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Nepal: Human Rights in Perplexity Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shakti, United Kingdom Aug 9, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions
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Nepal is the country for whom? Democracy is only the pretence of a word; human rights are only a constitutional decoration. Similarly, a resolved peace agenda is the only likely way to create a stable government.

Nepal is the poorest country in the world with low per capita income, along with other low demographic indicators. Due to political instability and an unsystematic development process, the nation has not been able to fulfill the needs of the poor for a long time. Before 1990, the non-democratic government, which ruled for 30 years, never worried about national development. Corruption, administrative carelessness, impunity, criminal activities and so many other social evils have existed within the nation as a consequence of bad governance, which was especially exposed through open media after the restoration of democracy in 1990.

In the 1990's, a popular movement created a new constitution with a clear provision of fundamental rights for the people, allowing the Nepalese people to develop into citizens from the King's countryman. However, the political parties concentrated on their own welfare, rather than the national and institutional development of democracy. Similarly, ethnic and caste discrimination, economic crisis, people’s participation in the development and social process became a neglected issue. As a result, rich people became richer & richer and the poor remained almost the same. Thus, 'Voicing the Voiceless'; rural communities and helpless people are now concerned with the Maoist slogan toward expectation to revolutionize. But this Maoism that has captured the rural areas creates deadly violence by the means of weapons, and has killed 4,312 people within nine years.

In this situation, the Monarch, King Gyanendra, dissolved the elected government headed by PM Sher Bahadur Deuba on the 4th October 2002 and retained executive power of the State. The pro-parliament political parties have been flaying the Royal Declaration from the very beginning, labeling it unconstitutional, along with a demand to correct it. Regrettably, the Royal Palace, never anxious for political parties, continues to formulate its own road map for the non - democratic way.

King Gyanendra imposed a state of emergency on the 1st February 2005, justifying his seizure of power by blaming Nepal's political parties for failing to address the nine-year conflict between often brutal Maoist insurgents and government forces. All fundamental constitutional rights, including freedom of assembly and expression; the right to information and privacy; the right to property; and prohibition against arbitrary detention were suspended. According to the INSEC, 3,332 political activists were arrested and 2,232 are released on the 1st Feb. to the 2nd June 2005.

Analyzing the above situation of Nepal, we can find out some major problems: 1) the loss of Democracy; 2) strangled Constitutional exercise, 3) peace in perplexity; and 4) violence developing as a culture. Human rights and open media are hidden through the lack of democracy and peace. These are the causes of the division of Nepal into four sectors; a Royal Palace with army power; political parties with popular support; Maoism and violent activities; and finally, the International community in the leadership of the UN.

As part of the United Nations' ongoing effort to help find a peaceful resolution for the conflict in Nepal, Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent his Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi to meet with top officials in the strife-torn Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. Mr. Brahimi, an older diplomat, during his visit in Nepal from the 10th to 15th of July, met with King Gyanendra, senior Government officials, leaders of political parties and a cross-section of representatives from Nepalese society. Likewise, In April, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour and the Government signed an agreement to set up a monitoring operation to help establish accountability for rights abuses and prevent further violations by all sides in the nine-year-old armed conflict with Maoist rebels.

“I don’t believe that peace will come. If the peace talks fail, the fighting will begin again. Even if they succeed, the Army and the Maoists will take all the jobs. If the fighting begins again we’ll just have to run away and hide and hope we survive.”

I have picked up this expression from the Elderly Man of Sankhuwasabh Village to explain what types of effects on development the internal war in Nepal has and will have. In the same way, the Elderly Village Woman added, “We are old. We don’t care about ourselves. We just want our children to grow up without war, without being afraid. People say peace has come but it’s not true. We are still afraid to walk around freely, and nobody knows what might happen tomorrow.” These few words are not only the view of these two villagers; it represents the grief of the Nepalese inner soul.

Due to the conflict between the Maoist supporters and the government, the above expressions have gained validity. The Maoists control several rural areas of Nepal and the government has been forced to withdraw police and civil servants to the district capitals. Furthermore, the government has dissolved the local bodies and as a result, the Maoists have developed their own mechanisms for operating the community. For an example, they are on the way to launching a new education and centralized property system. On the other hand, the government implements most of the budget to protect the war, not for primary education, health care and other means of development. In this situation, due to the lack of democracy, the major donors and agencies have suspended their funding and army support. This meant a serious deterioration of security for the civilian population in the countryside. In addition, several relief projects, NGOs and international donor projects have been forced to pull out their workforce in the remote regions, further generating a difficult situation for the civilians.

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