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!?)

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading

Municipal Election: For Covering Up the Death of Democracy

The King has announced that there would be municipal election in the country within a year. The Election Commission said they had already started updating voters’ list to fulfill the ‘wish of the King’. The political parties said they would not participate in the election unless there is democracy and freedom in the country.

So what’s next? I believe there will be municipal election soon – no problem if the parties choose to stay out (that will be even better for the King and there will be small parties willing to participate to benefit from the opportunity), no problem if the turnout is low, no problem whatsoever with the results. The King wants to show the world that he believes in the democracy and thus using the election (considered worldwide as a mean of exercising democratic power by the people) as a tool to deceive the international communities.

The result of municipal election is going to have no problem for the King because a) the elected body will have no power in the high level, and b) even if they try to do something like that the King has already implemented a plan to stop that by appointing his men as zonal-chiefs in 14 zones and regional chiefs in five development regions (Politically Nepal is divided into 5 Development Regions, 14 Zones and 75 districts).

So there can be nothing better for the King to show the world his ‘democratic commitment’ than by holding election. You will see how the authority will try to show the municipal election as a democratic process and the international media will be tried to utilize by feeding such information that this election is a first step to show the King’s commitment towards democracy.

And, since he has said the election within one year, the international communities would be forced to wait and see it for a year. And after election, the King would try to persuade them for continue stopped support for Nepal. But I believe the international communities should understand the situation – and believe that unless the King steps down and give away the executive powers to the people’s representatives, there will be no democracy in Nepal.

Continue Reading

Press: Support King or Die

It is what the King’s government is saying to the press. Like every undemocratic ruler, the King can’t tolerate any criticism and has said ‘there would be no state advertisement for the newspaper that does not support the nation and crown.’

This is a big blow of small newspaper, especially weeklies which are more vibrant in criticizing the government.’ Most of them run on small investment and don’t have sales or advertisement to support them fully. The government used to provide ads to them according to their classification performed by government agency. It was of a great support for them.

A weekly, Jana Astha, published a main story revealing the new circular by the government asking all the government offices not to provide ads to newspaper other than those run by state. They published the circular and it went wide – dailies and other paper carried the news. And minister for communication and information Tanka Dhakal had to speak about it (two weeks after the decision).

“We are seriously thinking of giving incentives to those media working for the nation and the crown, so we have stopped giving ads to the private media temporarily,” Dhakal said in a press conference.

All this comes after the media censorship that still prohibits newspaper to write freely.

And the authority is also following a double standard about news of the rebels – Maoists. The army Directorate of Public Relations is issuing daily dispatches about the death of the rebels and their surrenders, but are prohibiting media even to write a word not included in the dispatches. The authority in Pokhara summoned three reporters for reporting the torching to seven vehicles by the rebels (while the government, before the news was published, decided to compensate the vehicle owners).

This is a clear message by the King to the press: either support me or you will be left to die.

Continue Reading

Nepali Congress leader released from house arrest

Girija Prasad Koirala, Nepal’s most influential political leader and the chairman of Nepali Congress, has been released from house-arrest today, the best day in the whole year to release him because it’s an April Fool day and the Monarchy of Nepal wants to fool the world by reiterating its commitment to democracy (people’s will).

Koirala, who has been Nepal’s prime minister for three times, is being taken as the only leader capable of leading the movement against the King’s Feb 1 move despite his detiorated image, and his release would certainly boost the morale of those who have already taken to the roads. With Koirala, 258 other arrested political activists have also been released.

The release of Koirala is the King’s attempt to show India that he is true to his words – he had urged India to give him 100 days. And although India has welcomed his release, it is unlikely that they will be impressed by this. Lately, there has been a few articles in Indian newspaper indicating that Nepal has joined the anti-Indian group by enfriending Pakistan and China. That impression will do no good for the country.

India has also demanded release of other leaders, including the general secretary of Nepal Communist Party – United Marxist Lennist Madhav Kumar Nepal and to curb all the restrictions on fundamental rights.

“For Koirala, as for other top political leaders similarly penalised under the king’s state of emergency, house arrest has not only meant being confined at home. It also involved an almost total severance of communications such as phone lines and the cutting of their access to independent media.” – according to BBC, UK.

BBC added: “Others, however, remain confined or detained, including the leader of the country’s second biggest party, Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is reported to be in poor health. Strict media censorship means it is difficult to know how many detainees there are.”

Continue Reading

King Increasing Personal Properties!

King Gyanendra is a businessman. His major investment is in the Soaltee Group, one of the major business houses of the country running a few businesses. Though publicly his involvement in business is not seen, it’s a well-accepted truth. I don’t know how much the businesses are benefiting from his direct rule, but I can safely assume that they are probably doing the best business.

This shows that King Gyanendra thrive for property. After the Royal Massacre, he became the lone heir of all the properties accumulated by the Shah Dynasty during their 300 years of reign.

