviving parliament. He concurred with the need but nothing happened. Shrestha retired soon after, and the royal coup made the issue moot. A Bar member says, "the justices are just too afraid of going against the palace's wishes. There were clear indications from the palace not to hear the case". In its present state, the judiciary simply lacks the will and wherewithal to protect human rights.

3. National Human Rights NGOs

National human rights NGOs in Nepal are active but relatively weak and inexperienced. Their lack of security awareness has made them particularly vulnerable to the measures adopted since the King's seizure of power. The fact that a number of key human rights defenders have either left the country or gone underground underlines the difficulty citizens have in documenting human rights cases and the need for international monitoring and a significantly expanded presence of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal. Human rights defenders in Kathmandu, including journalists, lawyers and NGO workers, have clearly expressed their fears to diplomats and visiting delegations. Some leading human rights defenders have been detained on their return to Nepal and others turned back from the airport.

Leaders of most mainstream parties remain under house arrest while hundreds of other party cadres and student activists were detained in an attempt to prevent protests at the royal takeover, suggesting that the main target of the new administration is less the Maoists than key politicians, human rights defenders, the media and the Kathmandu intelligentsia. The Deuba government presented no practical obstacle to the RNA's prosecution of the war against the Maoists. But the palace and army were angered by the growing international attention reflected in a marked increase in media coverage of human rights violations, a phenomenon they blamed on the media and human rights defenders.

D. Ineffective International Response

As in its approach to the conflict as a whole, the international community's policy on human rights in Nepal has failed. Neighbours and donors have always been soft on government human rights abuses because they felt the government was at least a lesser evil than the Maoists. This has left them poorly positioned to say much now that the government's approach is clearly out of control.

Indeed, the palace and military view their present actions as a logical extension of the practices which the international community largely ignored as the political crisis intensified over the last several years, starting with the first time the king dismissed Prime Minister Deuba and assumed executive control, in October 2002. If the Maoists had killed 21 soldiers in cold blood on the first day of the third round of the 2003 peace talks, international outcry would have been justified and likely. The turning of a blind eye to many state abuses and the gentle approach of offering training and technical assistance rather than demanding a change in policy from the top encouraged further deterioration of the situation.

The period since the breakdown of the ceasefire in August 2003, and in particular the twelve months since the 2004 Commission on Human Rights, has been one of missed opportunities. International efforts have come too late and on a scale which has proved inadequate to make an impression on the impunity enjoyed by the RNA and the Maoists alike. The Maoists were not tested when they proclaimed themselves ready to accept international human rights monitoring; nor were they tested on their willingness to participate in peace talks with UN or other international facilitation. Similarly, the government's commitment paper of 26 March 2004 was welcomed by diplomats and used to justify keeping Nepal off the agenda at the 2004 CHR, but there was no effort to monitor and hold the government to its terms. At this stage of an increasingly dirty war, it is not justifiable to take either side at its word.

International concern over the human rights situation had grown in the months prior to the royal coup. In December 2004, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited and concluded that "the phenomenon of disappearances in Nepal today is widespread: its use by the Maoist insurgents and the Nepalese security forces is arbitrary". This was followed by a statement on 24 December by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calling on the government to protect human rights defenders after reports surfaced of an RNA "hit list", which included leading members of civil society.

The international community needs to recognise that its previous stance was unsuccessful and adopt a much more realistic approach to the current situation. There is no need to change the frequently reiterated objectives of pressing and assisting both sides to abide by international humanitarian law and human rights norms. But the consistent failure to achieve any progress towards these objectives calls for a fresh start.

III. The Royal Coup And Beyond

King Gyanendra's dismissal of a coalition government and seizure of complete power have been examined in earlier Crisis Group publications. The situation remains tense and uncertain. The royal government has been fortunate that the mainstream political parties have not aligned themselves directly with the Maoists yet but many politicians warn that continued assault on political and civil liberties can only hasten that eventuality. There are already signs that the parties are increasingly sympathetic towards the Maoists' main demand of converting Nepal into a republic. The human rights crisis has further narrowed the democratic middle ground and escalated abuses and threatens to intensify the conflict. Vigilantism by government-backed militias in Kapilvastu district indicates willing disregard of the rule of law by the state. The Maoists have stepped up blockades, strikes and military attacks, while softening their tone towards the political parties and allowing their cadres to work in rural areas.

At the royal government's first press conference, on 17 March 2005, Vice Chairman Peter Giri demanded the political parties "comply with the king's call to seek a political way out of the current situation". Toward the Maoists his language was stronger and clearer:

As for the Maoists, Giri ruled out peace talks with them until they disarmed. "We are not in the mood to hold talks with them", he said. "Whatever you term them, they are terrorists". He, however, called on the Maoists to abandon violence and "terrorist" activities and join mainstream politics. "The situation in the country has changed", he said. "They will get no benefit by struggling from the jungles". He said that if they did not do so, the security forces were fully equipped and committed to wiping out the Maoists.

A. Arrests, Disappearances, Military Actions

At the start of the king's coup on 1 February, security forces began arresting politicians, student leaders and human rights defenders. By the time King Gyanendra spoke over state radio and television, soldiers were guarding sensitive installations and government buildings. The minute the king finished, arrests were intensified. Hundreds of politicians were picked up in the first hours. Human rights defenders were harassed or put under surveillance. By the second day, when Gyanendra announced a council of ministers with himself at its head, it was clear the army was running the country, issuing orders ranging from news censorship to warnings against political protests. RNA headquarters was the centre of activity. "The cabinet is just a façade", said a journalist with close ties to the army.

In the days following, as the Maoists prepared to take advantage, the military was stretched on two fronts: not only conducting a badly-run counterinsurgency campaign but also doing police work, detaining politicians and protestors and keeping Kathmandu's streets free of opposition activity. The result was that the Maoist blockade of the capital beginning 13 February was effective despite RNA escorts of convoys. "Our convoy came under attack from the rebels even though there were RNA vehicles escorting us, foot patrols at every kilometre along the highway and military helicopters overhead", said a journalist who travelled from Gorkha to Kathmandu.

Its military strategy a failure and international condemnation mounting, the RNA turned inwards. Though censorship has made it difficult to know the true extent of rights violations after 1 February, especially outside Kathmandu, a few cases have come to light. A reporter with a prominent publication was abducted in early March in what was first claimed to be a Maoist operation. It later transpired that the reporter was carried off by the security forces. Protestors in Jhapa were arrested by soldiers and severely tortured in the RNA barracks at Chaarali. In the most egregious violations since the coup, security forces have been implicated in vigilante killings and arson in Kapilvastu district during February. A foreign journalist who visited a few days later reported they had encouraged villagers to kill fellow villagers and burn scores of houses of alleged Maoist sympathisers.

