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FES Nepal in the Press - 2004

Find solution of crisis within nation, says French envoy <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, Dec.22: The crisis perpetrated by the conflict in Nepal has no quick-fix solution and the way out of the present crisis for the durable peace should be sought within the nation, said ambassador of France Michel Jovilet Wednesday.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Youth Media and Peace', Jovilet said that the Nepalese media is working positively and lobbying for peace. He also paid respect to the journalists who lost their lives and disappeared in the ongoing conflict and said that the Nepalese journalists have been going through the difficult times.

Dev Raj Dahal, chief of FES-Nepal, said that the media in Nepal have created communicative space for the youths. However, a large number of youths have become apathetic to the national affairs due to the ongoing conflict, which has given birth to the feelings of fear and uncertainty among them, he said.

Professor Gunanidhi Sharma said that development of a flexible scientific society relies upon youth and media. "Both media and youth make the nation technologically sound and institutionally competent", he said.

The role of educated youth and socially responsible journalism is vital to resolve inherent crisis of political leadership, governance, economic development regional and ethnic balance, gender equality, human rights, health and educational opportunities, he said.

Narendra Prasad Upadhyaya, chief editor of the Telegraph Weekly, said that today's youths are energetic, dynamic and competent, however, the government's sheer neglect to their issues and grievances have forced them to go on rampage.

He urged the youths to come forward for the restoration of peace in the nation. "The media should back the youth's efforts unconditionally", he added.

Academician Dr. Suresh Chalise and journalist Bishnu Nithuri also spoke on the occasion. During the second session of the programme, Dr. Krishna Bhattachan and Shanta Pokharel presented working papers. The programme was jointly organized by the Telegraph Weekly and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal.

Source: The Rising Nepal (23 December 2004)

Youth leaders stress need for broader alliance <Top>

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, November 21:

Youth leaders today highlighted the need for a broader youth alliance in order to form a Youth Parliament to solve the nation’s political crisis.

Presenting a paper at the workshop on ‘Crisis in Democracy and Role of the Youth’, organised by the Fredric Ebert Stiftung and Centre for Social Transformation, Nepal, former president of Nepal Students Union, Biswo Prakash Sharma, said a Youth Parliament is necessary in the absence of a real parliament and cessation of constitutional practices.

“The Youth Parliament, formed with various youth organisations, can come up with a roadmap for the resolution of crisis,” he said, adding, “For the Youth Parliament to be established, a broader youth alliance is essential.”

Sharma stressed the need for a united pressure campaign besides urging them to be determined to join a strong movement launched with a wise resolution. He also said that focus should be on a democratic culture. Human rights activist Sudeep Pathak said there should be a broad alliance among the youth of all political parties and other organisations to form a Youth Parliament. Former Member of Parliament, Hari Rokka, said the main obstacle to solving the crisis was the monarchy, and without its fall democracy is not possible.

Talking about structural changes in the state mechanism, he urged them to come up with a detailed process how to restructure the state. Khagendra Sangroula said the October 9 incident has inspired youth to study the history of the nation and the Shah dynasty. “Lack of internal democracy among parties is one of the major problems.” He also said that youth organisations devote more time to appease power centres and have become lazy.

Claiming that the monarch is not a constitutional force, central leader of Nepali Congress, Narahari Acharya, urged parties to unite against the monarch. He said unless a fully capable new generation comes up, the present ruling generation will not quit.

Pointing out that Minister for Information and Communication, Dr Mohammad Mohsin, had said that he never speaks himself, Hridayesh Tripathi said the nation is heading towards a dangerous zone. Pradeep Gyawali of CPN-UML warned the youth to be very cautious as the days ahead were dangerous.

Source: The Himalayan Times (22 November 2004)

Security Challenges <Top>

PRIME Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, while speaking at a meeting the other day, has emphasized on the need to forge collective efforts of the countries in the region in order to thwart the challenges posed by terrorism and the forces bent on destabilising social and political systems. Expressing his views in the gathering of the security experts,diplomats and political scientists, Prime Minister Deuba pointed out the fact that terrorism had obstructed the economic as well as the human develpoment process as a result of which social problems like poverty and illiteracy are yet to be tackled, and that they have remained as the major barriers of progress. The problems of underdevelopment and poverty are endemic and equally shared by all the countries in South Asia where conflicts among social and political groups are being fomented and escalated. The South Asian nations are also being affected due to lack of mutual understanding and confidence consequent to which perceived security threat and misgivings have drained off huge resources which otherwise would be channeled for addressing the needs of social development. However, thanks to the pragmatic approach displayed by the leadership of both India and Pakistan, it has helped to reduce tensions in the subcontinent and strengthen the basis for confidence building. A series of proposals floated by these countries to address irritating and inimical aspects of the bilateral relations through what is called as composite dialogue provide the convincing ground created for positive and constructive security environment. The SAARC summit being held in the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka soon will definitely provide a new opportunity to take the momentum of confidence building further. As SAARC has recognized terrorism as a major security threat to all the countries in the region and the regional convention to combat terrorism has been adopted it is time that the SAARC member nations took stock of the progress achieved in the implementation of the regional instrument. Security challenges emanated from terrorist outfits faced by the nations in South Asia are of the broader and comprehensive nature as their tentacles are spread across the countries. These demand, as emphasized by the Prime Minister, a concerted regional approach so that the security environment is improved and resources are allocated for improving the lot of poor people in the region.

Source: The Rising Nepal (21 November 2004

Joint efforts needed to curb terrorism, says PM <Top>

Regional meet on comprehensive security opens

By a Staff Reporter

KATMANDU, Nov. 19: Regional security could be assured if the countries of the region joined hands. Hence, collective effort is needed to tackle the growing terrorism in the south Asian region, said Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba Friday.

Speaking at a regional conference on 'Comprehensive Security in South Asia', Deuba, said that the region was facing colossal challenges of security and poverty.

