October 11, 2015
Today, Nepal’s parliament chose KP Sharma Oli of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) as the nation’s new prime minister. Born in 1952 in eastern Nepal, Oli is a secondary school dropout, who was influenced by local communist leaders as a teenager. During the 1970s and 80s, during the royalist regime, he was a prisoner, on and off, for 14 years. He subsequently became a key member of the Nepal Communist Party-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML).
Oli’s election was not a surprise. His candidature had been backed by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists, the third largest Party (with 84 members in parliament). Horse trading for plum portfolios have become the dominant guiding factors in Nepali politics over the years, not principles or ideology. Thus, UML and Maoists leaders can be expected to be rewarded with new cabinet postings, and Nepali Congress leaders will be edged out. Once again, continuity will be stymied. In the meantime, Nepal’s post-earthquake political, economic and social crisis continues full steam ahead.
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Kathmandu (Nepal), Fuel Shortage
Travel Health and Safety -- October 8, 2015
We recommend that travelers evaluate any upcoming travel plans in Nepal. Due to the nationwide fuel shortage, due to blockages at the border with India, many of the safety measures that would normally be relied on in an emergency situation may become unavailable. These measures include air medevacs and local hospitals. As of today these services are still operational, but service providers are facing dwindling supplies. If you are planning multi-day travel the situation could change drastically during your trip. Please consider that if you are trekking in a remote area and become injured, there will be limited options for you to be rescued until the fuel situation returns to normal. Tourist facilities continue to operate in the Kathmandu valley, but levels of service may be lower than normal. It is estimated that the fuel situation will not return to normal until 2-3 weeks after the border supply lines are fully restored.
Former US President Jimmy Carter cancels planned trip to Nepal
Nepal, which suffered a massive natural disaster in April, has been reeling from shortage of fuel and other critical supplies after imports from India halted in a crisis linked to Nepal’s adoption of a new constitution. According to Carter’s relief organization, Habitat for Humanity, the ex-president has nevertheless cancelled his trip scheduled for November:
“…shortages of fuel and supplies in the region, not Carter’s health, forced the project’s cancellation. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy located in Kathmandu today issued a message recommending travelers evaluate any upcoming plans in Nepal, stating that due to the nationwide fuel shortage and blockages at the border, ‘many of the safety measures that would normally be relied on in an emergency situation may become unavailable’”.
After China Southern Air, China Eastern Airlines suspends its Nepal flights
On October 9, China Eastern Airlines announced temporary suspension of its Kunming-Kathmandu flights, starting from October 15 till 26. Due to the “unofficial trade blockade” imposed by India, the airline announced it would be forced to extend the flights suspension further, if necessary.
The tough decision was taken in response to requests made by the Nepal Oil Corporation.
“This is to kindly inform you all that due to the present situation of Nepal and fuel crisis, we are going to cancel more flights of Guangzhou-Kathmandu-Guangzhou effective from Sept 29 to Oct 25,” said the China Southern in its Facebook page.
The flights has been cancelled on the eve of Nepal’s main festival season—Dashain and Tihar—when thousands of migrant workers and other Nepalis living abroad return home to celebrate with their families.
Hospitals may be forced to shut down in one week; vital drug supplies running out
Dr Anjani Kumar Jha, president of the Nepal Medical Association, warned that if the fuel shortage continued for another week, hospitals would have no choice but to shut down. “Health sector is facing its worst crisis. The government should take immediate steps to resolve the crisis,” he added. Hospitals also need fuel for intensive care, surgeries and incubation, apart from running refrigerators and other medical equipment.
Dr Swayam Prakash Pandit, director at the Bir Hospital, said ambulances had been grounded due to acute fuel shortage. “This has restricted the movement of emergency medical workers. We have made arrangements for shuttle bus service to pick and drop the doctors,” he told The Himalayan Times. Dr Pandit said vital and emergency services had been affected yet.
Mrigendra Meher Shrestha, president of Nepal Chemists and Druggists Association, said drug retailers and wholesalers were running out of anesthesia, live-saving drugs and pantoprazole injections as it has not been able to transport them to pharmacies across the country. “Medicines worth crores of rupees have been stranded on the Nepal-India border due to ongoing blockade by Madhes-based parties. What is more worrisome is that we do not even have fuel to transport drugs we have in our stock to pharmacies within the capital. The government should provide us fuel so that we can transport essential drugs to pharmacies,” he said.
Balkrishna Khakurel, director general at the Department of Drug Administration, said the government was preparing to import medicines by plane from countries other than India. “We have also decided to provide fuel to drug distributors,” he said.
PAC orders Nepal Oil Corporation to hand over fuel import contract
On October 9, the Legislature-Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed the Nepal Oil Corporation to expedite the process of handing over the contract on airlifting petroleum products.
The PAC directed the NOC to shortlist the preferred bidder and hand over the contract within few days of getting bid documents from interested parties.
The state-owned fuel monopoly on Thursday published a global tender notice, calling on interested parties to submit bid documents for supply of aviation turbine fuel, petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG (cooking gas) for 15 days. Bid documents have to be submitted within three days of issuance of the tender notice.
During the meeting today, PAC members criticized the government for failing to do the needful to ease the supplies following the obstruction at Nepal-India border.
Nepali Congress lawmakers Ram Hari Khatiwada and Dhan Raj Gurung said the government side has utterly failed to make it clear whether it is a blockade imposed by India or the obstruction by the agitating Madhesi parties.
Khatiwada was of the opinion that the government should declare emergency if such a measure could normalize the situation.
US Council on Foreign Relations pessimistic about Nepal’s post-earthquake efforts
This statement was released by the Council on Foreign Relations on October 9:
Post-Disaster Aid: When it Works, When it Doesn’t
Nearing the six-month anniversary of Nepal’s devastating earthquake that killed more than 8,500 people, comparisons to other natural disaster relief efforts highlight the potential pitfalls of aid delivered in a governance vacuum. Thailand’s post-tsunami recovery fared well relative to others—the country’s centralized (albeit authoritarian-leaning) leadership owned the response, mostly relying on technical rather than financial assistance. In contrast, Haiti remains a cautionary tale—despite some $9 billion in relief aid 150,000 Haitians still live in “temporary” camps and the government remains fragile, as witnessed in the recent chaotic and violent parliamentary contest. Nepal appears to be heading on a similar route with the government yet to draw up a plan for spending $4.1 billion in international donations, even as three million survivors lack shelter, food, and basic medical care in one of the world’s poorest countries. With the new constitution in dispute, a political crisis brewing with India, and a worsening fuel shortage all costing the economy an estimated $1 billion, reconstruction will likely be delayed further.
July 27, 2015
In March 2015, President Obama nominated Alaina B. Teplitz to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Nepal. This will be Ms. Teplitz’s first ambassadorship. Her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee occurred on June 23. On July 7, President Obama nominated outgoing Ambassador to Nepal Peter W. Bodde to become the new US Ambassador to Libya.
Below is Ms. Teplitz’ biography and testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
From 2012 to the present, Ms. Teplitz has been with the Under Secretary for Management’s Office of Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation (M/PRI) at the Department of State. A career Foreign Service Officer occupying an Assistant Secretary-ranked position, she advises on management policy and chief-of-mission authority issues, as well as managing rightsizing of the U.S. Government overseas presence, coordinating regionalization, engaging in business process reengineering, and improving shared services. Ms. Teplitz chairs the interagency International Cooperative Administrative Support Services Executive Board, focusing on ensuring cost effective delivery of management services overseas.
Prior to leading M/PRI, Ms. Teplitz was Minister Counselor for Management at U.S. Embassy Kabul from 2011-2012. She managed a team providing the diplomatic platform for U.S. Government Chief of Mission civilian activities in Afghanistan and planning for the impact of the eventual military force reduction. Ms. Teplitz also served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Near East and South and Central Asia Bureau’s joint executive office from 2009-2011, where she handled the South and Central Asia portfolio, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ms. Teplitz was the Director of the Management Training Division at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute from 2007-2009. Previous assignments include Management Counselor in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Deputy Director of the Joint Administrative Services supporting three U.S. Missions -- the U.S. Mission to NATO, the U.S. Mission to the European Union, and the Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium -- in Brussels, Belgium. Her previous posts also include: Ulaanbaatar, Tirana, and Sydney.
Ms. Teplitz gained her other Washington-based experience as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Administration and as a Program Analyst in the Bureau of Administration. She served a tour as a Watch Officer in the Operations Center.
In Belgium, Ms. Teplitz worked closely with USEURAR to coordinate crisis response and to develop and implement a crisis management exercise. In addition, Ms. Teplitz worked extensively on establishing a quality management program at the Joint Administrative Services to better manage resources and to improve efficiency. As Director of Management Tradecraft training she led an extensive curricula update to ensure the skills and knowledge needed to support the State Department’s quality management efforts were incorporated into management training. Currently, Ms. Teplitz champions efforts to improve knowledge management, the use of data, and risk management.
A member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, she joined the State Department in 1991 and is the recipient of numerous Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. Ms. Teplitz holds a BSFS from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Testimony of Alaina B. Teplitz before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 23, 2015.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, members of the committee, it’s an honor to appear before you today as the President’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Nepal. I’d like to recognize some of my family who are with me today and without whom I would not
be at this table before you: my sons Max and Miles Mellott.
Mr. Chairman, right now when people think of Nepal, they invariably think of the horrific earthquake of this past April, and the tremendous damage it wrought. That tragedy has brought together the people of Nepal, the country’s neighbors, and the international community to help the victims recover and the country rebuild.
And while much has changed in Nepal since the earthquake, our overall priorities for the country remain the same: to strengthen its democracy, advance its economic growth, and improve its resiliency. If confirmed, I will work to advance these goals and build on the achievements of my predecessors and our sixty years of positive engagement with Nepal.
I’ll speak first about the last objective, improved resiliency, and then discuss the other two priorities.
At the top, I’d like to extend the Department’s profound gratitude to Congress for its
support for seismically-safe housing for U.S. Embassy personnel in Kathmandu. It saved the lives of our mission personnel and enabled them to immediately assist with rescue and relief efforts, thus saving more lives and reducing the quake’s impact on Americans, Nepalese, and others.
The first responsibility of every U.S. Ambassador is to ensure the safety and security of
American citizens, and, if confirmed, I will continue to prioritize investments that will protect our personnel and citizens in Nepal. And as Nepal moves to the reconstruction phase, we will work with its government and its neighbors in Asia to help it to “build back better” – to provide protection to the most vulnerable, to improve resiliency against future disasters, and to ensure that investments in Nepal’s infrastructure are economically sound and environmentally sustainable.
I will now turn to the second priority, advancing Nepal’s economic growth. As we work to help Nepal’s economy grow and advance, we must look to leverage its location among the booming economies of South Asia. With more investments in infrastructure, the creation of a business and investment-friendly environment, and a more integrated regional market, Nepal’s entrepreneurs could harness the region’s economic potential and create tremendous prosperity for their nation. Nepal’s recent eligibility for a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact should help it develop some of that economic potential. If confirmed, I will actively look for opportunities to improve the business environment and support American investment in Nepal.
I would lastly like to discuss our priority of strengthening Nepal’s democracy. In 2006, the country emerged from a decade of civil conflict with a commitment to creating a constitution that would seal a lasting peace. The American people can be proud of the role they’ve played in Nepal’s transition from violence to peaceful politics. That process is still underway, and there has been some significant progress lately – Nepal became eligible for an MCC Compact because of its democratic progress. But much remains to be done, and our government will help Nepal where we can to advance its constitutional process and cement a hard-won peace.
Maintaining that peace will require a firm commitment to human rights, and, if I am confirmed, the promotion and protection of human rights will remain a central priority for Mission Kathmandu. This especially includes protections for Tibetan refugees, for women, for disadvantaged populations, and for those vulnerable to trafficking.
