Saturday, March 05, 2005

Nepal: Security Forces 'Disappear' Hundreds of Civilians

Human Rights Watch has issued a report accusing the Royal Nepalese Army, which assisted King Gyanendra’s February 1 seizure of power, of responsiblity for a widespread pattern of enforced disappearances. In the last five years, more than 1,200 cases have been documented. According to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, in 2003 and 2004 Nepal recorded the highest number of new cases of “disappearances” in the world.

Among the testimonies recorded by Human Rights Watch are these:

The soldiers came to our village in the evening and burst into our house. As they were dragging my son to the street, I came out of the house, asked them where they were taking him, and begged them not to take my son away. But they pointed a gun at me and said they would shoot me if I did not go back into the house. They took him to the edge of the village, along with three other men, and an hour later we heard two long rounds of gunshots from there. But when we came, we found nothing there. An officer at the Rambhapur army post near our village first said we should bring a petition for their release, then suggested that they had been abducted by the Maoists, and finally said they had been taken to the Chisapani army barracks. But the officers there said they had no information.
--An elderly relative of 48-year old Jangu Tharu

After Som Bahadur was detained, for the first three months I visited him in the Fulbari army barracks. But one day I came to see him, and the army at the barracks told me he had been transferred to jail, but did not say which one. I searched every jail in the area, but could not find him. Then I inquired at the district police office in Pokhara, and the police said they had received his case, and were expecting him to be brought there. They told me he would come home soon, but he never did. Two months ago INSEC [local human rights group] inquired at the barracks again, and they said he was still alive, but they would not tell them where he was.
-- A relative of 29-year old Som Bahadur Bishwokarma

There were many soldiers in the village that night. One group took my older son, Khagga, away. Shortly after they left, we heard two gunshots from across the field, and wanted to go, but other soldiers were still in the house and they did not let us. They had their flashlights and guns pointed at us. The soldiers [that left with Khagga] then came back and took a wooden bed from our house…Another group then took my other son, Kala Ram away—I heard he was ordered, along with other men, to carry Khagga’s body on that bed to their van. Next morning we went to the field and found Khagga’s small sleeping veil that he took with him, all covered in blood, but we have not seen his body, and Kala Ram also never came back.
--Elderly parents of 34-year old Khagga Tharu and 23-year old Kala Ram Tharu

The mainstream media has been surprisingly quiet about Nepal. It doesn't fit into the oil story, it doesn't fit into the African tragedy story, it doesn't fit into the Muslim radical story, so it has no hook of interest for American audiences. But the suffering is just as real.


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