New problems are emanating from the arms race and growing terrorism, and poverty remains one of the most formidable challenges. But confidence building in good faith is a mantra to tackle these problems," he said.

He said terrorism had obstructed the economic as well as the human development process, but the challenges could be overcome through collective effort. "Success must be achieved," he said.

Though the concept of regional security is complex, it should be continuous and revised with a multidimensional approach, Deuba said.

He said that an end to Indo-Pak hostility would be a milestone in ensuring peace in the region.

Talking about the national context, he said that the government was ready to hold talks with the Maoists to establish a lasting peace in the nation.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr.Prakash Sharan Mahat said that South Asia has all the potential to grow into a prosperous region.

"The South Asian nations that have geographical and cultural commonalties could achieve prosperity by putting the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement into practice."

He said economic integration of South Asia was based on the directives upheld by the Social Charter that binds all the nations to move forward collectively to tackle the challenges posed by poverty, slow economic growth and environmental factors. This, in turn, bolsters the commitment to a stable peace.

"Exchange of ideas among experts and academicians would help mitigate the challenges," he added.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal, said that South Asia is struggling to form a collective identity through shared values and interests in cooperation and engagement in restraint, non-confrontation and consultation.

"A vision of greater interdependence of the regional peoples and the states and shared interests in the promotion of peace and progress underscore the leitmotif of comprehensive security,' Dahal said.

He said intensified political dialogue, confidence building measures and social, economic, ecological and technological cooperation can create the necessary conditions for reducing the threat of tension and rebellion and promote the foundation for economic and social justice, peace and progress in south Asia.

National and international experts presented different papers on Comprehensive Security in South Asia during the second session of the seminar.

The two-day seminar is being organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 November 2004)

Conflict blamed for eroding journos' rights <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

LALITPUR, Sept. 26: A three-day workshop on Building Union Capacity for Human Rights and Conflict Reporting in South Asia kicked off here Sunday afternoon.

"Growing violence in the South Asian region evokes fear, brutality and death of ordinary people in conflict areas, inflicting the violation of human rights and undermining their pursuit, " said Dev Raj Dahal on behalf of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES),a German-funded non-governmental organization. "Journalists also face crackdown on press freedom threat of eviction and risks on their personal life and professional freedoms. Any attempt by journalists to project the visibility of victims poses risks to their profession, life and liberty."

He said that the journalists as citizens had a special responsibility to serve the public's need for peace, freedom and public goods in times of conflict. "They can perform this role only if freedom of the press and journalists' safety and professional autonomy are guaranteed," Dahal said the fundamental challenge of South Asian journalists now was to bring back the mutilated public into normal life and transfer the society of interest groups that were not communicating to each other into a deliberative public.

In South Asia, where politicians tend to communicate more to the media than to each other, media workers have additional responsibility in spreading the message of freedom, peace and social justice, Dahal added. He said it was essential for the journalists to maintain a sense of proportion between perception and judgement. "Similarly, when human lives are really at stake, reporting the news should not be decided by market imperatives of profit calculus, but by social utility of protecting public interest."

"The state media in South Asia are controlled by the governments whereas the private ones are guided by commercial motives," senior journalists P. Kharel said, talking about media and journalism in the region. "They still need to improve a lot in terms of content."

Kharel said the environment in the region was not in favor of working journalists. "Majority of them is compelled to work at low wages and their jobs are not secure; we cannot hope them to work freely and independently in such conditions."

For them to play constructive roles, they should first be free from the worries of livelihood, he added, and called for closer ties among the press unions in the region to press governments and owners to improve the situation.

He asked the media and the journalists in the region to widen coverage of the neighboring countries. We should not remain aliens to each other."

Cristopher Warren, president of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), spoke on the risks and challenges facing the journalists in the region and stressed on regional solidarity to improve human rights situations and mitigate conflict.

The workshop organized jointly by IFJ and FES is being attended by about 20 senior journalists from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Source: The Rising Nepal (27 September 2004)

Govt, Maoists urged to formulate CBMs <Top>

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, August, 28:

Leaders of various political parties, human rights activists and members of civil society today urged both the government and Maoists to develop confidence building measures (CBMs) to resume peace process. They expressed their views during an interaction programme on Dialogue for Peace organised by the CPN-UML’s Maoist Problem Resolution Recommendation Taskforce. Minister for Education and Sports Bimalendra Nidhi said the government was in favour of holding secret talks with the Maoists. “The government is doing homework to resume peace process and external mediation not necessary until internal exercises are exhausted,” he said. Professor Lokraj Baral said the Maoist problem cannot be resolved unless a new constitution is made. He said the negotiation should focus on political issues and clarity of thought is essential while holding talks with the Maoists. Pradeep Giri of the Nepali Congress (Democratic) said it would be futile to hold negotiation with the Maoists without understanding their political motive behind waging the war.

“We must not forget that Maoists have political interests in the state mechanism. That’s why they raise arms,” he said, adding that the state gave up finding peaceful solution to the problem after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US installations. But another NC (D) leader Dr Minendra Rijal said the rebels are ready to accept multiparty democracy and also ready to hold dialogue with the government backed by the King. Dev Raj Dahal, director of Frederich Ebert Stiftung, said that the upcoming talks should be held based on ‘national and rational perspectives’. “We should focus on end products rather than the means,” he said.

He said, “Root cause of the Maoist conflict is that there was no coherence on national security, democracy and development.” He said negotiation should be held at multi-dimensional, hierarchical and horizontal level.

Roshan Karki, spokesperson of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, said the government should be clear as what would attract the Maoists to come to the negotiating table. “Maoists have demanded United Nations’ involvement in negotiation as they have no faith on this government,” she said. National Human Rights Commission member Sushil Pyakurel was of the view that the Maoists would not come to peace process unless they are sure that the government has full authority to implement the agreement reached with them. Dr Sundar Mani Dixit, co-ordinator of Civil Society for Peace and Human Rights, said statements made by the government ministers were “irritating to the Maoists”.