Mr. Chairman, I am aware of the many challenges we will face in these efforts, from maintaining good coordination with Nepal’s government and our international partners, to ensuring our resources are being spent effectively. My career in the Foreign Service has been dedicated to the efficient management of resources, whether for our missions in Kabul, Dhaka, or Belgium, here in Washington at the Foreign Service Institute or in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
With the support of Congress, our government is preparing for a large recovery and
reconstruction effort in Nepal, and, if confirmed, I hope to draw on my management experience and expertise to help ensure the people of Nepal get the best assistance we can give, and that the U.S. taxpayers get the biggest bang for their buck. As that assistance effort progresses, I would, if confirmed, look forward to working closely with this Committee and others in Congress to ensure our work reflects our shared priorities.
Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
May 21, 2015
Joint Task Force 505 is drawing down its earthquake relief operations as the Nepalese government and international aid agencies have postured for long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts.
Nepal announced its transition from relief operations to the recovery phase of disaster response on Tuesday
"We are grateful for the essential contributions of Operation Sahayogi Haat to the post-earthquake relief efforts,” said Peter Bodde, U.S. ambassador to Nepal. “The joint relief missions conducted by the U.S. and Nepalese militaries brought life-saving aid to those who needed it most and reinforced the United States’ close partnership with Nepal and its people."
The responsible redeployment of Joint Task Force 505 units in the coming days is able to occur quickly because the capacity of Nepal and the international community to meet the needs of the relief effort continues to grow and “together they are able to meet the requirements the U.S. joint task force would otherwise provide,” said Bill Berger, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster assessment response team leader.
Emergency Food and Supplies
During the operation, Joint Task Force 505 delivered about 114 tons of emergency relief supplies, including plastic sheeting, shelter kits, blankets, water, medical supplies and emergency and supplemental food in support of USAID. In addition to delivering aid, the task force transported 534 personnel and conducted 63 casualty evacuations.
Demand has decreased for unique Joint Task Force 505 capabilities in further recovery efforts, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the task force’s commander.
As recovery efforts have progressed over the past weeks, for example, the logistical expertise of the 36th Contingency Response Group, a uniquely qualified Air Force unit out of Guam specializing in airfield management, is significantly reduced at Tribhuvan International Airport. Aid stockpiles are no longer backlogged, as the group has trained Nepalese army and airport personnel during their ongoing operations.
During operations, the U.S. military set up an earthquake-resistant blood bank, emergency operations centers and other facilities. It also provided training for the Nepalese military on techniques to quickly repair Nepal’s main airport runways and engaged in bilateral disaster-reduction exercises.
“We will continue to work closely with our Nepalese partners and USAID to ensure we meet the needs that may emerge during the coordinated transition and retrograde of our military capabilities as long as we remain in Nepal,” Wissler said. “Once we have returned to Okinawa, we will reset our ability to respond to any future disasters requiring our support. We stand with Nepal.”
This experience has forged a stronger relationship, Wissler said. “I look forward to future training opportunities to further improve our interoperability, refine our bilateral and multilateral processes, and continue to learn from our experiences working side by side,” he added.
Joint Task Force 505 contributed three Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopters and four Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to the relief effort throughout Nepal. Additionally, four Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs, four Air Force C-130 Hercules and two Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules aircraft, as well as various ground and aviation command and control assets, contributed to the effort.
About 900 U.S. military and civilian personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps contributed to the Nepal relief efforts under the joint task force’s auspices. About 300 task force personnel worked in Nepal, 320 others worked in the main headquarters in Japan, and 280 worked at the intermediate staging base in Thailand.
Joint Task Force 505 initiated Operation Sahayogi Haat, -- meaning “helping hand” in Nepali -- to limit further loss of life and human suffering in response to the devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck central Nepal on April 25, and continued the response after the magnitude-7.4 earthquake that struck May 12. More than 8,600 people died, and more than 16,000 were injured as a result of the earthquakes, according to latest official numbers.
"We, people, are men and women of the armed forces,” said Maj. Gen. Binoj Basnyat commandant of the Nepalese army’s command and staff college. “We understand each other; we know what the need is. So it has been a tremendous help for us while you were here, and helping us to get things in the proper direction. It's been a great help."
May 17, 2015
The bodies of six US marines and two Nepalese soldiers who were aboard a Marine helicopter that crashed during a relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal have been identified, officials said today.
The wreckage of the UH-1 “Huey” was found Friday following days of intense searching in the mountains northeast of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The first three charred bodies were retrieved Friday by Nepalese and US military teams, and the rest were found yesterday.
Captain Christopher L. Norgren, from Kansas, was the pilot.
Lance Corporal Jacob A. Hug, from Arizona, was the videographer.
Captain Dustin R. Lukasiewicz, from Nebraska, was the navigation safety officer.
Sergeant Ward M. Johnson IV, from Florida, was crew chief, in charge of helicopter maintenance.
Sergeant Eric M. Seaman, from California, was public relations.
Nepal Army Captain Tapendra Rawal.
Nepal Army JCO Basanta Titara.
REST IN PEACE ..............................................
May 15, 2015
The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter lost on an earthquake relief mission was found today, high on a mountainside in Nepal, with three bodies spotted and the other five people on board presumed dead.
A U.S. search team identified the wreckage as that of the missing Marines UH-1Y Huey helicopter deployed after the Himalayan state was hit by a massive earthquake last month that killed more than 8,000 people.
Crash debris was found just 8 miles (13 km) north of the town of Charikot, said Army Major Dave Eastburn, spokesman for the U.S. military’s regional Pacific Command.
“The assessment of the site is ongoing and a thorough investigation will be conducted,” he added in a statement.
“The wreckage of the helicopter was found in pieces, and there are no chances of any survivors,” Nepal’s defense secretary, Iswori Poudyal said. He did not give the nationalities of the three victims, only saying their remains were charred.
The helicopter was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers.
Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu that his team could not immediately identify the cause of the crash or identify the bodies found.
“It was very severe crash, and based on what we saw in the condition of the aircraft, we believe there were no survivors,” he said. “Due to the extremely difficult terrain of the site of the mishap, below-freezing temperatures and violent winds and thunderstorms, I made the decision to cease the recovery efforts for this evening,” he said. “We cannot afford to put US or Nepalese service members at any further risk.”
The recovery mission will resume at first light Saturday.
The discovery of the wreckage, first spotted by Nepalese ground troops and two army helicopters this morning, followed days of intense search involving U.S. and Nepalese aircraft and even U.S. satellites.
The Huey was spotted near the village of Ghorthali at an altitude of 11,200 ft (3,400 m), Nepal Army’s Major General Binoj Basnyat told Reuters earlier, as helicopters and Nepali ground troops converged on the crash site. “It was found on a steep slope,” he added, explaining that Nepali and U.S. teams were investigating the site and were expected to announce their findings at news conferences later today.
The area’s tallest peak soars to more than 7,000 meters (23,000 ft). Hillsides are cloaked with lush forest that made it hard to find the chopper even though it came down just a few miles from Charikot, the capital of Dolakha district that lies half a day’s drive to the east of Kathmandu.
Charikot is also an army base, serving as a hub for operations to airlift and treat those injured in the two earthquakes.
The first quake, which struck on April 25 with a magnitude of 7.8, has killed 8,199 people. The death toll from a 7.3 aftershock on Tuesday has reached 117, with many victims in Dolakha. The combined toll is approaching the number of just over 8,500 who died in an earthquake in 1934, the worst ever natural disaster to hit the poor Himalayan nation. Some 76,000 more have been hurt while hundreds of thousands of buildings - including ancient temples and monuments - have been damaged or destroyed. Nearly three weeks after the first quake, aftershocks continue to rattle the country.
Nepal mobilized 600 soldiers to search for the Huey. It went missing after the crew was heard over the radio saying that the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem.
Two more U.S. Hueys, two MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor planes and Nepali and Indian choppers had been involved in the search for the helicopter, which was part of a joint task force sent in by the United States to provide assistance at Nepal’s request.
The UH-1Y Venom helicopter was assigned to part of the Marine Light Attack Squadron 469, based in Camp Pendleton, California.
May 5, 2015
The death toll from Nepal’s earthquake has now claimed 7,500 lives and still rising. Early predictions that the final count would eventually reach 10,000 seems ever more likely.
Of all the districts, the hardest hit is Sindhupalchowk. As of yesterday, the death toll the death toll has reached 3,656 with well over 4000 injured. According to field hospitals, spinal injuries and amputations are particularly high. A fresh landslide occurred on Friday in Dolalghat area, on the border of Sindhupalchowk and Kavre districts, triggering further panic in the already battered region. Roads have been ruptured by the quake, increasing the difficulty for rescuers and relief supplies to reach the remote areas.
Sindhupalchowk, a district endowed with immense natural beauty, is about 60 kms north from the capital city Kathmandu.
The quakes and subsequent aftershocks have destroyed approximately 90 per cent of the houses in Sindhupalchowk, according to a situation report released by the United Nation's humanitarian agency OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
A UN official visiting the district to monitor the situation said: "The local government officials themselves, are the victims of the quake, so how does one expect timely help?
Still, relief and is beginning to be seen. At least 200 bodies being recovered from Sindhupalchowk on a daily basis.
The district has a population of over 250,000 and international emergency response teams like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF), besides other NGOs are providing the vital human link and compassionate touch amid the chaos.
MSF is sending mobile clinics in two helicopters and evacuating the critically injured, if needed.
The IFRC has supplied medical and non-food relied such as blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen-set and hygiene items among others for people in the far-flung area.
DDRC is busy collecting data of death toll using all the local level government mechanism, according to District Administration Office (DAO), Sindhupalchowk. Rescue teams consisting of Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and some foreign rescuers, including Norwegians, have been deployed for search and rescue operation.
Meanwhile, Police Inspector Rupak Khadka at District Police Office (DPO), Sindhupalchowk said that some 600 locals, who were in upper hills to pick yarshagumba at the time of earthquake, are still out of contact.
Also US choppers are beginning to make reconnaissance flights.
"Only the 'Hueys' (helicopters) have gone out so far for reconnaissance flights to try to identify areas in need of relief. No Ospreys have been out," a US embassy official told AFP on Monday.
The Ospreys and a US Air Force C-17 aircraft touched down in the capital Kathmandu on Sunday.
According to American ambassador Peter W. Bodde, besides assessments, the US units have two other aims: delivering relief supplies, and airlifting victims out of remote areas.
The report added that "the number of amputations has increased and the frequency seems to be accelerating".
Late Sunday climbing firms called off their Everest spring expeditions after a quake-triggered avalanche killed 18 on the world's highest peak.
Meanwhile, in Kathmandu, authorities say up to one-third of the city's residents have left since the quake. In the first days, bus stations were jammed with people fearing aftershocks or trying to get home to relatives in devastated villages.
Authorities do not know how many of those people have returned to the capital, but as of today people are still lining up and waiting for buses to leave.
Kathmandu police say nearly 900,000 people have left in the past 10 days. The population of Kathmandu valley — including the city of Kathmandu and smaller towns of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur — is 2.5 million people.
Life has been slowly returning to normal in Kathmandu. Schools are to remain closed until May 14 but some markets are open and trucks have been bringing in fresh food and vegetables every day, which is an encouraging sign.
May 2, 2015
The following report was filed today by Seth Robson for STARS AND STRIPES:
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Four tilt-rotor V-22 Ospreys, other U.S. aircraft and 150 military personnel headed to Nepal to boost earthquake relief efforts have been delayed a day and are now expected to arrive Sunday.
The delay was not related to capacity at the airport in Kathmandu, said Marine Capt. Cassandra Gesecki, a spokeswoman for Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander, who arrived Wednesday in the Nepalese capital with an advance party of Pacific Command troops. A wide variety of factors contributed to the delay, with aircraft, personnel and equipment coming from Japan, Guam, Thailand and the Philippines, she said.
“We are bringing in significant capacity,” Kennedy said Friday of the U.S. assets, which will include Air Force personnel out of Guam who can control air traffic, repair airfields and offload supplies with heavy equipment. He said the assets were originally scheduled to arrive Saturday.
