HUMAN RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS MADHESHI PEOPLE IN NEPAL
|R K Shah <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Mon, Dec 11, 2006 at 10:09 PM|
9 Dec. 2006
It was indeed a great occasion for us, Madhesi, that UN Office had organised an interaction with prominent Madhesi leaders today, intelectuals and activists (total 55). Main leaders: Bimlendra Nidhi, Mahanth Thakur, Matrika Yadav and Bharat Bimal Yadav / Rajendra Mahato; intellectuals: CK Lal, Upendra Yadav, Amresh Singh and others; and so many other activists from other other Madhesi Organisations. Un Officials: Mr Ian Martin, Ms Lundh and others. They all unanimously stated that:
- The discrimination of by the state of Nepal has been genuine.
- The Madhesis have been fighting/protesting against this discrimination silently and peacefully so far.
- If the state of Nepal still does not mend its ways and means quickly before the election of CA then the Madhesi will have no option but to unite to raise arms ( greater violentence) which will create even greater turmoil like in SriLanka (separatist movement).
- Therefore, if UN really wants peace in Nepal then it must work quickly to pressurise the state of Nepal to accept Madhesh & Madhesi as equal stake-holder (partner) in sharing of state powers.
Therefore, let us propogate this message to all concerned Madhesi around the globe for unified action on consensus plan. I have attched the consensus document which we have submitted to the UN Office in Kathmandu.
Dr RK Shah
HUMAN RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS MADHESHI PEOPLE IN NEPAL
In present Nepal, indigenous Madheshis people, who constitute approximately half of the population of the nation, are living as second class citizen or colonized person. Millions are without citizenship. The State had has compelled them to suffer economically, politically, socially and emotionally. Their language and culture have been eroded. They are excluded significantly from policy and decision making; as well as from administrative and judiciary frame work of the government. They are victims of discrimination in employment in government sectors; and are not allowed employment in the arm forces. State has been sponsoring and supporting internal migration of non-Madheshi people in the Madhesh land. The state of Nepal has violated following articles of “Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous peoples in Independent Countries”: Articles: 2.1, 2.2©, 3.1, 4.3, 6(b), 6(C), 7.1, 14.2, 16.1, 17.3, 18, 20.2, 26, 28.1, 28.3, 31, 32.
Now, Madheshi people are demonstrating and demanding: for Citizenship to all deserving Madhesis before elections for the Constituent Assembly’ (CA); establishment of Federal, Democratic Republican political system; proportional representation in all state structures; and in the CA election. A fraction Madheshi youth is now demanding for ‘ Madhesi Independence’ that has imposed a threat of new armed revolt. Thus, the Madhesi people want fair deal from the state of Nepal on equal basis and end to discrimination for ever at any cost.
Therefore, the timely intervention of United Nations is extremely needed to establish fundamental human rights to Madheshi population to prevent a new cycle of violence and to establish the permanent peace in Nepal.
Until 1769, present – day Nepal was composed of small independent states and principalities of different ‘nationalities’; and it was only in the 1930s that the Nepalese government began to adopt the name ‘Nepal’ in an attempt to make it a modern state (Shrestha BG 2004).
Modern Nepal is a result of conquest by Gorkhali kings over sixty principalities during the period from 1768 to 1813. All of these principalities resembled nation-states as they fulfilled all the criteria of nationhood: language, religion, culture, territory and a history of nationhood (Mehta D 2006). In 1813, the king conquered a large low land area called Madhesh, and included into the kingdom (Shah, G. S. 2006). The choice of the word ‘unification’ rather than ‘conquest’ was used to describe the expansion of Gorkhali power of Nepal (Whelpton 2006).
Madhesh and Madheshi:
• The southern part of Nepal that is lowland between the boarder of Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttranchal, and hill-foot, presently called Tarai of Nepal; historically known as Madhesh.
