View Full Version : Nepal 'Near Humanitarian Abyss'

03-17-2005, 09:47 PM
Nepal 'near humanitarian abyss'


Nepal is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations and international agencies have warned.

Conflict between security forces and Maoist guerrillas has left civilians and refugees exposed and often cut off from aid supplies and medical help.

In a statement, the UN, European Union and nine Western aid agencies urge both sides to respect human rights.

Nepal's King Gyanendra seized absolute power and curbed freedoms in February, prompting rebels to intensify attacks.

"The United Nations and bilateral donor agencies in Nepal urge all parties to ensure that movement of supplies and vehicles intended to alleviate the suffering of civilian populations are not restricted," the statement says.

Fatal childbirth

It goes on to list in stark terms the difficulties facing Nepalese civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict.

According to the organisations, Nepalese are often denied access to humanitarian and medical supplies because of security roadblocks set up by Maoists.

Children are among the worst affected, it says, with many suffering from a lack of vitamins and essential dugs.

Credible reports have emerged in recent weeks that some women died in childbirth because they were unable to reach medical help, the statement adds.

There is also concern for the fate of 100,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal, who are dependent on relief but find the flow of aid regularly blocked.

"Insecurity, armed activity and Maoist blockades are pushing Nepal towards the abyss of a humanitarian crisis," the groups conclude.

King criticised

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the statement is brief, almost terse, and reminds both the security forces and Maoist guerrillas that they should protect civilians and ensure free passage of relief.

But this is a conflict in which civilians are repeatedly victimised and the Geneva Conventions commonly violated, our correspondent adds.

Separately, a report by the International Committee of Jurists, a human rights group, is heavily critical of King Gynanendra's declaration of a state of emergency.

Hundreds of political activists, journalists, students, human rights defenders and lawyers have been arrested since the king took power in February.

Commenting after returning from a visit to Nepal, ICJ Secretary General Nicholas Howen said: "It was clear during our visit that human rights defenders face a suffocating atmosphere of intimidation and control, where criticism is not tolerated.

"We heard pleas from Nepalis themselves for the international community to demand a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights."

Nearly 11,000 people have been killed in the 10 years since the Maoists began their fight to replace the country's constitutional monarchy.

03-17-2005, 09:49 PM

03-18-2005, 12:11 PM
This is such a hugely important current event. This may be posted elsewhere and this part is not new, but here's some more info of what the King done;


Nepal's King Dismisses Government

Associated Press Writer

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- King Gyanendra dismissed Nepal's government and imposed a state of emergency on Tuesday, cutting off his Himalayan nation from the rest of the world as telephone and Internet lines were severed, flights diverted and civil liberties severely curtailed.

Tuesday's move was the second time in three years that the king has taken control of the tiny South Asian constitutional monarchy, a throwback to the era of absolute power enjoyed by Nepal's kings before King Birendra, the current king's elder brother, introduced democracy in 1990.

King Gyanendra denied his takeover was a coup, although soldiers surrounded the houses of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other government leaders.

In an announcement on state-run television, the king accused the government of failing to conduct parliamentary elections and being unable to restore peace in the country, which is beset by rebel violence.

Gyanendra also suspended several provisions in the constitution including the freedoms of press, speech and expression; the freedom to assemble peacefully, the right to privacy, the constitutional protection against news censorship, and the right against preventive detention, according to a statement from the Narayanhiti Palace.

"We will oppose this step," Deuba, who was not allowed to leave his home, told reporters. "The move directly violates the constitution and is against democracy."

The Nepali Congress, the country's largest party, said the king had "pushed the country towards further complications" and called for a joint protest.

The king was also criticized by India, Nepal's southern neighbor and close ally.

"These developments constitute a serious setback to the cause of democracy in Nepal and cannot but be a cause of grave concern to India," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

India said the king's move had "violated" the Nepalese constitution, which enshrines a multiparty democracy alongside a constitutional monarchy.

In Katmandu, armored military vehicles with mounted machine guns were patrolling the streets of Katmandu, the capital, and phone lines in the city had been cut. Many flights into Katmandu were canceled amid the uncertainty or turned back by Nepalese authorities, although the airport remained open.

Long lines quickly formed at grocery stores and gas stations, as worried residents stocked up on supplies.

"We are so confused. We don't know what is going on or what will happen," said Narayan Thapa, a government worker in Katmandu. "I am worried I can't reach my family on the phone."

In an announcement on state-run television, the king accused the government of failing to conduct parliamentary elections and being unable to restore peace in the country, which is beset by rebel violence.

"A new Cabinet will be formed under my leadership," he said, accusing political parties of plunging the country into crisis. "This will restore peace and effective democracy in this country within the next three years."