In addition to the Ospreys and three UH-1 Hueys, other U.S. aircraft that will assist include four Air Force C-17 Globemasters and two Marine Corps KC-130s, according to Chuck Little of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, public affairs office.
The Ospreys and Huey helicopters will be tasked with ferrying relief supplies and personnel from the international airport in Kathmandu to outlying areas, Kennedy said.
The Nepalese government, which has only a few helicopters, is rushing much-needed aid to isolated villages hit by the April 25 quake, estimated to have killed more than 6,200 people.
Some of the locations where the helicopters will fly are 18,000 feet above sea level.
Ospreys have seen extensive service in Afghanistan and deployed to the Philippines during relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. Flying in the Himalayas will be a new challenge, Kennedy said.
“They have never been in anything that approximates this,” he said.
However the mission in Nepal is something that the 3rd MEB is prepared to handle. The unit trained for earthquake response in Nepal twice in 2013 and again last year, Kennedy said.
“It seems unlikely that an amphibious force would come to this landlocked country but … this is a thing that we have anticipated for a few years.”
Kennedy, who visited Nepal during the disaster training, said beautiful brick buildings that he had seen in Kathmandu had been reduced to rubble by the earthquake.
The response of Army Special Forces troops out of Okinawa, who were doing cold weather training in Nepal when the earthquake struck, has been impressive, Kennedy said.
“They went to Mount Everest and started pulling people out,” he said. “It wasn’t just at Base Camp. They went up the mountain and they were pulling people out.”
The soldiers recovered the body of Google executive Dan Fredinburg from the mountain, he said.
“As soon as they were done with that, they were down here going out to villages doing first-aid and even search-and-rescue,” he said.
November 23, 2013
Grant Will Help Create Tiger Corridors, Prevent Poaching and Help Communities
On the third anniversary of the historic Global Tiger Summit the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has awarded a 3 million grant to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for a bold initiative to help Nepal double its wild tiger numbers by 2022 - the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.
The grant will bolster WWF's work with the government of Nepal and local communities in Nepal's Terai Arc landscape to strengthen anti-poaching patrols, protect core areas for tiger breeding, restore critical corridors for their dispersal and expansion, and continuously monitor tiger populations. Previous support from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is already showing major results, growing the number of tigers in the Terai's Bardia National Park from an estimated 18 to 50 tigers.
The grant represents the first funds awarded from the successful Christie's 11th Hour Charity Auction in May, created by DiCaprio, which raised a record 38.8 million for conservation in a single night. DiCaprio has long been a passionate advocate for the environment and joined forces with WWF beginning in 2010 to launch Save Tigers Now, a global campaign to raise political, financial and public support to save tigers in the wild.
"Time is running out for the world's remaining 3,200 tigers, largely the result of habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching," said Leonardo DiCaprio, a WWF Board member. "WWF, the government of Nepal and local communities are on the front lines of this battle and I am hopeful this grant will help them exceed the goal of doubling the number of these noble creatures in the wild."
"Leonardo DiCaprio defies expectations in leveraging his voice and influence to restore tigers and their habitat in one of the most hopeful places on Earth," said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "His foundation is all about delivering real results for conservation on the ground and empowering local communities; nowhere is that more evident than in Nepal. The numbers speak for themselves and we are grateful for our partnership."
Nepal is on target to become one of the first tiger range countries to achieve the 2010 Global Tiger Summit's goal of doubling wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. The Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal, where the grant will be used, is 9,000 square miles and includes protected areas that are critical tiger, rhino and elephant habitat. The densely populated region is also home to nearly seven million people who depend on its natural resources for their livelihoods.
Tigers, elephants and rhinos in the Terai are losing habitat and falling victim to the illegal wildlife trade. The grant will allow park rangers to use sophisticated monitoring tools in conjunction with community policing and intelligence-gathering to tackle poaching. Basic park infrastructure, such as guard posts, will also be expanded and corridors between parks will be strengthened to give key species the freedom to roam and help grow new tiger populations across the Terai.
"Protecting a top predator like the tiger helps keep forests and grasslands intact, and ensures that other species like rhinos and elephants can thrive." said Justin Winters, the Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. "The most impressive part of this project - and the key to its success so far - is the true collaboration between WWF, the Nepal government and the local communities. Finding solutions that protect tigers and benefit local people is the only way to ensure long term success."
WWF and its partners will also use the grant to help local communities benefit from conservation by creating income-generating activities through tourism, handicrafts and organic vegetable production. The grant will also support insurance funds to help families cope with the loss of livestock to predators.
ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
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May 13, 2013
Two very different news articles circulated in Asia this week. Both focused on the increased difficulty facing foreigners who are in Nepal without proper visas. The forces at work are external and internal and the non-Nepalis in question range from Americans to Tibetans:
Nepal to blacklist foreigners working without permit
Beijing, May 9 (Xinhua-ANI): Nepal's Department of Labor (DoL) is going to strictly regulate the non-diplomatic foreign workers working without employment permit in the country, according to a government official.
The non-compliant workers, if found, would be blacklisted, said Krishna Hari Pushkar, director general of the department.
"Some 50,000 foreign nationals are working here without official work permits, which could pose threats to our national sovereignty, integrity and even job creation for Nepalese youths. Se we have decided to strictly impose the work permit system as per the Labor Act 1992," he told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
Only 9,119 foreigners working in various hydropower projects, construction companies, telecommunications, banking and hospitality sectors, among others, have been granted official work permit, according to DoL statistics.
There are mostly Chinese nationals among the foreigners who have obtained the official employment permit to work mainly in infrastructure and communications sectors in Nepal.
A team led by DoL officials, comprising representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Department of Immigration, will start on-the-spot monitoring of the non-diplomatic foreigners working in different sectors such as social organizations, charities and diplomatic missions from next week, the official said.
The DoL has planned to put the names of non-compliant foreigners who will continue their jobs without official work permits finally in the blacklist and such individual will have to leave the country.
Likewise a separate team will conduct the status assessment study of the informally working foreigners in Nepal that is expected to reveal the facts.
Assessing primarily that Nepal is losing some 46 million U.S. dollars annually due to tax avoidance by foreigners working informally in Nepal, the DoL has begun scrutinizing the applicants ' details before issuance of the work permit.
The DoL has initiated the process of interviewing respective candidate who seeks employment permit to work in Nepal.
During the interview, one must justify his/her compatibility to Nepal's national interest, correlation between the academic certificate and nature of job along with the necessary approval from other concerned authorities according to the job specifications.
Though the DoL received some two dozens of applications for work permit in the last fortnight, it has approved only four of them after successful completion of the interview.
Most of the foreigners working without official permit in Nepal are from Bhutan, South Korea, Europe, the United States and Australia, according to the DoL.
Bhutanese nationals are informally working in the education sector largely whereas the South Koreans and Europeans are illegally working in various charities. The citizens of the U.S. and Australia are found to be working in several nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations and even in some diplomatic missions.
"The donor agencies such as UNDP, DFID, ADB and the like are also hiring non-diplomatic staffs for very common job positions like computer operator or vehicle driver which is against the provision in section 4(a) of the Labor a Act 1992 given that foreigners can be hired for high level technical jobs only," Director General Pushkar stated.
Any individual working in Nepal for more than 180 days must pay the income tax as per the Income Tax Act 2002. But most of the illegally working foreigners are supposed to receive their benefits directly at their bank account in their home countries.
"If any foreigner generates income here in Nepal, he/she must obtain a permanent account number and paying the income tax, rental tax and other necessary taxes, which is mandatory by law," said Bishnu Nepal, deputy director general of the Inland Revenue Department, adding, "We will coordinate with the DoL to investigate the issue further." (Xinhua-ANI)
China 'crushing’ Tibetan dissident groups in Nepal
Bharti Jain, TIMES OF INDIA | May 12, 2013
NEW DELHI: Wary of dissident Tibetan groups making Nepal a hub for their anti-China activities, Beijing appears to have taken to squeezing the Himalayan nation on the issue by using its developmental initiatives there as a counter-pressure tactic. China, which already boasts of a wide involvement in Nepal that covers all critical areas including defence, infrastructure development and cultural activities, is now focusing on taking up development initiatives across Nepalese villages adjoining Tibet, besides liaisoning with Nepalese border authorities and security officials to enhance border security and upgrade police stations at points used by Tibetans to cross into Nepal.
Recent intelligence assessments by the Indian security agencies have drawn the government's attention to attempts by China to "crush" Tibetan activities in Nepal. Nepal is a major shelter destination for Tibetans who cross over in large numbers before proceeding to India or elsewhere. Over the years, many Tibetans have settled in Nepal, leaving Beijing worried that the dissident elements among them may be working against China's interests.
In a bid to thwart such designs, China has proposed to develop some village development committees (VDCs) contiguous to Tibet, jointly with the Nepalese ministry of physical planning. As per the proposal sent recently to the Nepalese government, China would support basic infrastructure building in some of these VDCs. The project, Indian intelligence agencies' warn, would enable a sizeable Chinese presence in these border VDCs and also let Beijing to exercise control over the crucial border link used by Tibetans to cross into Nepal.
Under the proposed "nationwide assistance programme" awaiting clearance of Nepalese authorities, the Chinese would also provide basic supplies to VDCs in at least 15 border districts.
Incidentally, the Chinese have gone beyond development initiatives to counter the alleged Tibetan dissident activities in Nepal. Chinese Embassy officials based in Kathmandu have been regularly visiting border areas, including remote north-western districts like Humla and Mustang to check the security situation and use their interaction with the Nepalese border authorities to push for tighter monitoring of the Sino-Nepal border. The Chinese officials seek to know the equipment and support mechanism needed for better border security and convey these requirements to Beijing so that they can be factored in future agreements with Nepal.
Another key initiative aimed at greater control over areas bordering Tibet, is China's offer to upgrade police stations along the Sino-Nepal border. Chinese embassy officials, intelligence reports say, had lately visited police stations along the border and made a proposal to renovate them, which is now under consideration in Kathmandu. If accepted, the Chinese side would get a significant say in policing in sensitive border areas. However, what may be more worrisome for India is if China's focus shifts to modernizing police stations along other borders as well.
New Chinese ambassador Wu Chuntai's security background may only help to step up vigilance and counter-efforts against the Tibetan population in Nepal, feel Indian intelligence experts. Chinese security officials have been apprising the Nepalese authorities to be on the lookout for Tibetan groups from India visiting Nepal to "influence" Tibetans settled there.
April 9, 2013
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Peter Bodde has served in Nepal twice before returning this time as ambassador. The Senate confirmed him last year.
Bodde joined the Foreign Service in 1981, and served early career assignments at the embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 1982 to 1984; as minister counselor for Administrative Affairs at the embassy in New Delhi, India; in Copenhagen, Denmark; Sofia, Bulgaria; at the consulate in Hamburg, Germany; as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Kathmandu, from 1994 to 1997; and in Georgetown, Guyana. He has also served in various State Department positions in Washington, most recently as the director of the management policy in the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation. From 2002 to 2006, he was consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. From February 2006 to August 2008, he was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Bodde served as ambassador to Malawi from September 2008 to July 2011. More recently, he served as assistant chief of mission for assistance transition in Iraq and coordinator for minority issues at the embassy in Baghdad.
Disclaimer: My interview with Ambassador Bodde began with a technical glitch. The audio on my camera was acting up to the extent that the first eight minutes of the interview were unusable. According to my notes, however, we were discussing what the ambassador cited as some of the most successful programs the U.S. has developed in Nepal during the last 56 years. Among those programs discussed were the Fulbright scholarships awarded to Nepali citizens. For more information,
The ambassador then talked about the Access Program, which provides two years of English language instruction, as well as computer skills and leadership skills to disadvantaged youth. The program participants from Nepal are from government schools. Each group of 40 participants consists of 20 girls and 20 boys from various religious and ethnic backgrounds.
It was at this point that my audio equipment decided to behave. The interview picks up from here:
AMBASSADOR BODDE: The beauty of the Access program is that it really gets to children at all levels. They start at middle school – ages 13, 14, up to School Leaving Certificate (SLC). It’s an after-school program. We’re very proud of our students. Students who got through our program, all got through the SLC.