The royal government changed tack in early March after it became clear that no major donor country or institution supported its concerted assaults on democracy, civil liberties and human rights. In an effort to placate international opinion, it began releasing prominent detainees. But arbitrary arrests have continued, and there is concern that disappearances and torture are still employed as well. Killings of purported Maoist activists have also continued, though in the absence of any independent confirmation the identities of those killed and the circumstances of their deaths cannot be established.

B. Censorship and Suspension of Other Rights

Emergency rule since 1 February has ended press freedom. FM radio stations have been ordered to desist from broadcasting news altogether. Print outlets and television stations are monitored by government censors. Though military censors were withdrawn from news organisations after the first few days, stringent guidelines have been issued to discourage independent coverage of political and conflict issues. A senior journalist says, "We can't report anything about the RNA or Maoists without vetting it with the security forces".

Even so, because of the international limelight, the press in Kathmandu has been gradually pushing at its boundaries. Authorities have released a few high-profile journalists, and newspapers and magazines have started reporting on political and conflict issues without consulting censors. On 16 March Kathmandu and district branches of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) petitioned the government and local district administration offices to restore freedom of expression. While this suggests gradual relaxation of censorship, the situation in the districts -- where journalists were squeezed by both the government and Maoists even before the coup -- is much worse. Editors and journalists have been arrested for writing on political issues and also for protesting press restrictions, and several vernacular weeklies and dailies have been shut down.

Reporters Sans Borders (RSF) on 14 March listed Nepal among the countries with the most imprisoned journalists. "The journalists in the districts face far greater constraints than in Kathmandu. They are the ones facing the brunt of the emergency", another editor says. Even in Kathmandu, relaxation of censorship is a mirage. The editor of Kantipur, the leading Nepali-language daily, was summoned by the district police office on 17 March to answer about news coverage in his paper.

Since 1 February, freedom of association, travel, right to property and other civil liberties except the right to habeas corpus petitions have been suspended. This has affected political gatherings and efforts to probe rights abuses. An NHRC commissioner was stopped at the Kathmandu airport in early March from flying to Rupandehi to investigate allegations of vigilante justice in Kapilvastu district. Former Speaker of Parliament Daman Nath Dhungana was barred from flying to the U.S. Altogether, about 200 politicians, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, intellectuals and journalists have been put on a list barring them from leaving Kathmandu. Many only learn of this when they are turned away from the airport.

C. Vigilante Action: A Revival of the Village Militias Plan?

The government first announced its intention to introduce village militias to counter Maoists in November 2003. Domestic and international outcry -- including from Crisis Group-- over the start of the program in Sudama village of Sarlahi district forced it to shelve the plan. However, the military continued quietly developing the concept. Sporadic reports from eastern Nepal in early 2004 indicated the RNA had armed and trained villagers in Chulachuli and Larumba villages of Ilam district. In Jhapa, Sunsari, Morang, Dhanusha and Dhankuta, local journalists and intellectuals told Crisis Group they knew of RNA encouragement and training for villagers to use armed force to counter the Maoists. Though the RNA denied it had such a policy, the now well-documented rampage by vigilantes in the Kapilvastu district indicates the government is again backing proxy militias.

From 17 February 2005, mobs beat and burned to death at least 31 supposed Maoists or Maoist sympathisers. Their actions were actively condoned by the local security forces and then lauded by government ministers. In the following weeks, local and international journalists, human rights investigators and others have been able to confirm details. The BBC reported:

At the height of the violence, three government ministers came to address a crowd. Home Affairs Minister Dan Bahadur Shahi says he knew they had beaten twelve men to death. "I encouraged their self-defence system", he told the BBC. "Why shouldn't I, when the Maoists massacred the people and burned their properties?" Recourse to the courts "is not relevant during a war", he continued. "They gathered, found them and killed them. I thought I should praise them".

"Legally what these people are doing is a bad thing. But it was done by the crowd", says Major Sunil Gahle at a makeshift barracks in Ganeshpur village. "The Maoists started their looting and all these bad things, so the people started this type of protection for themselves", he said, predicting the government might soon distribute firearms to villagers.

Maoists subsequently retaliated and killed eleven people who, they claimed, were vigilante leaders. Journalists and rights investigators who travelled to the area after the carnage reported the complicity of security forces in encouraging villagers to use violence against suspected Maoist sympathisers. A confidential report prepared by rights monitors says, "In order to counter Maoist violence, up to now villagers have burnt down over 600 houses in various Village Development Committees of Kapilvastu district and have killed at least 46 persons. Tens of thousands of other villagers have been displaced from their homes to across the border in India".

The Maoists are not without blame in the incident, which, rights investigators found, started after they abducted two residents of Ganeshpur village. Efforts to release the two spiralled out of control, resulting in widespread arson, looting and murder.

Based on interviews with the Chief District Officer and the RNA major at the Ganeshpur temporary base camp, the investigators concluded that the security forces indirectly aided the vigilantes by marching behind them. They tried to take control over the vigilantes only after they had gone out of control. The violence, mostly carried out by the majority plains community, appears to have targeted villagers from hill communities. The report warns that "there is clear danger that this conflagration could soon lead to further communal violence". Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, stated that, "The lynching of 22 alleged Maoists and burning down of about 700 houses of the alleged Maoists sympathisers in Kapilvastu district from 17 to 23 February 2005 by the RNA and vigilante groups must be investigated by an international commission of inquiry".

At the royal government's first press conference, Minister for Information and Communications Tanka Dhakal reiterated government support for the vigilantes: "The people have been forced to come out with courageous retaliatory measures for peace. The government supports such people and promises that in areas where people have come with retaliatory measures, the government will carry out [an] integrated development package".

Fears over the implications of vigilante action have been widespread ever since the village militia plans were first announced in 2003. Given Nepal's complex caste and ethnic composition and the array of festering grievances harboured by diverse groups, vigilante action could trigger communal and ethnic riots. Villagers armed by the government could easily label personal or political enemies as Maoist sympathisers and take advantage of the lawless environment to pursue their own agendas. The elimination of remaining neutral space would force the population to choose one side or the other; quite possibly they would be targeted by both. As the BBC concluded: "Maoist violence and misdirected counter-violence are taking on a frightening life of their own. And the king's government is encouraging the vigilantes".

D. Prospects for Democracy and Development

Most of the international community has spoken with one voice on the immediate challenges for Nepal following 1 February. While the royal coup has been endorsed by Pakistan, North Korea and Cuba, and described as Nepal's internal affair by Russia and China, most other nations have demanded a fast return to democracy. This message has been sent most forcefully by the RNA's principal suppliers of military aid: India, the U.S. and the UK. During U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to New Delhi on 16 March 2005, she and Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh explicitly agreed to work together to help restore democracy. Secretary Rice said the Nepali government needed get back on a democratic path: "That simply must happen … it needs to happen very, very soon".

