Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong
Around two hundred Nepalese have been witnessed to be crossing the border into India every hour, escaping the atrocities of both government and Maoist troops. Clearly, the violence in Nepal is intensifying. Recent reports speak of highly deliberate and aggressive strategies on both sides to harass and intimidate civilians. Others reveal deeply worrying plans afoot to silence the few voices of reason remaining in the country, particularly those of its human rights defenders.
Time and again the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has brought attention to the sheer cruelty with which both government security forces and Maoist insurgents are operating in Nepal. The country is now leading Asia in the number of forced disappearances committed daily. The targeting of civilians in government ‘cleaning-up’ operations is an established fact. Both sides kill with impunity. Inevitably, a growing number of civilians are leaving their homes in search of security and shelter. Many do not find it. Instead they end up dead, tortured, disappeared, rearrested, raped, illegally detained or hopelessly displaced, like thousands of their fellow citizens.
Whereas the Maoists are operating without a functioning chain of command and respect for international humanitarian law, their government opponents are operating under a chain of command-starting in the palace-that has institutionalised the same lack of respect for international principles. The Nepalese monarchy has gone so far as to help the security forces conceal grave human rights violations, particularly disappearances. Realising that the dramatic rise in numbers of forcibly disappeared has captured international attention the government security forces, under the Joint Command Operation, have instead simply begun killing more. And as both the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission have been denied their legal rights to intervene in cases of disappearances, the families of victims have no hope for relief.
The AHRC again strongly denounces the manner in which the monarchy is stimulating the ongoing systematic and widespread human rights violations and crimes against humanity being committed in Nepal. The king has failed to adopt a realistic and sincere approach towards a solution to the conflict. It is his decisions that have paved the way for the continued violence and impunity of state security officials along which the whole country is now being dragged. Those most at risk and for whom something must be done immediately are the human rights defenders. Many of them are continuing with their work daily, even as their lives hang precariously above the growing uncertainty now threatening to swallow the country. Without realistic and swift steps being taken, these persons’ lives may soon be lost, and with them, perhaps the last chances for peace.
Sadly, as Nepal continues along this path the international community is still lacking a clear position on the situation in Nepal. The continued dearth of a deliberate and concerted international effort to save lives and reduce suffering must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Far worse is sure to come as a result of this failure to act at a time that intervention could still make a difference. The AHRC urges those countries and international agencies with strong influence in Nepal, including India, the European Union and the United States, to show their willingness to protect human life and human rights principles by initiating the means for peaceful resolution of the conflict. Detailed and well-thought through strategies are needed to end this barbaric situation, without delay.
The AHRC calls upon the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to create an international alert on the Human Rights situation in Nepal, whereby the situation in the country can be monitored constantly and reported upon to other agencies to permit a rapid response.
The AHRC also stresses the need of a sincere response from the regional and international actors such as India, the European Union, and the United States to bring the deteriorating security situation in the country as a key issue for discussion at the U.N. Security Council, with a view to active and speedy intervention.
The AHRC draws the attention of key stakeholders to address the manifest lack of documentation on internally displaced persons and refugees in and from Nepal. International humanitarian agencies must reconsider their current activities with a view to assessing the current reality and getting involved in the real work of protection.
Footnote: A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission, AS-62-2004, 14 December 2004