Nepali Times

Almost there

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Two weeks after electing the Prime Minister, the country is likely to have a cabinet of ministers by the end of the day.

After late night talks on Sunday, the two largest parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML were able to chart the tentative shape of the new government and the portfolios the parties will head. Out of the 26 ministries, the two parties are likely to get 10 portfolios each. NC will take charge in Ministry of Defence, Finance, Communication, Cooperatives, Local Development and Education, among others. CPN-UML has laid claim on 10 ministries including Ministry of Home, Foreign Affairs, Energy, Health and General Administration. Smaller parties that have supported NC are also in line to head some ministries. The final allocation is expected to be formalised within today.

Internal talks are underway since early morning today to formalise the deal made between the two parties and pick the candidates for the ministerial positions. NC Parliamentary Party is meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar to endorse the deal.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was finally able to convince CPN-UML to join the government after conceding the Home Ministry. The meeting of the two parties on Sunday focused on allocating ministries. The UML team, which will participate in the government, will be led by the party’s Vice Chairperson Bamdev Gautam.

Untangling the Home Ministry knot

The power sharing talks between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have concluded on Sunday deciding that the two largest parties need to discuss the matter again on Monday.

Today’s talks focused on allocating ministries to NC and UML. The NC has already decided to assign Home Ministry, the main contention between two largest parties, to the UML.

The UML team, which will participate in the government, will be led by the party’s Vice Chairperson Bamdev Gautam.

In today’s talks, Gautam along with UML Secretary Bishnu Poudel took part in the talks on behalf of UML, while NC Secretary Krishna Prasad Situala led the NC team in the talks.

The next round of talks on Monday will start early in the morning at 7 a.m., it is learnt. It is expected that the talks will conclude soon, paving way for the swearing in ceremony of UML and NC’s new ministers in the evening, the same day.

Read also

Whose Home is it anyway?

The year of living dangerously

Rape as a weapon of war

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Perpetrators of conflict-era sexual violence walk free as women suffer in silence and fear

Silenced and forgotten: Survivors of Nepal's Conflict Era Sexual Violence

Silenced and forgotten: Survivors of Nepal’s Conflict Era Sexual Violence

Gayatri used to study in a secondary school. In 2001, the security forces took her into custody and raped her every night by up to six officers. Nandita was gang raped by soldiers in front of her children. Manorama was raped 11 days after giving birth.  A Maoist cadre in Humla who was eight months pregnant was raped, beaten and then shot in the back.

The Maoists detained Mina for refusing to join a re-education camp, and treated her like a sex slave for four months. They threatened to kill her if she told anyone. A 12-year-old girl who was cutting grass was raped by a local Maoist commissar. Maoists entered a home and forced a young woman to cook for them, and when they found out she was alone in the house they raped her at knife-point.

These war-era crimes between 1996-2006 are among hundreds investigated and detailed in two recent reports by Human Rights Watch (Silenced and Forgotten) and the UN’s OHCHR (Nepal Conflict Report). However, the government hasn’t yet recognised wartime rape as a crime, which has prevented the victims from receiving compensation as other conflict survivors and their families have.

Although detailed lists have been prepared since the 2008 Comprehensive Peace Accord about summary executions, torture and disappearances, rape has been ignored. Both the HRW and OHCHR reports say a majority of the cases investigated were perpetrated  by the Army, Police or APF. They say the state has failed to address the need to investigate rapes, try and prosecute the guilty,  extend compensation and provide psychosocial counseling and medical attention to the survivors.

Under a section of sexual violence, the OHCHR report says: ‘There is currently not enough information to establish whether sexual violence committed by Security Forces was institutionalized or systematised. However, it does appear that implicit consent was given at higher ranks which served to encourage a culture of impunity for opportunistic sexual violence, and suspicion of Maoist affiliation was used as an excuse to avoid scrutiny or accountability.’

Mandira Sharma of Advocacy Forum which helped in the HRW report, says: “The state’s behavior has protected perpetrators, and it has trampled on the rights of the rape victims.”

One rape victim tells human rights investigators: ‘My family did not overreact to whatever happened to me because almost every woman here has been raped, some countless times. Some have been so badly injured by repeated rapes by different army personnel that they are barely able to stand.’

There is a need to amend the current criminal code for sexual violence because under existing laws, perpetrators has used loopholes to evade prosecution. The definition of rape has been to broadened so that penetration should not be the only criteria for a violation to be considered rape. HRW has found incidents where security forces inserted various objects, including salt and chilli powder, into the vagina of prisoners to torture them.

The statute of limitation of 35 days for evidence to be permissible in the case of rape has been used by the state to dismiss all conflict rape complaints that have been filed. Which means that even if the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is formed and starts investigating wartime sexual violence, they will be dismissed.

