www.sacw.net | February 12, 2005

SAHR demands Nepal's return to democratic rule

11 February, 2005 [Public Release on 12 February 2005]

LAHORE: the office-holders and Bureau members of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) have demanded immediate withdrawal of measures announced by the King of Nepal on February 1, and revival of constitutional rule in the kingdom.

The chain of events since Feb 1 in Nepal, as the government was dismissed by King Gyanedra, a state of emergency imposed, basic rights suspended and hundreds arrested, can only be condemned in strongest terms. The fall out of the outrageous action taken by the King will not be limited to Nepal. It will inevitably affect the rights of the people of the whole of South Asia and will, among other things embolden forces of authoritarianism and intolerance in the region. There is no doubt in anyoneís mind that the situation the King has mentioned in justification of his arbitrary fiat was a product of diverse factors prominent among them being the role of the palace itself.

SAHR condemns reversal of the movement towards democracy in the kingdom, and the return to absolute rule. The denial of basic freedoms, such as the right to information, the right to assemble to demand their rights and the right to privacy cannot be countenanced on any pretext.

The fate of the many hundreds arbitrarily arrested after the putsch is a further cause for concern. Those held include members of the ousted government, political workers and rights activists. The stringent curbs on the Press mean that it has been impossible to discover details about the places where the detainees are held, or their welfare. Most of the people have been left without any means to even convey their anxieties to the outside world. It is quite clear that the step by the palace has made an end to the insurgency much less likely than before.

The prevailing situation can only aggravate frustrations already present in the country as evident in the unanimous opposition to the King's decrees by all schools of thought in Nepal. SAHR demands immediate withdrawal of Feb 1 measures, restoration of democratic order in Nepal, and the grant of permission to human rights defenders to freely monitor events in the country.

The statement has been issued by
I K. Gujral, Chairperson, Asma Jahangir, Co-Chairperson; Bureau members from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri LankaóFarah Kabir; Hameeda Hossain; Mahfuz Anam; Sigma Huda; Subrata Chowdhury; Kamala Bhasin; Kuldip Nayyar; Nirmala Deshpande; Syeda Hameed; Devendra Raj Panday; Mohammado Siddiqui; Keshab Mathema; Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim; I. A. Rehman; Sairah Irshad Khan; Damaris Wickremesekara; J. C. Weliamuna; Sathivale Balakrishnan; and Sithie Tiruchelvam.

Released by
Asma Jahangir

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