Responding to the Government of Nepal’s arrest of more than one hundred politicians and other critics, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides in the strife-torn Himalayan kingdom to return to the negotiating table and halt the violence.
In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan said the arrests were made ahead of a demonstration planned for the capital, and that the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal had raised the matter with the Government. UN human rights officers had also visited 97 of the more than 120 persons detained.
“The Secretary-General once again appeals to all sides for calm, the suspension of fighting and the urgent initiation of an inclusive national dialogue,” the statement said, noting that Mr. Annan’s repeated calls for dialogue between the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had been rejected.
Last month, the Secretary-General urged a truce between the Government of King Gyanendra and the Maoists days before a ceasefire declared by the Maoist rebels in September expired on 2 January. In a statement released by his spokesman on 30 December, the Secretary-General voiced deep regret that no progress appeared to have been made towards a mutually agreed truce between the parties.
Shortly after the four-month unilateral ceasefire expired, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged all sides to avoid a renewal of the gross abuses that have characterized a conflict that started in 1996.
Such abuses include extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and abductions, attacks on public transport buses, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, widespread torture and other crimes. Children have been killed and injured, forcibly recruited, used as informers, and arbitrarily detained and beaten, the High Commissioner’s office said.