A few weeks ago, an American girl came in the photography section of Kantipur Publications as an intern. She wasn’t feeling well just like her boy friend because of the sudden change in climate. But the Californian lady wanted to shoot the pictures of pro-democracy movement and on one particular day I took her to a rally that started from Dillibazar and turned into a mass meet in New Baneshwor. She was more than happy to shoot the pictures. While talking with her in the photography section, I wanted to know her view on Nepal. “Oh.. it’s totally different than what I had read about your country in Los Angeles,” she said while checking her Yahoo! email account. “I see normalcy here everywhere. But my perception was that Kathmandu was like a war zone and people were being killed on daily basis. I bet more people are killed in our town in cases like stabbing and other general crime.”
Before I could ask a cross question, she continued, “My parents were worried about my safety. Now I am emailing them that everything is fine here and I am completely safe.” This lady is not the only one who saw normalcy in Kathmandu. Yes, we don’t have democracy and we are going through oppression. But we are not Iraq. And no foreigners are senselessly slaughtered and beheaded in country like that country. But when it comes to the US government, it is not quite so. We have seen numerous travel warnings and notices intended to keep American citizens away from Nepal. I beg to disagree with that tradition. Yes, any Embassy should make its citizens aware of the situation but not in a way that could severely harm the tourism industry of the host nation.
Today I saw a notice issued by the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu. For the benefit of Americans visiting this site, I here by produce the full text of the notice. I will be adding my comments at the end of this letter.
This warden’s message is being issued to alert American citizens that the political parties have indicated that they plan to hold protests and/or mass demonstrations over the coming period. For example, demonstrations are planned for Friday, 2 December 2005 and may occur in a number of locations throughout the Kathmandu Valley. This date also coincides with the return of the King and the expiration of the Maoist three-month cease-fire. During the coming months, American citizens should pay close attention to media reporting to stay informed about when these protests may occur.
Protestors in the past have used violence, including burning vehicles, throwing rocks during street demonstrations and burning tires to block traffic. Vehicles, including private vehicles, have been damaged. In some cases, police have responded with tear gas and baton charges. Given the nature, intensity and unpredictability of these disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution at this time, avoid road travel and maintain a low profile. Americans are strongly urged to avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming.
For further information about security conditions in Nepal, American citizens are encouraged to refer to the Consular Information Sheet for Nepal and the current Travel Warning for Nepal issued on June 24, 2005 (http://travel.state.gov). American citizens are also encouraged to refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement for additional travel safety and security information. These documents are available on the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ home page at http://travel.state.gov and the American Embassy in Nepal’s home page at http://nepal.usembassy.gov. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs maintains an information line at 1-888-407-4747 toll free or (202) 501-4444 Monday through Friday (excluding U.S. Government holidays) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Specific information may also be obtained by calling the Embassy at (977-1) 444-5577 and asking for the American Citizen Services unit of the Consular Section. In the event of a communications blackout, security information will be left at all of the major hotels in Kathmandu.
Okay, the question might arise, why I published this email when I strongly disagree with it. Because this is what is democracy. I do not believe in the suppression of Information. I believe in sharing it with you. It has been sent to Americans living in Nepal. I also respect the embassy’s right to inform its citizens. But while doing so, I would like to request, will you please understand our situation? Will you please think about the possible result warnings like this will create in your society in the US? Who is responsible to create a draconian image of Nepal in the minds of that photographer girl? I think the US government needs to add in this info this: Having said this, we would like to inform you that no American citizen has been harmed in any pro-democracy demonstrations so far.”
And I would like to add this: “All democracy loving Americans are invited to take part in the pro-democracy demonstrations. Lets topple this government and establish a vibrant democracy. Because after all democracy is not an issues of Nepalis alone. Its OUR issue.”
1. D.MICHAEL VANDEVEER_mike4radio@yahoo.com Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 1:31 am
I have covered demonstrations in Nepal for years, and except for being pushed around once by a Police with alcohol-on-his-breath, I have had, no problems.
In 1990 when there were tyres burning in front of the Palace,
I was protected by demonstrators.
When ML broke away from UML and marched through the streets, I went with the march, no problem.
When Hotel Workers demanded a 10%-raise, I photographed the demonstrators, no problem.
In 2002 when King Birendra was assassinated in a Palace-coup and hundred of thousands of Nepalis surged through the streets, I reported live on radio in the US, canada, & UK, and photographed the funeral procession, no problem.
In 2003, 2004,& 2005 I have covered demonstrations in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Janakpur, Biratnagar and other than having to run with the crowd, no problems.
Kathmandu is not as safe as it was before hundreds-of-thousands of Internally-Displaced-Nepalis were forced to leave their villages and come to the Capital, but Kathmandu is safer than any American Major City.
I WOULD URGE ALL NON-NEPALIS WHO HAVE WANTED TO COME TO NEPAL TO DO SO, & WATCH DEMOCRACY BEING BORN !
2. unknown101 Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 1:42 am
there was no need of mentioning “alcohol breath”, i think it was totally unneccessary “Police brutality” that sums up all the negativites of a police personel.