Mikel, you have been coming to Nepal for many years and you know how many people don’t go through the SLC. So this is a program I would love to expand, because I think it’s one of the things that works. English language here is really important. In today’s world globalization, having strong English skills is just such a critical skill for any young person to succeed.
DUNHAM: Have you managed to take this program to all the districts of Nepal?
BODDE: No. We have 280 students and we’ve been in Kathmandu, Gorkha, Bhairahawa, and Butwal. We’re about to start one in Mahendranagar. All said, all the districts would be very ambitious. I’ll be quite frank. I wish we could get there; we’re not going to. But this program is one that is successful – one in which the model works. We just want to replicate it and keep the model going.
We also should acknowledge our partner in Access: NELTA (Nepal English Language Teachers Association).
DUNHAM: The U.S. works in Nepal to curb anti-trafficking, one of the most pressing issues for women. What kind of organizations do you work with here?
BODDE: We work with NGOs. We also work with the Nepal police, providing them with training in how to deal with this.
DUNHAM: In the past, there was a severe shortage of women officers to help deal with sex trafficking? Have you addressed that?
BODDE: Yes. We funded a police barracks for policewomen in Biratnagar. And it’s not just the police, but we also work with the prosecution side. The Attorney General’s office is involved here in prosecution. And they are doing a good job. We work across the spectrum on these things. You have to, if you want to be successful about it. There’s more to be done. There’s always going to be more that needs to be. But progress is being made.
But you have to remain focused, particularly in education – the prevention side. And we work with a number of NGOs on that.
DUNHAM: When working with the police, are you also addressing how best to handle the victims…counseling?
BODDE: All of those things.
DUNHAM: One thing I hear in Nepal, over and over, is that women become discouraged after they report their victimization, because of what happens once their cases enter the court system. The courts repeatedly postpone their cases and often the police don’t hand over their files. Eventually, so many women just drop their case out of futility and exasperation.
BODDE: I’m not going to comment on individual cases. That would be inappropriate. But I would encourage women: No one should give up. This is a critical issue. Victims should know that there are many people out there concerned about this. There are many programs in Nepal – people out there trying to help. We are always interested in this. The women victims should continue to work with the police. This is an on-going project, a serious problem.
DUNHAM: You are an old hand here. You’ve been working in Nepal, off an on, for thirty years. Can you comment on the differences, the changes you have seen, since you first came to Nepal?
BODDE: I arrived here in August of 1982. The changes have been dramatic. In 1982, there were green rice paddies on either side of the Ring Road. You would be hard pressed to find green on either side of the Ring Road right now.
I think there has been a lot of progress made. One of the things that we have to always remember is just how much progress has been made here. With our help, but also by the Nepalis on their own.
We go back and one your initial questions was, “Has foreign aid been working [in Nepal] over the last fifty-sixty years?”
We’ve had some tremendous successes here, starting with the eradication of malaria in the health sector. When you look at women issues, the child illnesses and all that, Nepal has made great progress in meeting its health challenges. There is more to be done, though. And we’re working now with the government in that the maternal mortality is still too high. The government acknowledges that. From what I understand from our health people, this is going to be a harder issue to do because, the way you really solve this is to get more women to deliver their babies in medical facilities. And getting that done is going to take a longer time.
You look at the economic development...It’s very clear that there is a level of prosperity here that certainly didn’t exist thirty years ago. It didn’t exist here fifteen years ago. Nepal has become a much more modern country.
I was here when democracy was restored in the 1990s. One of the things that happened at that time was that the press made significant progress towards being a free press. That continues today. When I arrived here in 1992, there were two newspapers. Today, there are so many that you can’t count them. There are five or six English dailies. And they report. On all things. Journalists are active here. That’s a very, very positive thing and that’s a critical component of any nascent democracy.
I think that the other thing that has happened, of course, is the whole population explosion. When I arrived here in 1982, the population in Nepal was around 12 million. Ten years later, when I came back, it was 18 million. The estimates now are around 26 million. Obviously, that has created a whole new set of issues.
DUNHAM: Demographic shifts?
BODDE: Demographic shifts. Two-thirds of the population is now under thirty-five.
But one of the things that I’m struck with is that the young people in Nepal are more and more educated. There are more and more really successful young people. They are interested in their future. They are trying to do something right for Nepal… the whole development of civic society [is improving] … and particularly among the young people, there is an awareness about their own civic responsibility – what they can do to make things better – it is a very positive development here. I am very encouraged by it.
We have an embassy youth advisory group, where we bring together just over 50 young people. We do this every month. The interesting thing, there, is that we reached out and did some advertising about it. We had over 800 applicants to join this. We chose the fifty best applicants. I meet them regularly. Susan Parker-Burns [Public Affairs Officer] and her staff meet with them. One of the things we are very, very actively doing with them is mentoring them.
I do a session myself , as a boss: what it takes to be a good employer, what employers look for and what skill-sets are needed. We do a lot of mentoring. We brought in two entrepreneurs, yesterday, to talk to them about what entrepreneurial companies are looking for in young people.
And, I’ve reached out to the Nepal American Chamber of Commerce. And I said, “Now I expect you to come in and mentor these people, because they should be hearing this from Nepalis.” It’s one thing to hear something from the American Ambassador; it’s another thing to hear it from a captain of industry from here. And we are reaching out to FNCCI, [Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry] as well.
The last group that I tasked Susan with reaching out to this past week is to reach out to all of our distinguished alumni from all of our various programs. These are the type of adult leaders that our young people should have access to. We can be a very good bridge for that. I think this is really exciting: It’s Nepali helping Nepali, and that’s the key.
You asked…I think one of your interests is how can the United States be helpful without being overly intrusive? One of things I’ve learned coming back here as often as I have is that I am a very strong believer that we can provide assistance, we can provide expertise, but the solutions have to be Nepali solutions. And our job – our real job – is what I always say in my interviews is to be a frank friend. When we see things that bother us, speak up. And I do. But it’s also to say, “these are issues that you have to contend with.” Ultimately, it has to be Nepalis working through this and coming up with their own solutions.
We certainly have seen this recently, with this new government being formed to move towards elections. This is critical. And I think it is important.
DUNHAM: What can be done to make Nepalis understand that they can’t rely on foreign aid for eternity? There is that mentality here that someone else will come in and provide money and funds to take care of the problems.
BODDE: I think you being a little bit harsh. I take a slightly different approach. I’m very frank is saying, “ Listen, no assistance starts without an end.” It’s not forever. But quite frankly, what I think the challenge for Nepal right now is – if I look out at a two-three-year horizon, the first challenge is the election; get the election done for the constituent assembly to finish the constitution. That’s challenge number one.
The next challenge after that is done is to have another set of election, to elect a parliament and the government. And what it’s really all about is creating the conditions that do two things: creating stability here – creating political stability – so that the economy can take off. And equally important, and its part of the process, that the Nepalis, through this process, take the steps to institutionalize democracy in Nepal. And that’s what has to be done.
When you do that, that’s when the economy will finally take off. That’s when dependence on assistance will come to an end. But in the meantime, there are things that we can do to help. But you are absolutely right: Aid is not an open-ended solution.
DUNHAM: Nor can foreign countries force Nepalis to have timely elections. That time schedule is out of our control.
BODDE: That’s absolutely right. It is theirs to work through and they have worked through it. We are waiting to hear when the election date will be set.
BODDE: I’m not going to speculate on that. That is for the Election Commission to do. I think what’s critical though – and I’ll be very clear on this – is that elections have to happen and they should happen soon.
Elections are a very complex thing to manage, organize and make happen. I have full faith in the Election Commission to do it. They have done it before. They are very good at it. We, as donors, can provide technical assistance. But there are certain things that just take time to do and they have to determine how much time they need to get it done. That said, there have to be elections.
DUNHAM: It’s always been remarkable, to me, how patient the Nepali people are.
BODDE: I think they are patient but, frankly…we travel a lot around the country. One universal observation we all have – and if you talk to the political party leaders here, they know it too – is that the people are ready for elections. While they are patient –it’s like assistance not being an unending process – they want it to happen.
March 27, 2013
U.S. Pacific Command’s deputy commander Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant joined officials from the Nepalese army and the United Nations to kick off the Shanti Prayas 2 peacekeeping exercise at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Center in Panchkal.
The exercise, the second to be hosted by Nepal, is sponsored by the United States to train the Nepal army and Global Peace Operations Initiative partner nation militaries for U.N. peacekeeping missions. Representatives of 23 nations are participating in this year’s exercise.
Conant, expressing pride for his service as a U.N. peacekeeper in Somalia in 1994, challenged the group to take advantage of the opportunity to “learn and practice and latest in peacekeeping skills in a realistic environment, as well as to learn from each nation’s participants.”
As they increase their peacekeeping skills and ability to operate together, participants will strengthen multinational cooperation while contributing to regional peacekeeping capability, he said.
“This exercise will be no different, as participants prepare for important international missions that require the highest peacekeeping skill levels and use the latest U.N. doctrine,” he said.
Noting Nepal’s contributions to international peacekeeping, Nepalese Army Chief Gen. Gaurav SJB Rana emphasized the importance of sharing experiences, best practices and lessons learned to prepare participants for the challenges of peacekeeping missions.
Shanti Prayas 2 includes a senior training seminar, staff exercise and field training exercise.
Eleven platoons from 11 nations participating in the FTX are working to enhance their tactical training, organizational tactics, techniques and procedures. Senior leaders from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the United States are attending the four-day senior training seminar, which concludes today.
In addition, 84 officers from 24 nations participating in the staff exercise are focused on improving their operations, logistics and planning capabilities and U.N. civil-military coordination.
Conant and his Nepalese hosts laid a wreath on a Peacekeepers Memorial to honor those killed in the line of duty promoting international peace.
The U.S. State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative was established in 2004 to build partner-nation capabilities in peace support operations. The goal, Conant explained, is to increase the pool of military troops and police units trained and available for deployment and to provide the required preparation, logistical and deployment support they may require.
Within six years of its inception, the program trained and equipped 75,000 peacekeepers worldwide, primarily in Africa. The focus now has shifted to the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, Conant said.
More about Lieutenant General Thomas L. Conant, USMC,Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command:
Lieutenant General Conant's General Officer staff tours have included Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Department of Aviation, HQMC; Assistant Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, HQMC; and Director, Capabilities Development Directorate, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5), U.S. Pacific Command.
He has participated in various operations overseas to include: noncombatant evacuation operations in Liberia (Operation Sharp Edge), contingency operations in Haiti (Operation Support Democracy) and peacekeeping operations in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope and UNOSOM) and combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
He is a graduate of the USMC Amphibious Warfare School, USMC Command and Staff College, and Marine Corps War College.
February 22, 2013
On February 21, U.S. Ambassador Peter W. Bodde and Nepal Police IGP Kuber Singh Rana, jointly inaugurated four buildings constructed for the use of the Nepal Police in Biratnagar. The three new buildings at the Nepal Police Regional Training Center in Biratnagar – a cafeteria/canteen, a block of classrooms, and most importantly a women’s barracks - as well as the new Rani Border Station, were all funded by the U.S. government through the Department of Justice. These facilities will help train a new generation of Nepal Police in a well-equipped and professional environment.
The U.S. government’s Department of Justice spent approximately $750,000 building and equipping the three Regional Training Center buildings and the Border Police Station. In addition to funding the ground-up construction, the Department of Justice also purchased furniture and other items to make all four buildings functional. “The United States has been a strong supporter of the Nepal Police, and we’ve long recognized the professionalism and dedication of the Nepali men and women who serve in law enforcement. Both my government and your government realize the importance of strengthening the capacity of the Nepal Police so they can continue the important work they do throughout the country, and in particular the Terai region,” Ambassador Bodde said in his opening remarks.