Respect for human rights is at the core not only of the democratic process but also of national development efforts, including those funded by donors. Despite some early mixed signals -- such as the Asian Development Bank's signing of a large loan deal on the day following the coup -- most donors have issued warnings about the likely implications of the coup. On 14 March, World Bank Country Director for Nepal Ken Ohashi said that running development projects in the absence of a free press would be difficult and warned that it would hard to speed up development under current circumstances. This followed a strong World Bank statement on 8 March:

The Board expressed concerns about the security situation in Nepal and the implementability of projects. The Board also raised concerns about the government's ability to continue implementing difficult reforms in the absence of representative mechanisms to build broad-based consensus. But it broadly supported the cautious approach proposed by management. Management noted the Board's concerns and will continue to consult closely with other development partners in assessing the progress that the government makes in reform implementation, as well as issues related to the broader governance environment of the country, including the rule of law and protection of human rights.

Following expressions of concern about the suspension of democratic processes and rights by other European nations, the Finnish embassy in Kathmandu underlined that future assistance was being jeopardised. Addressing a program in the western Baglung district, Chargé d'Affaires Pauli Mustonen reminded his audience that Finland had invested in human rights after the restoration of Nepali democracy in 1990. But he cautioned that Finnish assistance would depend on democratic stability: "Development is impossible in any country without democracy". Failure to tackle the human rights crisis will not only enable the continuation of abuses but endanger Nepal's development for years to come.

IV. 2003-2004: A year of missed opportunities

Despite significantly increased attention towards the role of human rights in Nepal's crisis, the period since the collapse of the last ceasefire in August 2003 has been one of missed opportunities: failure to insist on the proper prosecution of the Doramba case; slow and misguided use of technical assistance; lack of follow-up on the Chair's statement at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights; and no testing of the Maoists' offers to accept international monitoring. The many internationally-backed initiatives have had no measurable positive impact. They have been too small to challenge impunity or bring the warring parties back to the peace table.

A. The Doramba Case

The Doramba killings of unarmed Maoists in custody described above gave the authorities a major opportunity to impress on the RNA that the war must be fought according to international law and to begin to end military impunity. The failure to insist on satisfactory prosecution sent the dangerous message that no one need be held accountable even when there was a watertight investigation of a major war crime.

The Doramba massacre was more than just a violation of the law of armed combat: it unambiguously demonstrated that the military had been given licence to derail the peace process. The orders for the mass extrajudicial executions can only have come from a high level. Although the RNA has attributed exclusive responsibility to the major in command, it is clear his actions were sanctioned by superiors: if he had really been a rogue operative sabotaging a sincere effort at talks his punishment would have been swift and harsh.

Doramba illustrated that the military was empowered to use mass executions as a deliberate strategy to undermine peace talks. In combination with the weight of evidence regarding other international humanitarian law violations by the RNA it confirmed that abuses were not a result of indiscipline or poor training but systemic and at the very least acquiesced in by the senior officer corps.

B. Leverage on the Maoists

In January 2004, the Maoist leadership, stung by Amnesty International's sharp criticism of the movement's human rights record, made a clear statement that it would accept international human rights monitoring. This was an ideal opportunity for the international community to demand a series of measures, such as signature of the Human Rights Accord (HRA), as proposed by the NHRC in May 2003. But the Maoists were not challenged and tested to deliver on their promise.

Until the HRA or a similar agreement is signed, discourse on human rights will be futile and circular, with the Maoists and the palace exchanging charges and impugning each other's sincerity. Were the government to sign the HRA, it might force the Maoists also to accept concrete, verifiable commitments and face the consequences of non-compliance. UN involvement sanctioned by the HRA would also importantly leave the Maoists with no chance to claim their foot-dragging on peace talks was due to lack of international involvement.

C. Commitment Paper as Fig-leaf

The government's commitment paper of March 2004 was the next missed opportunity. The first version provided to European diplomats was a massive step backwards that redefined and reduced the international standards to which Nepal was already committed. The final version, the outcome of ten days firm negotiation by EU ambassadors, restated those existing commitments but, as human rights experts warned at the time, the lack of a monitoring mechanism -- the one suggestion the government steadfastly refused -- rendered it meaningless in practical terms. Some governments subsequently used this restatement of commitments as an argument there should be no mention of Nepal at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights.

The inability of the international community to push for reforms and improved protection based on the commitment paper is a clear example of the dangers of assuming goodwill where there is no evidence of genuine commitment to change. The government could have demonstrated such goodwill by taking steps that involved no need for financial or other aid, for example by giving clear political backing to the Supreme Court over habeas corpus orders or prosecuting human rights violators.

D. Toothless Chair Statement at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights

In April 2004 the UN Commission on Human Rights took what could have been an important step in the form of the chairman's statement urging the commitment of the government to a monitoring effort of sufficient scale to make an impact on impunity. There was a perfect opportunity to follow up this statement with practical measures at the major donors meeting in Kathmandu in May, the Nepal Development Forum. This did not happen, and it was only in December that the OHCHR finally signed a memorandum of understanding with the government, the details of which have not yet been made public. By the time of the royal coup, there had been no significant increase in the UN's capacity to monitor the human rights situation. It had even failed to appoint a human rights and peace process senior adviser to the NHRC due to wrangling over control of the selection process.

V. what needs to be done

The overarching goals must be:
restoration of full civil and political rights, including freedom of association, expression and assembly, and establishment of democratic governance;
full compliance with international humanitarian law by both armed parties; and,
rapid resumption of the peace process with international support, using human rights engagement (such as a Human Rights Accord) as a confidence-building measure.

It is crucial that the international community present a coherent, common position on recent events but the primary responsibility for action rests with the armed parties to the conflict, the government and the Maoists. The following sections outline the most important steps they and the international community should take.

A. Action by the Nepali Government

The key measures which should be taken immediately by the royal government require neither great resources nor external technical assistance. The royal government should:

Reverse the suspension of rights since 1 February. The immediate steps include: (i) releasing politicians, human rights defenders, journalists and others currently held in preventive detention; (ii) lifting the state of emergency; (iii) ending the suspension of constitutional rights; and (iv) removing media censorship to allow reporting of human rights violations and honest war coverage.

End the practice of enforced disappearances by security forces. Competent civilian authorities should investigate all disappearance cases and prosecute those responsible.

Renounce the use of vigilante groups. Recourse to village militias and other extrajudicial means to tackle the Maoists is counterproductive and has already produced gross human rights violations. If the government continues to encourage this, the conflict will intensify and become more intractable.

Cooperate with the international community to tackle the human rights crisis by (i) accepting a strong UN-led international human rights monitoring mission; (ii) accepting appointment of a Special Rapporteur and issuing a standing invitation to the thematic mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights to visit Nepal; (iii) allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to fulfil its mandate; and (iv) encouraging the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to accept standing offers of technical assistance.

