Appeal to the International Community by Gagan Kumar Thapa
on behalf of the Democratic Youth of Nepal
12 March 2005, Kathmandu
After the royal-military coup of 1 February 2005, dictator Gyanendra Shah and his unaccountable military machine in Nepal has been pursuing diplomatic efforts to woo the international community to finance his totalitarian regime. The youth of Nepal struggling for democracy would like to appeal to the international community to stop all military and developmental aid to this unrepresentative, undemocratic and unaccountable military regime.
It is clear that Gyanendra Shah and his military regime want to use the international financial assistance to (a) strengthen their military strength to destroy the democratic middle ground in Nepal, (b) pursue a militaristic approach to Nepal’s political crisis about which there is already a near-universal consensus that it can only be resolved politically, Â© gain symbolic legitimacy by publicizing the fact that international community recognizes his regime as they continue providing developmental assistance, (d) covertly channel the developmental assistance towards the military establishment, and (e) misuse the development assistance through corruption, which is easier now for him as he has systematically killed all the institutions needed for accountability and transparency of the state.
We, the democratic youth of Nepal, are very encouraged by the support and goodwill we received from the international community for the cause of democracy, after 1 February, 2005, the day Gyanendra laid bare before the world his raw ambition and greed for absolute power which we had already seen unfolding ever since he became the king in June 2001, and especially after his take-over in October 2002. We appeal to you all to step-up pressure against the military regime of Gyanendra, who has nakedly exhibited his ambition to reign through terror, shown his utter disrespect towards the people’s rights, freedom, dignity, intellect and life. As you all know, after 1
February 2005, Gyanendra Shah and his military have continued to arrest, intimidate, detain and torture pro-democracy activists, including political leaders, students, journalists and human rights defenders. He has criminalized any criticism against him and the military. There is complete impunity guaranteed to his army, police, henchmen and vigilante who he has unleashed upon the democratic forces in the most vulgar manner. It is utterly disrespectful of Gyanendra Shah to expect the freedom and justice-loving tax-payers of donor-countries to finance his anti-democratic military machine with a medieval mind-set.
Gyanedra Shah is attempting to blackmail not only Nepalis but also the international community by saying that they can be either with him or with the “Maoist terrorists”. He is saying there is no middle ground in Nepal, that democracy is a hindrance to resolve the political crisis facing the country, and that the Nepali people are behind him. These, of course, are arguments only compulsive liars and megalomaniacs like Gyanendra Shah can invoke. The largest section of the Nepali population believes in democracy, has fought for at least the last five decades for democracy, and will fight for democracy in the future. This force has proved its courage, commitment and resilience in the last five decades. It has survived set-backs, suppression and sabotage, and has rejuvenated every time with more creativity and moral strength. To imagine that this force can be obliterated or even sidelined for long is an illusion. There is no solution to the present political crisis in Nepal without the involvement of the democratic-progressive forces, that represent well over 90 percent of the Nepali people, as evidenced by ALL the election results in post-1990 Nepal. There are just too many people in Nepal who are neither royalists nor with the Maoists. To deny their existence, and to imagine a political solution without their decisive role, merely because they do not carry guns, and believe in peaceful politics, is utter foolishness and arrogance.
Gyanendra Shah has been trying to sell to the incredulous national and international audience that (a) the democracy in Nepal between 1990 and 2002 was a failure beyond redemption, and (b) he is the only savior of Nepal.
Yes, like any democracy in the world, Nepal’s democracy also had problems, especially in terms of slow progress in checking corruption, nepotism, exclusion and inequity. But the problems of democracy can be solved only through more, not less, democracy. Democracy is not a magic wand, that could immediately solve all the ills of Nepali society created by over 200 years of oligarchic, rent-seeking, conservative, exclusionary, feudal, corrupt, unaccountable and repressive ruling elite comprising the royal palace and the cliques around it. But to assert that there were no positive changes between 1990 and 2002, is a lie. Indeed, it was during this period that social groups, including the poor, Dalits, ethnic minorities, women and from
marginalized geographical regions, could assert their identity and transform their aspirations into national agenda. It was during this period, that the media was free, the civil society vibrant, which was democratizing the society in an unprecedented pace. It was during this period that the people started holding the rulers and policy makers accountable to them through their participation in elections, formation of a myriad of civic associations and interest groups and asserting their rights as citizens. Participatory approaches to development and decentralization were being strengthened and institutionalized, resulting in dramatic improvements in the primary health, primary education, infrastructure and communication sectors, despite the conflict. In fact, the situation of the country has deteriorated in an unprecedented manner in ALL sectors ever since the king started ruling directly from October 2002. These last three years of direct rule by the king has amply exposed that monarchy in Nepal is part of the problem, not part of the solution, in resolving Nepal’s political crisis.
Totalitarianism of any kind, whether that of the royalists or of the Maoists, can never be an alternative to democracy. We believe that liberty, freedom, human dignity, equity and social justice are interdependent. We recognize that the Maoists do have genuine political agenda, which can however be attained only through free and informed dialogue among the people, not through senseless violence, intimidation, torture, kidnapping and executions of people dissenting with them. However messy, complicated and time consuming it may appear, but it is only through dialogue and negotiations with the non-violent democratic-progressive forces that the Maoists can gain legitimacy and join the political mainstream. The king has repeatedly shown that he wants to use the pretext of the Maoist threat to usurp power for himself; he has no intention of resolving the crisis. It is high time that the Maoists and the international community realize this. IF the king believes that even in the 21st century, Nepal is his private property, that he can rule through intimidation and terror,that he can hold the country hostage for his raw greed for power and wealth, that he has the authority to silence dissent and to deny the inalienable and universal human rights of the sovereign citizens, THEN we the people of Nepal have every right to trash this king in the dustbin of history.
The democratic youth of Nepal would like to appeal to the international community to support the sovereign people of Nepal and their right to freely chart a democratic future of their choosing through peaceful people’s movement and ultimately free and fair elections conducted by the people’s representatives. If monarchy is a hindrance in that process, the international community needs to support Nepal chart a democratic republic set up, such as the ones in India, the USA and numerous other democratic countries around the world. This is a globalized world, where every bit of your moral support counts!
On behalf of Democratic Youth of Nepal,
Gagan Kumar Thapa
Former General Secretary
Nepal Student Union
Special note on this entry:Radio Free Nepal was a blog that ran during ex-King Gyanendra’s direct rule of Nepal defying the tight censorship and was instrumental in getting out information out of Nepal. The blog was at freenepal.blogspot.com which has now been closed.
The banner reads: King Gyandendra of Nepal has issued a ban on independent news broadcasts and has threatened to punish newspapers for reports that run counter to the official monarchist line. Given that any person in Nepal publishing reports critical of “the spirit of the royal proclamation” is subject to punishment and/or imprisonment, contributors to this blog will publish their reports from Nepal anonymously.