3. Acrokiller Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 1:57 am
I think that travel advisories like the one posted are only natural. Maybe true that no American has been hurt in any of the demonstrations, but when bricks are flying there isn’t a guarantee that it won’t hit a foreigner who happens to be there, is there? So isn’t it being prudent to avoid demonstrations? That is what the advisory says – avoid areas where demonstrations are going on. Not – don’t go to nepal, there’s a civil war. I feel that your criticisms are a bit too harsh. Or, that particular advisory is not a really good example.
4. Avaya Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 2:30 am
It was not in 2002 King Birendra and his family were assassinated, but it was in 2001.
5. sanobhai Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 2:35 am
The photographer is confusing safety issues during demonstration and safety issues in general in Kathmandu and the countryside. Just read her quote. I think we need to distinguish the two.
Are her quotes suggesting that things are fine and dandy in Kathmandu ? Please consider that the coverage in the international press might be that of the lives of the Nepalese people—not the people who visit the country. From what I know, because of the population pressure and perhaps other things, petty and not-so-petty crime has gone up a lot. There is a sense of uncertainty and fear (think about maoist donation requests and state security machine) among the people who actually have to live there. I do not expect a visitor to experience all this at the same level the people who live there do.
Rather than alleging that the international media has done a bad job by portraying Kathmandu as a war zone, the blogger could have provided a clarification: the life for the people there is full of fear, uncertainty, and probably resembles life in a war zone (maybe not literally) but visitors have been rarely harmed.
Now on to the safety issues during the demonstrations. I do not think most of the articles in the international press address safety issues specifically during demonstrations. They are mostly about safety issues in general. We can not talk about safety issues in general and safety issues during demonstration as the same thing. To add to that, we can not talk about the safety issues in rest of the country and expect to see the same thing in Kathmandu. The international press might talk about what is happening in the rest of the country (war zone?) and this lady comes to Kathmandu and says “I see normalcy here everywhere. But my perception was that Kathmandu was like a war zone … “. Well, if you read about rest of the country and come to Kathmandu, your surprise does not surprise me.
There is nothing wrong with that advisory. That advisory is a blanket advisory and it is the job of the government to warn people whenever there is a safety risk. If there is a huge demostration and if everyone starts running, anyone can get hurt – visitor or not. If people are concerned about their safety, they should not go to the demonstrators. If people care about the reasons the demonstration are taking place, they should go there even if it is not as safe as sitting in your room. If people worry about taking pictures, then they should go there even if there is a chance they might die. So, the advisory does its job to give a fair warning to visitors who might not understand what happens during a demonstration and who might not know what to expect.
Above all this, what makes me sad is the fact that the visitors are treated nicely and they are even “protected during demonstrations” while at the same time we do the opposite to our own people. It is good that we welcome our visitors and respect them, how about doing a little bit of that to our own people ? I hate to say this, but the way we treat our own people says something about ourselves.
6. amanush Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 4:43 am
I don’t think Wagle ji presented good stuff this time. It is a responsibility of government to inform saftey issue to its citizens. I don’t see any wrong with this.
7. D.MICHAEL VANDEVEER_mike4radio@yahoo.com Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 8:55 am
2001, WoW, time flies. June 1, 2001 you are correct.
I remember walking in Kathmandu and seeing all the men getting their hair cut.. It seemed for almost everyone I knew the end-of-the-earth………… The cannons, the tear gass.. a sad time for the World…
I agree the Western press, espically in the US, do not often report about Nepal with much knowledge, nor compassion.
As to “fear and uncertainity”, yes that is true. when a bomb blows up at the bus-park in Balaju, it scares almost everyone in the city.
I also find “fear” in many cities in Europe & the US, but even with all the struggle in Nepal, I don’t think anyone will assault and rob me walking down Tridevi-Marg at 10 AM.
In India I feel much more “fear” and in Pakistain, espically in major cities ,it “feels” like everyone is under great pressure all the time.
When Nepal has a New Democratic Government all the problems will not be fixed. Nepal will never be like it was 25 years ago nor will the rest of the world, but I think Nepal is where the Peace for all the world is possible…..
I also advise travelers who are not lookin for a Beach-Holiday, to visit Nepal. If they do not do things that get you in trouble other places, they will more&likely be safe. Look, Listen, & be Smart and Nepal is the “safest” place in S.Asia. My opinion.
8. D.MICHAEL VANDEVEER_mike4radio@yahoo.com Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 9:07 am
9. Chankhe Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 9:31 am
Hope there is a mechanism to color the alert level to red or orange, as is done in the USA. I think the alert is part of Embassy’s regular job. The embassy will be responsible for any casualty in the high risk country like Nepal.
Well Dinesh ji, i also beg to differ in one of your opininon in the last para of the blog â All democracy loving Americans are invited to take part in the pro-democracy demonstrations. Lets topple this government and establish a vibrant democracy. Because after all democracy is not an issues of Nepalis alone. Its OUR issue.â
Yes, democracy is what most wishes for. There are many other countries around the globe where they are suffering similar to Nepal or worser at the best. Can we expect the presence of American or any other civilians from westernized democratic countries? What answer do we have if the new government in Nepal is charged as ‘Puppet’? We can borrow good democratic values from its pioneers, but we don’t want the people from there to march in our soil for what-so-ever reasons. If a movement is necessary to restore democracy, let our own people do it. The role of parties would be to win the trust of people.
