Saturday, February 26, 2005

Student Leader Calls for Revolution in Nepal

An hour ago, RFN interviewed a student leader, the vice-president of Nepal Student Union - the largest student union on telephone:

NSU Vice-president Pradeep Poudel, the vice-president of the Nepal Student Union (NSU) – the sister organization of one of the largest parties Nepali Congress, while giving an exclusive interview to the Radio Free Nepal claimed that the 'new movement would overthrow the king' and the country would 'experience true democracy – that is democracy without king.' Poudel believes it is impossible to bring kings under constitution and is now calling on the international community to support the democracy movement in Nepal and for donors to cut off the flow of aid to Nepal.

Excerpts of the telephone interview:

RFN: How you have taken the February 1's move by King Gyanendra?

POUDEL: Our conclusion on the move is that it had ended whatsoever limited rights the people of the country were enjoying after the restoration of democracy in 1990. We also believe that this step helped us to consolidate our voice about the need of new movement for the establishment of republic as now it would be easier for the democratic power-centers to unite against the King.

RFN: But after more than three weeks of the move, there has been no significant protest programs. Why?

POUDEL: Since this is a political issue, it takes time to reach the mass public. Besides, the King has tried to create the fear among the mass imposing absolutism. We also admit that we have been so far not been able to inform the mass about the real situation, but this doldrums wouldn't remain long.

RFN: You talked about 'New Movement'. How would it be?

POUDEL: The result of all movements so far has been temporary. In 1950, the 101-year-long tyrant Rana regime was thrown but for only 10 years. The monarch didn't let the democracy remain long then. Now similar has happened. There is a need of agreement between the political forces on basic issues for the effective movement that will result in permanent change. Nepali Congress always believed on constitutional monarchy. We, the youth, always questioned monarchy. We always said it's impossible to bring the kings under law – because the kings are by nature absolutists. Now, it's time for all political parties to make consensus for the 'system with our monarch'.

RFN: NSU raised the issues about a year ago, but Nepali Congress tried to discourage the move. So, in new pretext, are you sure the party will support this vision?

POUDEL: Nepali Congress believed in the monarchy, they always saw importance of it. But the King's move on Feb 1 has proved that there can be no democracy when there is the king. Now, it's time for parties to be clear on the issue.

RFN: Nepali people were irritated with the behaviors shown by political parties during democracy and they are saying there are people who believe the king's step is right. In this pretext, how sure
you are for the support of the people for the new movement?

POUDEL: Individuals can be wrong, but that doesn't make a system wrong. We don't believe the state should award corrupt people, but then there are alternatives in democracy. People are free to make their choices whereas there is no such situation now. The people can't choose. The king ended the system pointing at the wrongdoings of individuals. But how clean is the king's behavior? Is monarch clean from corruption? No, today, monarchy is the most opaque and corrupt institution in the country. We want to know where did King Birendra's property go. We want to know why there is increment in palace's budgets. Besides, the present king is a businessman – he owns businesses. Who guarantees that these businesses won't get undue advantages? About people's support, no movement can succeed without people's support. And I believe the mass, especially the youths, are aware of
the need of new movement.

RFN: The king has reiterated his commitment for democracy and said that they will restore democracy in three years. Why can't you wait and see?

POUDEL: There is censorship in media. The media industry which flourished so much during democracy is stalled. There is ban on free flow of expression. People are being arrested. So, all these things prove that it is only the king's fake reiteration – nothing more. No king can be honest for democracy and the expression by King Gyanendra is only an unreal commitment to deceive people and international community.

RFN: At present, what you expect from international communities?

POUDEL: The king is trying to militarize the country; to end people's rights and our history is only the history of monarchy. Nepali people have always suffered due to monarchy. So we request international communities to support in our movement which is for a revolution. We also request all our donor communities, who support Nepal in social, political and military front to stop all the support for now. I request all Nepalis residing abroad and all the well-wishers of Nepal to closely watch our movement and to spread the words. People like Kundan Raj Kafle, who advocated for republic, may face atrocities in custody so we request them to pressure the authority to protect such people from state atrocities.

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