NEPAL: Time to act – Recall of ambassadors from Nepal must be followed by decisive international action to defeat absolute monarch

In a coordinated move, the governments of the United States and European Union have recalled their ambassadors to Nepal for talks over the rapidly worsening situation there. Announcing the recall, US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said that

“The United States is deeply troubled by developments in Nepal. The dismissal today of its multi-party government, the declaration of a state of emergency and the suspension of fundamental constitutional rights is a step back from democracy… We are also concerned about reports that student and political leaders have been arrested or put under house arrest. If these reports are true, we expect the detainees to be treated well, charged under appropriate laws or released promptly… Nepal should make an immediate move towards the restoration of multi-party democratic institutions under a constitutional monarchy.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcomes the recall of ambassadors, and also the support given to it by the government of India, which has informed the king through its ambassador that it will not support his takeover. The Indian Minister for External Affairs, Natwar Singh, has likewise stated that immediate steps should be taken towards the release of political leaders, journalists and human rights activists, as well as the freeing of restrictions on the media and restoration of multi-party democracy.

These initiatives back the sentiments of leading democratic parties, expressed in a recent gathering of spokespersons, which have stated that they will not accept the increasingly brutal absolute rule by the king through use of the armed forces. A joint statement issued by six major political parties accuses the king of murdering democracy and the Nepalese constitution.

From all reports it is clear that the king’s blunt ambition to be absolute monarch has plunged the country into ever-greater danger. With each day the situation is worsening. The lives of tens of thousands already under house arrest, in detention, and facing severe threats from the military are hanging in the balance. The security forces are hunting down opponents throughout Kathmandu. Supporters of democracy and human rights have been put in an extremely vulnerable position. They now face enormous dangers not only from the security forces but also from the Maoist rebels, who have many new opportunities to strike. The violence is expected to escalate. People throughout the country are in a state of shock; in many parts they are altogether unable to grasp what is happening. A catastrophe of Cambodian proportions is not far off.

Only a diseased mind could dream of reinstalling the absolute monarchy in Nepal. It is the impossible dream of a feudal autocrat. After a protracted popular struggle, just 15 years ago Nepal was transformed from an historically oppressive absolute monarchy into a democracy. The radical social change brought about by this political development cannot be undone by way of this takeover, except by eliminating all those persons whose loyalty to the king may be called into question, by massacres or otherwise. Such is the logic on which the takeover was predicated.

The dream is now quickly unravelling. Democratic parties and human rights defenders have put up determined resistance at great personal risk; powerful governments are mobilising against the king. A sensible man would realise that he will soon be left with no way out. A sensible man would abandon his delusional attempt at power without delay. However, the king has not in the past demonstrated much common sense, and nor should any be expected on this occasion. It therefore falls to the international community to take the necessary steps to ensure that multi-party democracy and respect for human rights are restored in Nepal.

In an earlier statement calling for an effective strategy on the part of the international community, the Asian Human Rights Commission outlined several measures aimed at brining to an end this clumsy attempt to wipe out democracy. The AHRC reiterates these steps, which must be taken at once and as part of a broad international strategy to address the disaster in Nepal:

1. All international aid to the country must be frozen.
2. The country’s seat in the UN must be suspended for having violated its charter. 
3. All international ties with the Royal Nepalese Army and other security forces must be severed. 
4. A UN envoy must be located permanently within Nepal so as to facilitate the return to democracy.
5. We urge the state parties to the ICCPR to request the chairperson of the Human Rights Committee to convene a Special Session in accordance with the rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Committee to discuss the present situation of Nepal arising after from the coup.
6. A UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nepal must be appointed, and report on developments constantly.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-16-2005
Countries : Nepal,