End the culture of impunity. The royal government can take immediate steps to demonstrate commitment to ending the culture of impunity enjoyed by human rights abusers by (i) guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and ensuring security forces' full cooperation with the courts; (ii) prosecuting those responsible for the Doramba killings as demanded by the OHCHR in September 2003; (iii) investigating and prosecuting in the civilian courts other cases of alleged rights abuses, including gender-based violence; (iv) issuing clear instructions to all security forces that any torture or other human rights violations will be punished; and (v) recognising that the National Human Rights Action Plan, a collection of "mainstreaming" and awareness-raising measures which has been strongly criticised by experts, is an insufficient and inappropriate response to the current situation and urgently developing effective measures to address the human rights protection crisis.

Strengthen the legal framework for human rights and international humanitarian law by (i) ensuring full compliance with Nepal's existing commitments under domestic and international law; (ii) repealing or amending the Public Security Act and the Terrorism and Destructive Activities Ordinance; (iii) signing the Human Rights Accord (HRA); (iv) signing the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions; and (v) signing the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court.

Strengthen the capacity of the NHRC. The royal government should ensure that the principal national body responsible for monitoring human rights is able to carry out its responsibilities by (i) extending the term of the current Commissioners; (ii) permitting the Commissioners and other NHRC officers to travel freely and fulfil their mandate effectively; (iii) respecting the physical integrity of the offices in Kathmandu, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj so that the NHRC can protect sensitive information on victims and their relatives; and (iv) ensuring that other agencies such as the Human Rights Promotion Centre and the security forces' human rights cells are not used to undermine the work of the NHRC.

B. Action by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

Cease human rights violations and adhere in full to international humanitarian law. The Maoists must in particular (i) respect the rights of the civilian population and hors de combat security forces; (ii) release political detainees immediately; (iii) halt the intimidation, torture and killing of political workers, journalists and others; and (iv) give and enforce clear instructions to all cadres on human rights and international humanitarian law.

Work towards confidence building and rapid resumption of the peace process. The Maoists should (i) sign the Human Rights Accord; (ii) cooperate with national and international human rights monitors; and (iii) develop transparent methods for dealing with rights abuses, including cases of gender-based violence.

C. Action at the Commission on Human Rights

The member states of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) should use its 61st session to address Nepal's human rights crisis, recognising that it is too grave for this to be done by technical assistance alone. Whichever CHR mechanism is employed, the Commission should establish an effective international monitoring presence in Nepal by:

deploying a clearly mandated mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), adequately staffed by international monitors and national support staff sufficient to work across Nepal's difficult terrain;
ensuring that the head of the mission is of sufficient UN rank and ability to collate, evaluate and act on the information gathered by monitors; and
ensuring that the mission and its monitors are respected by both armed parties to the conflict and its work is absolutely neutral.

Additionally, the Commission should:

appoint a Special Rapporteur;
establish viable mechanisms to guarantee human rights improvements; and
encourage the government to issue a standing invitation to the thematic mechanisms of the Commission, including the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, to visit.

D. Other International Action

The international community as a whole, including CHR member states, diplomatic missions to Nepal, bilateral and multilateral donors should take a range of further measures. As in all armed conflicts, the basic requirement the international community should insist on is ensuring that the ICRC has unhindered access, without prior warning, to all detainees and the ability to interview them confidentially. Other urgent steps include:

Use available leverage to end the culture of impunity. The international community can use its leverage to bring effective pressure for improvements by: (i) preparing to suspend the RNA from UN peacekeeping operations if it does not improve its record; (ii) making human rights protection a condition of military and other assistance; and (iii) demonstrating that it is prepared, through the UN Security Council, to authorise the International Criminal Court to exercise jurisdiction over exceptionally serious violations of international humanitarian law by either the state or the Maoists unless such violations cease and/or are submitted to fair and impartial domestic investigation and prosecution.

Support the NHRC. Donors have already played a major role in building the NHRC's capacity and providing political support but this has not been enough, and stronger measures are needed, including: (i) demanding that its statute be respected in both letter and spirit so it can fulfil its mandate; (ii) insisting on the extension of the current Commissioners' term; and (iii) planning, funding and implementing (most probably through the UN) all appropriate assistance it requests.

Help build non-governmental human rights capacity. The international community has a role to play in defending and strengthening national human rights NGOs, including women's organisations, and relevant professional associations, such as the Nepal Bar Association and the Federation of Nepali Journalists. It should also assist in developing practical programs for protecting human rights defenders.

Support the judicial system. Short-term steps to help strengthen the judiciary include: (i) sending an international mission to assess current capacity and evaluate what it is able to do in light of the suspension of constitutional rights; and (ii) designing immediate measures, including training and infrastructure support, in consultation with the Supreme Court and the Nepal Bar Association.

Address humanitarian concerns. In conjunction with human rights measures, the deteriorating humanitarian situation requires attention. Appropriate immediate actions include: (i) ensuring identification and protection for the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs); (ii) recommending that the UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal also be appointed Humanitarian Coordinator; and (iii) ensuring that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has sufficient capacity to respond if the situation worsens dramatically.

Plan longer-term action. Now is the time to start preparing for further action such as: (i) provision of technical assistance as part of a peace process, for example in election monitoring, cantonment of arms, and disarming, demobilising and reintegrating former combatants; (ii) strengthening democratic institutions; and (iii) assisting in security sector reform to ensure a stable transition to a responsible, well trained and democratically controlled military complemented by a clearly separate civilian police force.

VI. How to get there

A. International Actors and Mechanisms

Nepal's allies and donors. Despite significant differences in perspectives and approaches, the major international players share a large common ground on Nepal. The desire to see the conflict resolved with the country stable and able to pursue economic, social and political development is almost universal. Despite initial fears in the Indian press about Nepal "playing the China card" Indian diplomats are not overly concerned: China, too, wishes to see the conflict contained and has consistently been reluctant to become directly involved. Its foreign policy priorities lie elsewhere, and it is unlikely to undermine a reasonable international consensus. European donors have major, longstanding concerns over the human rights situation. The European Union has reassured India and the U.S. that its basic position is in consonance with theirs. India has been the most prominent advocate of democratic rights in the post-coup period. Indications that New Delhi and Washington might look favourably on a CHR resolution have further strengthened the sense of shared purpose. While differences in understanding between various embassies in Kathmandu persist, international actors have much more in common than even they themselves may realise. The prospects for a coherent multilateral approach to the conflict are probably better than ever. The Commission on Human Rights will be one test of the viability of a united front. Beyond that, discussions on formalising a multilateral contact group hold out the possibilities of coordinated action towards a longer-term peace process.

