delegation of the European Union (EU) Troika is scheduled
to visit Nepal from 4 to 6 October 2005. The
EU Troika had last visited Nepal in mid-December 2004 and had met the proxy government headed by
Sher Bahadur Deuba who is presently in jail.
the intervention of the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights at its 61st session and subsequent establishment
of the Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Human
Rights, there have been reports of systematic human rights
violations. It is no longer limited to
the use of disproportionate force against the protestors but
extreme sexual violence including biting of women protestors
and poking batons at the sensitive organs, sexual molestation
and other violations during arrest as well as while under
limited sanctions on sale of arms to Nepal have so far failed
to break the political stalemate. Dr Tulsi Giri, Vice Chairman
of the Council of Minister has made clear the intention of
King Gyanendra to cling on to power.
EU Troika must not restrict its visit to the assessment of
the prevailing situation in Nepal or talking to the wall,
King Gyanendra but assessing the effectiveness of the measures
taken so far to enable the delegation to make appropriate
recommendations to break the stalemate.
Mapping the key actors
EU alone cannot be effective, a mapping of the key actors
would be useful.
King Gyanendra – The Royal Folly
Gyanendra shows no signs of restoring democracy or resolving
the Maoists conflict – the official raisen detre –
for Royal takeover on 1 February 2005. Instead, he has spurned
the unilateral cease –fire declared by the Maoists on 3 September
2005. The Royal Nepal Army (RNA) on many occasions sought
to provoke the Maoists.
King Gyanendra has been trying
to re-invent himself as a popular ruler of Nepal. He wears
camouflaged army dress to show solidarity with the Royal Nepal
Army. He also orchestrates interactions with the public to
fool the international community. It is another matter that
on 22 September 2005 eight students were injured in a clash
with the police in front of Ratna Rajya Multiple Campus while
they were protesting against the “forcible” deployment of
students to welcome King Gyanendra on his visit to Lalitpur
Vice-Chairman of the Council
of Minister, Dr Tulsi Giri’s penchant for public speaking
leaves little doubt about the intention of King Gyanendra
to cling on to power.
ii. The United States: Change the tunnel vision
The United States continues
to suffer from the “policy of generalisation” which equates
the Maoists with Al-Qaeda. Unless the US policies are adapted
to address specificities of Nepal, they will only endure autocracy
and violations of human rights.
the unilateral cease-fire declared by the Maoists on 3 September
2005 was welcomed across the spectrum, the United States failed
to react until 22 September 2005. Its belated but cautious
welcome can be construed as a statement of recognition of
the respect for cease-fire by the Maoists. It is essential
that the United States equates the King and the Maoists, rather
than the Maoists and the Al-Qaeda, to find a solution to the
India: Shun cold war phobia
reported objection to the role of the United Nations or any
other third party for mediation in Nepal needs to be addressed.
It is clear that New Delhi’s mandarin still suffer from cold-war
is a different issue from cease-fire monitoring. Given India’s
reservation on mediation by the UN or any other third party,
EU should explore the possibility of monitoring of cease-fire
agreements if the government of Nepal responds. The monitoring
of cease-fire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam had perceptible effects on the ground.
New Delhi, EU and the United States must realize that
monitoring of cease-fire by international observers
will only strengthen the democratic forces of Nepal who have
been virtually squeezed by the RNA and the Maoists.
the Maoists declared cease-fire, the National Human Rights
Commission has expressed the desire to monitor the cease-fire.
A Civil Society Ceasefire Monitoring Committee too has been
NHRC members who have been appointed by King Gyanendra do
not have legitimacy, capacity and independence to monitor
cease-fire. The Civil Society Ceasefire Monitoring Committee
is unlikely to have necessary access.
presence of international cease-fire monitors does not imply
the presence of the blue helmets. A Memorandum of Understanding
can be signed with the OHCHR to develop “Code of Conduct on
Human Rights” to be signed by the government and the Maoists
and monitoring of its implementation including possible cease-fire
Political parties – will GP be BP or a sell-out?
political parties have failed to show their strength on the
streets to force change. It is partly because of the lack
of faith of the people due to a range of factors as well as
overwhelming security presence in Kathmandu. The dictum –
“whoever controls Kathmandu controls Nepal” – holds true.
parties have so far reacted to the initiatives of both the
King and the Maoists. This is despite the fact that both these
anarchists require the imprimateur of the political parties.
formation of seven-party alliance was a welcome. It took over
six months for the political parties to welcome talks in principle
with the Maoists.
informal talks between the political parties and the Maoists
have been reportedly struck on the prickly issue of the restoration
of the parliament. The Maoists have expressed reservations
on the restoration of parliament. Political parties have also
failed to dispel the fear of the public and the Maoists that
they will compromise with King Gyanendra if the parliament
is restored. Most importantly, the political parties have
also failed to spell out their programmes of action they will
undertake if the parliament were restored.
Congress led by G P Koirala reportedly has a hard line approach
for the restoration of the parliament. GP has the
historic opportunity to play the role of the patriarch in
Nepali politics that he is. He has the opportunity to rise
above the party politics and be the leader of all the Nepalese
democratic forces and not only Nepali Congress. The bickering
between G P Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba in 2002 provided
the opportunity to King Gyanendra to dismiss the parliament
and rule Nepal with proxy governments.
many ways, GP Koirala has the opportunity to go down in the
history like legendary BP Koirala.
The Maoists: Stop looking through the barrel of the gun
declaration of unilateral cease-fire by the Maoists has been
welcomed across the spectrum. The attempt of the RNA to provoke
the Maoists has further given credence to the cease-fire.
of falling victims to the provocation of the RNA, the Maoists
must utilise the goodwill generated by the unilateral cease-fire.
In this regard, the Maoists must bring an end to violence
against civilians and non-combatants, extortion, hostage taking,
extrajudicial executions and recruitment of child soldiers.
Maoists should seriously consider unilaterally signing the
Code of Conduct to ensure respect for human rights and humanitarian
laws and establish accountability mechanisms for abuses by
addition, the Maoists must also declare their intention to
participate in the mainstream politics to work with democratic
political parties for resolution of the problems in Nepal.
Across South Asia, governments have been holding talks with
the armed opposition groups without the armed opposition groups
laying down their arms but the intention to participate in
democratic process must be unequivocally made clear.
the Maoists declare their intention to participate in democratic
processes and take measures to hold talks with the political
parties, it could be decisive for Nepal.
The case for sanctions and extension of restrictive measures
If the political parties
and the Maoists reach an agreement to have formal dialogue,
human rights violations are likely to escalate. If King Gyanendra
still refuses to give up, a full-scale civil war or further
gross violations of human rights cannot be ruled out. The
increasing approximation of understanding between the Maoists
and democratic forces on holding formal talks requires the
EU Troika to take effective pre-emptive measures to break
the stalemate and find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Among others, the EU Troika
should recommend a Common EU Position
and Regulation to impose sanctions against King Gyanendra
and his administration including a visa ban and a freeze on
assets of the members of the Royal family, on government ministers,
senior members of the Royal Nepal Army, state-owned economic
enterprises, and on beneficiaries of the government’s economic
policy and members of their families. The sanctions should
also include a ban on technical assistance, on financing and
financial assistance related to military activities, and on
the export of equipment that might be used for repression
on pro-democracy activists.
If EU takes
such a step, India and United States will be forced to follow.