Nepal

Nepal: Villagers suffering intimidation, extortion at hands of Maoists

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KATHMANDU, 3 May 2007 (IRIN) - Local people in Nepal's rural areas still continue to suffer from intimidation and extortion at the hands of former Maoist rebels, villagers in the remote hill districts of northwest Nepal told IRIN on Thursday.

"We still have to pay monthly donations [to the Maoists] or face severe penalties at their hands," said Sunita Chettri from Gorkha district, 500 km northwest of the capital. "Where is the peace that we were promised?" she asked.

In November 2006, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPNM) and the Nepalese government signed a peace treaty to end the decade-long armed conflict, which claimed over 14,000 lives and displaced over 200,000 people, according to local human rights groups.

But the rights activists added that the former Maoist rebels continue to extort poor villagers, create obstacles to aid work and obstruct the government's work.

Maoists blamed for "anarchy"

"The anarchy in the nation today is mostly contributed to by the Maoists and they are making the peace process difficult to develop," analyst Subodh Pyakhurel told IRIN. He added that it is again the civilians who continue to suffer and this is making their livelihoods difficult and further impoverishing poor households.

Activists are especially concerned with the activities of the newly formed Maoist youth group, Young Communist League (YCL), whose members are now involved in all sorts of violations and even clashing violently with the police.

Curfew

On Thursday, the local government administration imposed an indefinite curfew in Bardiya district, 700 km west of the capital, after YCL members attacked the police post demanding the police withdraw from nearby Sanoshree village, said local government authorities. The local newspapers reported that about 16 people, including police, were injured in the attack.

According to local rights group, Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), the Maoists also continue to attack civilians and their houses. On Tuesday, INSEC said that a group of local Maoist cadres demolished the house in Sankuwasabha, 300 km east of the capital.

On the same day, they also abducted a 20-year-old civilian and brutally beat him up, said INSEC, and added that two other young local civilians were also attacked for protesting against Maoist brutalities. On Wednesday, the Maoists also vandalised a local journalist's house in Bardiya, according to INSEC.

Maoist leaders deny violations

"There is an urgent need for the Maoist leaders and parliamentarians to educate their local cadres but they seem to be doing nothing to stop the violations of the local Maoists," said Pyakhurel. He said that now that the Maoists are in the government they are supposed to act responsibly by controlling their cadres.

The Maoist leaders said that no such violations were taking place.

The United Nations also has expressed concerns regarding the continuing breaches of agreements. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which was established in the country three months ago, said there was a need for independent monitoring of the situation. "All parties must fulfil their commitments to respect the rights of all citizens to participate in public life and political activity freely and without fear," said UNMIN chief Ian Martin.

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