The United Nations. The UN has a particularly important role to play on human rights, through both the Secretary General's good offices and substantive technical assistance under a CHR mandate. The OHCHR has a unique capacity to manage an effective field monitoring mission. The UN is also widely respected in Nepal across political and civil war divides. There are valid concerns about its ability to mediate the conflict but it will not automatically be preordained to attempt this if it does on-the-ground human rights monitoring, which could in turn form a valuable basis for future humanitarian, ceasefire, election monitoring or other peace building operations.

The 61st Commission on Human Rights. The annual CHR is the logical forum for a concerted multilateral effort to tackle Nepal's human rights crisis. Lessons learned from the 2004 CHR's failure to halt deterioration in the situation may now be put to good use. The ideal outcome would be for the Nepali government to accept robust international assistance in addressing its challenges. In his address at the start of the CHR, Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey insisted, "we are committed to our human rights obligations even in the extremely difficult situation at present". Nevertheless, there are consistent indications from Kathmandu that the royal government will resist decisive action. For example, the Director of the Human Rights Promotion Centre in the Prime Minister's Office, Diwakar Pant, has insisted there is no need for a Special Rapporteur. Officials apparently still hope a combination of token gestures and international indecisiveness may allow them to avoid anything serious. Coordinated international planning for a strong resolution may be the only way forward. The key issues that should inform the debate are:

Outcome not promises. The strongest paper commitments cannot guarantee implementation. Member states will have to consider how to hold a reluctant government to its commitments and help it to fulfil them. A monitoring mission would be a good start.

Types of resolution. Discussion over whether a technical assistance resolution under Agenda Item 19 is more appropriate than a stronger condemnatory resolution under Agenda Item 9 should not take precedence over consideration of the outcome. The current momentum towards an Item 9 resolution is logical and appropriate as long as it delivers a viable monitoring mechanism.

Special Rapporteur. The appointment of a Special Rapporteur has many advantages but in itself would do nothing to address the immediate crisis. In the absence of a strong monitoring mission, it would almost certainly be ineffective. If a Special Rapporteur is to be effective, it can only be as an addition to a field monitoring presence.

Other leverage. The Nepali government is heavily dependent on external political, military, financial and development support and is therefore relatively easy to lean on. The Maoists, however, have tended to be more or less immune to outside pressure. Their insurgency is largely funded and sustained domestically so supply lines cannot readily be cut; whatever links there are with Indian rebels do not appear to be essential. Military pressure has proved if anything counterproductive. But the Maoists do not want to be permanent pariahs and wish to keep the door open to becoming a party of government. That creates a possibility to influence their human rights behaviour by making it a test of their good faith and reliability.

The danger of token gestures. The Nepali government is likely to make a number of token gestures during the CHR, timed to create an impression at crucial points in the discussions. Such gestures might include:

release of certain political leaders, perhaps leaders of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML parties;
relaxation of censorship, particularly in the English-language media, which has greater external visibility than domestic influence;
senior pledges on human rights and multiparty democracy;
limited disciplinary action against a few low-ranking rights abusers;
assurances that the emergency measures are dramatically improving the security situation; and
offering to accept watered-down benchmarks that restate existing commitments without providing mechanisms for implementation.

There is danger such gestures may be mistaken for genuine change and used to justify allowing the royal government to avoid action. This danger can be readily judged by the experience of the 26 March 2004 commitment paper described above. Already the royal government and RNA show increasing sophistication in their suppression of dissent. Only a few prominent human rights defenders are being detained but others are being subjected to a range of less visible, no less effective harassment and intimidation techniques such as surveillance of homes and offices, threatening phone calls and travel restrictions.

A new nine-member High-level Committee for Protection of Human Rights under the chairmanship of the Attorney-General has been announced. Minister for Information and Communication Tanka Dhakal explained: "With a view to strengthening the National Human Rights Commission and making it effective, the committee will assist to the commission in monitoring and investigation of human rights". The way to make the NHRC effective, however, would be to allow it to fulfil its mandate. The new committee's role is obscure and almost certainly obstructionist: while it will "take necessary measures concerning cases of violations of human rights in line with the commitments made in March last year", it "will decide its own scope of work and rules of procedures".

Why only target the government? The other predictable fallback for the royal government will be to ask why disproportionate demands are made on the state. Officials will point out that draft resolutions and non-governmental reports such as this ask more of the government than of the Maoists, even though the insurgents initiated the conflict. The simple response is that the demands are commensurate with the status and responsibilities of the two sides. The Maoists are obliged to adhere to the minimum standards of international law -- a demand reiterated here as in all statements by governments and NGOs. But governments have greater responsibilities. The Maoists would be most happy to have symmetrical demands made of them that would imply a moral and practical equivalency between themselves and the state. They would see this as a vindication of their claim to be a "new regime" equal to the "old regime". It is by fulfilling its judicial, constitutional and administrative duties that the state can demonstrate moral superiority.

B. Effective Action

Piecemeal measures to improve the human rights situation, such as those attempted through 2004, are inadequate given the depth of the crisis. Remedial action must be on a scale which reflects the size of the problem if the vast majority of Nepalis, particularly those outside the Kathmandu Valley, are not to be left at the mercy of the Maoists and the RNA.

Government security forces are unable to be present much beyond the confines of the district headquarters. This leaves the civilian population, most of whom owe little allegiance to either the King or the Maoists, prey to rebel extortion and "justice". At the same time, the RNA is likely to continue its practice of killing more civilians than combatants as it comes under pressure to show that, post-1 February, it is making significant gains. In short, it is the civilians who will suffer until a peace process is back on track.

1. Beyond technical assistance

Technical assistance is useful when there is relative political stability and political will to improve human rights protection. It is, however, a wholly inappropriate response to Nepal's acute human rights protection crisis in a context of civil war and political uncertainty. In any case, technical assistance should be based on the needs identified through monitoring. The magnitude of the problem makes tinkering and small initiatives futile. Indeed, many otherwise worthy efforts could unwittingly feed the crisis. Those responsible for violations are quick to point to the existence of any human rights project to deflect attention from their record. They use any technical assistance as a smoke screen, claiming efforts are underway, and time is needed for the results to appear.

The government's National Human Rights Action Plan is unwieldy and at best long-term: it fails to address the immediate protection crisis and is used by the government to distract attention from pressing problems. In early 2004, for example, a Nepali minister meeting a European ambassador to discuss lack of progress on the Doramba case, started by handing over a draft of the Plan, the existence of which, he said, should lead the international community to go easy on specific cases. The experience with the March 2004 commitment paper at the 2004 Commission on Human Rights has already been discussed. Unless the scale of the remedy matches the scale of the problem, and unless the remedy creates critical mass in response to the crisis, ineffectual interventions will be used as an alibi to continue widespread violations.