10. Chankhe Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 9:34 am
pls read as “The embassy can be held responsible back in their home country for any casualty in the high risk country like Nepal if it did not alert its citizen timely”.
11. Gaule Keta Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 12:25 pm
If people or whoever didn’t let the KG go for further peace process or KG fail to do that whatever said. Maoist never come to shake hands with 7 parties( only maoist dramatic game on media), ever we have been seen and finnally maoist enter to jungle again for another gruesome act brutally civil war everlasting.â ¦
Do not hope much from Americans, they are not god will descend from heaven to save Nepal, Americans are not number one tourists in Nepal. They are destroying our tourist industries through media warning to other tourists like from Europe, Japan, Korea Auzie etc to not come in Nepal till ask for HELP to back American army base settle down in Nepal for the target to CHINA and saying that WE (american) ARE LIVING WITH DEMOCRACY AND WE ARE DEMOCRATIC MIND (mind your country worldâ s terror target) which is now desperately devasted our worthy income by USAâ ¦.My quetion goes to Americans : why only an American tourists are feeling unsafety in Nepal and warning like that?? while other countries tourist are feeling OK. Do you need to punish this country like you did to Burma?? It is even not fair to Burmese people, you might how severe hard their life plus you did such gruesome act to let them die thousands / millions with hunger in Burma. I challenge , Iâ m ready to gear up against YOU (usa) if your attitute like on the territory of an emperor.
Even Nepalese people knowing / not knoing , playing double part with India (like being indian tail rolling attractively) to cross Nepal for Tibet. One sample of US helping to Nepal: US donates old date expired weapons to India and US donate money to Nepal. It is welknown that Nepal used to buy this DATE EXPIRED weapons from India which was cheapest in the world. This kinds of complicated tackle like Chess game played by both India and US . This never seems come flash on media but the Chinese strong original weapons in np criticized by both Nepalese and foreign mediaâ ¦it apparently shows that how Nepalese mind is still under developing !!
I know you np guys dislike Dhoties, so it is not much differences if you support the US to come and intentions whatsoever of interfereing in the internal affair of soverign countries. If you np guys understand so-called “OUT to IN ” but never “IN to OUT” â ¦..if there is no rules like this that country would be nothing except battle fieldâ ¦.
World wide people knows that Kathmandu is not a battle field but it is already become haven of political laboratory.
US , unable to come to have Kukhura party in Nepal cuz its still busy(canâ t find profit source in np) and inhuman activities confronting task with pending in Afganistan and Iraq. If USA little respect international law, we will praise you, if you little respect human rights, Nepal is not supposed to put in black list, if you little respect UN , Nepal has nothing much to say.
12. bla bla Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 1:30 pm
first treat minorities in your country better. yours so called developed country still practices capital punishment. i think you guys should learn some lession from our country which respects human life. then i think you should comment about how to treat people. in nepal tourist and guest are treated like god how would you know u guys are so materialistic and just think about money. family realtion is bull&&&&7 before talking about how we should treat people i think you should try to learn our culture and then comment
13. sanobahini Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 8:27 pm
[icd] I am glad the Embassy informs me IN ADVANCE.
The American Embassy routinely issues warnings to its citizens, mainly directed at those Americans living and working in Nepal. These warnings are intended to keep them informed in advance of potential unrest or situations where violence might occur.
Those of us who are expats and have lived and worked in Nepal for long periods of time realize that these warnings are often greatly overblown. The fact is, there have been no deaths or even serious injuries of foreign residents or tourists in Nepal, with the exception of the two Russian men a year ago whose jeep hit a land mine. Perhaps had the Russians read the warnings of their embassy, they might have realized that the day they were traveling was a Bandh and it might have been in their best interest not to travel on that day.
That said, I am grateful to my embassy for providing me with this warning. In this particular case, the warning is intended to advise American citizens to avoid certain areas where protests may occur. During recent protests in the past few months, police resorted to using tear gas to break up protestors. In the use of the tear gas, innocent people, even young children in a near-by school, were put in harm’s way. These were not people involved in the protest.
American citizens living and working in Nepal want to be warned in advance of major protests that could cause a disruption in their schedule or even cause them physical harm, as in the use of tear gas. Ultimately, however, it is a citizen’s individual choice to decide where they travel and what they do. That is our right as American citizens in a free country and a right we wish to preserve.
-I also wanted to add that Americans are highly literate, informed people. Those who choose to travel to a country such as Nepal do so because they have the money to do so (it costs more than $1400 alone for a round trip ticket to Nepal, in addition to their hotel, food, etc). They do not travel to the other side of the world lightly. They do not read only one small advisory on a state department website. In fact, most Americans I know don’t get their information from that.
The Americans who have traveled to Nepal that I know heard about Nepal on BBC, from other fellow travelers, from National Geographic, from reading Nepali Times, etc, ONLINE, from the Lonely Planet (which also has an advisory on their website, I might add, think about THAT!).
my point is, it is an ever smaller world thanks to technology. Another point that you seem not to get is that most tourists, american or otherwise, have a CHOICE in where they go! And they often would prefer to go somewhere they don’t get off the plane and see army with machine guns and sandbags and the look of a war zone. They don’t want to deal with army checkpoints just to get to the trekking routes. They don’t want to be extorted while trekking by maoists.
