Archive ref no: NCA-21008
A FLEDGLING DEMOCRACY AND ITS FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM: A NEPALESE PERSPECTIVE
The text of the speech delivered by Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of Nepal, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Washington DC on 8 May 2002.
Michael Van dunsen,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great privilege for me to address this distinguished gathering of prominent people from various walks of life. It is also a pleasure for me to know that there is so much interest and concern about my country and people.
All of you are well aware that Nepal is going through a difficult time in its history. We are fighting against Maoist terrorism in Nepal. Their objective is to end multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchy through violent means, and establish a totalitarian communist republic. Their methods include torture, killing people brutally and indiscriminately as well as destroying infrastructure and vital democratic and development institutions. They have also used innocent citizens as human shields during attacks and conscripted children as soldiers. They have instilled fear in the minds of the people by summary killings, torture and inhuman treatment of people who do not support them. They have infused romantic utopia into the young minds of unemployed youth and have provided them weapons and training.
Last July, when I assumed the office of the Prime Minister, I tried to negotiate with them with utmost flexibility and sincerity to bring an end to this cycle of violence. My government negotiated them in good faith. I released some of their middle rank leaders from jail and asked security agencies to halt operations. I also suspended internal security regulations to create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill.
Three rounds of talks were held. I was willing to negotiate on anything except abolition of the system of multi party democracy, for which we struggled for years and decades, and the institution of monarchy, which symbolizes unity in Nepal. All of a sudden, when I was waiting of dates of the fourth round of talks, they unilaterally withdrew from the negotiations and staged the most vicious attacks against the district administrative headquarters of the country including district police offices and army barracks. They looted arms from the military and money from financial institutions. While we were holding talks in sincerity, they were regrouping, reorganizing and consolidating their positions secretly. Our trust was betrayed. Then I had no option but to declare emergency in the country and mobilize all the security forces including the army against the Maoists. With the support from all the major political parties, the Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the imposition of the emergency in the country. It is the primary duty of the Government to protect and promote the life and liberty of the people, the first and foremost priority of any government. It is also the basic human right of the people that everybody should be able to live in peace and make a living in an environment of security and certainty. As the American declaration so eloquently and succinctly expresses life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are fundamental to the progress and prosperity of a nation.
Without any exaggeration, let me sincerely tell you that Maoists are bent on destroying Nepal’s heard earned young democracy. They have been deliberately targeting democratic institutions at the local level to hammer efforts at providing better governance through decentralization. They are destroying bridges, telecom towers, electricity plants, rural airports, health, post and drinking water projects, as well as forest and agriculture offices. There is simply no logic in destroying these physical infrastructures except to instill terror in the hearts and minds of the public. They have also used the most barbaric methods of torture and almost ritualistic executions of those who oppose them. In the 1990s, when Nepal entered the era of democracy, these terrorists had participated to the first parliamentary election and had won a few seats. Later, when they realized their diminishing popularity, they boycotted the general elections and took up arms in 1996. They began their violent campaign of overthrowing the democratic system of polity and imposing a totalitarian republican state, which is already discredited by the international community.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, We are in the midst of our fight against terrorism and for the consolidation of the democratic system in our country. We believe that our fight deserves international support and co-operation. Terrorism today knows no boundaries. This was clearly and palpably made clear by the heinous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 last year. We extended our deep sympathy to the American people and expressed full support for the war against terror.
We all know that destabilization of a country by terrorist group with heinous purposes can have adverse effects around the world. Terrorism in any form and anywhere is a threat to the international community. The evil weapons and strategies of terrorism, such as kidnapping, drug and arms smuggling, hijacking, suicide bombing, trafficking of human beings affect each one of us, no matter wherever we live. This is the downside of globalization. Evil minds always try to make use of the revolutions in technology and communication to achieve their nefarious objectives. The only defense against them, we all have learnt, is to nip them in the bud, to act decisively against them and to promote international solidarity and action on a sustainable basis.
Terrorists everywhere try to exploit perceived grievances of the peoples. The Taliban tried to use the supposed opposition of Islam by the West for the justifications of its despicable acts. Maoists terrorists in Nepal have tried to exploit illiteracy and underdevelopment of the remote rural regions as justifications for inhuman killings and attacks against the government and the people, especially those at the forefront defending liberty and democracy. No cause, how noble it may sound, justifies terrorism. Violent methods cannot and should not be sanctioned in this century. Civilizational progress of human beings demands doing away with violence and killings. The fight against terrorism needs to be sustained, coordinated and one step ahead of the terrorist. Enhanced capability and resources are as important to defeat terrorism as is our determination and resolve to fight them against.
In our fight against the terrorists, the government has specifically instructed the security agencies to take extra care and be vigilant about the protection and promotion of human rights of all while conducting the operations. The IRCA has been authorized to visit different places of the country. The national Human Right Commission has been active in ensuring the civil liberties of the people.
I would like to assure you that we determined to root our terrorism from Nepal ourselves, and we have taken many initiatives both security related and developmental. However, these initiatives are costly. We know that there has been a sharp rise in the security expenses because of the mobilization of all the security forces, while on the other hand our internal revenue collection is decreasing because of the disruption of economic activities. The tourism industry, which is one of the major sources of foreign currency and has strong forward and backward linkages, has also been badly hurt. Our earnings from this sector, which was approximately 210 million US dollars up to year 2000, is now expected to be less than 70 million US dollars this year. Similarly, the terrorists have already destroyed public property worth 250 million US dollars. The cost of reconstruction is becoming almost unaffordable. As such, there is a tremendous economic pressure on the Government at the moment as well.
I strongly believe international support, solidarity and cooperation will be crucial in this fight. We, as a people, are fully determined to restore the peaceful image of our country, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Violence and killings are not in the nature of the Nepalese People. Those of you, who have visited our country, know of it, identity Nepal with serenity, lust green valleys, majestic mountains and ever smiling and hospitable people. Nepal has been projecting its peaceful image through participation in the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations around the world since 1958. With your support and cooperation, I am confident that we will succeed in effectively implementing long term and short term measures to restore this image of the country.
At the moment peace and security need to strengthened by confronting their savage attacks with full force. That will be followed by rehabilitation and employment generation activities in the remote and other targeted areas. Socioeconomic transformation and strengthening of good governance with decentralization of the authority are our longer-term priorities to alleviate poverty and deprivation. I have already initiated a number of reform measures such as land reforms, formation of national women commission and the commission for the oppressed people. Similarly, tough anticorruption law has been enacted and social institutions have been strengthened.
Democracy in Nepal has ensured liberty and fundamental freedoms to the people. The open environment combined with globalizations has naturally increased the aspirations of the people for a better and more prosperous life. It is an irony that the terrorists have abused the freedom provided by the democratic system to mount attack against democracy itself. Therefore, the international community should look at ways and means of strengthening the newly democratic countries with more capability and resources. This will help us to consolidate our democratic roots and enhance our capacity to deal with armed violence and terrorism. This fight could be long and sustained, demanding a higher level of resolve, as well as greater amount of resources and capability. But this is a fight worth fighting.
I fought to bring democracy and freedom to my country and the fellow citizens for over three decades I went to jail for nearly a decade for my convictions. Most of my colleagues in parliament and in my cabinet are also soldiers of democracy. We will leave no stone unturned to fight again to liberate our people from terror and to ensure each and every man, woman and child the security, peace, freedom and improved quality of life.
We all have to be together in this fight, as the promotion of international peace and security is our common responsibility. The freedoms have to be defended everywhere. For better or worse, the world has become a global village. What happens in one country reverberates all over. Let us join hands to make the world a better place for our children.
I thank you for your attention