February 2, 2013
The following is a release from III Marine Expeditionary Force / Marine Corps Installations Pacific
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – Approximately 40 service members from III Marine Expeditionary Force left today to conduct the first Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Table Top Exercise (TTX) with participants from the Government of Nepal, Department of State, multinational observers and other agencies in Katmandu on Feb. 2.
The purpose of the exercise is to increase III Marine Expeditionary Force’s readiness and ability to respond to an high availability disaster recovery (HA/DR) scenario in Nepal through extensive coordination, training and planning with participating members.
“The TTX will allow us to develop and refine the Multinational Coordination Center (MNCC) concept and discuss how this concept works within the Nepal Disaster Response Framework,” said Maj. Jude Shell the lead 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) planner for the Nepal TTX.
The exercise will begin with a simulated Alert Contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Force (ACM) Fly Away drill conducted by the 3rd MEB, III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Feb. 1.
This is a drill designed to increase 3rd MEB’s ability to rapidly deploy in response to natural disasters and other crises that could occur in the Asia-Pacific region.
Once participants arrive in Nepal, the exercise will begin with the first phase, a Table Top Exercise. The TTX portion of the exercise is a coordinated approach to planning and simulated execution of an HA/DR operation with exercise participants.
“A real HA/DR scenario would involve Marines and sailors from III MEF and major subordinate commands. Testing and evaluating our current ACM procedures allows us to more effectively respond in a real crisis,” said Lt. Col. Steven Himelspach the future operations officer for 3rd MEB.
III MEF’s posture in the Asia-Pacific region allows it to rapidly respond to crises and natural disasters throughout the region, to include Nepal, in order to support and assist partnering nations with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
The second phase of the exercise, the field training exercise, will be conducted in the fall of 2013 which will apply practical application of operations and procedures discussed in phase I.
“In addition to training for an HA/DR scenario, this exercise is an excellent opportunity to build relationships between III MEF, Nepal and participating countries and agencies in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Col. John Ostrowski chief of staff for 3rd MEB.
January 15, 2013
On Sunday, Mukti Pradhan, Nepal’s attorney general, cancelled a scheduled visit to the US, apparently out of fear.
Following the arrest of Nepal Army Col. Kumar Lama by the British police earlier this month – who was seized in the UK over his alleged human rights violations during the decade-long Maoist insurgency – the Maoist-led government seems to be taking precautions to protect its own from the international justice system.
The attorney general has been widely criticized in Nepal and abroad for exerting undue influence to stop prosecution of five Maoist workers charged with the 2004 killing of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa. One of the named assailants confessed last week, saying that he and his henchmen had brutally beaten Thapa and ultimately buried him alive.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai publicly criticized the arrest of his fellow party members for the crime.
Then, on January 9, the attorney general added further pressure to impede justice by personally blasting the District Public Prosecutor, Dambar Prasad Kafle, for having had the five men arrested in the first place. After “hurled abuses”, Pradhan threatened to fire Kafle if he did not change the confessional statement of the accused. [This is according the EKantipur, which quoted anonymous sources from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in a Jan. 11 article]:
“The Attorney General has abused the District Prosecutor and threatened to finish off three of his generations,” said a senior official at the OAG, requesting anonymity.
Sources further said that Pradhan also mounted pressure on the chief of the Surkhet Appellate Public Prosecutor Office, Man Bahadur Karki, “to not allow the case to move ahead.”
The OAG official also said that Pradhan is planning to transfer both Kafle and Karki “to influence the case.”
According to sources, Pradhan called Kafle again on Thursday and “coaxed” him by offering a “lucrative transfer and a foreign trip.”
“Pradhan on Thursday dictated (to Kafle) a draft of the statement to be recorded for the accused,” the source said.
Pradhan was scheduled to fly to the US on Jan. 13. He had been invited to speak at the University of New Haven in Boston.
Ironically, the college had invited Pradhan for a nine-day program on “strengthening the criminal justice system in Nepal.”
Pradhan received his a US visa on last Saturday, the day before his departure.
What changed his traveling plans?
According to the Kathmandu Post:
“A US Embassy official took a brief interview of the attorney general (AG) before issuing him a visa, which is rare,” an official said. “That probably sowed seeds of doubt in the AG’s mind. That seemed to have led him to call off the visit, perhaps anxious to avoid Col Lama’s fate in the UK.”
“Following the cancellation of the US trip, the AG remained tight-lipped about what made him do that,” said an official at the AG’s office. “He appeared tensed all day today, cancelled all his in-house meetings and kept to himself,” said another official at the office.
Sources said that when Pradhan reached office on Sunday, officials there warned him that he could meet the same fate as Col Lama. Worse, he could also be greeted with black flags upon reaching the US.
Earlier in the day, the NHRC summoned Pradhan and asked him why he was obstructing new investigations into Thapa’s murder and why he had ordered his local-level officials to halt recording statements.
Meanwhile, journalists in Pradhan’s home, Dolakha, have decided to boycott all his public functions in the district.
“He has abused his authority by ordering to put on hold the investigations into the killing of a fellow journalist. We were happy when he was appointed the AG, but we are now dismayed by his actions,” a statement issued by the Federation of Nepali Journalists, Dolokha, said.
According to one of the delegates, who was to fly with Pradhan to Boston, the trip was not cancelled but rather postponed: “He (Pradhan) informed me that we would head for the US on January 22 instead of today (Sunday). He said it was not appropriate to leave the country at a time when there is a political and constitutional crisis.”
Is the attorney general suggesting that after January 22, Nepal will no longer be in a political and constitutional crisis?
November 3, 2012
Immigrants have served with honor in the U.S. armed forces since the Revolutionary War. But in what is believed to be a first, the Army has crowned as its top soldier and an enlistee who was not a U.S. citizen at birth.
Sgt. Saral Shrestha joined the Army through the MANVI program, which recruits highly skilled immigrants for specialized positions.
Shrestha, 24, grew up wanting to serve in the police or the military in his native Nepal. According to news accounts, he instead immigrated to the United States at his mother’s urging to further his education. After studying computer science at Bellevue University in Nebraska, he joined the Army in 2009 through a pilot program designed to recruit highly skilled immigrants for positions requiring special medical and language skills. Shrestha speaks five languages, including Urdu.
Shrestha said he was inspired by his great grandfather Sundar Kumar Shrestha, who fought during the World War II in Oceana and Nagaland from the British Army side.
After serving a tour in Afghanistan, Shrestha earned the right to participate with eleven other soldiers in the Army’s prestigious Best Warrior Competition. Over four days last month, competitors endured a range of tests both physical and mental—including searching for roadside bombs, completing written and oral exams, and performing first aid on wounded comrades. To prepare for the competition, Shrestha, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, studied the Constitution, memorized Army regulations, and had his wife constantly test him with flashcards. He was announced as the winner October 22 at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army.
Shortly before Shrestha was named Soldier of the Year, the Pentagon announced it would resume enlisting immigrants under the program—known as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MANVI)—through which he was recruited. (Although the initial group of recruits performed higher on entrance tests and had lower attrition rates than native-born soldiers, the program was not immediately renewed due to security concerns following the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, earlier this year.) According to the New York Times, the program will recruit 1,500 soldiers annually for the next two years, with a focus on dentists, surgeons, and trained psychologists.
For immigrants, a prime benefit of the program is the ability to naturalize after completing basic training—although they can lose their citizenship if they fail to complete a designated number of years in service. Although Shrestha will soon be eligible for discharge, he reportedly has no plans to leave the Army. He instead hopes to obtain a master’s degree in computer science, attend officer training school, and become a member of the Army’s Special Forces.
Original report by Ben Winograd for Immigration Impact
ImmigrationImpact.com was launched in 2008 to help shape and develop a rational conversation on immigration that shifts the terms of the debate towards achieving workable and effective comprehensive policy reform. It is a project of the American Immigration Council. The American Immigration Council’s mission is to strengthen America by honoring its immigrant history and shaping how Americans think about and act towards immigration now and in the future.
September 25, 2012
A multinational team led by U.S., Nepalese, and Australian military members and civilians treated more than 4,100 villagers, repaired and renovated three schools, and shared expertise Sept. 10-15, during Operation Pacific Angel 12-4 in Nepal.
The first Pacific Angel mission in Nepal featured free medical assistance in pediatrics, optometry, physiotherapy, public health infection control, food safety, women's health and pre-post partum nutrition care.
A very real example of the benefits of working together came during the mission when a newborn baby got a second chance at life. The child was a breech birth, and local doctors had pronounced him dead when two Project Hope doctors teamed up with a Nepal army nurse to provide rescue breathing -- reviving him, to the delight of a grateful family. (See above photo)
In addition to the thousands of patients receiving care, 80 Nepal Aamy and U.S. military designers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, painters and brick-layers enhanced and improved a school, hostel, restroom facilities, water tank and pump systems and school cafeteria at Macchapucchre primary and secondary schools and at the Macchhapuchhre district post.
Nepali children look through a window at Machhapuchhre Higher Secondary School of Dhikur Pokhari, Nepal, and watch U.S. Air Force and Nepalese army civil engineers repair one of the school's buildings during Operation Pacific Angel 12-4 on Sept. 9, 2012. Operations like Pacific Angel build and sustain relationships with our multinational partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. and Nepalese also shared information and techniques related to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and emergency response. Members of the Nepal army, U.S. Air Force and Pokhara police force held classes and conducted simulated exercises at the Western Regional Nepal Army Headquarters.
The entire effort featured over 200 Nepal army, U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Mongolian Armed Forces members. They were assisted by the staffs of Gandaki Medical College, Teaching Hospital and Research Centre Private Limited (Charak Hospital), Himalaya Eye Hospital - Nau Danda Training Health Post and the Western Regional Health Directorate. Also helping were volunteers from the Junior Red Cross Of Shree Macchapuchhre Higher Secondary School,and the Dikhur Pokhari Youth Network.
Participants, officials and local citizens reflected on the successful mission during a ceremony at Machhapuchhre Higher Secondary School in Kaski District, Pokhara, on Sept. 17. During the closing festivities, a U.S. Air Force general officer spoke on the value of teamwork and partnership.
"We are honored to have worked alongside the Nepal army through our Pacific Angel program and deeply appreciate the hospitality our Nepalese hosts have extended to us," said Maj. Gen. Russell J. Handy, the Director of Operations, Plans, Requirements and Programs for U.S. Pacific Air Forces.
"These efforts are a visible expression of our combined
commitment to peace and stability in this region -- with the desire to
strengthen the relationship between our countries and our continuing resolve to
ensure increased humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in this region,"
Handy said. "Throughout this past week, we have been continually impressed
with the professionalism of the Nepal army and applaud the Nepal army and the
Ministry of Home Affairs for their diligent efforts to improve the quality of
life of Nepal's citizens."
A Nepali man smiles after receiving new glasses during U.S. Pacific Command's Operation Pacific Angel 12-4 Sept. 10, 2012, in Nepal. Pacific Angel 12-4 is a Pacific Air Forces planned event that enhances humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities between the United States and Pacific partners. The U.S. was invited by the Nepal government to provide support by conducting medical, optometry, and civil engineering programs.
Officiating over the ceremony for Nepal was Nepal Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Nepal Bhusan Chand and Western Division Commander Maj. Gen. Victor.
Since 2007, Pacific Angel operations have been the cornerstone of U.S. Pacific Air Force's engagement efforts to partner with host nation military personnel throughout the Asia-Pacific region to improve the lives of tens of thousands of people and integrate operations with like-minded military and civilian professionals.
(Article Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs)
September 16, 2012
Kul Chandra Gautam is one of Nepal’s most distinguished international civil servants. He served as Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. He was Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and the Peace Process. He is a seasoned diplomat and civic leader and serves on the Boards of a number of international and national foundations and charitable organizations. Six months ago, he was also listed by Lalrakshak, the magazine backed by the UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, as an “enemy of the people” – a label many analysts equated to a loosely veiled death threat. CLICK HERE for my interview with Mr. Gautam, February 28, 2012
Three days ago, following the US lifting of the terrorist tag on Nepal’s Maoists, Mr. Gautam published his response in Republica:
“The Teflon Politicians” by Kul Ghandra Gaurtam
The Maoists are ecstatic that the American government has just lifted the ‘terrorist’ tag from them. They never acknowledged or expressed any regret that they had ever used terror tactics. They claim that it was either a “misunderstanding” and their pro-people activism was misconstrued as terrorism, or a “conspiracy” by the world leader of capitalist-imperialist powers to defame a progressive nationalist movement fighting for social justice. In any case, the standard Maoist defence is that if they ever committed any violent excesses, it was their “compulsion”, not their “choice”. Now, the Maoists argue that the Americans have finally corrected their mistake.