2. Towards a successful monitoring operation

The management, political and technical, of any human rights monitoring operation will be key for its success or failure. The gathering of credible information, a tough task with security implications, is merely the beginning. The objective is to process and then use the information to encourage an end of violations. Therein lies the start to confidence building, a prerequisite if an atmosphere conducive to a genuine peace process is to be created. It is also an important tool with which to prevent sabotage of a renewed process by those on both sides who oppose a move to peace.

Significant improvement in the human rights situation demands a genuine peace process but this can happen only after a significant improvement in the current levels of confidence. Only one major confidence-building measure is on the table: the NHRC's Human Rights Accord. An acceptable equivalent arrangement, if it is not possible to orchestrate signature of this document, might be a combination of the government's March 2004 commitment paper and permission for the OHCHR to deploy a critical mass of human rights observers -- at least fifteen or twenty. However, it would be necessary to get public Maoist support for this monitoring, both to make the effort effective politically and for use as a lever to improve the security situation of those implementing it on the ground.

The task of monitors in remote areas would be to reveal violations that the belligerents wish to keep hidden. For success and credibility, the monitors must have unannounced access to places of detention of both sides. This requires prior commitment by the parties. There is an obvious danger in deploying monitors without Maoist agreement: if they are refused access by the Maoists, they will be forced to remain in the district headquarters and be vulnerable to accusations that they are only monitoring the state security forces. Further, both parties must be conscious that failure to comply with their commitments to a monitoring process would have a political cost at the international level. Above all though, the activities of a monitoring mission have to be seen to be both professionally competent and politically neutral.

The UN's many human rights missions over the past decade show that monitoring has to be carefully adapted to a specific environment if it is to lead to an improved situation; the cataloguing of violations is the essential first step; processed information must then be presented to the parties to the conflict in such a way that it has a positive impact on their conduct. It is necessary to ensure buy-in from the parties, which in turn raises the political cost of ignoring findings and recommendations of the agreed monitoring body. The sending authority of the mission itself controls several key factors, such as personnel, particularly the leadership; the clarity and feasibility of the mandate; the financial resources; security of the monitors; adequate training to ensure uniformity of procedures and reporting; and the capacity at headquarters to collate and analyse the information. The mission must be able to provide comprehensive nationwide reporting in order to defend itself from the inevitable accusations of partiality as both sides attempt to mitigate the political cost of findings against them.

A human rights monitoring mission must hit the ground running. Any serious impact is likely to occur in the first year, when the stakeholders tend to attribute greatest importance to its findings. A slow build-up of monitoring capacity can be a fatal weakness. Much depends, therefore, on the quality of initial deployment. It is also essential that stakeholders be ready to intervene in the political space which the newly deployed mission will create. Monitors in the field without political guidance, the support of desk officers at headquarters, and a public information campaign about their mission can achieve almost nothing.

3. Preconditions for a successful monitoring mission

There are serious security issues which affect both the mission members, national and international, and all those with whom they have contact, particularly victims and witnesses. While standard security procedures need to be followed, the overwhelming influence on the security of all concerned is political. The parties to the conflict must at a minimum be locked publicly into the project in such a manner that they would incur a political cost locally if they breached their commitment to it. It would be irresponsible to send monitors into a conflict situation without at least a basic commitment by both sides to respect their integrity and allow them to work as their mandate specified

The credibility of a mission can be fatally damaged by flawed information work or failure to achieve an impact. Informants are aware of the risks in cooperating. If there are no results as a result of that cooperation, it will quickly dry up.

VII. Conclusion: Human Rights and Peacebuilding

Effective action on human rights, starting with a CHR resolution, can form the base for a peacebuilding process:

the human rights dimension is the most significant available confidence-building avenue;
human rights pressure offers some potential leverage on the Maoists;
multilateral action on human rights complements other political efforts underway and a possible contact group;
the human rights dimension is a subject on which major states and the UN can work in concert while retaining distinct roles; and
human rights efforts can complement and reinforce a parallel "development track" of confidence building through the existing Basic Operating Guidelines group of major donors.

The crisis of protection clearly parallels the deepening military conflict and will only begin to be mitigated meaningfully by initiation of a genuine peace process. The international human rights response, therefore, should focus on creating a context that will help produce such a peace process. It is widely agreed the failure of the last peace talks (marked by the breakdown of the January 2003 ceasefire on 27 August 2003) was at least in part due to underlying lack of confidence between the parties to the conflict. Human rights activities should be conceived of, and designed as confidence-building measures. A crucial first step would be a joint political statement by the belligerents on human rights measures, along with a means to assess compliance. This can only be achieved by creating a mechanism that provides credible and prompt information on violations, both to dispel rumours and mistrust and to create the possibility of restoring the rule of law. The public needs to be convinced it is possible to move beyond the arbitrary exercise of power by both sides.

At this stage of the conflict, it is important to take initiatives which change the political atmosphere and break with the past practices of both parties. This requires boldness on a scale sufficient to have visible impact. One such move is the monitoring proposed in the NHRC's HRA. As High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged:
Chief among [the necessary measures] is the need for both parties to the conflict to sign and implement the Human Rights Accord drawn up by the National Human Rights Commission. This Accord is nothing more than a reiteration of obligations which already bind both the Government and the CPN/Maoist. A failure to sign the Accord by either party calls into question the sincerity of their professed commitment to the welfare of the people of Nepal. Equally, I have no doubt that the signing of the Accord by both parties, coupled with genuine efforts to implement its provisions, will serve to build confidence, which is, in turn, a vital prerequisite for a genuine and lasting peace.

The last round of peace talks, from January to August 2003, was supposedly regulated by a comprehensive 22-point Code of Conduct, which covered most fundamental rights and was considered an indication of mutual good will when it was signed on 13 March 2003. While the ceasefire was broadly respected until the Doramba massacre of 17 August, the Code of Conduct was constantly violated, in part, at least, due to its lack of precision. Most crucially, though, it had no monitoring mechanism, so breaches carried little political cost. This contributed to the fact that the ceasefire failed to build confidence.

The more the international community appears to accept statements in lieu of concrete measures, the more the Maoists will conclude that mouthing human rights pieties will be enough to open the door to their return to the political mainstream. A softly-softly approach with the government forces in the face of massive violations merely sends a signal to the Maoists that they can get away with the same.

There are indications that the Maoists recognise that their best chance of achieving some of their objectives is to negotiate their way back into the mainstream of Nepali politics. They are, however, aware that their return to democratic politics will require the sanction of the international community. It is unfortunate that over the past year their offers to accept both international human rights monitoring and UN facilitation in the peace process have been ignored and therefore gone untested. At this stage of an increasingly dirty war, it would be unwise to take the statements of either belligerent at face value but neither can the international community afford to pass over opportunities, however limited. Equally damaging would be to accept the king's current argument that one is either with him or against him. There are other options. If developed coherently, human rights interventions could be an important step towards a peace process.

