NEPAL: World must support people’s aspirations to oust coup leader and restore democracy

After years of unbearable horrors, the people of Nepal are once more in the streets as they were in 1990, demanding democracy and human rights. The recent offer by coup leader Gyanendra to allow for a new prime minister to be appointed is merely an attempt to save his own skin. It is too little, too late. Meanwhile, he continues to use the security forces, communications blackouts and curfews in a desperate attempt to cling to power. As he has no compunctions about killing, if the present situation continues without drastic outside intervention it can be sure that the king will allow the army and police to attack demonstrators with unprecedented brutality.

The king has no popular domestic support upon which to rest his throne. It is in fact not the opposition political parties but the people themselves who are calling for his departure. The political parties have been forced to listen to the people and refuse the compromise offered by the king lest they risk being seen as betraying the people’s aspirations.

The only support that the king has left is from outside. Ironically, while international leaders have wrung their hands and expressed dismay at the two weeks of chaos in Nepal, they have been unwilling to take a stand on the coup itself, and listen to the true demands of the people. They have failed from the time that Gyanendra took absolute power in February 2005 to call his act a coup, and name him as a usurper, a destroyer of democracy and a gross violator of human rights.

In addition, the international community has, according to activists within Nepal, hindered the popular movement to get rid of the King’s, by making declarations welcoming the King’s public address made on Friday 21, 2006. The King’s offer for the Seven Party Alliance opposition parties to come up with a prime minister has been resoundingly rejected by the people of Nepal and the political parties, despite international pressure, notably emanating from India, the US and the EU, for them to accept the dubious overtures. The international community must refrain from making misguided statements and should instead fully support the popular pro-democracy movement in Nepal. This movement presents the only viable solution towards peace, security, development and the respect for human rights in Nepal.

When after long years of struggle the people of Nepal obtained a parliamentary democracy in 1990 they deserved much stronger international support. Developed countries and the United Nations, while very generous with words in support of democracy, did not do much to help to strengthen the country’s institutions for democracy and the rule of law. When the monarch again snatched absolute power, the world did virtually nothing. Nor have there been any sustained expressions of interest throughout the ruthless suppression of democratic voices and forces of the last 15 months.

If the world would speak in accordance with the wishes of the people in the streets in Kathmandu and elsewhere across the country, the deadlock would be broken within hours and countless lives saved.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) appeals to the world’s leaders, to all concerned countries and international agencies, not to let this opportunity be lost. To betray the Nepalese people at this time would be unforgivable. The damage caused will be irreparable. It especially urges the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to call openly for the removal from power of the coup leader, and to support the appointment of an interim government which through a constitutional assembly will reinstate democratic government in Nepal.¬† It is much better to act decisively on such occasions rather than engage in diplomatic niceties, the lack of success of which are later exposed by the need for rescue operations as chaos ensues. The AHRC firmly hopes that the UN and international community will learn the lessons of the past and act decisively for democracy at this crucial moment.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-075-2006
Countries : Nepal,