Monthly Archives: June 2007

Our Poverty, What an Irony :(

Dailekhis grabbing the rotten rice is a crude irony to our society just like, umm…. let’s say, the hi-fi UN vehicles running on the streets of Kathmandu. Wish the rice had gone to the needy hands on time.

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Moonshiners in Dailekh district headquarters scavenge rotten rice before it could be disposed of, Thursday (28 June). The rice was supplied under the UN’s World Food Program decomposed after being stored for four years. All pics by Harihar Singh Rathaur via Kantipur

The story: Four years ago, the World Food Program dispatched over 366 quintals of rice to Jumla district under the “food for work” program. As there was no motorable road up to Jumla, the rice got stuck at Dailekh, waiting for the Consumers and District Development Committees to carry it farther. The Jumlis did not trek down to Dailekh to carry the rice because carrying a sack of rice would have taken too much time and money. Obviously, for the Jumlis, there was no point in fetching the WFP rice from Dailekh.

Ch..Ch..Ch Concluding that the stored rice had become highly toxic, the local administration had prepared to bury the rice. They even refused to dump the toxic rice into a river as it could have contaminated the river and destroyed the ecosystem. As officials were about to bury the food, there came the poor people who wanted to eat the rice. They came and, as you can see in the accompanying photos, grabbed the rice. “Well, its sweet and good,” a woman was quoted as saying by Kantipur (28 June) after she cooked and ate the rice. She expressed her dissatisfaction over official decision to dump the rice even as people are hungry.

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A Maoist Comrade Shakes Hand With Kofi Annan (and Others)

Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, second in rank after Chairman Prachanda, meets…

…former UN boss Kofi Annan (right). The bespectacled tall guy is Ian Martin, chief of United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) Pic by Biwsodeep Pande. Continue reading

A Different Diaspora: Story of Nepali Refugees in Austria

Contributed by Dr. Bishnu Pathak and Chitra Niraula

Case I: Somnath Ghimire of Chitawan reached New Delhi from Kathmandu via Mahendranagar on July 12, 2001. He stayed there for two days and flew to Moscow via Uzbekistan Airline. In Moscow, a broker from Pakistan took his passport and held him in a closed room. He was secreted in a large container and transported to the Ukraine after spending one night in a forest. An Indian broker in the Ukraine kept him along with 35-40 others. Twelve of the captives were Nepali, the rest were Indians and Pakistanis. Police raided the house the fourth day after he arrived. The captives were provided only tiny pieces of bread. After a month, they were freed only after they agreed to leave the country within 24 hours. They walked through the night crossing a jungle. They were housed in a cowshed upon reaching a village. By then there were only 13 Nepalis and 4 Indians. The room in which they were hiding was small and cold. They had no warm clothes. It was snowing. To avoid police raids they had to hide beneath snow mounds for six months.

On January 10, 2002, all the Nepalis arrived in Kiev. After hiding there for a month they went on to the Slovakian border. They hid for another month in a cowshed. They were driven in a convey truck across the border but were arrested on the other side. They escaped from the police vehicle that night but were arrested again the next day. They lived on water alone for eight days and then ran away with the help of a broker. They entered Slovak and walked for eight hours during the night. They were arrested by Slovak police and jailed for a month. They were taken to a railway station and a broker took them to an underground house. They stayed there for 35 days in a dark room, with no sanitary facilities. Then the broker brought them to Bratislava and kept them hidden for 42 days. Hunger finally drove them to a police station where they were placed under arrest for 11 months. Finally, on January 1, 2003, Ghimire along with couple of Nepali arrived in Austria and applied for refugee status.

Prachanda To Go Europe?

Rumors are rife in Kathmandu about the former guerilla leader’s visit to Europe. The personal assistant of Chairman of the Maoist party told us today that the travel plan hasn’t been fixed yet. “Who told you?” Prachanda, the rumor goes, will fly today evening and is scheduled to take part in an international conference in the Swiss city of Geneva.

