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Nepal: 100 women-activists arrested during
demonstration on the
International Women's Day
Last 15 February, All Nepal Women Association (ANWA) Vice-chairperson Ms Tham Maya Thapa, ANWA CCM Ms Sushila Nepal, ANWA DCM Ms Kabita Poudel, ANWA member Ms Radha Humagain and Lecturer Ms Sudha Tripathi were released from prison by the Supreme Court.
On March 8, 2005, Bidya Devi Bhandari, chair of All Nepalese Women Association (ANWA), was one of the hundreds of women activists who went out on the streets of Nepal to celebrate the International Women's Day. Along with the students, media and other human rights activists, they shouted anti-monarchy slogans, and called for democracy and human rights. Today, Bidya Devi Bhandari, is one of the 100 women activists from ANWA who are in detention, and among other 1,800 activists and leaders held in custody. Like the other detainees, Bidya Devi has not been allowed any visits or communication from the family, or comrades from ANWA. As of March 24, ANWA reported that more than 500 activists including their leaders have been prohibited to travel from their valleys to other districts.
The current situation in Nepal since the Royal take over on 1 February 2005 brings déjà vu - when King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency in the country in 2001-2002. The King was not satisfied then with how the government was unable to contain the Maoist insurgency. At that time, it was reported that Nepal experienced unprecedented human rights violations - arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances of activists, journalists, human rights lawyers and Maoists sympathizers. There were numerous reports of women being raped. Thousands of people have disappeared.
And today, the democratic structure has been completely abolished. This is the royal promise - three years under his direct rule and he will bring peace and democracy to Nepal. But as history would teach us, state of emergency means state impunity for gross human rights violations and anti-democratic practices. Democratic structures built on deaths, arrests, tortures of the very people who genuinely struggle for democracy, will be very shaky.
APWLD salutes the courage of women and men human rights defenders in Nepal. Their work in this dark moment offers light of hope for the thousands of masses living in fear and uncertainty. We express our solidarity with our sisters and comrades in All Nepalese Women Association (ANWA), member of APWLD.
We call to the Nepalese Royal Government for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders, and for the lifting of all restrictions to the
fundamental rights of movement, speech and assembly.
We strongly urge the Royal Government to lift the state of emergency; restore democratic structure, particularly the Parliament, independent media and judiciary; and pursue peaceful dialogues and alternative processes in ending conflicts with Maoists, and bringing democracy to Nepal.