Sorry, Dinesh. That is NEPAL’s PROBLEM to fix, not the United State’s problem. If you have a public relations problem, then perhaps it is of your own making. Don’t try to portray Nepal as Shangri La anymore and pretend that this insurgency does not exist. Whether or not it exists near where tourists are is not the point. The point is, do they want to travel on
holiday to a country where an insurgency is going on? MOst of my friends say NO.
Oh, by the way, I learn more about the bloodshed going on in Nepal from here in my Wyoming home from reading your newspapers online. And when I am in Nepal, I can often turn on Nepal TV and see pictures. I remember having seen a line of dead Maoists last spring. the photographers seemed to take great pleasure in showing the Army officer parading next to his “kill”. I did not take great pleasure in seeing a row of dead young Nepali men, covered in dried blood. That image alone,if I were a tourist sitting in my hotel in kathmandu watching, would turn me off.
Finally, the USA is not as dangerous as you might think. I have lived in all the big cities: los angeles, seattle, atlanta and boston at one point or another. I have never been robbed, never been raped. I don’t live in fear. I take precautions. I have fun, go to the theater. walk in central park. There is crime everywhere. I always see a very long line of Nepalese at the Embassy on visa days, so guess crime doesn’t stop them from coming to our country! But then again, they don’t see pictures of rows of bloody bodies either.
The only way tourists will come back is when peace has truly arrived.
You are truly making a big deal out of nothing. It is not the US”s fault, and their warnings are simply basic common sense, telling what is going on on the ground.
One final thought. As an American, I can choose to take my embassy’s warnings or not. And that is a freedom that I cherish. We are not forced to do anything by our government. The rights of the individual hold supreme, and that includes where we travel. Our decisions on travel are based on where we want to spend our hard earned money on our holidays. And most don’t want to spend it in a war zone. PERIOD>
14. sanobahini Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 8:34 pm
now you want to read a real warning? this is from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government (www.fco.gov.uk) where you can find the latest up to date warnings on every country in the world. Britian takes its security seriously. oh, and go to any embassy website of the western european embassies and the australian embassy in Nepal. you will find similar warnings. Why blast the US? What is this hatred of all things American on this site? If it were not for the USA, we would not have the idea of DEMOCRACY and a “government of the peole, by the people and for the people”. Period. Give thanks that the USA wants to spread the freedom and prosperity it has known around the world. Just look at the lines at the American Embassy of Nepalese trying to get visas there. The whole world would like to come to America if they could, because here we have economic and personal freedom. And we want others to have it, so they don’t always have to cross our borders to get it!
Note: this warning comes from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, http://www.fco.gov.uk. you can find another warning on the British Embassy’s own website here in Kathmandu
Still Current at: 2 December 2005
Updated: 25 November 2005
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Political Situation section. The overall level of the advice has not changed.
On 1 February 2005 the King dismissed the countryâ s government and assumed direct control, declaring a state of emergency, which expired on 29 April.
Countrywide and local Bandhs (strikes) are regularly called and have caused widespread disruption including to transport. Bandhs and political demonstrations can flare up quickly and with little warning and may turn violent. Recent demonstrations in Kathmandu have regularly resulted in violent clashes between the police and demonstrators. You are strongly advised to avoid all such demonstrations. You should avoid travel by road during nationwide bandhs.
The 3 month Maoist ceasefire is due to expire on 3 December 2005, and as a result there is an increased Army and Police security presence. A demonstration by the Political parties is scheduled to take place in Kathmandu on 2 December 2005 – significant disruption should be expected. The situation outside the Kathmandu Valley remains unpredictable and travel by road can be difficult, even when a bandh is not officially in operation.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Nepal. In recent months, Maoist rebels have carried out a large number of attacks, including bombings and shootings, including in areas frequented by foreigners. Tourists have been caught up in some of these attacks, although none have been seriously injured.
On 6 June 2005 a Maoist landmine attack destroyed a bus in the Chitwan district killing at least forty-one people and injuring over 70 others.
If you do decide to travel to Nepal, or are currently in Nepal, we advise you to exercise extreme caution and vigilance throughout your visit.
We very strongly recommend that trekkers travel in a group with an experienced guide. Travelling in groups will make you less vulnerable to theft and assault and will assist you greatly in the event of an accident. It also helps not to be alone in the face of Maoist demands for money on the main trekking routes (see Local Travel section).
In view of the often changing security situation in Nepal, if you are going to areas not normally visited by tourists, we recommend that you contact the British Embassy in Kathmandu beforehand for advice on the latest security situation in that area.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
There is a high threat from terrorism in Nepal. In the past year there have been significant numbers of bombings, shootings and armed clashes across Nepal – which have killed and injured many Nepalese civilians. No tourists have been killed in these attacks, but the attacks sometimes occur in areas frequented by foreigners. There are no indications that there will be any lasting respite from the violence in the short term but there have been no significant incidents of Maoist violence in Kathmandu since 1 February 2005.