The Americans––including the new US Ambassador to Nepal––would surely understand the Teflon phenomena. An American company, DuPont uses the brand name ‘Teflon’ for a ‘non-stick’ chemical in cooking pots and pans, much favored by America’s housewives and chefs. In politics, the term Teflon is used to describe a person who is impervious to even valid criticism and on whom no kind of blame seems to stick. Ronald Reagan was called the ‘Teflon president’ as he easily seemed to get away with all kinds of gaffes and mis-statements. He was a lovable actor and people forgave him for mixing up certain facts and figures.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to enjoy similar Teflon characteristics as many ordinary Russians overlook his authoritarian tendencies in their quest for progress with order and stability. Meanwhile, Nepal’s Maoists, and especially their leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, seem to have acquired an amazing Teflon characteristic as well.
Many Nepalis now recognize the deceptive nature of the Maoists when they speak about ‘people’s’ democracy, ‘pro-people’ Constitution, progressive transformation (agragaami paribartan), and even ‘peace, inclusion and social justice’ as their guiding principles. These days, the ordinary Nepali seems immensely cynical about these terms. But curiously, many Western friends of Nepal seem to continue to give the Maoists very generous benefits of doubt, even in the face of blatant and overwhelming evidence. Consider some of these examples.
EXTORTION AND DECEPTION
When the UN Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) started verifying Maoist combatants, the party flooded the cantonments with nearly 32,000 cadres, many of whom were freshly minted “combatants”. Reportedly, quite a few of their hardcore combatants were kept outside the cantonments as members of their ‘civilian’ Young Communist League, some of them on ‘double duty’—registered in cantonments but serving in various party functions outside. UNMIN did disqualify some 10,000 fake combatants and identified 4,000 as child-soldiers and late recruits.
But the Maoists never acknowledged that they had done anything wrong, much less apologizing for their willful lying. On the contrary, in a recorded videotape at Shaktikhor camp, Maoist leader Prachanda gloated with pride about how they had fooled the UN into accepting 19,000 as certified combatants whereas their actual number, he acknowledged, was only 7,000-8,000 only. UNMIN’s response to this disgraceful deception was not an outrage but a plea that we should understand the Maoists’ statement in a “certain context.”
Although UNMIN confirmed that nearly 3,000 combatants in cantonments were child-soldiers, and the Maoist leadership tried to negotiate big cash grants from donors in their name, the party has never officially acknowledged that they ever recruited anyone under the age of 18 in violation of international conventions. For two years, the party leadership delayed the release and rehabilitation of these youngsters, giving them false assurances that in the end, the party will either ensure that they are integrated into the Nepal Army or given very generous allowances. However, these poor kids were ultimately dumped by the party with poor packages.
Then after four years of dilly-dallying, the Maoist party showed ‘extraordinary flexibility for the sake of peace and constitution’, which was much heralded by many Nepalis and the international community. During physical verification of the combatants to ascertain their interest in integration, rehabilitation or voluntary retirement with a handsome package, it turned out that many thousands of combatants were either “phantoms” or had deserted the cantonments long ago. But the party and its commanders were collecting their allowances regularly with fake signatures. The compulsory levy collected from the meager allowances of these poor combatants had mostly gone to a mysterious ‘party headquarters’ and was never accounted for. Credible reports indicate that the party leadership has thus extorted from the government treasury, billions of rupees.
Today, the UCPN (Maoist) is Nepal’s richest but least transparent political party in terms of its financial dealings. After an uproar from within its own ranks, the party has constituted investigative committees to look into personal property and finances of its leaders and commanders. The “agragaami” fanfare with which these committees were created, packed with the party leaders’ henchmen, will predictably absolve the party’s top leadership but hold some middle-level leaders guilty as sacrificial lambs. And once again, many will cheer the glorious party’s courage and ability to introspect and correct internal faults, compared to the opaque nature of other corrupt traditional parliamentary parties.
How is it that in this day and age, a Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist party that has not given up violence as a legitimate method of political change and ‘state capture’ by any means—through bullets or ballots—as its ultimate objectives can still project its image as a Teflon-coated ‘progressive and pro-people’ force?
Besides its following among many simple and poor folks or genuine victims of oppression who are looking for a savior and for whom the Maoist rhetoric can be very appealing, there seem to be two main reasons behind this. One, many of Nepal’s ethnic, regional and political activists, some civil society leaders, journalists and commentators are convinced that despite some of their excesses, the Maoists are or can be genuine agents for progressive change. Some tend to believe that even if the Maoists are insincere, they can be ‘used’ to neutralize traditional conservative forces to bring about progressive social change. Interestingly, this logic corresponds to the Maoists’ own design and calculation in the old Stalinist tactic of using independent intellectuals as “useful idiots”.
Two, after the end of the Cold War, Western countries are no longer worried about the ‘Communist menace’, which has now been generally replaced by Islamophobia. So, progressive-sounding dissident movements tend to enjoy a certain romantic appeal. And in their external relations, Nepal’s Maoists have been relatively successful in projecting their image of being widely misunderstood like the Scandinavian social-democrats.
It is interesting to watch how certain groups of Nepali intelligentsia and analysts tend to have a deep impact on the thinking of international progressives. The combination of Western-educated intellectuals—who present all of Nepal’s problems as a simple case of the traditional Bahun-Chhetri Hill elites wanting to perpetuate their privileged position by opposing all progressive change that would empower marginalized groups––and Nepali intelligentsia tends to unintentionally support the Teflon Maoists, offering faith-based solutions like ethnic federalism rather than genuinely progressive affirmative actions.
Now that the more vocally extremist Mohan Baidya group has split from the UCPN (Maoist), it has become convenient for many such potential analysts to say that the mainstream Maoists are truly progressive social-democrats. Never mind that the UCPN (Maoist) too has officially kept ‘all options open’ as a revolutionary party that believes in the dictatorship of the proletariat.
None of this is to say the Maoists should never be given any benefit of doubt. Credit must be given where due. True democrats must be open to all peaceful dissenting views, but always with the wise caution of the old Gipper—‘trust but verify’.
September 15, 2012
Tibetans living in the Himalayan country go undocumented due to pressure from China.
The United States made a fresh plea to Nepal this week to provide identification papers to Tibetan refugees living in the country, but its request was flatly rejected by the government, which cited “geopolitical sensitivities” in an apparent reference to pressure from China.
Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake urged Nepal’s government to regularize the status of the country's Tibetan community during talks with Nepalese deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha on Tuesday.
Nepal should “provide them documentation that would allow them to get jobs, to travel, and so forth,” Blake said in Kathmandu after the talks.
“We believe strongly that Tibetan refugees, like all people, deserve to lead lives of dignity and purpose,” he said, according to a text of his remarks provided by the State Department.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees have fled Chinese rule to live in Nepal, but many now lack the official refugee identity cards that would allow them to pursue opportunities for work, travel, or education.
And Nepal’s powerful northern neighbor China has in recent years become more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict the refugees' activities and help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border.
In his talks this week, Blake urged Nepal to grant “refugee identity” to Tibetans living in the country, according to Nepalese press report accounts of his meeting with Shrestha.
But Shrestha rejected the request, declaring that Nepal is not bound by international conventions on refugees and has “its own values” in dealing with them, the reports said.
“We will extend the refugee status or take other necessary actions based on our own laws. We have our own values regarding the policy on refugees,” Shrestha said.
“It is necessary for our foreign friends to appreciate that our policies are guided by geopolitical sensitivities,” said Shrestha, apparently referring to Nepal’s reluctance to offend China.
Speaking to RFA, Mikel Dunham, a writer and expert on Nepalese politics, called Shrestha’s statement a “shorthand” description of a Nepalese policy of abject surrender to Beijing.
“[This] means that Tibetans in Nepal must remain silent, passive wards of a hostile China-controlled policy of repression,” Dunham said.
“Without identity cards, Tibetans living in Nepal are deprived of education, health care, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and other basic services and human rights.”
Calling the United States’ commitment to protect Tibetans stranded in Nepal “commendable,” Dunham said, “The bottom line is that no progress has been made.”
Though Nepal refuses refugee status to Tibetans fleeing China’s rule, it does permit them in a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” to travel through Nepal on their way to India, with the help of the Kathmandu-based Tibetan Refugee Reception Center and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Speaking to the press in Kathmandui on Tuesday, Blake hailed Nepal’s “good record” in observing the arrangement.
Reported by Richard Finney.
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September 8, 2012
The United States on Thursday removed Nepal's ruling Maoist party, which after a bloody, decade-long insurgency now heads a caretaker government, from its blacklist of terrorist organizations – this after almost a decade as a designated global terrorist body.
The delisting means that US organizations and companies can now conduct business with the Maoist leadership, and any property or interests that were frozen in the United States are no longer blocked.
But fresh testimony given in a New Delhi court implicates Nepal’s Maoist prime minister in a tawdry murder case, bringing into question the sagacity of the US State Department’s decision for leniency.
According to Yubaraj Ghimire, reporting in yesterday’s The Indian Express:
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has landed in a fresh controversy as one of his closest political followers and a murder accused has testified before a court that he was hiding in Delhi under the instructions of the Prime Minister.
Nabaraj Basnet, a Maoist leader from eastern Nepal’s Okhaldhunga district, told the district court on Wednesday that he was living in Delhi for the past two years as Bhattarai had asked him to look for a safer hideout since police was looking for him in a murder case. In his statement recorded by the court, Basnet said Gopal Kirati, a former minister under Bhattarai and Balkrishna Dhungel, a Maoist central committee member, had asked him to kill one Chhabi Karki, a rival politician, in the district long after the Maoists joined the peace process.
Bhattarai is already facing a controversy after he threw his weight behind Dhungel, a murder convict, and protected him from being arrested and disqualified as a member of the Nepal constituent assembly.
Basnet’s surrender has added teeth to the opposition attack on the Prime Minister, which is clamoring for his resignation.
What was the reasoning behind the State Department’s lifting of terrorist label?
"At the time of the designations, the CPN(M) was engaged in a violent war with the Nepalese government," a State Department official told Agence France Press.
The party's "terrorist activities resulted in the death or disappearance of thousands of Nepali citizens, and resulted in the murder of two US embassy security guards."
More recently, however, it "has participated in democratic elections, has taken steps to dismantle its capability to conduct terrorist activities, and has demonstrated a credible commitment to pursuing the peace and reconciliation process in Nepal as the current head of Nepal's coalition government.”
The Maoists are now running the country as a "caretaker" government with no parliament and no real mandate after the legislature was dissolved when, despite years of wrangling, the political leaders failed to meet a May deadline to write a new peacetime constitution.
Nepal's Election Commission has also said it lacks a legal framework to hold elections which had been promised for November.
"Even six years after the political process began, Nepal's political culture remains tumultuous," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told journalists on Thursday.
"We continue to urge all parties to express their views peacefully, in accordance with Nepali law."
It was also clarified that both factions of the party following its June split had been de-listed. (The Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which split from the parent party in June, has threatened to launch a struggle — and armed revolt “if necessary” — if their demands are not met. LINK HERE FOR DETAILS)
May 19. 2012
Peter W. Bodde is presently the Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition, U.S. Embassy Bagdad, Iraq, class of Minister-Counselor. He was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Malawi on September 3, 2008. Prior to that assignment, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad from February 2006 to August 2008. Born in October 1954, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1976. His first position after university was as a commodity industry analyst with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Ambassador Bodde joined the Foreign Service in 1981, and has served in Georgetown, Guyana; Kathmandu, Nepal (twice, most recently as Deputy Chief of Mission from 1994-1997 and as Attaché from 1982-1984); Hamburg, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New Delhi, India, where he was the Minister Counselor for Administrative Affairs. He served as Consul General at the United States Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany from September 2002 to February 2006. He has also served in various positions in the State Department in Washington, DC, most recently as the Director of the Office of Management Policy. His languages are German, Bulgarian, and Nepali.