• Its Indigenous population is called Madheshi, who resemble Indians in physical appearance; and constitute approximately 40-50 percent of the population of Nepal. They include different culture and linguistic groups- Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Tharu, and also some tribal groups.
• The domestic economy of Nepal depends overwhelmingly on this region that forms its industrial hub with more than 70-80 percent of all industries located in this region. Its agricultural bowl produces more than 65 per cent of the nation’s food grains.
• Before the conquest of 1813, there were several small principalities or republics in the Madhesh region. The Nepal rulers, even after the conquest, treated the Madheshi people as second class citizens or colonial subjects, and suppressed them particularly in four areas:
- Denying equal opportunity of employment in the army overtly, and other government services covertly;
- Capturing their land;
- Disempowering through restrictions in the use of their languages and practice of their customs;
- Denying them Citizenship Right.
As a result, the Madheshis are suffering economically, politically, socially, and emotionally (Neupane G 2006). The Maoist leader, Prachanda also expressed “sadness over the fact that Madhesis are living like second class citizens in the country despite being an indigenous group”, he further said, “Our party started the campaign of liberating Madhesis and making them masters of the state right from the first year of the people’s war (Prachanda 2006).”
• Tarai (Madhesh) contributes 70 percent to the state’s economy while the government only gives back 16 percent of the funds reserved for development (Lal, C.K. 2003).
• The practice of the State with Madheshi population matches with the criteria of colonization (Yadav, B.P. 2006). Overall, evidences support that in Nepal, Madhesh and Madheshi are treated as if colonized under the cover of unification.
State Concerned/Articles Violated:
Name of the State that is either a party to the Optional Protocol (in the case of a complaint to the Human Rights Committee) or has made the relevant declaration (in the case of complaints to the Committee against Torture or the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination):
(A) For Indigenous Madheshi, Government of Nepal has violated the followings:
Articles of the Covenant or Convention alleged to have been violated:
Following articles of “Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous and Tribal peoples in Independent Countries” are violated:
Articles: 2.1, 2.2©, 3.1, 4.3, 6(b), 6(C), 7.1, 14.2, 16.1, 17.3, 18, 20.2, 26, 28.1, 28.3, 31, 32.
(B) State Nepal is treating Madhesh and Madheshi as if colonized, depriving them of their fundamental rights in practice of state affairs .
Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies:
Steps taken by or on behalf of the alleged victims to obtain redress within the State concerned for the alleged violation – detail which procedures have been pursued, including recourse to the courts and other public authorities, which claims you have made, at which times, and with which outcomes:
• The Madhesi issue is as old as the emergence of Nepal’s democratic movement in 1950s; major grievance of that time was the imposition of Nepali as medium of education. In the mid-1970s and 80s, issues of citizenship and ‘work permit’ were the major problems for the Madhesis. For the last fifty years, they have been raising their voice against alleged ‘discrimination’ by the state, yet their problems remained unresolved (Yhome K 2006).
• The marginalized socio-cultural groups have repeatedly protested against various articles of the 1990 Constitution that they claim discrimination against them (Lawoti 2006).
• The Madhesis have demanded easy availability of citizenship certificates, constitutional recognition of the Madhesi languages,like Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi and Hindi etc.; ‘Fair Deal’ for Madhesis in government, and semi-government jobs, requirement in the army, Madhesi land to the Madhesi landless and demarcation of an electoral constituency based on the population, geographical and cultural uniformity (Hindustan Times 2003).
Facts of the Complaint:
• Madheshis are treated as second class citizens or like colonial subjects.
• Millions are the victims of denial of citizenship of Nepal.
• State has compelled them to suffer economically, politically, socially and emotionally.
• Their language and culture have been eroded.
• They are significantly excluded from the policy and decision making; as well as from administrative and judiciary frame work of the government.
• They are victim of discrimination in employment in government sectors.
• They are not allowed employment in the country’s arm force.
• Their lands have been captured in different ways by the states and relatives of Pahari rulers.