Source: The Himalayan Times (29 August 2004)

Sensational reports causing panic <Top>

By Govinda Bhattarai

GODAVARI (Lalitpur), Aug.21: There has been much debate as to whether the Nepalese media are impartial when it comes to covering conflict related issues. They have frequently been charged of falling prey to emotional evaluation or caving in before threats.

It is a big challenge to strike a balance as reporters run the risk of promoting propaganda if they fail to support their reports with complete information. But at the same time, they also run the risk of being killed or mimed. The coverage of the government-maoist conflict is just a case in point. Since the maoist insurgency began, many sensational reports on the violence have caused panic in the public and have only fuelled the conflict. Instead, they can contribute in deescalating the conflict by presenting accurate information and balanced views, experts say.

At a workshop for journalists, some Nepalese as well as foreign media experts asked the media to play a constructive role during war times, especially by presenting the causes and consequences of the conflict and suggesting ways to settle it.

This helps create public pressure on the warring factions to come to the negotiating table. The media can also expedite a reconciliation process by establishing communication between the two sides, they said.

They also condemned the Maoists for killing journalists during the course of reporting.

"We as journalists must not let our emotions manipulate what we write," said Joergen Klussmann, a German media expert, at the training-cum-workshop 'Peace Journalism: On the Road to Conflict Communication', which concluded Friday. "For this, we need proper observation and fact-based evaluation."

Participated in by 15 journalists, including a German student and an American radio journalist, the three day programme organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung(FES) Nepal aimed at facilitating the media personnel to work on solutions to the problems Nepal is facing currently.

Klussman, the principal trainer, presented four aspects of a message and suggested the trainees to analyse every one of them in order to avoid emotional evaluation, which is always misleading.

Highlighting the importance of the media's role in a conflict situation, he said the media are the only source of information for both the contending parties and asked the journalists to be responsible and impartial while covering conflict-related issues.

On the opening day Wednesday, Nepal press Institute chairman Gokul Pokharel, while presenting the history of conflict in Nepal, expressed concern over the Maoist attacks on journalists.

"The gruesome murder of Gyanendra Khadka last year and of Dikendra Thapa of Dailekh in the second week of August this year by the insurgents are a reminder that the Maoists are not going to tolerate freedom of expression that goes counter to their dictates," he said.

He urged both the government and the Maoists to practice a high degree of tolerance and create a conducive atmosphere for the media to present issues impartially and objectively. Senior journalist Dhruba Hari Adhikary in his paper "Contemporary conflict dynamics in Nepal' said that in addition to the government and the Maoists, the civil society too should be included in the peace process. The role of civil society was even more important "in view of the fact that the country is without a parliament and an elected government," he said.

He suggested that Nepal accept the offer of assistance from the international community, including the United Nations and the European Community, in resolving the current crisis.

Dev Raj Dahal of FES Nepal said that media persons in Nepal has additional responsibility in spreading the message of peace and social justice.

"Media persons can provide early warning of conflict, help the victims to get justice, freedom and autonomy, educate the public about conflict sensitivity and flesh out alternative approaches for crisis prevention and conflict resolution," he said.

Source: The Rising Nepal (22 August 2004)

Insurance demanded for reporters covering conflict <Top>


LALITPUR, Aug 20 - A media expert has demanded that media houses should provide insurance for reporters covering the conflict around the country.
"Media organizations should not assign their reporters for reporting on the conflict without insurance," said Gokul Pokhrel, president of Nepal Press Institute. "There should also be provision for immediate health services made available for these reporters in case they fall ill."

He was speaking at a three-day training program on "Peace Journalism on the Road to Conflict Communication" at Godavari, organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) for journalists, which concluded here on Friday. FES, a German NGO with offices in 51 countries, works for democracy, trade unions and media professionals.

Pokhrel, while suggesting that journalists should not to be influenced by either the government or the Maoists, said that the emergence of an undaunted media with the skills and capacity to present issues impartially and objectively, would prove to be an asset in strengthening the cause of peace and negotiation.

"In order to enable the media to carry out its role fearlessly, both the government and the Maoist should be persuaded to exercise a high degree of tolerance, provide access to information and create an environment of trust and confidence," he said.

Jorgen Klussmann from Germany, the main resource person, trained the journalists on subjects like non-violent communication, the role of communication during conflict situations, reconciliation and peace journalism, and systemic constellation. The training was the second one of its kind held in Nepal.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (21 August 2004)

Conflict-hit women for end of the game of killing <Top>


SURKHET, July 25: Conflict-hit women of Surkhet district have called for immediate end of the game of killing fellow brethren in the country.

Speaking at the concluding function of a two-day discussion on 'gender concepts and condition of the conflict hit women' held here today by Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre(LACC), Lalitpur, the participating women said peace talks should be initiated and peace restored in the country before more other women are made widow.

The participants also demanded the government to provide compensation and relief to women having made widow by both the security forces and Maoist sides.

They pointed out the need of promoting social awareness and ending traditional ill-practices towards to widows, thereby creating an environment for the widows to lead a respectful social life.

Different widows including chairperson of the organizing body Dr. Shanta Thapaliya and Surkhet CDO Tilak Ram Sharma spoke on the occasion.

Meanwhile, president of the Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala has said that the Maoists problem is the main problem of the country at present and development process of the country could be forwarded if this problem is resolved in time.

He said that the people affected by the violence and terror of Maoists area compelled to face the additional difficulties of natural calamity.

After inspecting the flood affected areas of Jaleshwor of Mahottari District, Koirala said though then Nepali Congress government had taken initiative to save the people from flood and launched plan, the successive governments did not give continuity to such programmes and the problem.

