Thursday, March 10, 2005

If The Basic Rights Were Restored

The hot news today is that the King G administration might restore civil liberties. It is bound to do so by the end of April, but that it might do so earlier. First, do we believe the statement? What is the timeline? When exactly is that to be done? Why are the ministers not being specific? What does the king mean when he says some not all emergency measures will be lifted? Either you restore all basic freedoms or you don't. I am seeing too much doublespeak. Besides, Nepal might simply be responding to international pressure. Perhaps they are testing the waters, as to how much they have to let go to tempt the donors into believing all is fine now, and so go on ahead with the aid. Personally I have a hard time believing Ramesh Nath Pandey, a total whack of a guy who has recently made outlandish comments suggesting there was only one thing standing between the Maoists and their takeover of India and the world: the king of Nepal.

Should it happen, that will mean politicians like Girija Koirala and Madhav Kumar Nepal will be released. Press freedom will be restored. People and parties will be free to organize protest rallies. Those who have sought refuge in India will be able to come back. Human rights activists and organizations will get back to work, and there might be a renewed attempt to get the Royal Nepali Army and the Maoists to sign the Human Rights Accord.

That would be a major, positive step. But then we will have to move on to the next question. What gives this cabinet its legitimacy? Are these people more qualified? If so, how? What exactly in their plan to seek peace with the Maoists?

I continue to believe, even if the fundamental rights are restored, there is no way out except to create an all-party government that includes the Maoists, that goes on to conduct elections to the Constituent Assembly.

In The News Today
  • Nepal Sends Envoy to Explain Emergency Rule to Donor Nations Bloomberg ..... International donations fund 62 percent of Nepal's development budget...... Nepal is one of the poorest in the world with 42 percent of people living below the poverty line and 80 percent of them relying on agriculture for a livelihood...... King Gyanendra said he imposed emergency rule to prevent the ``fragmentation'' of the country .....Nepali Congress yesterday called on party members to stay in Nepal and take part in a civil disobedience movement to protest the state of emergency
  • Civil liberties to be restored soon in Nepal Indian Express
  • Nepal stops activist boarding plane to US Sify Dhungana said he had been invited by the University of California in Berkley to speak at conference related to the king's power grab and declaration of emergency rule, which suspended civil liberties...... Under the emergency rule provisions, Nepalese citizens are forbidden from making comments critical of the king's takeover......Rights groups say more than 400 activists are in detention or under house arrest......But Nepal's royal-appointed foreign minister, Ramesh Nath Pandey, said in New Delhi that "very few people are in detention."
  • Nepal Says to Restore Rights, Frees Prisoners Reuters ....the king planned to revoke some of the tough emergency measures he has imposed.
  • NEPAL: Vaccination and other health drives to continue Reuters AlertNet, UK .....the concept of vaccination as a child right, and the campaign to date has been supported by both sides in the conflict.....the Maoists may call another nationwide strike blockade on 14 March ....Around every second Nepali child is stunted and malnourished.....The Nepal Vitamin A Programme started initially in just eight districts in 1993. By 2002, it had expanded to all 75 districts in the country.
  • NEPAL: Impact of conflict on food security Reuters AlertNet Kalikot, Humla, Mugu, Dolpa, and Jumla are some of the country's most neglected districts within Karnali province. Here, malnutrition is the major cause of death and villagers have a long history of chronic food shortages and periodic famines......Karnali Air, the only company allowed to transport food utilising its helicopters, was asked by the security force not to airdrop, fearing that supplies would fall into the hands of the rebels.....The plants are worth more than US $5,000 per kilo in China and India but now they are forced to exchange the precious plants for basic foods......In a country of 25 million, nearly 10 million have to cope with food shortages.
  • Pandey hints at early end to Emergency Himalayan Times
  • World Bank freezes Nepal aid Times of India
  • Nepali military torturing politicians, say leaders taking refuge ... Express Newsline .... Nepali political leaders who managed to escape to New Delhi fearing hostile action by King Gyanendra's administration, have alleged that Nepali military was illegally detaining and torturing leaders back home. The allegation from the leaders-on-exile assumes significance as it came hours before new Nepali Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey arrives in New Delhi.......Rambaran Yadav, senior leader in Koirala's Nepali Congress and a former health minister, said the military was on rampage and many of their leaders were being picked up and beaten mercilessly....... Yadav said three prominent pro-democracy activists in Jhapa in the country's eastern belt, Sudhir Shiva Koti and Udhav Thapa, both of the Nepali Congress, and a regional trade union leader Deepak Taman were tortured nearly to death by armymen....... All of the three leaders were taken into a military camp, laid down on a trench and beaten badly by the armymen with ice cold water being poured over them all through. ...... The men were beaten nearly to death. The military is torturing people and we have no control over anything. Even five to 10 people gathering at a place are arrested and tortured ..... Mahant Thakur, Nepal's former information minister, who also fled to India last week, added that it was not just the politicians but common people as well who are bearing the brunt of army atrocities....... The soldiers, he said, often barge into homes and misbehave with women ...... as for the political leaders, the establishment simply cannot stand them ..... The way the foreign minister of such a country should be treated, I urge the government of India to treat the visiting foreign minister in the same vein .....
  • Health of detainees in Nepal beginning to deteriorate: rights ... least 450 people have been detained ..... some of the political detainees were suffering from diabetes, heart problems, typhoid, fever and other ailments.... health checkups were being done by health assistants rather than doctors or specialists ......detained activists and political leaders -- some in their 80s -- want access to newspapers, radio and television, telephone connections and contact with people outside their immediate family ..... Narhari Acharya, Laxman Ghimire, Gopali Raj Pahadi, Gopal Rai, Madhu Acharya, and former Kathmandu mayor Haribol Bhattarai.

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