Nepal crisis deepens; AI sends high-level team

The crushing of a rally for the restoration of democracy in Nepal Feb. 10 rated a tiny blurb of wire copy on page 10 of the next day’s NY Times. Meanwhile, the crisis in the Himalayan kingdom rapidly deepens. Security forces are hunting down the 150 inmates liberated from a prison in an attack by Maoist rebels, and pledge to break up road blockades the guerillas intend to launch throughout the country to resist the state of emergency. Concerned about reports of detention of political leaders, rights activists and journalists, Amnesty International is sending a special high-level team to Kathmandu, led by the group’s secretary general Irene Khan. (Indo-Asian News Service, Feb. 11)

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has issued a new report finding that the Feb. 1 "royal coup" is only likely to intensify Nepal’s civil war. "King Gyanendra justified his coup on the need to beat back the Maoists, but it will have exactly the opposite effect. An absolute monarch undermining democracy will only aid the Maoists and do nothing to reduce the risk of them coming to power," ICG President and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said in the report entitled "Nepal’s Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse." (Malaysia Manorama, Feb. 12)

While the US has formally protested the royal coup, there has been no threat to suspend military aid, which has dramatically increased since the Maoists started to gain ground two years ago. See WW4 REPORT #39

See our last blog post on Nepal.