Reluctance for Peace!

On September 3, the rebels unilaterally declared ceasefire for three months. At the time when we are desperately hoping that there would be no more news about the deaths and fights and the country will become peaceful again, the news of truce brought a glitter of hope. We thought – this might lead to the peace. The conflict had already killed more than 12,500 of Nepalese in last decade and we want this to end as soon as possible.

We hoped that the government would also declare such ceasefire to initiate talks (it’s the other case that the spokesperson of the rebels said on Sept 3 that they wanted no talks with the Royal government). We waited but instead the King, ministers and the army started saying it’s a ploy for the bigger attack and the Maoists are not serious about the peace. How can we believe you are, now?

Let it be for three months or three days, non-violent days are always welcome. We all know the battleground is no solution for the armed conflict. Talks are the only way out to peace. But this government wants us to believe that with the army they will crush the rebels and return peace to us. (Or even better to them would be that peace never returns because if it happens they will loss the right to remain in the power as the King had said he would step down after the restoration of peace!?)

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RFN Returns!

Radio Free Nepal has been silent for more than three months – not because the problem in Nepal was solved. It was rather because of the problems with us. It’s not always easy to blog anonymously. But now we will write frequently because our fight is not over yet! That’s true, Nepal is still under the ruler who seems to have no idea where he is taking the country.

King Gyanendra not only trying to close his ears to the shouts of the people in the country but also not able to understand how the international community is taking all this. He hopes, desperately, soon the international community will believe him and then he will be able to continue his autocratic rule. This is not going to happen.

The king says he had support from the majority of the people inside the country. Can we believe this seeing his cabinet of ministers? No. Because his ministers are corrupt, opportunists and even criminal. Can he deny his one minister was imprisoned for attempt to kill a journalist? Or can he refute the news of his three ministers masterminding a fertilizer smuggling right under his nose? It’s rather easy to point a finger towards others, but had he seen four of his fingers are pointing towards the men on his side?

Thousands of people are taking on roads to demonstrate against his autocratic rule despite knowing that the security force he controls will try to stop them with water-canons, tear-gas shells and latthis. Academicians, journalists, political activists, teachers, litterateurs, laborers and students are taking our rallies demanding democracy everyday. And in his interview, he is saying they are free to do it because its democracy. Can he tell us why exactly then they are being beaten, dispersed with water-canons and tear-gas shells?

Major political parties are on the demonstration after adopting the theory that will technically direct towards a republican country. People are starting to believe the country will remain better without the monarchy. Activists are fighting against monarchy. It had been tradition of Nepal, but sorry to say, dear ruler, it’s not the future.

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Friday was an important day as it saw a few incidents making headlines

King’s Address

The King addressed a ceremony felicitating him organized by Tribhuvan University, to which he is the chancellor. The summary of his speech was, for political interest, was that the parties if they call themselves democratic should come forward to support him to fightagainst terrorism. He said he wanted the parties to be popular and effective engaging themselves in democratic process.

During his early speeches, the King used to criticize parties for failing to understand the country’s situation and not functioning properly. In the latest one, he was neutral – not criticizing them and asking them for reconciliation with him. It looked like he is under a bit pressure, but still stubborn to his intentions.

Seven Parties’ Agitation

The seven big parties of the country jointly staged an agitation rally where the top leaders publicly asked the King to choose between absolute democracy (constitutional monarchy) or a republic. The rally organized by Nepali Congress, Nepali Congress Democratic, Nepal Communist Party – United Marxist Lennist, People’s Front Nepal, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Nepal Sadbhawana Party and United Left Front was participated by thousands of people – it was the biggest rally after Feb 1.

Political leaders heavily criticized the King for his Feb 1 move and asked him to restore dissolved House of Representatives.

Govt Bans Media House

On the same day, the Ministry of Information and Communication ordered Communication Corner, a radio program production house, to close down saying it was being run illegally. Communication Corner produces programs for more than a dozen FM radio stations around the country.

They stopped producing Nepal Khabar a news and current affairs program after Feb 1 while Kayakaran, another similar program used to be broadcasted by 12 FM stations, now is only broadcasted in Hong Kong.

The decision came days after the journalists issued protest programs against the press law ordinance and the FM journalists readying themselves for agitation.

Human Rights Commission

The King nominated all controversial people in the National Human Rights Commission after the tenure of earlier committee expired. Nayan Bahadur Khatri, the 80-year-old chairman, kept his place (probably a reward for him to speaking in favor of the King\’s move in UN\’s Geneva Meeting). Other appointed were all considered the supporters of the King.

They stopped producing Nepal Khabar a news and current affairs program after Feb 1 while Kayakaran, another similar program used to be broadcasted by 12 FM stations, now is only broadcasted in Hong Kong.

The decision came days after the journalists issued protest programs against the press law ordinance and the FM journalists readying themselves for agitation.

Human Rights Commission

The King nominated all controversial people in the National Human Rights Commission after the tenure of earlier committee expired. Nayan Bahadur Khatri, the 80-year-old chairman, kept his place (probably a reward for him to speaking in favor of the King’s move in UN’s Geneva Meeting). Other appointed were all considered the supporters of the King.

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The Indirect Media Censorship

King Gyanendra ended the media censorship immediately after his foreign tour to show the world that he is moving towards the direction of restoring press freedom. But it was only a trick – and here comes the unmistakable proof of that. The government has drafted an ordinance that would amend some Nepal laws related to press and anybody can tell that the ordinance is for nothing but to keep the media silent and afraid.

The ordinance has introduced strict measures against media ownership and broadcasting of news related programs.

The ordinance asks any individual or organization owning all newspaper, radio and television to choose any two within a year. It says no single organization will now after granted license to operate more than two media. In other time this could have looked good but at the present situation it only looks like a measure to weaken Kantipur – the largest publication and broadcasting house in the country and the most vibrant one in demanding democracy.

And I think the ordinance would not likely to effect the government that owns all three types of media too because there is nothing about it in the ordinance.

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State Vandalism in Nepal

King Gyanendra would call his foreign tour that included his participation in the Asian-African Summit 2005 a successful one – mainly because the Indian Government did the U-turn about the military aid. At the summit, he reiterated his commitment to democracy and put forward some points supporting his February 1 coup that had definitely earned him some good fame.

But saying and doing are two different things and that can be entirely different: the King proved it.

On April 25, plain-cloth policemen vandalized the central office of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) or CPN (UML) – the second largest political party of the nation, when the party was mourning death of a leader – Sadhana Pradhan – the wife of first elected communist prime minister of the world Man Mohan Adhikari.

If you think this a party propaganda, read the statement from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), whose chairman supported the King’s move in the international forum which drew much criticism. According to reports, Nayan Bahadur Khatri said after the inspection: “This is foolish act and we will take necessary action.”

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