Source: The Rising Nepal (26 July 2004)

(This program is conducted by LACC in cooperation with FES)

Demand for Gender Equality Training <Top>

Janakpurdham: Democratic Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a two-day training program on "Gender Equality and Trade Union Status" on June 21-22. The training raised an issue about global campaign on gender and discussed about the exploitation of women by women and patriarchal social structure. Participants uniformly viewed about the promotion of gender equality for enhancing women's rights and rightful place in society. Struggle for gender equality should lay emphasis not on fight between husband and wife, or between sister and sister-in-laws but against social ills and prejudices. They also viewed that gender equality requires attitude change and reeducation of all the generation of people. Social struggle should therefore, center on altering attitude towards giving birth to many children in the name of son's preference, send sons to school while assigning girl to family works and involvement of women in trafficking of girls.

Participants demanded a provision of citizenship certificate with the name of mother, an increase in women's number in the parliament, adequate educational opportunity including equal opportunity in the army, police and public administration. Proportional representation was also sought in industry, commerce and civil society. DECONT general-secretary Khila Nath Dahal stated to promote gender equality in its union structure. Chairperson of Women's Department of DECONT Rama Paudel explained the objectives of the training and appealed all members of DECONT to support the idea of gender equality in workplace and family. 40 women from ten districts - Dhanusha, Mohattari, Sirha, Saptari, Bara, Parsa, Chitwan, Jhapa, Morang and Makwanpur participated the training. Local leaders of Janakpur Kishori Shah, Ram Saraj Yadav, Samir Ghimire, Krishna Giri, Madhav Neupane and Ram Bharat Shah spoke on the inauguration session. Dev Raj Dahal highlighted the contribution of FES and four trainers Ghana Shyam Subedi, Madhav Neupane, Rama Paudel and K. N. Dahal facilitated the training.

Source: Tarun Weekly (Nepali) 28 June 2004

Conflict & Women <Top>

The ongoing conflict has afflicted every sector of the society. More than 10,000 people, mostly innocent civilians, have already lost their lives in insurgency related incidents over the last eight years. A report has it that women and children are worst hit by the insurgency and conflict. It is estimated that about 37,000 women have been affected by the eight years of violence and conflict. Nepalese women, who constitute half of the country's total population, have lagged far behind in all sectors compared to men. This is all due to our age-old tradition and social structure. Women have little say in the decision making process and social and economic activities. Women's contribution to the national economy has not been duly recognized. It is one of the reasons for Nepal's low level of development. Already suffering from discrimination and exploitation, the conflict and violence have further afflicted and marginalized Nepalese women especially in the rural areas. Unless all women are brought to the national mainstream on equal footing, it would be difficult to achieve Nepal's sustainable development. Realizing this, the gender issue has lately received due prominence in all sectors all over the world including Nepal. Nepal has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal has strictly prohibited all forms of discrimination on the ground of sex, colour and caste. At the same time, it has enacted several laws to ensure equal rights for women. There have definitely been good developments concerning women and their rights. However, in practice the situation is different. Majority of women in Nepal are still illiterate. The law concerning equal share for women in the parental properties has been enacted but women are still not been able to fully enjoy this rights due to social and cultural bias. It is mainly because of the ignorance of women concerning their rights and legal provisions. Thus, it is very important to raise the awareness level of women on their rights and role in the society. Deputy Speaker of the dissolved House of Representatives Chitralekha Yadav aptly raised the issue of women and stressed the need for more focus on women development activities to raise the status of Nepalese women. As said by Deputy Speaker Yadav, more efforts need to be made to ensure equal participation of women in all sectors, which alone would ensure equal and sustainable development of the country.

Source: The Rising Nepal, Editorial (18 June 2004)

Women, children hardest hit by insurgency <Top>

LALITPUR, June 16: Although figures about the number of women and children affected by the Maoist insurgency are conflicting, there is no second opinion that they have been worst hit.

Some studies have put the number of women affected by the 8-year-long insurgency at 37,000. This is based on the assumption that 9,000 people have been killed in the insurgency so far, most of them men.

Speaking at an interaction programme today on "Women and Armed Conflict: Reaching towards Focused Solution", Deputy Speaker of the dissolved House of Representatives Chitra Lekha Yadav said that women-be it the wives of the police, army, Maoist or any common person have suffered the most.

The programme was organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Samrakshan Nepal.

She said that women in the rural areas have three to five children on average. And when men are killed or forced to flee, the burden of taking care of them falls on the women.

She blamed the self-centred politics for the woes of the country, including the conflict.

In her paper on "Participation of Women in Conflict Resolution" Manorama Upadhyay, president of Samrakshan Nepal, however, claimed that more than 10,500 people had lost their lives since 1996. According to her, the conflict has resulted in the death of 447 women.

But INSEC puts the total number of deaths at 9,133 and of women at 446. According to a report of the National women's Commission, women account for about 33 percent of the Maoist militia in some districts. The figure is as high as 50 per cent in the districts highly affected by the Maoists.

The report also said that majority of the Nepali women are legally, politically, economically, socially and culturally marginalised and subordinated to structural injustices of society.

Many young women are displaced from their homes and are forced to stay away due to threats in their villages. The paper said that killing of the male members of the family by both the warring sides is one reason behind the women's sufferings.

The trauma faced by windows and orphans, sexual violence, forceful eviction of women from their homes, beating, torture and arbitrary detention have reached unbearable levels. Migration from the villages has resulted in a six percent population incre4ase in the cities and towns, Upadhyaya said.

She said that ignorance about women's contributions and potential role in preserving peace and resolving the conflict has not only hindered in providing gender equality but also obstructed efforts to achieve sustainable peace and security.

Journalists Guna Raj Luintail in his paper "Gender Issue in Conflict Situation in Nepal" said the figures about the number of women killed or displaced by the insurgency were conflicting.

President of the Institute of Human Rights Communications Shova Gautam, in her paper "Entry Points for women's Participation in Peace Building", said that the armed conflict has led to poverty, malnutrition and unemployment while slowing down the pace if development.

