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SurferSpeak| Days of dictatorship are over

King Gyanendra can run but not hide, says our surfer from New York.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 14:05 IST

Freedom of press is a hallmark of democracy. Despite King Gyanendra's statements that he wants revive democracy in Nepal, recent actions have presented a different picture.

According to media reports, approximately 200 journalists marched through Kathmandu on April 15.

Police blocked the rally and beat them with batons.

The journalists were simply calling for restoration of press freedom and the release of journalists who had been jailed since King Gyanendra seized power on February 1, 2005.

Reports indicate that seven journalists were wounded and at least a dozen detained during the peaceful protest.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists continues to denounce such actions.

On April 14, King Gyanendra issued a statement calling for conversation with seven major political parties in Nepal and suggesting general election.

At the same time, he did not offer any specifics.

Although the call for elections does reflect the King's announced plan to restore democracy in Nepal, opponents said it is bogus.

On April 18, three internationally recognised human rights organisations -- Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists, issued a statement urging other countries to refuse entry to King Gyanendra, his senior officials and top military officers as well as freezing their personal assets outside of Nepal.

A press release by Amnesty International read: The sanctions should target those responsible for setting or implementing abusive policies, including King Gyanendra, his deputy, the Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers Tulsi Giri, his Home Minister Kamal Thapa, his Justice Minister Niranjan Thapa, and his Information Minister Srish Shamsher Rana. The sanctions should also cover top security officers such as Chief of Army Staff General Pyar Jung Thapa, Inspector General of Police Shyam Bhakta Thapa, and the Inspector General of the Armed Police Force Shahabir Thapa.

Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said, "King Gyanendra's government seems impervious to the suffering of the people. The international community must now apply pressure through targeted sanctions that will have a direct impact on the King and his cohorts."

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights detailed demands in a resolution on Nepal dated April 20, 2005.

The three human rights organisations indicated that targeted sanctions should remain in effect until the Government of Nepal complies with the demands on issues such as arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, torture and other human rights abuses.

India, the US and the UK have suspended the transfer of lethal military assistance to the Government of Nepal.

The human rights groups is imploring those nations to suspend virtually all dealings until human rights violations are effectively dealt with.

Since the first week of April, citizens of Nepal have bravely staged peaceful pro-democracy protests, only to be met with excessive force.

At least six people have been killed and hundreds injured.

Hundreds of protestors are allegedly being detained without any legal representation or even the ability to contact family.

History traces the acts of many dictators, but as means of global communication have grown such individuals have been increasingly unable to suppress the citizens their nations and avoid international attention and condemnation.

Shortly after the fall of Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, journalist Laura Rozen wrote a piece titled "Dictator downturn: It just isn't as easy being a tyrant as it used to be".

In this article, Rozen quoted Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, as saying, "Times have changed. The days that a tyrant could brutalise his people, pillage the treasury, put his bank account somewhere and then seek exile abroad have ended. What we see now is dictators can hide, but they cannot run".

In 2000, former dictator Augusto Pinochet, then 85, was ordered under house arrest by a Chilean judge. The previous month he had been indicted on charges of ordering the kidnapping and murder of 70 political prisoners. Late in November of 2005, he was deemed fit to stand trial by the Chilean Supreme Court and was indicted on human rights, for the disappearance of six dissidents arrested by Chile's security services in late 1974, and again placed under house arrest, on the eve of his 90th birthday.

On April 18, 2006, a group of Chilean legislators presented a bill to Congress to rescind the Amnesty Law decreed by Pinochet that granted amnesty to anyone involved in "criminal acts" between September 11, 1973, the date of the coup that brought Pinochet to power, and March 10, 1978.

Slobodan Milosevic recently died as his four-year-long trial on 66 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity was reaching its end.

Justice may not always being swift, but in the 21st century it is increasingly being seen. The eyes of the world are now on Nepal. The Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, sent his special envoy Dr Karan Singh and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to Nepal for meetings. They were quoted in the press as expressing grave concern over the situation in Nepal.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists stated definitively that those responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law must be held personally and criminally accountable.

King Gyanendra can refer to precedents that have already been set.

Keshab Raj Seadie is with a New York-based law firm called Keshab Raj Seadie, PC, focused on immigration and nationality law. He can be reached at

All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of

First Published: Apr 26, 2006 13:40 IST