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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 08:23 GMT
Amnesty criticises Nepal rights 'disaster'

king birendra The rebels target King Birendra's constitutional monarchy


By regional analyst Alastair Lawson

Amnesty International has accused the Nepalese Government and Maoist rebels of instigating a human rights disaster during a four-year insurgency in which over 1,000 people have died.

Maoist graffitti The Maoists want a communist republic
In a report that coincides with the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of Maoism, the human rights group says that both sides are guilty of a chilling catalogue of human rights violations.

Amnesty International warns that the Maoist insurrection risks being as drawn-out and violent as other conflicts in South Asia, such as in Kashmir, Karachi and Sri Lanka.

The report accuses Maoist rebels of killing at least 200 people since they launched their insurgency - many of whom died in the past 14 months - and of inflicting cruel forms of punishments against dissenters.

Executions in custody

Amnesty is equally scathing in condemning the Nepalese security forces.

It accuses them of executing hundreds of people in disputed circumstances, including people who had either been arrested or who had surrendered.

At least half of the nearly 800 people killed by police were deliberately executed, and reports of the torture of prisoners are common.

The report says that Nepal has no mechanisms to allow for independent investigations of extra-judicial executions carried out by the police.

The inspector-general of police remains in his job, even though a judicial commission recommended that he be prosecuted for his role in a series of disappearances that took place during protests to secure the re-introduction of democracy in 1990.

'Learn from neighbours'

Amnesty says the Nepalese Government should not repeat the mistakes of its neighbours in South Asia by pushing through laws that give sweeping powers to the authorities.

kathmandu street scene Amnesty representatives are en route to Kathmandu
While the security threat posed by the Maoist rebels is recognised, the report says the introduction of draconian laws to tackle the problem will only lead to more violence.

The group says that the government should also set up a human rights commission capable of holding independent investigations into abuses committed by both sides.

Amnesty visit

The release of the report comes a few days before a visit to Nepal by Amnesty's International Secretary-General, Pierre Sane, who will submit it to the government when he arrives in Kathmandu.

The United Nation's rapporteur, Asma Jehangir, is already in the country and holding meetings with the government.

The Nepalese Prime Minister, KP Bhattarai, told the French news agency AFP that the Maoists were a reactionary force who, along with the extreme right wing, would have to be smashed before the country's future would brighten.

He said that he would be seeking help from India when he visits Delhi next month.

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See also:
08 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Nepal urged to talk to Maoist rebels
29 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Amnesty offer to Nepal rebels
04 May 99 |  South Asia
Nepal: Politics and pessimism
31 Dec 98 |  South Asia
Nepal: Instability breeds poverty

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