The conflict has also impacted economic growth, development budget, education and health, besides enhancing the threat of terrorism, she added.

Source: The Rising Nepal (17 June 2004)

Government not serious about conflict victim women <Top>

Kathmandu: Though women are not directly involved in the conflict, they are the victim of violence and displacement. Speaking at a seminar organized by Samrachhan Nepal on “Women and the Armed Conflict: Reaching Towards Focused Solutions,” speakers pointed out that the state should be more sensitive towards the plight of conflict affected women. “Women are being affected by the violence and conflict all around” said the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Chitra Lekha Yadav. She recommended the idea of the formulation of democratic structure which makes politics people oriented than self and profit oriented.

Similarly, representative of FES Dev Raj Dahal said that conflict can be minimized if the state tries to eliminate structural injustices inflicted on conflict victims. On the occasion chairperson of Institute of Human Rights Communication, Nepal, Shova Gautam presented a paper on “Entry Points for Women’s participation in Peace Building,” journalist Gunraj Luintel, presented his paper on “Gender Issues on Conflict Situation in Nepal,” and chairperson of Samrachhan Nepal Manorama Upadhayay presented a paper on “ Participation of Women in Conflict Resolution.”

Deputy Superintendent of Police Geeta Uprety, Human Rights Activist Krishan Pahadi and Dr. Mohan Dev Bhattarai put their comments on the papers. Senior journalist Dev Prakash Tripathi, ex-Minister Yog Prasad Upadhayay, among, other said that armed conflict has affected women and children more than others.

Source: Nepal Samachar Patra (17 June 2004)

NEFAS Seminar on Conflict <Top>

By our Reporter

Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) conducted a well-attended, two-day seminar, Sunday and Monday, with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung cooperation on "Critical Barriers to the Negotiation of Armed Conflict in Nepal".

Sunday morning saw Prof. Surya Lal Amatya chair the inaugural session where NEFAS executive director Prof. Ananda Shrestha elaborated on the seminar topic and its purposes with the FES's Dev Raj Dahal also delving on the same.

The two working sessions that day followed with Ananda Aditya chairing the first. Mana Ranjan Josse's paper "History and Genesis of Nepal's Maoist Insurgency: Tools for Negotiating Conflict" and comments by Bihari Krishna Shrestha were hotly discussed by participants.

Discussions on the second paper "Cost of Conflict and Donor's Dilemma: How is Nepal Coping?" by well-known economist Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma and commented upon by Bharat Pokharel saw chairman Arjun Jung Shah grappling with the difficulties of time restraints and high participation.

Monday morning and Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti's paper "Conflict Resolution in Nepal: Traditional Approaches and the Question of Third Party Mediation" as also Lal Babu Yadav's comments triggered extensive participants response prompting chairman Aditya Man Shrestha to forego his comments from the chair in order to cope with the limits of time.

The last session saw discussion of Shravan Sharma's paper "The Role and choice of Facilitators in Negotiating Conflict: The Nepalese Experience". Dr. Samira Luitel commented. Dr. Durga Pokharel chaired.

Source: People's Review (3-9 June 2004)

Political actors giving priority to Power than Peace <Top>

Kathmandu: The Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies, NEFAS, organized a two-day national seminar, May 30-31, on " Critical barriers to the negotiation of Armed conflict in Nepal", in Lalitpur.

Nepal’s noted scholars and academicians participated in the two day event.

Welcoming the attending participants, the executive director of the NEFAS, Professor Anand Prasad Shrestha, said that the past democratic years have not only proved to be a costly exercise but are to a great extent held responsible for fueling, if not by default giving birth to the insurgency itself.

Professor Shrestha also stressed the need to tackle the core and the peripheral issues fueling the conflict with skill and foresight and not zoom straight into sensitive issues embodied in the former without so much as coming to some understanding on peripheral issues.

The FES Nepal representative, Dev Raj Dahal, on the occasion opined that Nepali politicians have not mustered enough "political will," to transform conflict and competition into a cooperative game. "There is a lack of national perspective in conflict perception and that the perspectives forwarded by various forces of society in resolving the conflict also suffer from rationality deficit as their orientations are partisan in nature-- either inclined to garner benefit to individual leaders or particular party, or a group of parties or even a regime", Dahal added.

He noted that the stubborn resistance of diverse political actors against each other subsumes the notion that political actors are giving priority to power over peace.

Noted journalist, M.R. Josse, presenting his working paper said that though the Maoists have periodically demonstrated their ability to mount sizeable attacks on State security forces and other targets, they have not been able to hold to their "gains" for long. According to Josse the Maoists have immensely benefited from the great divide that is in between the Palace and the parliamentary parties.

"The prognosis for a negotiated settlement of the insurgency is not very encouraging despite the deafening calls from some quarters for another cease-fire and follow up talks.

Similarly, senior economist Dr. Gun Nidhi Sharma presenting his paper maintained that "conflicts in Nepal with its historical, gender, political and social and cultural dimensions are imposing high economic costs to the society and that these costs were explicit and implicit in that while some of them are direct and quantifiable whereas many others are indirect and unobservable and which can be gathered only through impressions".

The next day of the seminar saw the presentation of papers from Dr. B.R.Upreti and Mr. Shrawan Sharma.

Dr. Upreti said in his paper that since the Maoists do not trust the government and hence they demand the UN mediation at the talks. "If the UN is there at the talks, adds Dr. Upreti, the insurgency also could enjoy legitimacy and thus recognition as a potential political force.

Mr. Sharma concentrated mostly on how the talks should proceed and the role of the facilitators.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (2 June 2004)

Impact of Conflict on Women <Top>

Bardiay, May 25: One-day seminar was organized among the journalists to discuss the impact of conflicts on women. Jointly organized by Women Communicators’ Group (WCG), Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Bardiya and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the program was participated by journalists from Bardiya, Nepalgunj, Dang, Kailali, Mahendranagar and Surkhet.