But this is not the rumor. The two day long meeting of the Council of the Socialist International will begin in Geneva on 29 and, according to the SI website, a discussion titled “Consolidating peace in Nepal” is scheduled on the second day. Nepali Congress Democratic leader Sher Bahadur Deuba flew to Geneva yesterday. Sushil Koirala, NC leader who is in the US for medical reason, will also participate in the meeting, Gorkhapatra reported.

If he goes, this will be Prachanda’s second foreign trip after he became public last year amidst an unprecedented public curiosity and Maoist fanfare. He took part in a conclave in New Delhi, India earlier this year organized by Hindustan Times newspaper.

Continue reading

If Confirmed, These Folks Will Be Nepal’s Ambassadors

Envoy nominations sent to the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee

By Bishnu Budhathoki

KATHMANDU- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has sent a list of 14 names to the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee nominating them as the country’s ambassadors in different countries. Talking to the Kathmandu Post on Tuesday (June 26), Minister for Foreign Affairs Sahana Pradhan said, “The ministry (of foreign affairs) on Monday sent the same name list, which was proposed by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister K P Sharma Oli in the cabinet meeting in December 18, 2006, to the parliamentary hearing special committee to carry out hearings before their appointment to the respective countries.”

[Update: No, they are not confirmed this time. The House body seeks fresh envoy list (June 28)]

However, the foreign ministry has recommended former foreign secretary Murari Raj Sharma as Nepalese envoy to the United Kingdom instead of Bhagirath Basnet (former acting Foreign Secretary), whose name was proposed by the then government. No one has been nominated for the Nepalese Embassy in Paris. Following the then government decision to recommend 14 individuals as Nepalese ambassadors including Nepali Congress leader Shailaja Acharya as Nepalese ambassador to India on December 18, Maoist activists had carried out nationwide strike protesting the government’s ‘unilateral decision’. Continue reading

If Confirmed, These Folks Will Be Nepal's Ambassadors

Envoy nominations sent to the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee

By Bishnu Budhathoki

KATHMANDU- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has sent a list of 14 names to the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee nominating them as the country’s ambassadors in different countries. Talking to the Kathmandu Post on Tuesday (June 26), Minister for Foreign Affairs Sahana Pradhan said, “The ministry (of foreign affairs) on Monday sent the same name list, which was proposed by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister K P Sharma Oli in the cabinet meeting in December 18, 2006, to the parliamentary hearing special committee to carry out hearings before their appointment to the respective countries.”

[Update: No, they are not confirmed this time. The House body seeks fresh envoy list (June 28)]

However, the foreign ministry has recommended former foreign secretary Murari Raj Sharma as Nepalese envoy to the United Kingdom instead of Bhagirath Basnet (former acting Foreign Secretary), whose name was proposed by the then government. No one has been nominated for the Nepalese Embassy in Paris. Following the then government decision to recommend 14 individuals as Nepalese ambassadors including Nepali Congress leader Shailaja Acharya as Nepalese ambassador to India on December 18, Maoist activists had carried out nationwide strike protesting the government’s ‘unilateral decision’. Continue reading

Do or Die: Constituent Assembly Election on Nov 22

By Dinesh Wagle

Hello everyone,

Mark this day in your calendar: November 22, 2007 or Mangsir 6, 2064. The meeting of the Council of Ministers today decided to hold the Constituent Assembly elections on that day. A meeting of the eight-party leaders yesterday had mandated the government to announce the date for the CA polls.

An informal meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the eight-party alliance held under the coordination of Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel at his office yesterday gave the consent to the government. Earlier, while meeting with PM Koirala, the Election Commission had suggested the government to fix election date for November 23.

United We Vote for a democratic republic Nepal: This is a do or die situation for the political and government leadership because if they fail in holding the election this time, no one and nothing will save them from the downfall. The public also has the important role to play. They also have responsibility. We should not just rely on government machinery. We must play our role as aware individuals by helping in every possible way to make this plan a successful reality. Lets start the election campaign. Lets spread the word. Many people still don’t know about the CA. Tell them about CA and Loktantrik Ganatantra. On November 22, we will cast our vote for the formation of a democratic republic of Nepal.

