OHCHR Nepal On Maina Sunuwar Case

For the Record, Press statement from OHCHR Nepal: OHCHR-Nepal insists on full investigation of Maina Sunuwar following exhumation of remains

A team from OHCHR-Nepal on Friday (March 23) monitored the exhumation of the remains thought to be those of Maina Sunuwar, the 15-year-old girl who was allegedly tortured and died in the custody of the (Royal) Nepalese Army (NA) in February 2004. The team was accompanied by an international forensic expert, who assisted forensic pathologists from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Teaching Hospital in the exhumation after an offical request was received.

The remains were exhumed from the grounds of the NA’s Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre in Panchkhal, Kavre District, where military personnel are trained before being deployed on UN peacekeeping missions.

The exhumation marks a crucial step in the criminal investigation launched by police into the girl’s death, which has been stalled for many months due to the NA challenging the jurisdiction of civilian authorities over the case as well as the reluctance of authorities to proceed with an investigation.

As part of a court martial, the NA in September 2005 found three military personnel guilty of failing to dispose of the body properly. However, details regarding the court martial and the NA’s court of inquiry investigation that preceded it have never been made public. The NA has also failed to provide court of inquiry and court martial documentation to OHCHR despite repeated requests.

While the exhumation is a positive development, it is essential that police complete a thorough investigation, with full cooperation from the NA. During her visit to Nepal in January, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, received assurances from the NA Chief of Staff and the Home Minister that an investigation would be carried out without delay.

“The exhumation Friday of remains thought to be those of Maina Sunuwar marks a crucial step forward in the quest for justice for her alleged torture and death. A full criminal investigation by police must now proceed to determine who was responsible and to hold them fully accountable,” said Sandra Beidas Officer In Charge of OHCHR-Nepal.

Sher Bahadur Deuba Against Constituent Assembly Election: Why?

There is a saying in Nepali: Ikh nabhayeko chhora ra bikh nabhayeko sarpa ekai hun [A son without resolve and snake without poison are same (or useless)]. Sher Bahadur Deuba, the former Prime Minister and president of Nepali Congress (Democratic), is a perfect example. He is speaking against the election of Constituent Assembly and indirectly helping the king.

By Dinesh Wagle

The king kicked on his face several times but Deuba never stops acting like a loyal royal slave. And he always talks in such a way that would be beneficial to the king. [King Gyanendra sacked Deuba from the post of Prime Minister branding him “incompetent” to hold the general election in 2004 and, again in 2005, put him in house arrest in 2005 after sacking from the same post of PM.] After the royal coup of Feb 2005, Sher Bahadur Deuba was vocally against the king (or monrchy) though there were some people who used to say that this man could do the U turn at anytime. They used to cite Deuba’s pro-royal activities, including accepting royal awards which have been traditionally declined Nepali Congress leaders for decades. It seems those skeptics are going to be correct. Deuba has started showing the sing of U turn. Yesterday he talked against the possibility of election of Constituent Assembly on time (by June). He thinks the security situation is too bad to hold an election and says eight parties [ruling alliance and the Maoist] should unanimously agree to reschedule the election program. Talking to journalists at his party’s headquarters in Maharajgunj, Deuba said: “In light of the recent incidents in the country, the voters are in no position to cast their votes in a fear-free environment.” How can an ‘incompetent’ Deuba say so? For him, the security situation wasn’t favorable even in 2004 and, when he tried to push the election dates, faced royal sacking. Now, the same guy is talking about pushing the election to uncertainty on the pretext of same old reason.

Yes, security situation is not good in Nepal these days. Even the Prime Minister has accepted this harsh reality. But it’s not bad in all areas. The situation is challenging mainly in a few districts in southern Nepal. There is no security problem in hilly and mountainous districts. No problem in many other districts in Terai itself. Some, including the election commission, say there are not enough staffs and security personnel for the election. Why not go for options like holding election in phases? The most promising aspect is that Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is committed to holding election in time. He said so in his recent meeting with the election commissioner which was attended by all leaders including Prachanda of the Maoist, Madhav Kumar Nepal of CPN UML and Deuba. Deuba expressed negativism on the prospects of election in that meeting as well where as Koirala, Nepal and Prachanda firmly committed themselves towards the democratic process. (Today MK Nepal said that “worsening law and order situation has overshadowed the election issue”. This statement from his is intended at pressurizing the government than trying to push the election to uncertainty.) The only person supporting Deuba in the meeting was Surya Bahadur Thapa (of Rastriya Janashakti Party.) Thapa recently came heavily against democratic development. It’s not hard to see the anti-election nexus that is slowly growing.

The main point is we should not push the election of Constituent Assembly on any pretext. We have the history, very bitter, about not being able to hold the CA election. And the king took advantage of that situation in the 50s. There was no effective pressure for CA election at that time because, as I read somewhere, the CA election issue was only raised by the parties at that time. Today situation is different. People want constituent assembly. The whole country has made the CA election the main agenda. When the whole country is ready to caste vote, the masked efforts from people like Deuba to derail the election plan must be countered effectively. In the past few days Nepali Congress general secretary Ram Chandra Poudel has also hinted that the process of election couldn’t be finished by the end of Jestha meaning that the process could be extended for weeks. That can be accepted but I see some problem with Deuba statement. He isn’t honest. I see some kind of conspiracy in his remarks. It is a known fact that the palace wants to stop the election of the assembly that will decide the fate of monarchy with a simple majority. It’s almost certain that the assembly will vote to eradicate the feudal institution from Nepal. Even a child understands why palace wants to stop the election.

The Constituent Assembly is not just for dealing with monarchy in Nepal. It’s about drafting the new future plans for the country. It’s about restructuring the state, empowering various groups and ethnic/marginalized communities and bringing them to the mainstream of Nepali ruling. That is why all efforts must be focused on making the election of Constituent Assembly a reality.

Gaur Killing: India to Help Nab Assailants

RAUTAHAT, March 24- Indian security officials yesterday promised support to Nepali policemen in capturing the culprits of Wednesday’s attack in Gaur, who reportedly fled to Indian territory. Suspecting that some assailants fled to India, Nepali officials asked for support from Indian authorities. The officials yesterday held a meeting at the district police office Gaur. Suman Kumar, district majistrate of Sitamadhi district of India and MR Nayar, superintendent of police (SP) of India, DIG Kiran Gautam and SP Ram Kumar Khanal from Nepal Police and Chief District Officer (CDO) Madhav Ojha, among others, discussed the security situation during the meeting. Indian security officers were ready to help capture the culprits, according to DIG Gautam.

At least 28 people were killed during the clash between Madhesi People’s Rights Forum and Maoist-aligned Madhesi Rastriya Mukti Morcha in Gaur, the district headquarters of Rautahat, Wednesday. As speculations of an impending Maoist retaliation against the bloody attack spread in the area, locals in and around the district headquarters are terrified. Terror-stricken pepole fear even to come outside their houses. The situation is Gaur is yet to see normalcy.

Meanwhile, in Dang, Nepali and Indian authorities agreed to work together to curtail violence and other irregularities along the Nepal-India border. They agreed to discover, restore and monitor border pillars at Koilabas VDC in Dang district, according to CDO Rudra Prasad Paudel. DIG SK Mathur of Saraswoti in India, among other Indian security officials took part in the meeting.– by Shiv Puri