The General-secretary of WCG Babita Basnet chaired the session while District Judge Bishnu Dev Paudel, Local Development Officer Yagnya Prasad Bhattarai, Police SP Shayam Prasad Nepal, Secretary of WCG Nirmala Sharma and the president of FNJ Bardiya section Yubraj Sharesta shared their views. Babita Basnet presented a paper on the “News Reporting About the Impact of Conflict on Children,” and Minraj Sharma presented paper on “News Reporting from the Periphery.” The discussion highlighted about the problem of kidnapped women, problems of the family of security forces and Maoists and the negative impacts of conflict on their lives.

Source: Ghatana Ra Bichar Weekly (26 May 2004)

Labourers' rights protection stressed <Top>

LALITPUR, May 16: A two-day workshop seminar was organised here Saturday with the objective of identifying the problems seen regarding bringing labourers working in the unorganised sector within the limits of organisation and determining the strategy and programmes to be adopted in resolving these problems.

Inaugurating the seminar organised by the Democratic Confederation of Nepalese trade Unions (DECONT),Deputy Speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav said the co-operation of all sectors was necessary to integrate the labourers working in the informal sector and resolving their problems. She also expressed the hope that the seminar aimed at identifying the shortcomings seen in the strategy and programmes with regard to the rights and interests of the labourers in the unorganised sector would be successful in addressing the problems.

Suloman Raghubanshi of the international labour Organisation (ILO) said ILO has already adopted a separate work plan regarding protecting the rights and interests of the labourers in the unorganised sector and resolving the existing problems by making them organised.

Representative of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Dev Raj Dahal said it would be worthless to seek solution to the plethora of problems of the labourers until the labourers involved in different professions and labour organisations are organised.

He said doing so would help in formulating the strategy and programmes relating to the rights and welfare of the labourers.

Source: The Rising Nepal (17 May 2004)

Separate Laws Required for Informal Sector workers <Top>

Lalitpur: Experts point out the need for bringing informal sector workers into the legal framework of formal economy by extending support to their economic, social, political and educational development. Informal sector provides employment to 80 percent of the nation’s population and makes more than 45 percent contribution to GDP. These facts have stated by the experts in two-day national workshop on “Identifying Challenges of Informal Sector Economy for Trade Unions,” organized by Democratic Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Inaugurating the workshop Deputy Speaker of the parliament Chitra Lekha Yadav said, “public policy should be formulated keeping in mind social justice and human rights of workers in the informal sector economy. Since bulk of informal sector workers are women their voice and participation should be ensured by the concerned quarters.”

Planner Dr. Purna Kant Adhikari argued that the workers in the informal sector should be identified and organized in the union. Representative of ILO Soloman Rajbansi highlighted the role of ILO in lobbying for guaranteeing at least minimum social security for workers in the informal sector, promotion of their rights including right to food security, employment and organization. The Representative of FES Dev Raj Dahal stated that the economy should aim to fulfill basic needs and proper policies should be formulated for the protection of workers in an informal sector. Property rights to the poor should be established. Economist Binod Bhattarai said that workers are exploited in an unsafe labor market and they do not have institutional means to address their grievances. This situation needs to be addressed. Out of 9269555 workers in the informal sector 7536036 are occupied in the agriculture sector.

Lawyers Ghanashayam Subedi presenting his paper on legal provisions for informal sector stated that 96 percent of the population is in informal sector. Low income, job insecurity, problem in working environment, long working hours, lack of legal protection, low quality job, government’s neglect, lack of land and capital, lack of modern technology, problem in unionization, absence of social security, basic training and education and problem in access to policy makers are the key problems. President of DECONT Rajendra B. Raut, Vice-President Khila Nath Dahal and Vice-President of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) also sharing their views stated that organization of informal sector workers should be the responsibility of all social actors, not just the unions. It is a national problem, therefore, the state should bear primary responsibility to solve their problems.

Source: Nepal SamacharPatra (16 May 2004)

State Should Formulate Special Programs for Dalits <Top>

Lalitpur: The Vice-Chairman of National Assembly argued that unless Dalits’ access to various institutions of the state is ensured upliftment of Dalits is not possible. Speaking at a two-day national seminar on “Raising Dalit Participation in the Governance” organized by Center for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) he said, “since Dalits are historically excluded by the state, it is the responsibility of the state to raise their participation in the governance.” He stated that more than 500 Dalits lost their lives due to ongoing violent conflict in the country and many of them have undergone torture. The concerned sectors should address this problem.

Former Foreign Minister Shailendra Kumar Upadhayay argued that the total abolition of untouchability system from the country, the government, political parties and civil society should take initiative and the existing laws and regulations should be made effective. There should also be the solidarity of social movement groups. Member-Secretary of National Dalit Commission Durga Sob believed that due to the problem of the nationalization of Dalit issue the problem of the abolition of untouchability continued. The government has to make special efforts to uplift them.

Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dev Raj Dahal said, “abolition of the untouchability inherent in the caste system is possible by proper policy instruments and attitude change.” Executive Director of CETS Dr. Hari Bansa Jha revealed that since five years CETS has been involved in organizing and educating Dalits on their constitutional rights. In the seminar discussion focused on policy reforms, utilization of foreign aid, affirmation action, legal advocacy and quota for the education of Dalit students. (RSS)

Source: The Gorkhapatra (4 May 2004)

Journalists displaced by conflict seek justice <Top>


KATHMANDU, Apr 27 - Deaths, arrests and abductions, life-threats and torture, closure of newspaper offices and self-censorship. This pretty much sums up the state of press freedom in Nepal in recent years.
Thanks to the never-ending conflict, the insurgency, the counter-insurgency, and now the agitation launched by

the alliance of five political parties.

The media sector, which has undergone a phenomenal development in the post-1990 Nepal, has suffered a severe blow, especially after November 2001 when a state of emergency was declared.

