Nepal promulgated its new constitution on Sept. 20, 2015 by a majority of the Constituent Assembly. South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, welcomes this as an important event in Nepal’s progress towards democracy. SAHR is deeply concerned, however, that the continuing blockade of goods along the Indo-Nepal border has brought Nepal close to another humanitarian disaster, even as it is just beginning to recover from the devastation caused by the recent earthquake.
The blockade has adversely affected the socio economic situation in the country, and will strain the efforts of the new government in delivering the much-needed political stability for economic development and strengthening of democracy. Fuel shortages created by the blockade have started to cause widespread disruption to every-day life; schools have been compelled to shut down; hospitals are running short of vital medicines and are being unable to provide adequate health care; and drinking water shortage is causing extreme distress for the population. Fuel shortage and disruption in transportation is impeding planned deliveries of relief supplies to the earthquake-affected villages.
The situation developing along the Indo-Nepal border is causing grave concerns for peace and security in the region. Concerns are being expressed that India is using protests by a section of the Nepalese population in the southern plains of Nepal bordering India to impose an unofficial blockade and is tightening the passage of Nepal bound goods carriers through all the entry points in breach of international conventions and multilateral agreements that both Nepal and India have signed. It is regrettable if progress towards democracy of any country is deliberately and by design impeded by one of its neighbors as coercive measure to achieve political or economic dominance. Such tactics will only injure the prospects for democracy, peace and security for the whole South Asian region.
SAHR stands by the people of Nepal and supports their efforts for progress towards political harmony, democratic governance and for better guarantees for the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We call upon the Government of India to take every measure necessary to expedite an end to the trade blockade severely affecting Nepali people at present and to conform to the obligations of regional cooperation. We hope that India will give due respect to its good relations with Nepal and will strive to maintain the longstanding relationship of amity between the people of their two countries.
We firmly believe that with collective thinking and collaborative strategies both governments will be able to work for the benefit of their people, in a spirit of mutual accommodation, with full respect for the principles of sovereign equality, independence and territorial integrity of their States.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Dr. Nimalka Fernando