FORUM-ASIA Statement on Blockade Imposed by India on Nepal
20 October 2015 6:45 pm
(Bangkok, 20 October 2015) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is deeply concerned about the unofficial blockade imposed by India on Nepal. The blockade follows the promulgation of a new constitution on 20 September 2015 despite India’s reservation on some issues internal to Nepal. “Constitution making is purely an internal affair of a sovereign country,” notes Evelyn Balais-Serrano, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA. “With the new constitution, Nepal has concluded a painful path of transition, which should give pride to its neighbours. Unfortunately, the largest democracy in Asia has taken a reverse course, which is highly objectionable.”
Since the blockade, Nepal has been facing a humanitarian crisis fuelled by a dire shortage in essential supplies, including petrol, diesel and cooking gas. Schools have been closed. Hospitals have reportedly run out of basic medicines, as deliveries have come to a halt, and the free movement of people has been restricted.
News reports suggest that some 7,000 containers of basic supplies from third countries are also prevented from entering Nepal. “It is difficult to guess what message India is trying to communicate with this choice of inhuman act”, says Subodh Raj Pyakurel, the Chair of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC). “Can a country aspiring to the UN Security Council behave this way with a neighbour?”
The constitution was adopted by a majority of votes in the Constituent Assembly. Out of the 598 members of the Constituent Assembly, 507 voted in favour, 25 voted against, and 66 abstained.
“The action of my Government does not only break the trust and good friendship with the people of Nepal, it also violates a number of international laws that protect the rights of a landlocked country like Nepal” argues Henri Tiphagne, the Chair of FORUM-ASIA. “I feel astonishingly ashamed of what my Government has done to the people of Nepal when they are still struggling to come to terms with the devastating earthquake of last April.”
FORUM-ASIA condemns the highhandedness of the Government of India shown to Nepal and her people, and urges it to immediately ease all blockades along the Indo-Nepali border. Any delay in easing the blockade will result in a humanitarian catastrophe in the Himalayan country, for which the Government of India will be solely responsible.
FORUM-ASIA also calls upon the other countries in the region, and the international community at large, to be mindful of an unfolding disaster in Nepal, and do all they can to ensure that the harm done is repaired and further escalation of the situation and potential resulting damages are prevented.
FORUM-ASIA is a Bangkok-based regional human rights group with 47 member organisations in 16 countries across Asia. FORUM-ASIA has offices in Bangkok, Geneva, Jakarta and Kathmandu. FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expressions, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation.
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