In Solidarity with the Democratic Uprising in Nepal

Wednesday 26 April 2006, by Tapan Kumar Bose

The compromise proposed by King Gyanendra of Nepal on Friday, April 21st evening, which envisages his continuance as a constitutional monarch, is a last-ditch attempt to perpetuate the old order. It will not satisfy the demand for the establishment of a true democracy in the country, for the fulfillment of which the nation has risen in a spontaneous and mass revolt.

We must recall that the pledge to go in for an elected Constituent Assembly had first been made through the Interim Government of Nepal Act, 1951, proclaimed by King Tribhuvan in February 1951. After a long period of democratic struggle, the political parties led by the Nepali Congress formed a coalition government in April 1990 and worked out yet another compromise with the palace. Their failure to elect a Constituent Assembly vitiated the promise of democracy. The vitiation resulted in the declaration of a People’s War in February 1996. After a long period of State repression and political violence, all the democratic forces in the country are once again united on the core demand for an elected Constituent Assembly.

The latest proposal of king Gyanendra to go back to the old order, after all the violence and turmoil the country has been through, appears to be senseless in not taking cognizance of the aspiration of the Nepali people to be masters of their own destiny. It is also bereft of any pragmatic value. As the inexorable effervescence of democratic uprising in the country demonstrates, the monarchical tyranny in the country does not fulfill even the minimal criterion of an effective regime with at least some semblance of legitimacy. Not only are the people of Nepal out on the streets, even the government officials, in growing numbers, appear to have joined the democratic uprising. It must also be pointed out that the international law forbids external interventions that go against the political will of a sovereign people. The consequences of any attempt to stem the tide of democratic uprising in the country with brutal force or political subterfuge can only be tragic and politically volatile.

The international community of nations and the civil society, especially in South Asia, have an obligation to try to avert the repression of Nepal’s democratic will through violence. It is their duty to recognize and support the arduous and peaceful struggle of the people of Nepal to attain a framework of rule of law that democratizes all important positions of authority within the State. The procedures and the politics of the constitutional process can vary but they cannot develop without respect for the idea of the sovereignty of people; the current state of democratic uprising being a powerful assertion of it.

The struggle of the Nepali people to attain a democratic framework of rule of law has been going on for long. It has survived myriad betrayals and impediments since November 1950 when India first intervened to actively support the demands for a democratic constitution, fundamental rights, free and fair elections and brokered a compromise between the feudal and democratic forces. King Gyanendra terminated the incomplete experiment of democratic transition initiated by his brother in April 1990 by usurping all executive powers of State through a proclamation of Emergency made by him on 1 February 2005. Despite the reign of brutal military repression unleashed by the State, people of Nepal, in urban areas and more significantly in the countryside, have once again risen in massive numbers to defy tyranny and totalitarianism. Hundreds of thousands of people are disregarding the curfew, shoot at sight orders, killing, bludgeoning, torture and imprisonment to defy the monarchic tyranny and to demand true democracy and the rule of law. Yet, the international community of States has done little to support the democratic struggle. On the contrary, it has helped prop up the illegal regime with military hardware and political support, which it has been using implacably to defeat the democratic upsurge. This must stop. Nepal is in the danger of descending deeper into the world of violent anarchy, with irrevocable consequences for the stability and security of entire South Asia, unless the governments and the people of all the countries in the region speak in one voice against the current regression of the monarchic tyranny to its medieval mould.

We are here to extend our support and solidarity. We appeal to the international community of States and the civil society in the region and outside to ensure that the extraordinary phenomenon of democratic uprising in the country in evidence today is not thwarted once again with repression, violence, political ruse and strategic manipulations.


Tapan Kumar Bose, Secretary General

South Asia Forum for Human Rights

Kathmandu

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