• State has been sponsoring and supporting internal migration of non-Madheshi people in the Madhesh land.
Demand of Madheshi People:
• Citizenship to all bonafide Madhesis before elections to the Constituent Assembly’ (CA),
• Establishment of Federal, Democratic Republican political system for self rule.
• Proportional Representation for Madhesis in all state structures for fair deal on equal basis.
• Proportional Representation for Madhesis in the CA election for power sharing and conflict resolution in Madhesh.
• In principle, Government of Nepal has passed the rule for citizenship. It looks; hopefully, it will solve citizenship problem at large.
• Hot discussion is going on about the language issue which is still not settled.
• In principle, Government has agreed to recruit Madheshi youths in armed forces. But, the burning issue is how many and when?
• In principle, the Government has also agreed for proportional representation and restructuring of the state. But the working modality remains vague and uncertain.
• Madheshis are still organizing demonstrations for their just demands.
Part II ( Struggle For Independence of Madhesh ):
• A Madhesi Leader told a group of journalists, “We are fighting for independence because we have been discriminated against for too long ! (Pradhan S 2006)”.
• Madheshi youth feel that they have been colonized; and their homeland is a colony under the rulers of Nepal.
• In the terai (Madhesh), a violent hate triangle has been under play since 2004. The three players are the Nepal army (and other parts of security apparatus), the Maoists, and the secessionist Tarai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (TJMM), a breakaway fraction of the Maoists. TJMM recruits more members in its ranks and wages a war for secession much similar to the SriLankan Tamil Tigers.
• While the Maoist insurgency, that unsealed a decade- old cycle of violence in Nepal and killed over 13,000 people, is heading for resolution, a new armed revolt is threatening to take place in the terai region of Nepal (Hindustan Times).
• The situation reflects that without conflict resolution, the problem of Madhesh will not be solved; and violence will be continued.
• Overall the situation may impose another cycle of violence in Nepal; and it will cause more life lost than it had happened in Maoist insurgency.
We request for assistance from the UN Agencies to support that Madhesh and Madheshi people can avail their fundamental human Rights that only will prevent further violence, and promote permanent peace in Nepal.
Hindustan Times (2003)“Nepalese discrimination against people of Indian Origin.” Indo-Asian News Service. Kathmandu, December 28. Accessed on December 28, 2003. http://www.hindustantimes.com/online
Hindustan Times. 2006. “Discontent brewing in Nepal’s terai region”, August 17, 2006. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7598_1770329,000500020003.htm
Lawoti, M. 2006. The constitution as the source of exclusion https://madhesi.wordpress.com/2006/08/19/the-constitution-as-the-source-of-exclusion-4th-chapter/
Mehta, D. 2006. Democracy is incompatible with the concentration of power.
Neupane, G. 2006. Madheshies: colonial subjects or masters of their destiny?
Prachanda. 2006. Kantipur. ‘Beware of peddlers of Madhesi right’
Pradhan S. 2006. Politics- Nepal: And Now Ethnic Separatism
Pradhan S. 2006. Tarai on a slow burn
Shah, S.G. 2006. Social inclusion of Madheshi community in nation building
Shrestha, B. G. 2003. “Ethnic Nationalism in Nepal.” IIAS Newsletter, March 2003. http://www.iias.nl/iias/show/id=41332
Tigers in the plain http://nayanepal.blogspot.com/2006/08/tigers-in-plains.html
Yadav, B.P. 2006. Is Madhes a colony?
Yadav, B.P. 2006. Human rights for half of Nepal
Yadav, B.P. 2006. Separatism or Freedom
Yadav, B.P. 2006. Prachanda on Madheshi: Time to Test
Yadav B.P. 2006. Nepal: Restructuring of the State
Yadav R, P. 2006. Facts and Figures on Madhesi Marginalization (Caste/Ethnic representation in His Majesty’s Government at policy level in Nepal)
Yhome. K. 2006. Madhesis: A Political Force in the Making?
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