Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brian Cobb: Savagery on the Roof of the World

Brian Cobb, Brave Man

Savagery on the Roof of the World
Brian Cobb, M.D.

The carnage being inflicted by Nepal's armed police on unarmed protestors, which I have witnessed firsthand, to enforce a curfew imposed only to silence the people's voice by a lawless and unconstitutional government horrifies the civilized world. Ministerial allegations of Maoist infiltration are not credible, since no police have been shot or bombed. However, state agents provocatuers have been found in the crowds by the UN Human Rights team.

At this point the only acceptable solution is the dissolution of the government and trial of all of those responsible, from constable to monarch, for murder, attempted murder, torture, aggravated battery and other felonies. No proposal conniving at such atrocities, such as the king's belated offer to create an all-party government, is acceptable. The demands of hundreds of thousands of Nepalese citizens of all walks of life, demonstrated by their defiance of curfews and brutality, must be acknowledged. They loathe and fear their cruel, arrogant and extravagant monarch and want him gone; they want a constituent assembly, a new and truly democratic constitution, and an end to tyranny, treachery, trauma and trickery.
With each leap deeper into the moral abyss this regime proves its critics right, its supporters wrong, and itself abhorrent. Its obstruction of peace negotiations and military excesses were bad enough, but it has now passed the point of no return. I share with my friends in Nepal both their anguish and their hope that peace, justice and democracy will prevail.

I formerly taught medicine in Nepal and was there earlier this month, caring for injured protestors and police and attempting to calm both sides. I and my team were beaten by the very police we had treated kindly and abducted at gunpoint, denied consular or legal assistance, and freed only because of the fortuitous appearance of a courageous UN Human Rights team. We saw horrifying police brutality: unarmed people shot in the back at point blank range with live ammunition, children shot, women defenestrated, eyes gouged out, thousands of people savagely beaten with bamboo canes--mostly on the head and back--and indiscriminate use of tear gas. In the past two weeks, at least 15 people have been murdered in cold blood and hundreds shot. Because many bodies have been carted away by the police, the total is unknown but surely higher.

The regime has restricted the activities of the media, ambulance squads, medical personnel and human rights staffers. It leads the world in disappearances, summary executions, torture and other horrific acts committed with complete impunity. The Maoist rebels, guilty of war crimes themselves, are suing for peace and have agreed to multiparty democracy and free market economics. The parties have a loose accord with the rebels which calls on them to abandon violence. Without royal intransigence, the decade long , militarily unwinnable conflict could be resolved through negotiation.

The US's pro-royalist stance is perhaps slowly changing, but it must realize that the king's excesses fuel the Maoist movement, making backing him counterproductive. We are squandering our political capital and credibility trying to prop up a regime no one wants, just as we did in Iran in 1979. Better to go with the elected government which enjoys broader public support. Calls for reconciliation of "democratic" or "constitutional" forces are fatuous; the bloody royal puppet show is neither, and everyone in Nepal knows it. The western nations' ringing endorsement of the royal trojan horse, a twist on Richard II, reveals that their real aim is to appear democratic while supporting autocracy. It looks like the Nepali people will have to go this one on their own.

The legitimate, elected parliament must be reinstated, in exile if necessary, and arrangements made to replace vicious, corrupt police and army commanders with UN or retired British Gurkha officers to prevent anarchy and a Maoist or army coup d'etat when the regime falls. Foreign aid and arms, even if detoured through Pakistan, must be denied this odious regime; continued support makes accomplices of donor nations. This move would complement the tax strike recently declared by many professional societies. The UN Security Council should consider sanctions and the US should cease blocking resolutions condemning abuses.

The extremely poor, gentle, warm and charming people of Nepal deserve life, liberty and pursuit of happiness no less than we do. We Americans must honor, by deed rather than by word alone, our committment to democracy and human rights.

