Joint Press Statement
Issued by: Nepal University Teachers Association, Nepal Bar Association, Nepal Medical Association, Nepal Engineers' Association and Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
19 May 2003.
We cordially welcome the present dialogue for peace with the current ceasefire following the last seven years' violent insurgency. We strongly request the conflicting parties to be sensitive to the wishes of all Nepalese people for peace in the country and to come up with the appropriate political outcomes.
We are seriously concerned about the present political conditions of Nepal. We have already taken a strong stand against the Royal Proclamation of October 4, 2002, and exposed it as unconstitutional.
Now the country is in chaos. We feel that the people have a right to be free from the present impasse and to exercise democracy in true form and state.
We oppose repression against any peaceful movement of the people. We demand that the state party refrain from suppressing the dissension of the people, a natural right of the people in accordance with democratic norms.
We stand in solidarity for the success of peace dialogue, on our commitment for the progressive political outcome for the people, and against the present reactionary process (of the government) and appeal all concerned to be sensitive for the welfare of the people.
To support the above commitments, we appeal all concerned to participate in the symbolic demonstration of tomorrow, May 20, 2003 at Ratna Park, Kathmandu between 4.30 to 5.30 PM, organized at the initiative of Nepal Bar Association.
About 50,000 people of all walks of life signed on at a single spot in Kathmandu during the very first day of the signature campaign launched by Civic Solidarity for Peace. Some signed their names, others for whom the state never made education possible, impressed their thumbprints. All voted adamantly for peace talks that genuinely address the people's needs and the country's problems.
The campaign was launched by Bhante Ananda, a monk and member of the Main Co-ordinating Committee. All members of both negotiating teams were invited to the launching, so they might hear first hand what the people want of them. The entire CPN(Maoist) negotiating team attended. From the government negotiating team, Colonel Pun attended. Both Baburam Bhattarai, co-ordinator of the CPN(Maoist) team, and Col. Pun, co-ordinator of the government negotiating team, spoke at the microphone. Mr. Arjun Karki, representative of the NGO Federation on Solidarity's Main Co-ordinating Committee introduced them, and the current chief Solidarity co-ordinator, Shyam Shrestha of Movement to Save Democratic Rights, also spoke. Representatives of janajati and dalit organisations, religious groups, trade and industry, women's groups and many more were there. So many citizens of all walks of life. An endless stream of common citizens put their signatures or thumb prints, including children, blind and disabled people, migrant labourers from all over the country, many many women.
The campaign has set a goal of a million signatures in two weeks. The campaign will be launched in every district. There will be 12 signature collection centres in the valley and a mobile team and many individuals will assist in collecting signatures. The campaign will conclude at a peace rally at Shahid Gate on the 18th of Jestha (1 June). We hope 10,000 will attend and that it will be the first of many - as many as necessary to make the people's voices heard.
2 Jestha 2060. Buddha Jayanti (Birth Day of Gautama Buddha)
The rally was beautiful. 2000 people were there. Small children from Prisoner's Assistance, Nepal, run by Indira Rana Magar in the third row. Ms. Aang Dawa Sherpa in her Sherpa attire, from Janajati Mahasangh, at the front row along with Mr. Gopal Thakur in his Madhesi attire, from Madhesh Jagaran Aviyan. One anagarika (Buddhist Bikkhuni) and five jyapu women led by Bhagawati Jyapuni holding lighted traditional lamp (sukunda) were in the front row, and also one one fakir (madhesi). Many anagarikas, Mahayani Bikkhus were there, one Hinayani Bhikkhu, Bhante Aananda, a central member of Solidarity, was in the second row along with the other leaders of solidarity. The Chamber of Commerce, Udhyog Banijya Sangh, TAAN, HAN, SAP , Jyapu Mahaguthi, Pabson, Janajati Mahashangh, Intellectuals organizations, all peace campaigns were represented there. NGO Federation, Shanti Malika, Dalit Dabab Samuha, a lot of women, 007 salko swatrata senani (veterans of the 1950-51 uprising against the Rana oligarchy) were also there. Shanti Abhiyan was there. Tomorrow is its first general assembly. We have a video recording and photos of the rally.
Let the peace activists in other countries know we are struggling here for real peace. Ask them to watch their governments with hawk eyes. Some of them (especially US and UK) are trying to kill off our peace talks here and send our people back to hell of war.
Shanti Abhiyan (Peace Campaign) Representative,
Main Co-ordinating Committee,
Civic Solidarity for Peace,
3 May 2003, Kathmandu
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