Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong
The immense killing and insecurity tearing Nepal apart are no longer a secret. War-torn Nepalese are fleeing daily to save themselves from atrocities committed by the state security forces and Maoist militia. If no action is taken, Nepal will be plunged into the most horrific humanitarian catastrophe that Asia has perhaps ever seen. Thousands have been killed and wounded, thousands more displaced without even the most basic human needs. Warring factions blatantly violate international humanitarian and human rights norms with extreme brutality. So far the international community has failed to respond, mainly because of inaction by Nepal’s big neighbours. To change this situation, it is necessary for these neighbours, especially India, to make public their involvement in the country and take steps to ensure respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy there.
To date, India’s engagement in Nepal has been limited to providing arms and strategic support to the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA). While giving tools of death, it has avoided taking any steps to save human life, particularly by involving the United Nations, European Union and other international bodies. It has knowingly allowed the RNA to continue with its brutal use of force, extrajudicial killings, summary executions, rape, torture, disappearances and forced displacement of a large number of the population. Aware that the RNA is operating with absolute impunity, breaching all human rights and humanitarian norms in alarming proportions, the support given by India amounts to aid for the commission of crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, reports to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) indicate that every hour at least 200 people cross the border into India, seeking shelter and support. Unfortunately, the same reports have it that the Indian government has begun a combing operation to flush out ‘Maoists’ in its northern states: a spurious justification for targeting people fleeing such operations in their own land.
Nepal is today a country where the government has zero legitimacy. The king has demonstrated only his patent inability to save the life of even a single citizen. While the army and Maoists kill, rape, kidnap and abduct innocent civilians, including women and children, the government’s single strategy has been to continue the use of force devoid of respect for human life. The latest information also suggests that a terror campaign may soon be launched against human rights defenders and the other few sane voices still calling for peace in the country. Under these circumstances, the role of India is absolutely crucial.
The AHRC believes that the intended visit by the king of Nepal to India is aimed at obtaining more military and political support for ongoing gross human rights violations. India now has a new administration. Its BJP-led predecessor showed unlimited and blatant support for the palace in Kathmandu. That support was a shame both for Indian democracy and its ostensible secularism. The AHRC now calls upon the current government of India not to repeat its predecessor’s mistake of supporting a monarch responsible for the perpetuation of state-sponsored crimes against humanity.
India is at present lining up for a future role in the UN Security Council. Any country participating in the council should be able to demonstrate its adherence to the principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter. This requires that India act constructively for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Nepal. At the moment, when all the democratic forces have been pushed aside by the king, a strong moral voice from the region is desperately required. The AHRC therefore urges the government of India to
1. Require that the RNA adhere to international humanitarian and human rights norms as a condition for its obtaining military assistance;
2. Make a public stand demanding respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy through humanitarian commitment in Nepal;
3. Help to pave the way for negotiations involving international bodies such as the United Nations and European Union;
4. Stop its combing operations, especially in the northern states, which are targeting innocent Nepalese fleeing atrocities;
5. Provide all possible humanitarian assistance to refugees, and make similar assistance available within Nepal; and
6. Use the king’s proposed visit to India as an opportunity to press for an immediate end to the loss of human life in the country.
The AHRC also calls upon all concerned Indian citizens to take up these issues with their government in order that the unrelieved misery of their Nepalese neighbours is brought to an end.
Footnote: A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission, AS-65-2004, 17 December 2004