Ambassador Bodde is married to Tanya Lee Will Bodde. They have two children.
Below is a slightly abbreviated version of Bodde’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, May 16, 2012:
April 21, 2012
On April 30, 2012, the American Himalayan Foundation is hosting a benefit for its STOP Girl Trafficking initiative in Nepal, which was launched in 1997. To date, the program has helped prevent nearly 10,000 girls in the Himalayan region from falling into the common trap of becoming sex-trafficking victims.
Unlike other organizations that provide upfront assistance and then move on, STOP Girl Trafficking (SGT) and the American Himalayan Foundation are committed to rescuing at-risk girls in Nepal from the threat of trafficking by keeping them in school and, even more unique, supporting each girl through graduation and beyond.
According to a report issued in 2009 by the U.S. Department of State, more than 22,000 Nepali women and girls – the majority ranging in age from 12 to 18 – are trafficked annually. Forced prostitution and constant physical abuse – not to mention a high probability of contracting HIV – awaits them.
SGT began with 54 girls in 1997, when it traveled to remote villages to encourage girls to remain in school and to educate girls and their mothers on the dangers of sex trafficking. Since then, SGT has established programs at 400 government schools in districts plagued by some of Nepal’s highest rates of trafficking. Presently over 9000 girls are safely attending school thanks to the efforts of Dr. Aruna Uprety, the Nepali physician and activist who initiated the program, in partnership with the American Himalayan Foundation. The graduation rate for SGT scholars is 82%. Fewer than 2% have dropped out of the program.
Clearly, this is an initiative that is time-proven and well worth Westerners’ support.
The upcoming event, to be held in San Francisco at The Four Seasons, will include the attendance of several notable activists working in cooperation with the American Himalayan Foundation.
Siddharth Kara is an author and one of the world's foremost experts on modern day slavery and human trafficking. He is the first Fellow on Human Trafficking with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Visiting Scientist on Forced Labor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is best known for his award-winning book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (2009). His next book, Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia is scheduled for release in 2012.
Dr. Aruna Uprety, who created STOP Girl Trafficking, has a deep understanding of women’s issues in South Asia. In addition to her work with the American Himalayan Foundation, she founded Rural Health and Education Trust in 1995 and has lived and worked with Afghan women in Kabul in the aftermath of the US-led war against the Taliban. She has researched and published numerous articles on HIV/AIDS, STD, Sex Workers, Abortion, Maternal Health, Health Workers, Law, and Rural Women.
Her research includes: Baseline Study of Simulated STD Patients & Chemists in the Land Transportation Routes, Baseline Survey of Commercial Sex Workers & Clients, A Situation Analysis of Regional & Zonal Hospitals in Management of Family Planning and Post Abortion Related Complications. Her published works include: Your Health Is In Your Hands: A health guide for Women, Where Women Have No Doctor, Beijing Platform For Action, Women’s Health in Nepal: A situational analysis.
Dr. Uprety is also the author of a monthly column on various topics on women’s health and rights, including prolapsed uterus, anemia, gender, AIDS, family planning, trafficking, child health, and nutrition and has worked on Asmita, AIDS, an information booklet for the barely literate.
Jon Krakauer, is the American writer and mountaineer, primarily known for his writing about the outdoors and mountain climbing. He is the author of best-selling the non-fiction books Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
For information and reservations to the April 30th event:
April 9, 2012
On April 4, 2012, Defense News published the following article:
China, Qatar Fill U.S. Gap in U.N. Agency Funding
By Pierre Tran
PARIS — Soon after the U.S. announced cancellation of its contribution to UNESCO on Oct. 31, China stepped up with a first-time $8 million funding for the U.N. agency’s education program, while Qatar chipped in $20 million, a UNESCO diplomat said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is seen by the Obama administration as a piece of strategic real estate to further U.S. national and security interests in the world, based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s smart power approach.
The Chinese and Qatari contributions were seen in some circles as seizing an opportunity to increase influence after the U.S. cancellation slashed the U.N. agency’s annual budget by 22 percent.
April 8, 2012
Yesterday, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Peter W. Bodde as the next Ambassador of the United States of America to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, subject to the advice and consent of the United States Senate. If confirmed to this position by the Senate, Ambassdor Bodde will succeed Ambassador Scott H. DeLisi, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the next American ambassador to the Republic of Uganda. Until that time, Ambassador DeLisi remains Ambassador to Nepal.
BIOGRAPHY: Peter W. Bodde is presently the Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition, U.S. Embassy Bagdad, Iraq, class of Minister-Counselor. He was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Malawi on September 3, 2008. Prior to that assignment, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad from February 2006 to August 2008. Born in October 1954, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1976. His first position after university was as a commodity industry analyst with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Ambassador Bodde joined the Foreign Service in 1981, and has served in Georgetown, Guyana; Kathmandu, Nepal (twice, most recently as Deputy Chief of Mission from 1994-1997 and as Attaché from 1982-1984); Hamburg, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New Delhi, India, where he was the Minister Counselor for Administrative Affairs. He served as Consul General at the United States Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany from September 2002 to February 2006. He has also served in various positions in the State Department in Washington, DC, most recently as the Director of the Office of Management Policy. His languages are German, Bulgarian, and Nepali.
Ambassador Bodde is married to Tanya Lee Will Bodde. They have two children.
February 21, 2012
The Nepalese government is yet to respond to a December 2011 letter written by three members of the U.S. House of Representatives pushing for the implementation of a stalled Tibetan refugee resettlement program to the US.
The letters dated December 9, 2011 were addressed to the President and Prime Minister of Nepal, and were written by Representatives James McGovern (D-MA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA), a member of its Executive Committee.
The letters posted on the Commission’s website last week had prominently asked for the rights of Tibetan refugees in Nepal to be protected, and urged the Nepalese government that it assent to resettling Tibetan refugees in the United States.
January 28, 2012
World Report 2012: Nepal
Issued January 24, 2012
Nepal’s political and peace processes remained stalled in 2011, resulting in instability, weak governance, and a lack of progress on accountability for human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2012.
The government and political parties consistently failed to establish accountability for serious abuses during the conflict with Maoist insurgents, which ended in 2006, Human Rights Watch said. Instead, they further weakened an already dysfunctional justice system by ignoring court orders and appointing people allegedly guilty of serious rights violations to senior government positions.
April 10, 2010
General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, Chief of Staff of Nepal's army, is the newest member of the International Officer Hall of Fame at the United States Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. An induction ceremony was held for him this week at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, from which General Gurung graduated in 1973.
The hall of fame was established in 1973 and has 240 members representing 67 countries. It honors graduates of the college who become their nation's top military officer, or hold an equivalent position by rank or responsibility in a multi-national military organization.
CAC’s General Staff College is regarded as the most prestigious school in the army. It reports to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
The college trains almost all of the army's majors. All modern five-star army generals have passed through the college including George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry “Hap” Arnold, and Omar Bradley. Former commanders of CAC are equally noteworthy, including David Petraeus in 2007.
February 15, 2011
Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, who serves concurrently as U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi visited the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu on February 13 as part of a high-level visit that includes meetings with government and UN officials. Her visit to Kathmandu comes as both new and long-staying Tibetan refugees feel increasingly exposed to Chinese influence in Nepal.
“Under Secretary Maria Otero expressed the United States’ continued support for the safety and welfare of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, and said she would carry their message back to Washington,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet, from Kathmandu. “Her visit signals that concerns for Tibetans, both the refugees and vulnerable long-staying population, remain a key interest in U.S. relations with Nepal.”
November 24, 2010
Earlier this year, Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio visited Nepal with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) experts and local anti-poaching staff to learn how scientists monitor the southern jungle’s tigers. He was on a quest to raise $20 million for tiger conservation.
Yesterday, at Russia's Global Tiger Summit being held in Saint Petersburg, DiCaprio personally committed to $1 million.
Besides having a global benefit on the rapidly shrinking tiger population, it will also specifically help preserve one of Nepal’s most treasured assets.
November 21, 2010
The interim constitution promulgated in 2007 provies for freedom of religion; however, it specifically prohibits proselytizing. The Constituent Assembly recently extended to May 2011, the deadline for drafting the new constitution.
September 25, 2010
According to the latest Economic Freedom of the World Report, Nepal limped to the finish line at 121st among 141 countries. Its 17th-from-the-bottom placement was lower than last year’s survey and, except for Myanmar, was the lowest in South Asia.
The Fraser Institute, which pens the annual report, is a fiscally conservative think tank based in Canada that espouses free market principles. Its stated mandate is to advocate for freedom and competitive markets and is not without its detractors. However, the report was made with the cooperation of independent institutes based in 80 different nations and territories and the criteria used seem transparent enough.
Criteria for the Economic Freedom of the World Index
1. Size of Government: Expenditures, Taxes, and Enterprises
September 3, 2010
If you are planning a trip to Nepal with visions of being embraced by a hippy Himalayan paradise, think again. You may get away with scoring illegal drugs and, then again, you may not. In any case, an American was arrested this week and it should serve as a reminder to would-be purple-hazers that there are some hard facts to be taken into consideration.
U.S. Citizen Arrested In Nepal Over Hashish Possession
September 1, 2010 Anil Giri - AHN News Correspondent
Nepalese police have arrested a California man at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on suspicion of possessing six kilograms of hashish, an official said Wednesday.
August 9, 2010
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Country Reports on Terrorism 2009
August 5, 2010 Nepal
While Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism, several incidents of politically-motivated violence occurred in the country. Maoist -affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) criminal activity continued, including intimidation and extortion. In response to the YCL violence, other political parties condoned the use of violence by their youth wings. Unrest in the southern Terai plains remained high with the proliferation of numerous armed groups and an inadequate police presence. More than 100 armed groups are estimated to be operating in the Terai, some in pursuit of independence or autonomy, most composed of opportunistic criminal elements. Competing factions clashed with each other, with the Maoists, with hill-origin Nepalese, and with police, instigating numerous strikes, demonstrations, and Indo-Nepal border road closures. A Special Security Plan (SSP) was put in place in July to curb violence and end the culture of impunity. Despite this program, police still do not have an active presence in many parts of the Terai.
Nepal experienced several acts of religiously-motivated violence, most prominently the bombing of a Catholic Church in May. The attack was conducted by the Nepalese Defense Army (NDA), a Hindu extremist group that was responsible for shooting a Catholic priest and bombing a mosque in 2008. The leader of this group has since been arrested and their activities appear to have ceased.
There were no indications that Nepal was a safe haven for international terrorists. Given Nepal’s continued instability, however, there is a possibility that members of extremist groups could transit Nepal, especially into India. The large ungoverned space along the Nepal/Indian border exacerbates this vulnerability, as do security shortfalls at Tribhuvan Airport, Nepal’s international airport. In June, Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) member Muhammad Omar Madni traveled through Nepal enroute to New Delhi.
Nepal is not a regional financial center and there were no indications that the country was used as an international money laundering center. There were no prosecutions or arrests for money laundering in 2009. However, YCL illicit financial activities, including smuggling, extortion, and protection demands, increased in 2009.
May 16, 2010
Peter Lee, an American journalist -- who writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy -- has written a well-documented piece in yesterday’s Asia Times. Personal disclosure: Impartiality cannot be claimed since Mr. Lee interviewed me and quoted me for the article.
March 30, 2010
According to a top US military official, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistani terrorist organization, is quickly expanding operations to South Asian countries other than India – including Nepal.
LeT, which was responsible for the Mumbai attack in 2008, is an issue of concern for the Obama Administration, said Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Command in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 26, 2010.