What Ramesh Knows and George Doesn’t
Dr Brian Cobb
Immense pressure and heat transform a lump of coal into a diamond, and the vicious overreaction of the royal regime to the general strike has produced a full-scale revolution from some quotidian protests. They keep trying more of the same tactics which predictably produce more of the same result. But if you think the King and his retainers are slow learners, check out the international diplomats. India sends a decamped maharajah whose kingdom has been a festering sore on her side since partition to convince the king to yield a nanometer; when he does, they proclaim his speech a new Magna Carta and the media tell the world he’s restoring democracy while bewildered foreigners scratch their heads wondering why Nepalis are having none of it.
Western analysts and their Nepali kin, the mandales, conjure up specters of the Maoist boogeyman to try to convince the vast majority of Nepalis to just shut up, go home and think how lovely life will be if the latest royal puppet is wearing an SPA sash. They are saying that all appearances to the contrary, this is democracy. The constitution was promulgated by the devious Birendra and not by the people? No problem. No parliament? Who needs it. King is still in control of the army? Don’t worry, he said he has returned sovereignty to you, didn’t he?
Never mind that the current tenant of Narayanhiti Palace—when he’s not elsewhere—has made the monarchy less popular than AIDS or lung cancer. Never mind that he’s racked up a human rights record that would make Pinochet or the Shah of Iran blush and turned the country into a military dictatorship with himself, festooned with self-awarded medals the size of dinner plates, at the helm. It’s really those guys from the jungle you ought to be afraid of, Nepal’s western friends say.
What everybody in Nepal knows is that it’s His Majesty’s excesses that have driven the SPA to its 12-point agreement with the Maoists and the longer he stays in power the more sympathetic the people will be toward the Maoists who, after all, have been after him the longest and have the best shot at getting rid of him, one way or another. So the way to prevent a Maoist takeover isn’t to force a brutal and hated king on an unwilling populace. Duh. It’s to do the very thing they always claim they want to do: support democracy and human rights. And in case they hadn’t noticed, there actually is a democratic government in Nepal: it’s called the Parliament. Yes, its members are scattered round various jungles, homes, hideouts and jails, but it is around. And the parties that make up this parliament have come to a pretty fair understanding with the Maobadi about how to stop the war and implement a multiparty democracy.
As the much-maligned Nepali in the street has already figured out, peace and democracy can be had. They know the King is the problem, while the westerners are still thinking, for some bizarre reason, that he is the solution. Nobody has to pay them Rs 500 to say it. But some limousine-riding folks who make a whole lot more can’t seem to figure it out. So the same geniuses who said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and carried out 9/11 and have fomented a civil war in the name of liberating a country from a man they formerly armed and admired and legalized torture and repudiated the Geneva Conventions are now telling Nepalis to just bite the royally proffered bait and be happy to see their country ruled by another royal puppet prime minister. It doesn’t matter that nobody ever elected the King to anything. If they say it’s democracy, it must be.
There is one thing I disagree with the guy in the street about, however. I don’t think HM is going to go so quickly or easily. It’s going to take some force. Bricks, or even guns, aren’t going to do it, but money—more precisely lack of it—will. It takes money to pay 165,000 predators to kill and maim their brothers, and without them, he’s gone. So if the people pay their taxes to the real government, the one they elected, and if the donor countries can be shamed into no longer financing atrocities, Nepalis can rid themselves of a monarchy they need like a brain tumor.
Since the people want the King off the throne and on trial, they need a parallel government, probably in exile. The monarch has a nasty way of dealing with threats to his crown. They need to tell the world why they are doing it and what they have suffered. Because although most power holders worldwide have the same Machiavellian morals, the masses worldwide are decent. They know a bad thing when they see it.
The dreaded Maoists aren’t the only thing to be afraid of. The RNA and APF have killed a lot more innocent people and pose an even bigger threat. There is a way to keep them all in check once the King finally figures out nobody wants him: recruit retired British and Indian Gurkha officers to assume command of the security forces while the Maoists disarm and join the mainstream and the current officers sit in jail where they belong awaiting trial for their crimes against the people.
Given a choice between Ring Road Ramesh and George W, I’m going with Ramesh.


Kathmandu, Nepal
April 22, 2006

On Friday last, the King of Nepal went on nationwide TV & radio to address the Hindu Kingdom and offered what sounded, without objective analysis, like a return of democracy to Nepal.
Lined up like lemmings, India, the US, UN, UK, Canada, the EU and others applauded the apparent gesture of the King.

Not surprisingly the 8-Party Alliance (EPA), comprised of the 7-largest Parliamentary Parties and the Maoists, who recently came into the alliance around a 12-Point Agreement hammered out last November in New Dehli, and reaffirmed on March 19.......took a closer look at the King’s offer and found it completely lacking. It kept the same government in place that now directs and condones criminal attacks on unarmed civilians, and asked for “recommendations” of a PM to be given to the, discredited by many, King and made no mention of, or provisions to address the 12-Point Agreement.

With as many as 500,000 Pro-Democracy demonstrators ringing the Capital City of Kathmandu being subjected to increasingly more inhumane and brutal attacks by the Security Forces, and with demonstrations growing more militant each day, the EPA is holding urgent negotiations to form the 1st. Government of the new Republic of Nepal.
Announcement of a “Provisional Government”is much anticipated by those close to the negotiations.

As the King abandoned the 1990 Constitution with the seizure of dictatorial powers on Feb.-1, 2005, the new Nepalese Republic will be initially based on the 12-Point Agreement, summarized below, and does not include the Monarchy at any level of government.

Summary of 12 Point Agreement

#1) End the Autocratic Monarchy... “therefore, we have reached an understanding that all anti-autocratic-monarchy forces will hit the autocracy from their prospective positions by setting off the Nation wide Democratic Movement for ending the autocratic monarchy and establishing absolute democracy..”

#2) State Power can be handed to the People by:
a. Holding elections for a Constituent Assembly, &
b. restoring the Parliament.

#3) Bringing an end to the ongoing-conflict by,
putting the RNA(Royal Nepalese Army) and the Maoist Army under the supervision of the UN or other reliable International Agency until free and fair elections for Constituent Assembly is completed.

#4) Maoists commit to democratic values, competitive multi-party system of governance, civil-liberties, human rights, and the concept of Rule-of-Law.

