Nepal: Maoists, indigenous protesters stage ongoing strikes

For more than a month now, large parts of Nepal have been periodically shut down by a series of bandhs, or civil strikes, called by indigenous groups, regional autonomists and former Maoist rebels. In the town of Hetauda, Makwanpur district, a group led by local businessmen on May 31 held a motorcycle rally to protest the protest campaigns which have demanded a halt to all business and traffic. Local bandhs were called there several days in succession by the Matrika Yadav faction of the CPN-Maoist, and the Sanghiya Loktantrik Party and Tamsaling Autonomous Council, two groups demanding greater autonomy for the Tamsaling region. (Himalayan Times, May 25) Two weeks earlier, a coalition of minority ethnicities and indigenous groups staged a coordinated nationwide bandh, shutting roads and markets across the country to demand greater rights as a new constitution is prepared. (Hindustan Times, May 13)

On April 27, indigenous protesters, mostly from Newa and Tamsaling regions, marched thousands strong on Kathmandu, effectively shutting the city. “We want the constitution to pave the way for autonomous federal states, that ensure the rights of the Dalits [‘untouchables’], women and the indigenous communities,” read a joint statement by protest leaders. (DPA, April 27)

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