Targets for bomb attacks have included government offices, private companies, bus terminals, hotels, police checkpoints, bridges, and local airports. These attacks sometimes take place without warning. There have also been large-scale Maoist attacks on rural towns resulting in many casualties.
On 2 September 2005, the Maoists declared a unilateral cease-fire for three months. The government of Nepal has not reciprocated and military activities continue.
As a result of the King’s actions on 1 February 2005, there is media censorship, including a news blackout on military reporting from outside Kathmandu. Accurate information is scarce, but you should be aware of the following confirmed reports of recent attacks by the Maoists. On 7/8 August, the Maoists launched a major attack on a temporary base being used by the military for road building at Pili, east of Manma in Kalikot District. The attack, which involved over 1,000 Maoists, resulted in large numbers of fatalities. The Maoists also attacked a police post at Benepa on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley on 8 August, injuring several policemen. On 19 June 2005, a Maoist force, reportedly over 3000 strong, attacked and destroyed a number of government buildings in Diktel, the administrative headquarters of Khotang district in Eastern Nepal. Several people on both sides are thought to have died in the violence. On 6 June 2005 a Maoist landmine attack destroyed a bus in the Chitwan district. At least forty-one people have been reported to have been killed and over 70 injured. In another incident on 6 June a passenger bus was caught in crossfire between the Maoists and Security Forces in Kailali in Western Tarai, one passenger was killed and several wounded. On 9 April, two Russian nationals were injured after the car they were travelling in defiance of a nationwide bandh was attacked with grenades on the Araniko Highway east of Kathmandu. A civilian bus was also hit on the same day by a landmine at Rahatahat resulting in 3 deaths and over 20 injuries. Suspected Maoist bomb attacks in May and April 2005 in Pokhara and Nepalganj resulted in one death and over 25 injuries.
Road travel in general carries risk. Remotely detonated bombs have been laid in some areas and have injured tourists.
Maoists have also been known to attack public transport buses. So far, buses specifically intended for tourists (e.g. hotel/trekking company buses) have not been targeted while carrying passengers.
The security situation in Nepal can change rapidly. Therefore you should contact the British Embassy for advice on the latest security situation before going to areas not normally visited by tourists.
You should also be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners. Please read the “Security and General Tips” and “Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas” pages for further information and advice.
There have been two serious attacks on foreigners recently in the Nagarjun Forest Reserve just outside Kathmandu. You are advised to use the utmost caution whilst in this area and not to travel there alone. It is not yet clear who carried out these attacks.
Incidences of Maoist extortion of money from trekkers and climbers occur on all main trekking routes. There are reports that tourists have faced demands for “taxes” upwards of 1500 Nepalese rupees. Although there is no evidence that violence has been used during these incidents, this could not be ruled out if trekkers were to decline to pay.
There has been a recent rise in incidents of female tourists being attacked, including cases of rape, by bands of criminals.
There have also been reports of trekkers being robbed where violence or the direct threat of violence has been used. These incidents are not at this time thought to have been carried out by Maoists but by others using the deteriorating security situation to their own ends. Nonetheless, you should be aware of the real risk of robbery.
If trekking, you are strongly advised to remain on established routes, and to walk in groups with reputable trekking agencies. We strongly recommend that you do not trek alone and avoid becoming separated from your group.
On 1 February 2005, the King dismissed the Nepalese Government of Prime Minister Deuba and assumed overall control. As a result there is an increased presence of Nepalese Security personnel in the streets.
So far, reaction has been muted, although the situation is unpredictable. Recent history suggests that public reaction could quickly become violent. Although no curfew has been imposed at the current time, if a curfew is imposed you should ensure that you respect all curfew conditions. We will keep this advice under regular review.
In general, political discontent is widespread within Nepal. Various political parties, Maoists and students regularly call for public demonstrations, often at very short notice. These can lead to near-complete closedown of the country. There is no evidence that tourists have been targeted, but some have been caught up in sudden demonstrations, and at least one British national has been injured. Recent demonstrations in Kathmandu have regularly resulted in violent clashes between the police and demonstrators. There are concerns that the number and scale of such demonstrations or large-scale gatherings may increase if the situation continues to deteriorate, resulting in more violent clashes. You are strongly advised to avoid all such demonstrations.
On 3 December the Maoists declared a three month unilateral ceasefire, which is due to expire on 3rd December 2005. As a result there is an increased Army and Police security presence. A demonstration by the political parties is scheduled to take place in Kathmandu on 2nd December 2005 – significant disruption should be expected.
Countrywide strikes (bandhs) have been regularly called by the Maoists, and have resulted in widespread disruption, including to transport. Tourists have been temporarily stranded. If you plan to visit Nepal you should note that such strikes could seriously affect your travel arrangements.
At present, transport is operating freely in the Kathmandu Valley, and recent bandhs in Kathmandu have been ineffective and not widely observed. However, the situation outside the Kathmandu Valley remains unpredictable. Local bandhs are regularly called and travel by road can be difficult, even when a bandh is not officially in operation.
Past experience has shown that most shops and businesses, particularly in the early stages of a bandh, will remain closed. Transport by road is severely affected, as many fewer vehicles (both public and private) take to the streets. You are likely to encounter increased difficulties if travelling by road in Nepal.