An effective human rights monitoring effort would need to be preceded by political agreement from the government and the Maoists at least along the lines of the HRA. Political commitment to the improvement of human rights is a pre-requisite for successful progress towards the rule of law. Improved compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law by the belligerents is a necessary step towards peace and meaningful restoration of democracy. Equally, there is little chance of significant improvement in the human rights crisis until there is a renewed peace process. The HRA should be implemented in such a way that it becomes a confidence-building measure and encourages the belligerents to return to the peace table. The end of the conflict and improvement in respect for human rights are inextricably linked.

Without concrete action on human rights and the full enjoyment of democratic rights, a "swift return to democracy" as called for by the major powers with influence in Nepal would be little more than a return to the unsatisfactory status quo ante. Nepal's people would be condemned to further erosion of their rights and gross violations by both armed parties, and resolution of the conflict would be at least as far away as ever.

Kathmandu/Brussels, 24 March 2005


Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin


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March 2005

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Crisis Group REPORTS AND BRIEFINGs on ASIA since 2002

The IMU and the Hizb-ut-Tahrir: Implications of the Afghanistan Campaign, Asia Briefing Nº11, 30 January 2002 (also available in Russian)
Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential, Asia Report N°33, 4 April 2002
Central Asia: Water and Conflict, Asia Report N°34, 30 May 2002
Kyrgyzstan’s Political Crisis: An Exit Strategy, Asia Report N°37, 20 August 2002
The OSCE in Central Asia: A New Strategy, Asia Report N°38, 11 September 2002
Central Asia: The Politics of Police Reform, Asia Report N°42, 10 December 2002
Cracks in the Marble: Turkmenistan’s Failing Dictatorship, Asia Report N°44, 17 January 2003
Uzbekistan’s Reform Program: Illusion or Reality?, Asia Report N°46, 18 February 2003 (also available in Russian)
Tajikistan: A Roadmap for Development, Asia Report N°51, 24 April 2003
Central Asia: Last Chance for Change, Asia Briefing Nº25, 29 April 2003
Radical Islam in Central Asia: Responding to Hizb ut-Tahrir, Asia Report N°58, 30 June 2003
Central Asia: Islam and the State, Asia Report N°59, 10 July 2003
Youth in Central Asia: Losing the New Generation, Asia Report N°66, 31 October 2003
Is Radical Islam Inevitable in Central Asia? Priorities for Engagement, Asia Report N°72, 22 December 2003
The Failure of Reform in Uzbekistan: Ways Forward for the International Community, Asia Report N°76, 11 March 2004
Tajikistan's Politics: Confrontation or Consolidation?, Asia Briefing Nº33, 19 May 2004
Political Transition in Kyrgyzstan: Problems and Prospects, Asia Report N°81, 11 August 2004
Repression and Regression in Turkmenistan: A New International Strategy, Asia Report N°85, 4 November 2004 (also available in Russian)
The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia's Destructive Monoculture, Asia Report N°93, 28 February 2005
Taiwan Strait I: What’s Left of “One China”?, Asia Report N°53, 6 June 2003
Taiwan Strait II: The Risk of War, Asia Report N°54, 6 June 2003
Taiwan Strait III: The Chance of Peace, Asia Report N°55, 6 June 2003
North Korea: A Phased Negotiation Strategy, Asia Report N°61, 1 August 2003
Taiwan Strait IV: How an Ultimate Political Settlement Might Look, Asia Report N°75, 26 February 2004
North Korea: Where Next for the Nuclear Talks?, Asia Report N°87, 15 November 2004
Korea Backgrounder: How the South Views its Brother from Another Planet, Asia Report N°89, 14 December 2004 (also available in Korean and in Russian)
Pakistan: The Dangers of Conventional Wisdom, Pakistan Briefing Nº12, 12 March 2002
Securing Afghanistan: The Need for More International Action, Afghanistan Briefing Nº13, 15 March 2002
The Loya Jirga: One Small Step Forward? Afghanistan & Pakistan Briefing Nº17, 16 May 2002
Kashmir: Confrontation and Miscalculation, Asia Report N°35, 11 July 2002
Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, Asia Report N°36, 29 July 2002
The Afghan Transitional Administration: Prospects and Perils, Afghanistan Briefing Nº19, 30 July 2002
Pakistan: Transition to Democracy? Asia Report N°40, 3 October 2002
Kashmir: The View From Srinagar, Asia Report N°41, 21 November 2002
Afghanistan: Judicial Reform and Transitional Justice, Asia Report N°45, 28 January 2003
Afghanistan: Women and Reconstruction, Asia Report N°48. 14 March 2003 (also available in Dari)
Pakistan: The Mullahs and the Military, Asia Report N°49, 20 March 2003
Nepal Backgrounder: Ceasefire – Soft Landing or Strategic Pause?, Asia Report N°50, 10 April 2003
Afghanistan’s Flawed Constitutional Process, Asia Report N°56, 12 June 2003 (also available in Dari)
Nepal: Obstacles to Peace, Asia Report N°57, 17 June 2003
Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, Asia Report N°62, 5 August 2003
Peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Asia Report N°64, 29 September 2003
Disarmament and Reintegration in Afghanistan, Asia Report N°65, 30 September 2003
Nepal: Back to the Gun, Asia Briefing Nº28, 22 October 2003
Kashmir: The View from Islamabad, Asia Report N°68, 4 December 2003
Kashmir: The View from New Delhi, Asia Report N°69, 4 December 2003
Kashmir: Learning from the Past, Asia Report N°70, 4 December 2003
Afghanistan: The Constitutional Loya Jirga, Afghanistan Briefing Nº29, 12 December 2003
Unfulfilled Promises: Pakistan’s Failure to Tackle Extremism, Asia Report N°73, 16 January 2004
Nepal: Dangerous Plans for Village Militias, Asia Briefing Nº30, 17 February 2004 (also available in Nepali)
Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?, Asia Report N°77, 22 March 2004
Elections and Security in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing Nº31, 30 March 2004
India/Pakistan Relations and Kashmir: Steps toward Peace, Asia Report Nº79, 24 June 2004
Pakistan: Reforming the Education Sector, Asia Report N°84, 7 October 2004
Building Judicial Independence in Pakistan, Asia Report N°86, 10 November 2004
Afghanistan: From Presidential to Parliamentary Elections, Asia Report N°88, 23 November 2004
Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse, Asia Report N°91, 9 February 2005
Afghanistan: Getting Disarmament Back on Track, Asia Briefing N°35, 23 February 2005
Nepal: Responding to the Royal Coup, Asia Briefing N°35, 24 February 2005
Indonesia: The Search for Peace in Maluku, Asia Report N°31, 8 February 2002
Aceh: Slim Chance for Peace, Indonesia Briefing, 27 March 2002
Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid, Asia Report N°32, 2 April 2002
Myanmar: The HIV/AIDS Crisis, Myanmar Briefing Nº15, 2 April 2002
Indonesia: The Implications of the Timor Trials, Indonesia Briefing Nº16, 8 May 2002
Resuming U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties, Indonesia Briefing Nº18, 21 May 2002
Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The case of the “Ngruki Network” in Indonesia, Indonesia Briefing Nº20, 8 August 2002
Indonesia: Resources and Conflict in Papua, Asia Report N°39, 13 September 2002
Myanmar: The Future of the Armed Forces, Asia Briefing Nº21, 27 September 2002
Tensions on Flores: Local Symptoms of National Problems, Indonesia Briefing Nº22, 10 October 2002
Impact of the Bali Bombings, Indonesia Briefing Nº23, 24 October 2002
Indonesia Backgrounder: How the Jemaah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates, Asia Report N°43, 11 December 2002
Aceh: A Fragile Peace, Asia Report N°47, 27 February 2003 (also available in Indonesian)
Dividing Papua: How Not to Do It, Asia Briefing Nº24, 9 April 2003
Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, Asia Report N°52, 7 May 2003
Aceh: Why the Military Option Still Won’t Work, Indonesia Briefing Nº26, 9 May 2003 (also available in Indonesian)
Indonesia: Managing Decentralisation and Conflict in South Sulawesi, Asia Report N°60, 18 July 2003
Aceh: How Not to Win Hearts and Minds, Indonesia Briefing Nº27, 23 July 2003
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous, Asia Report N°63, 26 August 2003
The Perils of Private Security in Indonesia: Guards and Militias on Bali and Lombok, Asia Report N°67, 7 November 2003
Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections, Asia Report N°71, 18 December 2003
Indonesia Backgrounder: Jihad in Central Sulawesi, Asia Report N°74, 3 February 2004
Myanmar: Sanctions, Engagement or Another Way Forward?, Asia Report N°78, 26 April 2004
Indonesia: Violence Erupts Again in Ambon, Asia Briefing N°32, 17 May 2004
Southern Philippines Backgrounder: Terrorism and the Peace Process, Asia Report N°80, 13 July 2004 (also available in Bahasa)
Myanmar: Aid to the Border Areas, Asia Report N°82, 9 September 2004
Indonesia Backgrounder: Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly Don't Mix, Asia Report N°83, 13 September 2004
Burma/Myanmar: Update on HIV/AIDS policy, Asia Briefing Nº34, 16 December 2004
Indonesia: Rethinking Internal Security Strategy, Asia Report N°90, 20 December 2004
Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing, Asia Report N°92, 22 February 2005

