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Double Standard

Issue 13, March 29, 2009

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Human Rights Organizations, international community and professional organizations such as Federation of Nepalese Journalists and Students’ unions have been very prompt to oppose the abuse of the individuals’ human rights in the case of someone of them was killed but keep mum to the abuse of the human rights of the entire population by one political party or another and recently by one ethnic group or another to achieve their demands. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded by the shutdowns of tarai or some districts called by one group or another has been the regular event in Nepal. People in remote districts have starved, sick people died, and pregnant women could not reached hospitals due to shutdowns and strikes. However, the so-called human rights watchers, students’ unions and Federation of Nepalese Journalists so smart to call shutdowns or strikes or rallies against killing of any members of its community, and also the international community so concerned with the abuse of human rights and impunity do not speak out for the common people when their rights were abused.

In the first week and the half of the second week of March 2009, indigenous people of tarai called Tharus have successfully closed the East-West Highway blocking the transport of the basic essential goods such as petroleum products, food, vegetables and medicines to different destinations in Nepal. They might have the valid reasons for protesting against the government putting them the label of Madheshis but did they have the rights to abuse the rights of the people of the entire nation to have the basic daily essential goods, did they have the rights to starve the entire nation, let the passengers stranded at various parts of the country, did they have the rights to stop the businesses of other people shutting down the markets and factories? This is only the recent example. However, various political parties, students’ organizations and even individuals have been committing such grave crimes of abusing the human rights of the entire population. It has been too much for the nation like Nepal.

Certainly, none of the political parties and individuals has the rights to shut down the entire country, stop the vehicular traffic on the highways, and shut down the businesses of other people. However, none of the human rights organizations and the members of the international community has spoken against such abuse of the human rights of the entire populace so far. The national and international human rights organizations make huge noises against the killing of some reporters by criminals stating it was against the press freedom and so on. Similarly, some members of the international community issue its strong opposition to the killing of reporters, to the enforced disappearance and the political cadres and the state officials committing crimes with impunity.

Everybody is against the killing of anybody and against the abuse of the human rights. However, the question here is why the human rights organizations and the international community so concerned with the human rights of individuals do not issue any statement against the shutdowns of the East-West Highway, forcibly shutting down the businesses of other people, schools and so on that abuse the human rights of the entire population. Do not they take it as the abuse of human rights?

On March 28, 2009, the CPN-UML called a nationwide protest against the killing of its cadres in Butwal. Its Chairman Jhalanath Khanal was to lead the protest. Its cadres have continued to burn tires, plastic water tanks and furniture on the streets in Butwal making the local administration to impose curfew stopping the businesses of and causing inconvenience to the entire population of Butwal thus punishing the innocent people for the crime of some criminals.

The cadres of the CPN-UML so concerned with the killing of one of their cadres have never been serious about the killing of common people, and about the enforced disappearance and the killing of twelve innocent people on the hill called Chihandanda in Nagarkot by an army man some years ago when Gyanendra Shah ruled the country. At that time President of Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala said that he would bring the concerned responsible army staff to justice but he had done nothing when he was Prime Minister. None of the twelve victims of the Nepal Army soldier did receive any compensation for the loss of their loved ones nor deceased were declared martyrs, as they were simple folks not belonging to any political party or professional organizations.

These political parties also were not serious about bringing both the Nepal Army and the Maoists to justice for enforced disappearance of innocent people, as they have not been cooperating on setting up commission on it. In addition, these political parties have not been serious about the families suffered from the disappearance of their loved ones.

Anybody not satisfying the government’s actions could stage peaceful rallies not intervening the businesses of other people and not abusing the basic human rights of other people. No doubt it would be a slow process and would not give quick results in comparison to the results given by the shutting down the entire nation in Nepal. However, they have no choice but to follow the peaceful means of achieving their goals rather than following the violent means of shutting down everything causing immense misery to millions of Nepalis that have nothing to do with the politics and so on.

Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai assured the Kathmanduites of bringing water from the Melamchi River to Kathmandu and then washing the streets of Kathmandu in 1990. Then, one government after another of Nepali Congress Party leaders such as Girija Prasad Koirala and Sher Bahdur Deuba did nothing for implementing the Melamchi Drinking Water Project for more than fifteen years they had been in power thus abusing the rights of Kathmanduites to drinking water. None of the political parties, human rights organizations, journalists and finally students’ unions did call a single rally against such governments abusing the basic human rights of the people.

Similarly, Former Prime Ministers Koirala and Deuba did nothing to build even a single hydropower plant or diesel power plant to mitigate the power shortage in Nepal. They issued the licenses for building hydropower plants to anybody willing to contribute to their political parties but did nothing to enforce the license holders to build power plants or relinquish the licenses. Most of the license holders were not for building power plants but held such licenses in the hope of selling such licenses to the potential power-plant builders. The result is not a single power plant is built and Nepalis have to live in darkness and suffer the economic losses caused by the shortage of power.

Both the former Prime Minister Koirala and Deuba successfully dismantled the state-owned industries, businesses, transport systems such as trolley bus between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, and Sajha bus services for the benefits of the private companies that favor them and their political party. As a result, Kathmanduites have numerous microbuses that the Koirala government had permitted to import. These microbuses have been nuisance in Kathmandu.

Former Prime Minister Koirala had repeatedly said that he would build a fast track between Kathmandu and Hetauda; however, he could not do it, as the company willing to build the fast track did not agree to pay the commission the government had asked for. Current Prime Minister Prachanda also said that he would initiate the process of building the fast track but nothing came to light about the process initiated or done so far.

Nepalis have given the political parties the mandate to working together following the consensus politics. However, some political parties including the major party such as Nepali Congress have opted to stay in the opposition and oppose anything the government does. So, these political parties not working together with all political parties have been abusing the people’s mandate.

Former Prime Ministers Koirala and Deuba did nothing for the benefits of the entire population but defended the interest of the rich and influential people causing rampant corruption in the civil administration, police, military and even judiciary abusing the rights of the people to impartial improvement in living standard. They made the mockery of democracy and human rights not following the democratic norms and abusing the basic human rights of the people. However, none of the human rights organizations, professional organizations and the international community is concerned with the misrule of the so-called democratic parties.

No matter whether the human rights organizations, professional organizations and the international community are concerned with the abuse of the fundamental human rights of the Nepalese people or not, political leaders not protecting the fundamental human rights and not working for the people of the grassroots level but working for certain quarters of the society would not politically survive in the democratic system of governance any more. No matter whether Prachanda or Koirala is the Prime Minister they have to listen to the people for staying in power. They cannot remain in power abusing the fundamental rights of the people no matter how much support they have from the international community or from the northern and southern powerful neighbors.

March 28, 2009.

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