I have watched a 12 minute documentary, Jhalak (Glimpse). Jhalak is a documentary on human rights violations made in April 2004. On October 4, 2002, the king dissolved parliament and took executive power in his own hands. No elections, national, municipal or local have taken place since that date. The five main parliamentary parties (Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal, Unified Maoist and Leninist, Jana Morcha Nepal (People’s Front Nepal), Nepal Sadavawana Party (Anandidevi), and Nepal Worker and Peasants Party were protesting against the take over. Video footage was taken during the April 2004 people’s movement for restoration of democracy. From this footage a 12-minute documentary, Jhalak (Glimpse), was produced showing the human rights violations committed against the protestors. The entire effort including equipment, material, videography, editing, script writing and dissemination were done on a voluntary unpaid basis.
That is the background of the film, what is shows is the police beating protestors, using trucks to carry protestors away as if they were cattle, storming the All Nepal National Free Students Union office, beating those inside with sticks and then throwing their equipment and supplies out the window onto the street! Is this the police and army force that is supposed to be protecting the people of Nepal and providing security? Bystanders were harassed and beaten; government vigilantes are shown beating protestors who were in the hospital to receive treatment. Army personnel used rubber bullets that had to be dislodged from one individual. Aren’t these bullets supposed to cause pain, not enter one’s body? Did anyone instruct the police and army personnel on the safety range in which to use these rubber bullets? And if the protestors were not attacking, why were they firing shots at them anyway?
TATA trucks and buses used to take away the protestors were private and the army personnel did not ask permission of the owners for use. One owner, when looking for his truck, was arrested and taken away by the army, in his own truck! For those not familiar with a TATA truck, the best way for me to describe it is as a short Mac truck that closes in the back like a pick up truck (bottom up). Those arrested were held at different, non-jail, facilities, had to pay for their meals and had horrible sanitary conditions.
So these are the law enforcement personnel that the international community is supporting. The Nepali army personnel are not that professional, from my personal observation. They have drill marches through the streets of Kathmandu, and at different points in their line you can find there is a good 50 foot gap between soldiers while in another spot they are within 2 feet of each other. What kind of training is this? Walking through the busy morning streets of Kathmandu? Even I could plan an easy divide and conquer tactic to take over the army personnel. They are also posted on street corners, where at times they are seen sitting on the street fence talking to a civilian while holding hands (men holding hands with friends, while they speak with one another, while they walk down the street, or while they just sit near each other, is common practice. It can be found among women also, but not as much). I can also attest to getting more “Hello sister” and other random comments from army personnel posted outside the palace, the government office compound, and those monitoring the street then I have from the typical Nepali male community. Yes, expect some random comments because I am a foreigner, but when the people I am suppose to trust are the ones acting like school boys, I am a little worried.
I am torn between the good the king can do and reinstating the democracy. Coming from democratic nation this may seem to be a strange stance. But Nepal’s government is corrupt and everyone knows it. It is full of drama, unkept promises, prolonged deadlines and little, if any, development. Part of me thinks if the King can pull off his reinstating of multiparty democracy in a more accountable government, than Nepal would be better.
The other side of this is that the King is not allowing demonstrations, unless they are showing support for his movements; the King is censoring the press even more; the King is busy traveling the world and yet his country is in disarray; the King seems to not realize the real battle is not in Kathmandu, but in the hillsides and remote districts of Nepal. So he does not seem to be acting very democratically. The government of Nepal is corrupt (King for multi-party democracy), people are without land rights, enough food, little education and have a hard time declaring citizenship unless their FATHER claims them as his child; the FATHER is the only parent that can pass on citizenship and citizenship cannot even be made until one is 17-18 years old. What kind of country denies one’s existence until they are 17-18 years old and then will only acknowledge them if their father says, ‘Yes, this is my son/daughter’.
Many things have to change and I hope that they are for the better. The people of Nepal are good people. Kind, welcoming and helpful, they deserve a better government!
Posted By Anne Finnan (Nepal)
Posted Jul 21st, 2005