Thursday, February 17, 2005

Emerging Disaster in Nepal

Two weeks ago King Gyanendra dismissed the government of Nepal, declared a state of emergency and suspended civil liberties, and jailed political leaders, students, human rights activists, journalists and trade unionists. The king claimed that the measures were aimed at the Maoist communist insurgency, which has claimed more than 10,500 lives since 1996.

However Amnesty International's secretary-general claims that a political catastrophe is brewing in the country and is urging donor nations to suspend military aid to Nepal. Amnesty said the state of emergency had "strengthened the hands of the security forces ... and increased the likelihood of an escalation of the conflict that could lead to even greater human suffering and abuse."

After a visit to Nepal, Amnesty's secretary general claimed, "While some leaders have been released, more are being arrested, particularly at the district level. There is strict media censorship enforced by the army and there is total clampdown on political dissent. Wherever we went, we encountered a deep sense of fear, uncertainty and insecurity among the people."

The new government has come under increasing pressure to restore democracy in recent days. India, the United States, Britain, and other European countries have already recalled their ambassadors.

Recent reports by Amnesty International show a dramatic increase in human rights abuses since a cease-fire with the Maoists broke down in August 2003, including torture, detention, disappearances, abductions and unlawful killings.


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