Unofficial curfews can be declared at short notice throughout the Kathmandu Valley and other major towns and districts in the country. Often the areas affected by the curfew are not clearly defined. Curfews are being rigorously enforced and the security forces have been given instructions to shoot on sight any person defying a curfew. The announcement of official curfews can be uncoordinated. It is therefore essential that you try to keep a close watch on the local media for advance notice of upcoming curfews. A good source of local up-to-date information can found at http://www.nepembassy.org.uk/. Your hotel or guesthouse will also be able to advise you and the British Embassy website carries up-dated local security advice. You must abide by curfew restrictions.
There are frequent army and police checkpoints, including in the capital. These can result in extended journey times. At checkpoints we urge you to heed any instructions given to you by the authorities.
Traffic in Nepal drives on the left as in the UK. The general standard of driving throughout the country is poor and badly regulated. Roads in Kathmandu are very congested. Many drivers are not properly licensed, trained or insured and vehicles are poorly maintained. There are few pavements outside central Kathmandu and motorists do not yield right of way to pedestrians.
Bus travel is particularly hazardous and multiple-fatality accidents are common. You should avoid travel on overnight buses.
Road conditions are generally poor and difficult even in the best of conditions. During the monsoon (June to September), many roads outside the Kathmandu valley are prone to landslides and become impassable.
You must have an international driving licence to drive a vehicle in Nepal. You are strongly advised to carry your licence with you at all times when driving as well as any documents relating to the vehicle itself.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
You should not become involved with drugs. Possession of even very small quantities will almost certainly lead to imprisonment.
You should respect local customs. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops in public places where this might be seen
15. Mind it! Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 9:21 pm
I found no body getting the issue from correct point. Here it is very time that is to know that, it is the time when king is returning to the country and americans may already imagined the comming few days as american policy is changing toward king and making people alert for the comming steps from king. SOME THING STINKS “MAY BE DANGEROUS STEP BY AMERICA”
16. twaaks Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 9:32 pm
Jai nationalism, the misguided kind. For all your critisisms of American treatment of minorities, Mr. Blah blah, look at how we Nepalis treat our own minorities. Nepal besides Himalaya and Lumbini is knows for Sherpa’s and Gurkha soldiers, majority of whom are from one of the most marginalized groups of our community. Please give a thought to that.
Your second point about capital punishment, at least they have a trial in America, where the defendant has his day in court. People do not dissapear overnight on the hands of the army nor are their legs crushed between boulders if suspected of spying. So next time you compare America and Nepal, the freedom that one experiences in America and that one experiences in Nepal please pause for a thought.
Now, I agree totally with what Sanobahini has written and I will add one more point. The fact that tourists are seldom harmed in demonstrations or are affected by crime just shows the inherent racism of the Nepali poeple. We would harm our own without a second thought but will think twice before even hurtling an insult to someone with “goro chhala”. And that is hypocricy in it’s extreme. Think about that.
And yes, the American embassy is right to issue that advisory. Nepal is not safe. You claim it’s safe that Ney York or LA, I suggest you look at the crime statistics. Look at the population densities of New York and Kathmandu and compare it to crime statistics. Look at how many murders get solved in New York and how many do get solved in Kathmandu. For heaven’s sake, we had our head of state murdered and all we got out of it in a form of an investigation was a fool of a minister saying “bhatatata” and “tapailai hanidiu…”. And if that is not a joke, please tell me what is.
17. krishna Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 10:19 pm
“For heavenâ s sake, we had our head of state murdered and all we got out of it in a form of an investigation was a fool of a minister saying â bhatatataâ and â tapailai hanidiuâ ¦â . And if that is not a joke, please tell me what is.”
Yes you are right… some people have forgotten that painful time of our lives. I will rank royal massacare as most painful experience in my life till day. I was going to have tea in a chowk when one friend told me “hey birendra died”.. I thought he was returned after heart treatement in london so may be because of that… I did not feel mush pain… then he said queen also died…. I seriously thought he was joking ….. and yes I think that was really biggest joke pulled off by KG…
But sad part is that jokes (jokes that hurt…) are continuing ever since… some day it was advertisement for PM… some day it is Tulsi Giri some day its Mr. Dhakal… all making fun… having fun at our misery…..
And what are people whom we gave votes doing? They go to delhi … they dont come to us… because they are ashamed of their past behavior… when ranabhat did “bhata ta ta” what were these people doing? Trying to save their own lives when ranabhat said “handiu” I guess…
18. bla bla Says:
December 2nd, 2005 at 11:05 pm
hey man i didnt say anything about nepals minority i know there is discrimination in nepal and i am extremely against it. nepal ma bhanai cha ni afno ang ko bhaisi nadekhne arkako angko jumra dekhne. if sanobainis country is shittier than ours then how dare she teach us how to live our lives. do you know how they treat nepali people in america. do you know what kind of harassment nepali has to go through just becasue they look like meixican or from east. you talk about freedom in usa. if calling people with racist name like rug^#head and taxi cab and treating people from our part of the country like terrorist is what u think is freedom then i dont want that kind of freedom in my country.