For Crisis Group reports and briefing papers on:
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· Europe
· Latin America and Caribbean
· Middle East and North Africa
· Thematic Issues
· CrisisWatch
please visit our website


Crisis Group BOARD of trustees

Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus of Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.
Lord Patten of Barnes
Former European Commissioner for External Relations, UK

President & CEO
Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister of Australia

Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to Turkey
Emma Bonino
Member of European Parliament; former European Commissioner
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner to the UK; former Secretary General of the ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui*
Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce
Yoichi Funabashi
Chief Diplomatic Correspondent & Columnist, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
William Shawcross
Journalist and author, UK
Stephen Solarz*
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
William O. Taylor
Chairman Emeritus, The Boston Globe, U.S.

Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II and to King Hussein; former Jordan Permanent Representative to UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Ersin Arioglu
Member of Parliament, Turkey; Chairman Emeritus, Yapi Merkezi Group
Diego Arria
Former Ambassador of Venezuela to the UN
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor to the President
Victor Chu
Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Pat Cox
Former President of European Parliament
Ruth Dreifuss
Former President, Switzerland
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Stanley Fischer
Vice Chairman, Citigroup Inc.; former First Deputy Managing Director of International Monetary Fund
Bronislaw Geremek
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Former Prime Minister of India
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing; former U.S. Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallén
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden
James C.F. Huang
Deputy Secretary General to the President, Taiwan
Swanee Hunt
Chair of Inclusive Security: Women Waging Peace; former U.S. Ambassador to Austria
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions; former Chair Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Senior Advisor, Modern Africa Fund Managers; former Liberian Minister of Finance and Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa
Shiv Vikram Khemka
Founder and Executive Director (Russia) of SUN Group, India
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Bethuel Kiplagat
Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister, Netherlands
Trifun Kostovski
Member of Parliament, Macedonia; founder of Kometal Trade Gmbh
Elliott F. Kulick
Chairman, Pegasus International, U.S.
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Todung Mulya Lubis
Human rights lawyer and author, Indonesia
Barbara McDougall
Former Secretary of State for External Affairs, Canada
Ayo Obe
Chair of Steering Committee of World Movement for Democracy, Nigeria
Christine Ockrent
Journalist and author, France
Friedbert Pflüger
Foreign Policy Spokesman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag
Victor M Pinchuk
Member of Parliament, Ukraine; founder of Interpipe Scientific and Industrial Production Group
Surin Pitsuwan
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thailand
Itamar Rabinovich
President of Tel Aviv University; former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Chief Negotiator with Syria
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President of the Philippines
Lord Robertson of Port Ellen
Former Secretary General of NATO; former Defence Secretary, UK
Mohamed Sahnoun
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Africa
Ghassan Salamé
Former Minister Lebanon, Professor of International Relations, Paris
Salim A. Salim
Former Prime Minister of Tanzania; former Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity
Douglas Schoen
Founding Partner of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, U.S.
Pär Stenbäck
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway
Grigory Yavlinsky
Chairman of Yabloko Party and its Duma faction, Russia
Uta Zapf
Chairperson of the German Bundestag Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

Crisis Group's International Advisory Board comprises major individual and corporate donors who contribute their advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser (Chair)
Marc Abramowitz
Anglo American PLC
John Chapman Chester
Peter Corcoran
Credit Suisse Group
John Ehara
Equinox Management Partners
JP Morgan Global Foreign Exchange and Commodities

George Kellner
George Loening
Douglas Makepeace
Anna Luisa Ponti
Michael L. Riordan
Sarlo Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund Tilleke & Gibbins International LTD
Baron Ullens
Stanley Weiss
Westfield Group
Yasuyo Yamazaki
Sunny Yoon

Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members (not presently holding executive office) who maintain an association with Crisis Group, and whose advice and support are called on from time to time.
Oscar Arias
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Jorge Castañeda
Eugene Chien
Gianfranco Dell'Alba
Alain Destexhe
Marika Fahlen
Malcolm Fraser
Max Jakobson
Mong Joon Chung
Allan J. MacEachen
Matt McHugh
George J. Mitchell
Mo Mowlam
Cyril Ramaphosa
Michel Rocard
Volker Ruehe
Simone Veil
Michael Sohlman
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Shirley Williams

As at March 2005