HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact has called on Nepali stakeholders to take urgent and decisive action, within human rights framework, to uphold inclusive democracy and peace based on social justice for the resolution of political tensions on adoption of a constitution.
“The government has recently agreed to enlist Khas-Arya (including Chhetri, Brahmin, Thakuri, Dasnami and Dalit) under category of ‘indigenous (Aadivasi) against internationally accepted standards set out by ILO Convention 169 that Nepal has ratified,” the pact said in a statement.
“This agreement is clearly aimed at allowing certain groups to continue to dominate and muddle and diffuse the rightful entitlement of indigenous peoples to self-determination in the new constitution,” said Joan Carling, secretary general of the body. “We call for the withdrawal of this irrational agreement as it only serves to exacerbate the existing social and political conflicts.”
The pact has expressed solidarity with Nepal’s indigenous people in their demands for legal recognition of their distinct collective identities and cultures, right to self-determination under a federal setup of autonomous units, the right to their lands, territories and resources, the right to political participation and the requirement for their free, prior and informed consent on matters that concerns them – those are in line with the international human rights obligations of Nepal under ILO Convention 169 and UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Following protracted protests from indigenous groups, the government yesterday signed an agreement with indigenous representatives to present their demands, mostly similar to those in the petition, in the CA. “We call on all political parties and CA members to adhere to the demands of indigenous peoples and marginalised groups so as to ensure inclusive democracy in the new constitution,” added Carling.
Further, in light of reports of many incidents of excesses by police forces during peaceful protests of indigenous peoples, particularly in the south-western Nepal, that left tens of Tharus injured, the pact has urged police to exercise restraint and respect rights of citizens to peaceful assembly.
It has expressed regret that media agencies have never given due prominence to balanced reporting of organised actions and other public programmes of Nepal’s indigenous peoples. “We respect freedom of media and rights of journalists but it is also important for media agencies to reflect diversity in their reporting and give attention to the issues and actions of marginalized groups,” said Carling.
The pact has requested international media agencies to independently monitor and report on the developments in Nepal so as to facilitate the much-needed global attention to the struggles of these groups long deprived of social justice.