I think you also read a news recently that usa has secret bases in different part of the world where they question different terror suspect. how do you think usa is treating prisoners in guantanamo bay. they are human being like us and they are entitled for fair trile.
more than 36 million Americans live in a state of poverty. i know as compared to whole american population that might be small but developed country like usa which gives aids to other country should be able to feed its own people but see IT IS NOT TREATING ITS PEOPLE WELL how does that make america better than nepal.
19. twaaks Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 12:17 am
Dear Blah Bhal!! Sorry if I sounded harsh, it was not my intention to appear so. But please note a few points.
I will start with a quote from president Kennedy who once said that “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.” He was speaking on a different context, but the fact of it still remains. Democracy is not perfect and one really cannot compare a democratic society to a feudalistic one and claim that the feudalistic one is better just because once comes from that society.
Of course life in America is not perfect as it is not everywhere else. People experience discrimination, racism, in cities crime rates are high. But remember that there are some benefits too…. to cite a few, equal opportunity, rule of law, rights of minority and women, the right to vote and participate in government, the freedom of speech and expression, the right to challange the government in court, independent judiciary, checks and balances……incidentally everything that we lack. We may of course sing and dance and say that we have the “Himalayas and the people are pure of heart”, but where does that leave us? In fact, these are the same slogans that that the feudals used to keep people subjugated for so long. The people are “pure” of heart, so let us not corrupt them. Do not give them access to information, ergo, do not give them access to anything else, while we go and have our fun on an African safari. And that is what I tried to protest. Of course, it is not easy to critisize my own country, let alone say that things are better in some far-away land. But they are. If things were so bad over in America, we would not see the long lines in front of Pani-Pokhari for visa’s, we would nto see millions filling out DV’s (and in the process making a lot of internet centers quite rich). These are the facts and we need to accept them. One more thing, we like it or not, we would like to see our government modelled after the American democratic model (at least I would) and would like to see the rule of law and all the other nice things that I expressed above.
You talk about Americans treating people brown skinned people as terrorists. I suggest you pause and think why. Which country in the world was so generous pre-9/11 that it invited students from all over the world to study in their excellent universities, that too majority of whom receive some from or other of financial aid, and look what they did to the twin towers. And you think that Americans should not look at this people with suspicion? What do you think would have happened if the roles were reversed? I’ll tell you, do you remember the Rhitik Roshan incident? We went and rampaged on our own streets. I was returning home from work one day and do you know what I saw? I saw a crowd of people burning and looting a poor “madhise” tarkari walla. Most likely he was a Nepali from Terain, not even an Indian. The same day I saw people beating an Indian tourist who travelling through Kathmandu on a rickshaw. And why did all of that happen? In the end it came out that Rhitik Roshan did not say any of those things and it was something done by newspapers. Did anyone take resposibility fro those crimes? Was anyone prosecuted? What happened to the concept of rule of law?
You talk about the American poor, what 36 million poor. We are a country where the head of state goes to a safari trip taking the nations airline as his personal limousine while hospitals have no money to buy medicine for children….. for choldren, not for adults, but for children who are just starting out on life. What kind of a society do we have. Bir Gorkha, baliya sherpa, hamra purkhaharuko paurakh I hang my head in shame today when I have to call my self a Nepali. I do not like living in shame, so that is why I say that things must change This cannot go forever. And introspection must begin from self. Once should not lash out if someone points our own shortcomings to ourselves, we should thank them and try to rectify those shortcomings.
And lastly, you say that you do not wan’t freedom….. do you really believe and mean that? I doubt so. I suspect that in any society what majority of people want is just simple things, the right to life, a nice home, to raise a family and in general try to be a nice person. That is what Nepalis should aspire to. And a free and democratic polity is a key to that, and maybe that is what we should all aspire to. Not this false sense of nationalism……..
20. Gaule Keta Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 12:46 am
yes Mr bla, you are right.. someone trying to write really shit bla bla as being an American slave…who cares if some being an American slave….but money is….this is an American democracy
American army base all around in asia to shoot china- Afganistan, pakistand recently, Iraq, Japan, mongolia soon, S.korea which is the main reason that in S.Korea started to increase Prostitution… so this is American Democracy…. Singapore…vietnam under connecting….
Why prostitution increasing those countries where American army live ??..bcuz this is an American democracy…..since American army come to Thailand , it damaged to the Thai history that ive ever seen and started prostitution appeared since then at the first time , this is first begging topic you will find if you survey about “Thailand’s prostitution”..who is creator of prostitution in Thailand?? ..you got it….”who cares son rape mom”…this is an American democracy… do whatever you like if you have money ….no discrimination if you have money…who cares even you are mindless, inhuman if you have money… because this is an American democracy….so i love American to [icd]
21. krma Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 1:21 am
from a nepali-american who was at the demonstrations today and has been to many in the US, everybody should be celebrating tonight. I went in thinking that it was going to be much smaller, but the turnout was impressive, bbc estimated between 25-40,000. And somehow, despite the skirmishes on the street much of it was peaceful. I was even caught in the middle and periphery of all those accounts (the stone throwing, the quick bomb scare) and somehow surrounded by Nepalis, I felt pretty safe. Contrast that with protests in Miami, FL where the cops relentlessly harass the protesters from dawn to dusk, and where me and friends taking photos results in clubbings, being shot at(with rubber bullets) and getting pepper sprayed in the face, while those with big press credentials laugh it up behind the cops side, their new home. Where “anarchists” get bored and start agitating the cops and create a war zone in downtown Miami(already a crime ridden war zone). Compared to the juvenality in the protests in the US, I can’t believe the spirit and maturity I saw today.