The latest information is about the properties once owned by the late King Birendra’s family. There is a piece of land in the prime space at Sallaghari of Bhaktapur meant for the palace constuction of late Prince Nirajan. The land was in name of Nirajan but King Gyanendra is the owner of that land. The land was tranferred to the King’s name 22 days after he took the executive power, according to an official who works in Land Revenue Office. Why in the King’s name?

Continue Reading

Peace Bond: Sign of Problems

For the first time, Nepalis were given a chance to know that the King alone is unable to run the country smoothly. The news of the government issuing Peace Bond to raise Rs. 5.5 billion is a clear effect of the lack of fund for coming fiscal year as the international donor communities have shy away.

Despite stern warning to the press, some noted newspaper criticized the government’s latest decision saying ‘this would have a long term effect on Nepali economics.’ No wonder, it was a tested formula – by neighbors. India and Pakistan did the same after donors stepped back due to their nuclear test. Notable here is that the Indian were more successful in it than Pakistanis and that’s because Pakistan was being ruled by a man.

Nepali government has probably hopes that Nepalis living abroad would be interested in the bond – and for that reason, it could be bought in equivalent to dollars and named ‘Peace’ – a word that would attract anybody.

Continue Reading

A run through of what’s happened in last few days

The King started using media as a mean of propaganda. State-owned National News Agency distributed a news item in its March 14 bulletin that no newspaper wished to miss. It was about the rift in insurgents’ group saying that top leader had been expelled. All newspaper carried the news with a tag, ‘Says Royal Nepalese Army’. On March 15, the group denied the report but no newspaper could publish it because the authority has directed them ‘Not to publish any news about the group unless given by the Army’.

It is an example of using private media for propaganda and though international media covered the news with denial from the group, most of the Nepalese still believe that the news was true.

To increase the pressure on media and to threaten them, the authority summoned editor of the largest daily, Kantipur, on March 17. Narayan Wagle, the middle-age editor who started his career as the reporter in the same paper, went to Police Station – who have no legal right to question media, on the call and talked with superintendent of police for about an hour on the news about ‘anti-monarch protests.’ With due credit of United We Blog!, a blogsite run by journalists in Nepal, I quote Wagle as saying: “A group of politicians from five top political parties of the country assembled in Bangkok, though I know it though news sites, and decided that they should go for Constituent Assembly which will decide the future of monarchy in Nepal. It is in fact what the insurgents were demanding when they last sat on the table for talk, but the politicians of that time denied to talk on it saying ‘there can be no talk on democracy and constitutional monarchy.’ It is yet to see how the top politicians, most of them are under house arrest, will react, but it was an encouraging decision at the time when there is widespread feeling that the leadership should go to hands of youngsters from those who failed.

Continue Reading

Defying Court Orders

Two student leaders Rajendra Rai and Rup Narayan Shrestha were ordered to be released by the Supreme Court on May 16. The policemen were ready to re-arrest them inside the court premises – as soon as they came out along with their lawyers, police tried to arrest them despite protests from lawyers, journalists and followers. Rai was arrested while Shrestha was avoided it by the help of his supporters.

Similar incident happened two weeks ago to Gagan Kumar Thapa and Pradeep Paudel. Both were released by Supreme Court, they signed the papers and were re-arrested.

On May 18, a few communist leaders were released by court orders but the lawyers and others had to do a lot of exercise to keep him away from re-arrest. There were two police vans inside the court premises which were later removed after the registrar inquired about it.

Continue Reading

Attempts to Blur Borderlines

Is peace equivalent to the King’s rule? Is Royal Nepal Army’s success against Maoists is the King’s success? Are political parties and rebel group similar? Are political parties supporting insurgency?

There are attempts to make people believe all the answers to these questions ‘Yes’. But the reality is that most of the answers to these questions is NO. And I strongly believe blurring the border between many things stated above will not have a good result in future.

Here I present my views on each question and the difference in two things compared.

Continue Reading

“Don’t Cover Ex-PM’s News Conference”

To present itself as the non-violator of the human rights and prove the political leaders are arrested just for a time being in the 61st session of International Conference on Human Rights, the King-led government freed ex-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and some other political leaders. Deuba quickly arranged a press conference and hit hard on the King’s motive while calling for the unity among political parties.

Newspapers, all dailies, received a phone call from an official of the communication secretary directing ‘not to cover the press conference.’ The newspaper asked for the written directives and when the ministry failed to fax one, the news was carried (although played down heavily). Only two – The Kathmandu Post and vernacular Kantipur placed the news as the main story of the front page while other ‘didn’t missed’ the story but had to be look through to find.

The King, while meeting with the editors of the dailies told the them that the press censorship will apply only for the news of the terrorists, but failed to live up with his words. The directing phone call from the ministry on Saturday is an attempt to use the media as a propaganda machine so that the people read no word against the King.

What did Deuba said? His press release reads (unofficial translation of important parts):

Continue Reading

Student Leader’s Appeal II

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, © 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.

Continue Reading