These hardships that our "free press" is undergoing since the Maoist rebellion started were more visible in the voices and faces of a group of displaced journalists who gathered in the capital today for a seminar.

They shared their stories of torture unleashed on them and their families by the state as well as the Maoists. Their crime: using their pens to disseminate the true state of affairs to the masses.

"I received death threats from Maoists for covering a heinous crime committed by the rebels who butchered a cow and fed their cadres," Ram Krishna Gautam, a Surkhet-based reporter of the Rastriya Samachar Samiti said. He is now living in Kathmandu due to Maoist fears.

Thanks to the International Press Institute Nepal National Committee, the global network of editors and media executives, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, that jointly organized the seminar to know the plight of journalists displaced by the Maoist insurgency so that they can come up with programs to rehabilitate them.

According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), umbrella forum of professional journalists in the country, altogether 26 journalists have been displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Displaced journalists said they have been penalized by the state for covering Maoists activities and being Maoist sympathizers. Displaced journalists affiliated to government media said the Maoists punish them for using the word ‘terrorist’ in their news, they accuse them of spying and covering negative news about the Maoists.

Some journalists said security forces have tortured them for nonsense causes. "Security forces tortured me for wearing long beards. They said my beard makes me look like Maoist," Bishnu Bhusal, a journalist from Arghakhanchi district said.

Other journalists said that they have been victimised by both security forces and the Maoists.

"Once security forces captured my Dictaphone and mentally tortured me. Later on Maoists issued death threats against me. Now I am forced to live in Kathmandu," Hari Bahadur Khadka, a Radio Nepal reporter based in Arghakhanchi said.

Some journalists told heart-rending stories of torture in police custody. "Please do not record my voice. Do not take my photograph. If they identify me then they will torture me again," a displaced journalist, who requested to be unnamed said.

According to FNJ President Tara Nath Dahal, some state-owned media organizations have sacked some displaced journalists on the ground that they left their job stations.

The displaced journalists prayed that press freedom be restored so that they can return back to their respective work stations and continue their work. They demanded the FNJ take initiatives to provide justice rather any relief materials.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (28 April 2004)

Wrong policy spoiling young generation <Top>


Academicians, intellectuals, representatives of different professional organizations attending a seminar on "Youth in Civic Education" remarked that the wrong policy adopted for the young generation has resulted in spoiling them.

At the seminar organised by NEFAS in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal, on April 18, the participants strongly recommended for introducing appropriate syllabus from the primary level in education with the aim of providing civic education to the new generation.

Participants further noted that the youths in the country are directionless and the political parties are using the youths as tools for achieving their political goals.

Youths are being used in agitation, they are carrying guns under the Maoists' command, they are addicted to drugs, the participants opined and suggested for introducing necessary policy to properly utilize the youth force.

NEFAS executive director professor Aananda Prasad Shrestha, in his welcome speech, shed light on the importance of civic education at a time when the nation and nationalism are facing internal as well as external threats.

"Civic education will provide proper guidance while exercising democratic rights and responsibility of the citizen, he said and added that such an education will also help the society to be aware about the responsibility of the citizens on the job of nation-building.

He also opined that all the castes, classes, genders, communities, among others, should get equal opportunity in every field.

"We are saying "politics is a dirty game" it is because of strong domination of unhealthy competition, nepotism and favoritism in politics," Shrestha said and described that when those people having no knowledge of civic education dominates politics, such a situation occurs and brain-drain of young generation is obvious at that time.

Shrestha concluded with the remarks that lack of civic education will turn politics into personal benefit, create division in the society as well as the nation. Hence, civic education is a must for better democracy and development of the nation.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES Nepal chief, remarked that it is a growing concern among many countries and Nepal is also struggling to find ways to engage youth in the nation's social, economic and political life.

"The fundamental objective of civic education is to provide youth a comprehensive knowledge of what they are expected to know about positive norms and values about democracy and their role as sovereign citizens," said Dahal.

Understanding of democratic principles and skills is important for the practice of good citizenship and their trust in the polity, Dahal opined.

Professor Prem Raj Uprety presented a paper on "Youths of Nepal and employment scenario in civil society". His paper cited on historical perspectives and democratic profile of the youth population.

Uprety finally recommended for creating more jobs for a high growth in the economy; creating more investments in the social sector; developing basic infrastructures and properly managing the growing urbanization process.

He warned that rising youth unemployment would breed insecurity, instability, crime, terrorism and anti-establishments, demanding for justice, equality within the civil society.

Dr. Prem Sharma, CDRD, TU, while commenting on the paper presented by Uprety, said that the paper has covered the brand of Nepalese rulers on youth in different problematic period as agent of political change.

The paper has pointed out the dark side of status of youth as juvenile delinquency if they are deprived of employment and lack of access to educational opportunities, said Sharma.

Shanta Pokhrel, socio-economist, another commentator of the paper presented by Uprety, expressed the view that youths have remained directionless. She urged for harnessing youth power in nation-building job.

She further commented on the government's target of exporting manpower for dangerous and dirty jobs only. She also pointed out gender discrimination in the society and urged for end of such practices.

Source: The People's Review (22-28 April 2004)

Whither Nepali youth! <Top>

At a Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies sponsored seminar on Nepali Youths, Nepali scholars debated whether the Nepali youths were a problem for the country or vice versa. The national level seminar also discussed in depth the issues confronting the Nepali youths and the dimension of the consequences that it might catapult into if their real issues and concerns were not dealt with on time by the State. Naturally scholars opined that the Nepali youths have already become helpless, hopeless and felt alienated due to the gross negligence shown towards their plight by the fragile governments formed after the restoration even of the democratic order.