In short, I’ll take a Nepali style rally over the US anyday.
Let us hope that this fragile unity that has been created by the Nepali hunger for peace continues and results in some lasting changes. Forget the Nepali vs. US, forget people who think that the US is a haven for democracy(it may be actually killing it). Don’t forget your differences, but unite in spite of them. Zindaghi(sp?) Loktantra, NEPAL STYLE!
MAY A THICK FOG OF UNITY, PEACE, REASON, COURAGE, AND PURPOSE BLANKET NEPAL!
22. twaaks Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 2:44 am
Dear Mr. gaule Keta,
You raise an interesting question about American Army “creating” prostitution wherever they go. I wonder if you’ve heard an age old saying that goes – “prostitution is the oldest profession of the human society”. Prostitution existed before the creation of America and will contnue after.
And I suppose you will also blame the American Army for all the young girls who get sold in the brotherls of Bombay by their own husbands, brothers, lovers, kaka’s and mama’s and in some instances by their own parents?
23. sanobahini Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 2:51 am
krma, I think you spoke a bit too soon! twaak, thank you for saying so eloquently what I have been trying to get across so long. I am American who loves Nepal and wants for Nepal the freedom and prosperity I have here. If they had that, they would have no need to apply for DV lotteries and could stay in the land that they love. God bless Nepal. But let Gyanendra (and Paras, too) burn in eternal hell.
24. sanobahini Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 4:03 am
I had one more thought on where a lot of my American friends turn before they plan a trip. Blogs are so common now,and lots of my friends search out blogs on, say, nepal, on technorati. If you type in Nepal, Gyanendra, Maoists, whatever, UWB will come up many times (along with a few others) and tourists own reports of their trips. They combine reports like the blogs with articles online and in other media and the embassy warnings to come up with an informed decision. No doubt incidents like the arrival of the King back home today to stones and tear gas will not help Nepal’s image in the tourism industry world, I’m afraid. again, i think you don’t need an embassy warning for that. Just open your eyes in Kathmandu and look around you. and if you want to vacation with sandbags and barbed wire, armed soldiers with tear gas, police lathi charging, et al, feel free. Most of us don’t (and i’m not including those of us who work and live in Nepal long term-we are a different breed altogether and realize for the most part that this kind of stuff does not drastically alter our daily lives).
25. Manan Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 12:21 pm
The idea that America invented democracy is dumb. The Greeks lived in a state of democracy 2500 years ago.
26. Chankhe Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 3:07 pm
Michael Van De Veer ji,
After then planned UN visit, I read somewhere in Web that KG was planning to visit your home town in USA. Was he planning to look a safe place to flee like Marcos did from Philippines? Did you notice that?
27. WHAT Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 3:52 pm
can you use a bit proper language pls ?whole people are not applying for DV lottery and for what ??..Do not try to look down to others
=>people will be a great man not because of living in luxurious life like US. Do you understand what I mean?? you got it if you’r an mature enough.
look, we don’t believe any kind of god like you do…you have to think a lot ,, have to learn a lot
28. BiswaShanti Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 4:57 pm
Sanobahini is the worst of its kind. She thinks that she is superior to any other human being because she is born american. This is attitude we do not like.
what the hell america is? In the early days, mostly who were looters, rapists and criminals were used to be sent to America and Australia for punishment. It was like Indai’s Kaalapani. Now they have some property and some luxury in comparision to other countries. Now they are torturing and slowly killing in a very a painful manner many people without trial in the prisons of Guantanamo and Eastern european countries. They give lectures on human rights and democracy. You know how many people they have killed for the security of Israel and to loot the richesse of Iraq?
29. Gaule Keta Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 10:50 pm
Thanks for it,,pls if you didn’t read my comment carefully, do scroll up!! … pls let me not to explain Greek History or Before Christ or stone age about to say “prostitution is the oldest profession of the human society”…this blog is limited…as I’m a Gaule Keta, uneducated, unknown and do not supposed to talk like that, so better you take further course of history about it by yourself….I’m not talking about this nor my comment related to this, I’m talking about after American chickens hatch. Look at the topic of artical, related to American chicks… Neither prostitution is an admirable nor legal profession in Thailand……Bombay is an another topic, it is trafficking by someone not free sex whore house like American do….this is not Nepalese democracy….you know better about that so let me stop here now….do not blame to Nepal being an american accent….Nepal was collapsed by some stone headed-mind ‘Bahuns” not whole ethinic Nepalese….to be responsible for that.
30. twaaks Says:
December 4th, 2005 at 1:48 am
sorry GK did not understand what you are trying to say. my mistake.
31. Gaule Keta Says:
December 4th, 2005 at 1:54 am
i didnt say you mistake