During an eight-party meeting two weeks ago, Koirala had suggested that the elections be held on November 26.The CA elections had earlier been slated for June 20 (four days ago), but it was postponed after the Election Commission asked more time for the preparations. The polls will be the first post-war elections and the elected body- the CA-will rewrite Nepal’s constitution.

UWB Correction: The election date (English) is Nov 22, not 26 as we earlier reported. Nov 26 was Prime Minister Koirala’s date! Converting from BS (Mangsir 6) to AD sometime is a headache! They are even talking about changing our BS calendar making New Year in Chaitra instead of the current Baishakh. And, because of the change, marriages could be held also in the month of Kartik! Anyway, we regret for the error.

Here Comes Our Powell: Next American Celebrity in Nepal

Update: Senate confirmed the appointment of Nancy J. Powell as the ambassador to Nepal on June 28.

(that is if confirmed by the Senate as ambassador to Kathmandu. Nancy Powell will be replacing James F. Moriarty, the current American face in Nepal (hero for some and villain for others)

Transcripts by Federal News Service June 20, 2007 Wednesday

Nancy Powell: My experience in South Asia is that even if they had locked up all of those in their possession, it isn’t that difficult to get new ones in the region.

HEARING OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: PENDING NOMINATIONS
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA);
WITNESSES: NANCY POWELL TO BE AMBASSADOR TO NEPAL (And other four individuals to be ambassadors for Pakistan, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, and Yamenn. UWB has removed the transcripts of Q & A with other individuals because they are not our Nancy Powell.)
LOCATION: 419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING

SEN. KERRY: Thank you. We’ll come to order. I apologize to everybody for being a little late. We’re in the middle of negotiations on the energy bill, on that wonderful subject of CAFE standards, which we’ve been fighting about for as long as I’ve been here. So we’re trying to see if we can get something cooking, and I apologize for that.

Thank you all for being here. This hearing is to examine the nominations for ambassador of a number of career foreign service officers. And I might add, having sat on these hearings for a long time now, it is really both refreshing and enormously reassuring to see so much experience at a table at one time, and so many people whose long careers have really, I think, prepared them all so effectively for these challenging missions. And there isn’t one mission here that isn’t challenging, one way or the other.

And we thank your families also. We — I certainly personally understand the commitment and sacrifices involved in your service, and we’re very, very grateful to all of you for that, particularly those of you going to a place — well, almost everywhere nowadays has become more complicated and stressful that it ever used to be, and it takes a real toll in a lot of different ways. So we welcome all of you here, and we welcome those of you who have family members who’ve come to share this hearing with you.

After nearly a decade of civil war, many years of autocratic rule, a place that most people have always thought of as rather peaceful, Nepal finds itself at a critical point in its history. The United States and the international community need to help Nepal to restore and solidify their democracy, and key to this is moving forward with the process of integrating the Maoist opposition into the political process. Nepal faces a tough road ahead, and we obviously need to give them the support they need to succeed. And our ambassador’s relationship and leverage in that process will be critical. Continue reading

Newspaper Closure: Maoist Madness

Nepal Samacharpatra daily is closed: The Maoists should understand that, though very young compared to the world journalism, Nepali media have gone through variety of tough tests and their effort to intimidate the critical journalism will be proved to be futile.

By Dinesh Wagle

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Some reporters, proof readers and desk editors wait for vans to ferry them home after finishing the days work amidst the strike called by colleagues in printing and marketing department recently.

The Maoists are showing their draconian face everywhere. The latest comes in the form of media intimidation. While senior Maoist leaders are complaining about the big media houses not helping their party, the party’s worker unions are staging protests in newspaper offices aiming to close down the publication. In the veil of fighting for the benefits for the laborers in the printing press and circulation department, the Maoist unions are primarily aiming to stop the newspaper from being published. They tried to create problem in the APCA, the publisher of the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post, a few weeks ago. They tried to stop the publication of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post a few days ago. Because of their protest, Nepal Samacharpatra daily wasn’t published a few days ago (and the paper hasn’t appeared on the newsstands since yesterday).