March 17, 2010
Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 Human Rights Report on Nepal. Below are some of the highlights. A link to the full document is provided at the end of the summary.
The government's respect for human rights improved slightly as all parties joined the government. Members of the security forces, the Maoist militias, the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL), and members of other small, often ethnically based armed groups committed human rights abuses. Members of the Nepal Army (NA) were confined to their barracks in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2006. Members of the Nepal Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) occasionally used excessive and lethal force in response to continued demonstrations throughout the country. Maoist militias engaged in arbitrary and unlawful use of lethal force and abduction. Violence, extortion, and intimidation continued throughout the year. Numerous armed groups, largely in the Terai region in the lowland area near the Indian border, attacked civilians, government officials, members of particular ethnic groups, each other, or Maoist militias. Impunity for human rights violators, threats against the media, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention were serious problems. The government compromised the independence of the judiciary by exerting political pressure on the judicial process, and society continued to discriminate against persons of lower castes and persons with disabilities. Violence against women and trafficking in persons, mainly women and girls, continued.
February 5, 2010
On February 3, 2010, President Obama’s nominee for the new US Ambassador to Nepal Scott Delisi was introduced and questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Delisi has been with the Senior Foreign Service for 28 years. He has served as Ambassador to the State of Eritrea and as Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana. Most recently, Mr. DeLisi has been the Director of Career Development and Assignments in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources, where he has played a key role in the staffing of embassies. This has included missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Previously, as the Director for Entry Level Programs, Mr. DeLisi was responsible for the training, placement and career development of 600 new entrants and over 2500 existing Foreign Service Officers. Mr. DeLisi has also served as Director for Southern African Affairs, Vice Counsel for the Embassy in India, the Chief of Political Section in Sri Lanka, in addition to other postings in Madagascar and Pakistan. A native of Minnesota, Mr. DeLisi holds both a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.
May 30, 2009
The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal celebrated its first Republic Day on Friday -- a country that, while still in its infancy, has already witnessed two prime ministers.
Over the years, the turnover frequency of Nepal’s prime ministers has taken on a kind of flavor-of-the-month quality. Few were in power long enough to produce sustainable legacies, the (until quite recently) Maoist prime minister being no exception. Entrusted with the orchestration of the framing of a new constitution – the nascent republic’s most important task – Ex-Prime Minister Prachanda watched progress languish while being preoccupied with other matters.
May 1, 2009
During the decade-long insurgency, the fight was between the Nepal army and the Maoist combatants. And although a democratic process arose from the ashes of that conflict, three years down the line it would appear that not all that much has changed.
The foes remain the same: the Maoists vs. the Nepal Army (with a majority of the political parties currently weighing in favor of the army). The underlying issue is whether or not the Maoist rebels can be integrated into the professional army – an increasingly nebulous prospect. What’s at stake here is nothing less than the derailment of the peace process and, in the gloomiest scenario, a return to armed struggle.
For the last two months, the central players in this drama have been Prime Minister Prachanda and Chief of Army General Rookmangad Katawal. Prachanda has done everything in his power to undermine Katawal’s position and Katawal has refused to budge.
March 2, 2009
Published by BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR, issued on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009
This is excellent resource material. The report’s breakdown includes:
1. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
3. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishmen
4. Prison and Detention Center Conditions
5. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
6. Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
7. Arrest and Detention
8. Denial of Fair Public Trial
9. Trial Procedures
10. Political Prisoners and Detainees
11. Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
12. Property Restitution
13. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home by Security and YCL
14. Use of Excessive Force and Other Abuses in Internal Conflicts
16. Child Soldiers
17. Freedom of Speech and Press
18. Internet Freedom
19. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
20. Freedom of Religion
21. Societal Abuses and Discrimination
22. Freedom of Movement
23. Internally Displaced Persons
24. Protection of Refugees
25. Stateless Persons
27. Elections and Political Participation
28. Government Corruption and Transparency
29. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
30. Discrimination of Women
31. Discrimination of Children and Child Abuse
32. Trafficking in Persons
33. Persons with Disabilities
34. Treatment of National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities
35. Discrimination and Abuses toward Homosexuals
36. The Right of Association
37. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
38. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
39. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
40. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Posted by Mikel Dunham in Nepal and the United States, Nepal's Ethnic Minorities, Nepal's Health Issues, Nepal's Human Rights issues, Nepal's Laws and the Supreme Court, Nepal's Maoists, Nepal's Media, Nepal's Monarchy, Nepal's Tibetan Refugee situation, Nepal's Women's Issues, Nepal's Youth | Permalink
MAY 29, 2008
Although the U.S. has revised its longstanding policy of not talking to the Maoists, (the party which will lead Nepal’s government), Washington has decided to keep the Maoists on it’s Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL). This designation will bar Maoist officials from visiting the United States, among other sanctions.
According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum, “In terms of next steps, I really wouldn't want to speculate. It is going to depend. They are on the (terrorism) list, they remain on the list for the moment."
May 27, 2008
END OF THE KING
Tomorrow is the historic moment when the newly elected constituent assembly is scheduled to officially proclaim Nepal a republic, thereby ending nearly two and a half centuries of monarchal rule.
King Gyanendra quietly left the Narayanhiti Royal Palace after dark on May 22. It may have been his final exit. Accompanied by his wife Queen Komal, he drove to his summer Nagarjuna Palace (about eight kilometers north of Kathmandu) – a move that, according to Jana Aastha, a royal family tabloid, was to avoid an “undignified tussle with the rabble.”
May 23, 2008
After the Maoists’ sensational victory, the dust has settled revealing an unenviable set of hurdles for the party to jump before a viable government in Nepal is possible. Although they won the largest number of seats in the April 10 elections, they have neither a majority nor the luxury of forming a government by themselves. Sleeves are rolled up but uncertainty continues while leaders within the party seem to disagree with each other on policies. And just when Prachanda seemed to be leading his party in a more statesmanlike direction, the Maoists’ Youth Communist League regressed to its old specialty, thuggism. The murder of one man in particular outraged much of the nation; Prachanda made a hatchet job of the affair by initially denying Maoist involvement, then admitting involvement but only after it became a public relations nightmare.
Posted by Mikel Dunham in Nepal and China, Nepal and India, Nepal and the United Nations, Nepal and the United States, Nepal's Current Politics , Nepal's Madhesi issues, Nepal's Maoists, Nepal's Monarchy, Nepal's Tibetan Refugee situation, Nepal's YCL - Young Communist League, Tibetan issues - Past & Present | Permalink
May 6, 2008
Since March 10, Tibetan exile protests in Kathmandu have proceeded almost on a daily basis. Tibetans keep returning to the streets even though they know the police’s version of “crowd control” may degenerate, as likely as not, into police brutality. The Tibetans’ newfound determination to continue their movement of civil disobedience, in spite of the Nepali government’s long-standing intolerance of anti-Chinese demonstrations, is creating a standoff that cannot continue indefinitely.
April 23, 2008
As the remaining votes are counted, the Maoists continue to claim their victory over the other two major political parties in Nepal, the Nepali Congress who led the interim government since 2006 and the Communist Party (UML). The Maoists won 120 of the 240 directly elected seats for the assembly that will rewrite the Constitution, while Nepali Congress and UML won a mere 37 and 32 seats respectively. The ethnic Madhesi party from the southern plains came in fourth with 28 seats. The directly elected seats make up about 40 percent of the total seats in the assembly. Tallying of the proportional representation should be concluded by the end of the day, although most analysts predict that the Maoists will garner approximately a third of those seats.
The question is: Will the losing parties choose to join the Maoists or will they sidle away to nurse their wounds?
The Maoists, whose campaign promised fundamental change, have already begun wooing other political parties in an effort to form a coalition government. But analysts say Nepal’s history of bickering and power mongering, and the reluctance of some top parties to join a Maoist-led government, could delay the formation of an operational government indefinitely.
COMRADE BADAL -- The Maoists' Military Strategist
Certainly one of the most controversial of the Maoist leaders is Third-in-Command Ram Bahadur Thapa, better known by his nom de guerre “Badal” (“cloud” in Nepali). Although far less known than Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai –- and seldom photographed – Badal is feared (and has major influence) as the Maoists leading military strategist.
Badal was born in 1955 in a Magar community. His father, Karn Bahadur Thapa Magar, was an Indian Gurkha Army personnel. After his retirement the whole family lived in the Chitawan district of Nepal. His mother's name is Nanda Kumari Thapa Magar.
Badal is remembered (by his childhood teachers) as having had a precocious interest in politics. He was a self-taught communist who joined the party in 1981. On a scholarship, he studied agriculture in the USSR, but eventually dropped out and returned to Nepal to engage in the revolutionary movement under weigh there. In 1982 he was arrested and jailed for 10 months. After that Badal went underground.
In 2003, Badal emerged as a member of the Maoist rebel negotiating team during the peace process of that year, coming across as a “self-effacing advocate of the people.”
He also gained attention by coining an alternative metaphor to King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s famous, “Nepal is like a yam between two boulders,” referring to India and China. Badal’s version was, “Nepal is like dynamite between two boulders.”
April 15, 2008
Last Sunday, during a nationally aired discussion of whether President Bush would attend the Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, Stephen Hadley, President Bush's National Security Adviser, repeatedly and erroneously referred to Tibet as “Nepal”. Said Mr. Hadley, “The president thinks that the way to address the issue of Nepal is not by a statement that you are not going to the opening ceremonies…what he is doing on Nepal…” and so on. Five times Hadley spoke of Nepal, meaning “Tibet”, and five times the interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, either didn’t deign to listen or didn’t see the big deal in correcting the jarringly obvious mistake. Even the producers glued to their offstage monitors apparently didn’t get it.
Click here for youtube download
Hadley is not a moron. Somewhere in his memory bank, Hadley knows that Nepal is an independent nation recognized by the United Nations while Tibet is an ancient civilization that was colonized and subsumed by the Chinese in the 1950s. But the sloppy speechifying which stood uncorrected by prominent newsman (who, after all, gets paid to exploit such blunders) points to a far deeper, systemic and ominous problem in the United States. America’s complacency with dodgy Asian geography is, in fact, one of the reasons the 21st century will be Asia’s century, not America’s. Asians have their globes dusted off, their bifocals squeaky clean and their attitudes greedy and fine-tuned for getting the fine print right.
Why should Americans give a damn about Tibet or Nepal?
April 6, 2008
It’s been raining here off and on all day. Although you can’t see them, you can hear an unfamiliar presence of helicopters thrumming above the Kathmandu Valley. While tourists bunch for shots in front of Newari palaces, aircraft carrying armed police personnel conduct aerial patrols for signs of pre-election discord within the city.
March 30 through April 5, 2008
Here is the UPDATED list of Members of the Tibet Caucus as it now stands:
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46)
Rep. Neil Albercrombie (HI-01)
Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11)
Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01)
Rep. Jim Walsh (NY-25)
Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-03)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-09
REHEARSING FOR THE APRIL ELECTIONS: UNHARMONIOUS PRELUDE
In the first eight weeks of 2008, the Nepali power struggle was a flurry of elbows – a mishmash of baton-wielding conductors vying over who should lead the orchestra, the result being that not enough attention was paid to the orchestra: Some musicians disdained the sheet music; some had tin ears and never should have been allowed to play in the first place; some played instruments that were either anachronistic or foreign; some couldn’t get to the hall because their cars were out of gas; and some simply boycotted the rehearsals, preferring to play the military marches of regional bands.
Follow-up meeting with Baburam Bhattarai
January 31, 2008
Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct a follow-up interview with Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai at his home in Kathmandu. For a look at my first interview, as well as background material on Dr. Bhattarai, CLICK HERE
DUNHAM: In your most recent book, Monarchy vs. Democracy, you said that history will ultimately reveal what happened on June 1, 2001: “It is by now universally accepted in Nepal that Gyanendra, his criminally-inclined son, Paras, and the Royal Army chief Prajjwal Rana, were the ringleaders of the bloody palace coup d’etat…” Would you please explain in more detail how this conspiracy transpired?”