“If the definition of rape is not amended, and unless new laws are drafted, the Commission will try future cases on the basis of existing laws,” explains human rights lawyer, Sapana Pradhan Malla. “In most parts of the world, the statute of limitation does not hold for cases of gross violations of human rights like rape.”

Activists say although 35 days is not a short time, it is impractical to insist on that time limit for war rapes. Many victims did not tell their families for fear of ostracisation and never sought medical treatment, and now that some much time has passed it is difficult for them to get justice.

Says Mandira Sharma of Advocacy Forum: “The accounts of eye-witnesses or of other rape victims should be accepted as evidence in the courts, and with proper training doctors and psychiatrists can determine if the person is a victim of sexual violence or not.”

Sharma says the state must be careful to ensure that the cases are handled discretely, and the privacy of the victims is respected. The victims should then get justice, compensation and long-term medical and psychiatric care if the survivor has been physically or mentally scarred.

Tufan Neupane


Purna Maya wants UN help

Purna Maya

Purna Maya

Purna Maya, 41, ran a tea shop with her daughter on the road to the remote mid-western district of Dailekh. In 2004, an Army patrol took her into custody on suspicion of having given food to the Maoists. Purna Maya’s husband was a Maoist based in Jumla at the time. The soldiers blindfolded her and took her into the Army Base where she was gang-raped by soldiers and an officer, and then dumped on the street outside.

Purna Maya lodged a complaint at the District Administration and Police, but nothing happened. After the conflict ended in 2006, Purna Maya took all her medical reports and once more lodged a written complaint. Police refused to accept it because they said her cases had exceeded the 35 day limit to lodge rape complaints. She then filed a writ in the Supreme Court which dismissed it for the same reason.

After this, Purna Maya appealed to the United Nations. In an affidavit registered with the UN OHCHR, Purna Maya has asked that the Nepali state be held accountable for her rape and torture.

Read also:

Statue of denial Mallika Aryal 

Pro-perpetrator justice Damakant Jayshi

On the sidelines of justice Trishna Rana

Mistaken for peace Anurag Acharya

No war, no peace  Rubeena Mahato

“Great sense of satisfaction”

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Heart surgeon Dr Kumud Dhital. (SBS)

Heart surgeon Dr Kumud Dhital.

Interview with SBS Nepali, Australia with Kumud Dhital who carried out the world’s first transplant of a dead heart, 25 October

SBS Nepali: How important to medical science were your transplants?

Kumud Dhital: It is quite important because DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death) transplants had not been attempted before. It involves taking the heart and other organs out immediately after the heart stops beating, putting it into a machine to provide it with the necessary nutrients, and the heart starts beating again. We monitor how well the heart is working, and only if it is working well do we prepare a recipient and transplant it. We have now done this three times. In that respect, taking the heart that had stopped beating, transporting it to another hospital in a machine and transplanting on a patient had never been tried before.

How quickly do you have to perform the transplant?

Within 30 minutes of the heart beat stopping, we should already have preserved the heart in the nutrient fluid, otherwise that heart won’t work. Only then do we put it in the machine for transportation. Till now DCDs had been tried in transplantation of kidneys and lungs, but it hadn’t been tried on hearts yet.

Is this going to make it easier to address the problem of donor shortage, or are there complications that we have to be aware of?

So far, our first patients got the transplant three months ago, the second got a heart two weeks ago and are being discharged from hospital, and the third a few days ago.  So far they are doing well.  And we think the outcome will be the same as with transplants from brain dead donors. As you say, this technique will make it possible to increase the number of potential donors from the DCD pool at a time when there is a real shortage of donors. For those wait-listed for transplants, this is going to make a big difference. Some patients die waiting for a heart.

Asians are said to have a higher incidence of cardio-vascular diseases, will it help them?

In Sydney, we do about 30 transplants a year and about 100 all over Australia. In countries like China and India there is a big problem of heart failure, yet the transplant program is very small. Also, due to cultural reasons, they find it difficult to source hearts from donors in ventilators. So the DCD path could be easier for them, and this could increase the number of transplants in those countries as well.

Are there any religious sensitivities about taking the heart of a dead person and putting into
another person?

Yes, such questions are bound to be raised. We don’t meet the donor’s family, we have no interaction with them. Only once the patient is declared dead does the patient come to our operating room. In brain dead patients, in many countries including Australia, they are considered to be legally dead but are kept on a ventilator to keep the organs alive. This allows us to carry out organ retrieval in a controlled fashion. In DCD transplants, however, it is slightly more risky. But we have been able to carry it out successfully in these three patients.

Were you personally involved in the operations? How does it feel to be the first in the world to
successfully carry them out?

I was involved in removing and transplanting the hearts. Me and my team are really happy that the operations went well. You get a great sense of satisfaction that a patient who was bed-ridden is now climbing stairs.