#5) Maoists will, “create an environment conducive to”.... allowing people displaced by the armed conflict to “return to their respective places and settle there with honor. To get back their unjustly seized properties & assets, and to practice political activities without hindrance”.

#6) Maoists have committed to self-review of the past shortcomings and mistakes of the past, make self-criticism, and will not repeat the same actions in the future.

#7) The 7-Parties will “review the shortcomings and mistakes made in the past while in Parliament & Government...”

#8) Honor the values of Human Rights & Media Freedom.

#9) Actively boycott polls held by the Monarchy.

#10) Fully commit to the independence of the country, it’s sovereignty, and to safeguard the territorial integrity and national unity.

#11) “Call upon civil society, professional community, class organizations & associations, media people, people of all castes and professions, intellectuals and the entire Nepalese Community to actively participate in” a peaceful peoples’ movement.

#12) Investigate compliments and inappropriate behavior of parties & individuals and take public-action against anyone found guilty.

Signed and agreed, 7-Parties and CPN(M) Maoist

This agreement will in hours, or days if necessary, become the basis for a humane government and establish the rule-of-law in Nepal.

With India having seemingly backtracked from it’s earlier hasty support for King Gyanendra’s Friday statement, it is yet to be seen how soon the US and rest of the international community will follow.

D. Michael Van De Veer-Freelance Journalist
Contributor to UnitedWeBlog-Voice of Democratic Nepal, &
Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News.
Member: SAJA (South Asian Journalist Association).
PO Box 21218, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4700632

Press Release
April 22, 2006

The Nepalese Democratic Youth Council in USA (NDYCUSA) welcomes the seven party alliance’s decision to reject King Gyanendra’s offer for recommending a name for the post of prime minister and their appeal to all to intensify the peaceful movement aimed at restoring complete democracy. We fully support the seven political parties’ decision to continue the peaceful protests until the king addresses all the demands put forwarded by the seven-party alliance. Although the king handed over power to the people, the Friday’s royal proclamation has completely ignored the aspirations of the people. We believe that the fate of the king should be determined by Nepali people and the election for the constituent assembly is the only way out of the crisis.

We also appeal to the international community to support the ongoing moment and to respect the aspiration of Nepali people. The people of Nepal believe that the royal proclamation was a ploy to defuse the popular uprising, and thus, peaceful demonstration should be continued until a “Loktrandra” (a full-fledged democracy) is established in Nepal. We also urge the security personnel of Nepal to support the popular movement and not to follow the orders to use force to crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. We believe that security personnel, who are fellow Nepali brothers and sisters, are not made to protect one family of the king, but the country and the people of Nepal.

We strongly urge the king and his handpicked government not to use force to suppress peaceful demonstrations. If the government continues its brutality, it will have to bear all the consequences. It is just a matter of time that all the perpetrators of the human right abuses will ultimately brought to justice. We also strongly demand the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience including party leaders and workers, human rights activities and members of civil society.

Sincerely yours,
Anand Bist
The Nepalese Democratic Youth Council in USA (NDYCUSA)


47-05,45 street, Suite #A.5

Woodside, New York, NY 11377, USA

Tel. & Fax # 718 472 2018


Press Statement
Warning to Seven Party Alliance's Leaders.
Beware!!! Beware!!! Beware!!!

Chairman Gyanendra Shah's Speech to the Nation could not address the People's roadmap to peace, democracy and the demand of the constituent assembly.

Now leaders have no option but to recognize the bottom line - an election to constituent assembly. It is only the demand of the people. We don't want to be fooled anymore. We warn our SPA leaders not to be another Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Mr.Chairman's speech is just a conspiracy to divide the unity of Seven Party Alliance. Chairman Gyanendra Shah has violated the constitution of 1990 and it is a "DEAD CONSTITUTION". NSU USA & Canada Chapter demands for a new constitution through the election of constituent assembly.

The royal speech has failed to address even the agenda of seven-party alliance. We appeal to leaders, not to be confused by this ploy. Thousands of people are in the streets chanting anti-king slogans with a hope of establishing a new Nepal, People's Republic of Nepal. People are ready to sacrifice their lives to make New Nepal. SPA leaders must fully commit to their roadmap to peace and democracy and cannot go against the people's desire expressed in the street protests.

Mr. Chairman has also failed to address the demand of people's movement that aimed to resolve the existing crisis through unconditional constituent assembly. Therefore, the leaders of SPA must not betray people by compromising with the king. If they do so, they will be punished by the people.

Now it will be easier for us to go for Republican set up as Chairman Gyanendra Shah has himself paved a way for a republican Nepal. The ongoing movement must not stop unless a fair election of Constituent Assembly is held.

We are in 21st century and the demand of this century is Kingless Nepal. Nepali people have decided to move forward leaving the King behind to 17th century. There is a saying," Time and Tide waits for none", including Chairman Gyanendra Shah.

Lastly, NSU USA & Canada Chapter urges again and again to the leaders of SPA that please do not be like Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Somnath Ghimire
NSU USA & Canada Chapter
New York, USA
April 21, 2006

1 comment:

dipeshb said...

This is a statement of solidarity from Nepalese in Louisiana with the andolan currently going on in Nepal.