Later, state-run television reported that a state of emergency had been declared.

The monarch, who is also the supreme commander of the 78,000-member Royal Nepalese Army, said security forces would be given more power to maintain law and order. But he insisted human rights would be respected.

Deuba also was fired as prime minister in October 2002, sparking mass street protests demanding the restoration of a democratically elected government.

The king reinstated Deuba last year with the task of holding parliamentary elections by March 2005 and conducting peace talks with the Maoist rebels.

Nepal has been in turmoil since Gyanendra, 55, suddenly assumed the crown in 2001 after his brother, King Birendra, was gunned down in a palace massacre apparently committed by Birendra's son, the crown prince, who also died. Ten members of the royal family were killed.

Riots shook Katmandu after the killings. Soon after, fighting intensified between government forces and the rebels, who control large parts of Nepal's countryside.

The rebels, who draw inspiration from the late Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been trying since 1996 to overthrow the government and establish a socialist state. They have refused the government's invitation to come into the mainstream of Nepalese politics and end the violence. More than 10,500 people have died since the fighting began.

Democracy and royalty have long had a difficult relationship in Nepal.

Gyanendra's late father, King Mahendra, established a rubber-stamp government and parliament but retained absolute power and outlawed political parties. The absolute monarchy ended when street demonstrations forced the king to give way to a multiparty government in 1990.

03-18-2005, 12:21 PM
Some basic info on the background of why and how this situation came about, this is a small excerpt:


The Nepal Civil War, a conflict between Maoist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maoist)/communist insurgents and the government of Nepal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal), was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Nepal_%28Maoist%29) on February 13 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_13), 1996 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996). The communist insurgents, who aim to establish a "People's Republic of Nepal", may control several parts of the country. In 2001 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001), the King of Nepal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal) began deploying the armed forces against the Maoist forces. More than 10,500 people have been killed in the conflict, and an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people have been internally displaced. The conflict has disrupted most rural development activities, and has led to a deep and complex transformation of Nepalese society.


Several rounds of negotiations, accompanied by temporary cease-fires (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cease-fire), have been held between the insurgents and the government. So far, however, they have not borne fruit. The government categorically rejects the insurgents demand for a new democratic constitution that would allow for the abolition of the monarchy by a popular vote. At the same time, the Maoist forces refuse to end the conflict while it says the government has offered little. In November 2004, the government rejected the Maoists' request to negotiate directly with King Gyanendra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyanendra) rather than with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sher_Bahadur_Deuba) as well as their request for mediation by a third party, such as the United Nations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations).

As a result of the civil war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_war), Nepal's greatest source of foreign exchange, its tourism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism) industry is suffering. iExplore.com, a leading travel company published rankings based on their sales of the popularity of tourist destinations which indicated a slump from tenth most popular destination among adventure travellers to twenty-seventh. It was the first time Nepal was outside the top 10 for several successive years and indicates the pressures on the government.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or CPN(M) is a Maoist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maoist) political party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party) and military organisation founded in 1994 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994) and led by 'Chairman Prachanda' (born Pushpa Kamal Dahal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushpa_Kamal_Dahal)). It launched the Nepalese People's War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepalese_People%27s_War) on February 13 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_13), 1996 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996), and now controls much of the country. Its main goal is to overthrow the monarchy and replace it with a Communist-style republic. They follow the Maoist strategy of people's war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_war) in which they attempt to take gradual control of the countryside to encircle the cities, only fighting with government forces on their own terms when they can significantly outnumber their enemy.

It has been alleged, because the CPN(M) have said that they do not accept the orthodox version of what happened in Cambodia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodia) under the Khmer Rouge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Rouge), that they are another Khmer Rouge in the making.

In 2001, the Nepalese (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal) Army began a military campaign against the Maoists, especially in the western areas of the country, although there have been intermittent ceasefires.

The CPN (M) is a member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_Internationalist_Movement) and the Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Co-ordination_Committee_of_Maoist_Parties_and_Organiz ations_of_South_Asia&action=edit).


The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed anyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, professionals, intellectuals as well as ordinary Khmer people who breached their rules. Ethnic Vietnamese, Cambodian Christians, Muslims and the Buddhist monkhood were also targets of persecution. Since China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China) was the Khmer Rouge regime's only diplomatic ally, the Chinese community was not molested, but many Chinese left the country because of the suppression of private business.

Examples of the killings and torture by the Khmer Rouge can be seen at S-21 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-21) (now Tuol Sleng Museum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuol_Sleng_Museum)). Operated by "Duch" (Khang Khek Leu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khang_Khek_Leu)), 200,000 people were executed at this high school turned prison camp.

- Frind