I am a reporter, not an agent of publishers. Some readers might find me kind to publishers but that is because I denounce the protestors’ intention to close down the publication and support a newspaper’s right to get published at any cost. I support anyone who comes with genuine demands and puts them forward responsibly. When you are working for media, you must understand its nature. A newspaper company is not like a beer factory. Publishing newspaper is not like manufacturing biscuits. You can not just announce that you are going to stop the publication of a newspaper just because you claim that the management is not listening to your voice. You should make your voice louder.

A few days ago, reporters in Kantipur Publications clearly stood against such intention of agitating laborers of the printing press, hawker/cycle boys and marketing department. While we supported some of their demand to create a branch of a Maoist affiliated trade union, we strongly opposed their call to stop working so that the paper wouldn’t be available on market the next day. To stop the publication would mean acting against the freedom of expression and public’s right to information. [The slogan of Kantipur is Your Right to Information.] Continue reading

Jimmy Carter Came, Talked, Smiled and Went (Thanks Mr President!)

Here is the statement by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter made on June 16, last of his four-day trip to Nepal

I’m happy to be back in Nepal and to be briefed by The Carter Center’s long-term observers, political leaders, marginalized groups, and election officials here. I admire deeply what’s been accomplished by the people of this great country over the past year. The Carter Center is here to support you in any way that we can, and to that end our long-term observers have been deployed since March visiting over 70 districts to learn about the electoral and political environment.

Constituent Assembly election

Nepal is in the midst of a historic transformation and this difficult process requires shared commitment from the government, civil society, marginalized groups, and most importantly the public. The country has set itself the essential goal of holding a constituent assembly election, and I support the significant progress toward that objective that has been made during my short time here. I urge the government to swiftly complete all necessary electoral preparations in order to hold an election in the month of Mangsir (November/December), including announcing a date and resolving any outstanding issues such as the electoral constituencies. Compromise will be necessary to avoid conflict during this period.

Carter in Press Conference (Saturday)

My opinion is the United States should establish some communication with the Maoists because it is obvious that the people of Nepal have accepted the Maoists as playing a role in the shaping of the future of this country. I think the United States’ beneficial influence here will be increased if they can talk freely to all the parties involved. Maoists have complied with UN requirements, disarmed to some degree and adopted the principle of multi-party democracy. I hope there will be a time in the future when the United States can have free communication with all the important political players who will shape the future of Nepal.

When asked whether he is going to take some initiative to make the US government lift the terrorist tag, Carter said he doesn’t have any authority at all but he would send a report to the White House and the State Department. He didn’t use the words “lifting”, “terrorists” or “tags” but emphasized more than once that the US government should establish contacts with all parties that have been in the political framework legally.

Carter refuted the claim made by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai the other day after meeting the former president that he told the Maoist leaders not to listen to the US ambassador in Nepal.

Additionally, I would like to highlight two areas which I believe deserve increased focus in order to allow for an honest and credible election and future progress towards peace and reconciliation: Continue reading

Monarchy Can Be Abolished in Nepal, Constitutionally!

The Lead: Now parliament can remove the monarchy by a two third majority if it finds the 240 year old feudal institution meddling with the election of constitution assembly election. The parliament yesterday passed a bill that has amended the constitution and added the new provision on monarchy. The Maoist has been demanding that the republic be declared by the parliament before the CA election while Nepali Congress maintains that the first meeting of the CA should decide the fate of monarchy.

By Yuvraj Acharya in the Kathmandu Post

KATHMANDU, June 13 – The Interim Parliament effected the second amendment to the five-month-old Interim Constitution on Wednesday, empowering parliament to abolish the 240-year-old institution of the crown, and deferring the constituent assembly poll till Mangshir (mid-December). The parliament at its meeting added a separate sub-clause to Article 159 of the Constitution that authorizes the interim legislature to abolish monarchy by a two-third majority.

The government is to table a motion for the abolition of the monarchy if the cabinet concludes that the king is creating serious obstacle to constituent assembly polls. No authority except the cabinet will have the power to decide whether or not the king is creating such an obstacle. Continue reading