Noted scholar, Dev Raj Dahal, who concurrently is the Nepal representative of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German social foundation which supported the event, maintained that the need of the hour was to attract the attention of the confused Nepali youths towards the societal issues confronting the nation. Mr. Dahal’s appeal to the intellectuals and the national leaders had been not to use the youths only for their political purposes but to impart on them the positive values which ultimately will make them not only a disciplined citizens of the country but would also transform them into a completely competent and energetic youths who could later serve the societal and the country’s needs.

Scholars also shed light on the real issues that have beset the youths of late. Today’s Nepali youth could be seen in the streets supporting the agitation; a part of the same youth is found in the schools or for that matter in the colleges; some youths were in the jungles; a considerable chunk of the youths were either ragpickers or have already left the country for good as migrant worker in order to earn money. The rest, as academician Prof. S.L.Amatya revealed, have entered into the Indian territories either out of fear of the Maoists or to manage two meals a day.

If one goes deep into what the scholars have said, what comes to the fore is that the real villain of the Nepali youths is none other than the State itself. What the hell the youths will do if they are denied employment; what they will do other than to become a drug-addict if the state fails to cater to their demands that are indeed genuine ones. That the problems of the Nepali youths have already acquired a frightening dimension which gets reflected from their joining the insurgencies or migrating abroad. The fact is that if the society or for that matter the nation does not take care of their concerns, why should they in turn care those who grossly neglect them and their causes?

It is not for nothing that the paper presenter, Professor Prem Raman Uprety said that youths were an energetic group in transitional phase who desire a safe, clean and healthy environment for their mental and healthy development. It is this period of the youths which demands a sort of parental care both from the society and the State. If denied this care, chances remain high that the youths could deviate from their normal path which later could become a permanent headache both for those who neglected their concerns.

What is the structural condition of the Nepalese society? What are the possibilities for them to fulfill duties towards the society as citizens and as human beings? How to promote skill and will power among Nepali youth to fulfill their citizenship rights and duties and resist those defects that prevent them in fulfilling the national obligations ascribed to them? What are the incentives for Nepali youth to be integrated into the boundaries of national culture and inspire them to be committed to the constitutional goal of creating an open and just society? These were the questions whose appropriate answers will be explored during the discourse of the seminar hoped Prof. Anand Shrestha, the executive director of the NEFAS.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (21 April 2004)

Civic education vital for youths <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, April 19: Lack of civic education among youths has severely weakened the spirit of the people's movement of 1990 and caused a greater degree of frustrations at various spheres of the society. The conflict, violence and anomalies that have beleaguered the Nepalese society are mainly due to the dearth of civic education, observed social scientists and economists here at a programme.

High sounding words on intellectuals and planners do not help thrash out solutions to the social anomalies, youth force that constitute a major chunk of the country's population should be involved in developmental activities, they said.

Speaking at a seminar on "Youth in Civic Education" organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS), participants discussed ways to involve youths in the national development.

They warned, "If youths are brushed aside from the national development activities, politics and social issues, the problems of insurgency, violence, migration and excess consumerism will only intensify."

They affirmed that the violence was mainly due to the lack of civic education after the seventies and eighties.

The people's movement of 1990 restored democracy, but failed to yield a desired outcome owing to lack of knowledge about the roles and responsibilities of the youths. Therefore, civic education for youths is vital in strengthening democracy, said Dev Raj Dahal, country director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal.

Dahal, a senior socio-economic analyst said that the Nepalese youths are shying away due to lack of civic education and weakened the democratic values. If they were conscious, they would have known their responsibilities and the state would also be cautious, he added. "That is why we have given priority to this sector."

Ananda P. Shrestha, executive director of the NEFAS, said that the youths should be brought into the mainstream of development and they are the backbone of a nation; hence the civic education is essential to guide the youths to the right direction.

Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma, stressed the need for educating youths for national development and constructive works. It is role of state to educate youths and lead them to the right path, he added.

Presenting a paper on "Youth in Civic Education", Prof. Prem R. Uprety said that the government or a civil society that cannot manage its youth population is in deep trouble. For a small developing country like Nepal with poor infrastructures and physical resources, the employment of youth both in formal and informal sector posses a huge problem.

The NEFAS has been organizing seminars and talks programmes in various parts of the country in order to generate awareness among the youths.

The programme was organized in cooperation with the FES.

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 April 2004)

Government alert about peace talks <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, March 28: The government has given utmost priority to the peace talks, but the government's aspiration alone will not change the conflict into peace. The Maoists must also want peace," said Minister for Information and Communication at a one-day symposium on Democracy, Conflict and Press Freedom organised jointly by FES (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) and Editors' Society today.

The Symposium also issued a four-point declaration calling on both the government and the Maoist to realise that peace was of utmost importance and that both the sides must work for it. The declaration also asked both the sides to be serious in resuming the peace talks by observing a cease-fire.

It also asked the political parties for the formation of an allparty government for a political outlet to the situation and on the media to build public opinion on whether the UN's mediation would help bring a lasting peace to the country.

Speaking at the function, Minister Thapa said that the government was for peace talks and a cease-fire, but it must not be used to regain strength for renewed violence, and added that the government must remain on high alert for this.

Minister Thapa said that the political parties and civil society must have a forward-looking approach. To create such an outlook the role of the media is very important, he said.

The minister emphasised that election was necessary to resolve the present difficulties and end the conflict. "The Maoists could also take part in the election if they want. Even if they don't participate they can help by observing a cease-fire and shunning violence, Minister Thapa said.

He said that the fight against terrorism was not the fight of the government only. The media must also take the responsibility and show patience and pragmatism, he said.

President of the Editors' Society Govinda Biyogi said that the Nepalese press was always in favour of peace and a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

He said now that the press itself was getting suspicious after the betrayal by the Maosits.

Media expert P. Kharel said journalism must not only be free, it must be correct also. He said that nowhere in the world are statements of the rebels or terrorists printed as they are done in Nepal.

Talking about UN mediation, Kharel said that the UN or any other's mediation is not always good.

Source: The Rising Nepal (29 March 2004)

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