Audio of interview:–dead-

Rasuwa bus fall

Friday, October 24th, 2014
Rasuwa bus accident

Bus owner’s family in bus. Daughter among 12 dead. Photo: Nuwakot FM

At least 12 people, two of them Israeli trekkers on their way to Langtang National Park, were killed when a bus plunged 150 m down a mountainside on the Pasang Lhamu Highway on Friday morning.

The bus was overcrowded with more than 100 passengers, many of them sitting on the roof as the driver negotiated the narrow mountain road damaged by the monsoon rains.

The death toll is expected to rise, as many passengers are still trapped inside the bus. At least 52 of the passengers are injured, seven of them foreigners. Fifty others, most of them travelling on the roof, were thrown off and survived.

Helicopters sent by the Israeli Embassy are at the site to rescue the injured.

This is the fourth serious highway disaster this holiday season. More than 35 people were killed in a bus plunge in Doti, and 12 people were killed separate crashes on the Prithvi Highway and in Makwanpur last week.

Narrow escape

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
(l-r) Israeli survivors Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora.

(l-r) Israeli survivors Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora.

The first trekkers from Israel, Hong Kong, and Germany rescued from the Mustang side of Thorung La were brought to Kathmandu on Wednesday and are undergoing treatment for severe sunburn and frostbite at the Army Hospital in Kathmandu. After a night of heavy snowfall and high winds, some of them had decided to walk down because the sun was out.

“Our plan was to stay in the tea shop to ride out the storm, but when we saw that it was all clear and bright the next morning we decided to walk down,” said Yakov Megreli (pic, center) at a press meet. But the snow was chest-deep and they got lost on their way down. After five hours, they could finally make a call on their mobile.

“We called the travel agency and embassy, and asked them to send helicopters. They picked us up on the mountain and flew first to Muktinath before bringing us to Kathmandu,” says Maya Ora.

The Israelis credited their porter Pasang Tamang, 46, of Rasuwa for saving their lives by guiding them through the snow when the blizzard started around 10am on Tuesday. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if he wasn’t there, we all got a second lease of life,” says Linor Kajan.

But Tamang himself was not so lucky and perished as he stayed on the trail to guide arriving trekkers. Two other Israelis were also buried in an avalanche below Thorung La along with two Poles and eight Nepalis. At Phu, four Canadians, one Indian and three Nepalis were killed.

At Dhaulagiri Base Camp, two Slovak climbers and their three Sherpa guides from a 11-member expedition have still not made contact after being caught in an avalanche.

List of survivors who were brought from Mustang to Kathmandu on Wednesday.

List of survivors who were brought from Mustang to Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Thirty two people are so far confirmed dead and hundreds are stranded and unaccounted for after Tuesday’s storm in the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu areas. Seventy trekkers were rescued from Manang and 47 from Mustang as this paper went to press on Thursday evening.

Manang, through which hundreds of tourists attempt to cross the Thorung La (5416m) into Mustang every day, was worst hit. Eighty-five of the 345 trekkers who registered at the ACAP checkpoint on Monday en route to Yak Kharka and Thorung Phedi haven’t made it over to the other side.

Trekkers contacted Germany through a satellite phone and said there was a “large group” of them on the pass waiting for rescue. The message was relayed to the Nepal Army which had three rescue helicopters in the area on Thursday.

The Army had brought out nine bodies from either side of the pass on Wednesday and Thursday. District administration office in Manang said eight trekkers were also buried in snow in the Phu Valley near the China border.

Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora talk to journalists at the Army Hospital on Thursday after being rescued from the Mustang-side of Thorung La on Wednesday. They credited their guide and the army for saving them. 

Sunir Pandey

Read also:

After the storm Kunda Dixit

Anatomy of a Himalayan tsunami Kunda Dixit

Dangerous business Editorial

Extreme Everest Bhrikuti Rai and Matt Miller

Working in high places Ayesha Shakya

Taking chances in Chomolungma David Durkan

A dangerous place to work Jon Gangdal

Royal ex-king

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Rabindra Mishra of the BBC Nepali Service, Facebook, 13 October

ftnp parasA lot of people have expressed sympathy after seeing the latest pictures of former crown prince Paras Shah being arrested on drug possession charges in Thailand. This is understandable and it is a sign of humanity.

But his parents, Gyanendra and Komal, also deserve some compassion. Gyanendra became king very young, and lost the throne. He lost his family in the palace killings, which he was blamed for. He became king again, and inherited all his brother’s wealth.

Soon after, he lost his people’s respect, he lost the throne again, he lost the monarchy, he lost all the wealth inherited from his brother. And we’ve seen what has become of his only son.

All this time, he never lost patience, he remained decent and civilised. He was smiling when he left Narayanhiti Palace. He was never crude. What surprises me is, where were all those qualities when he was king? That’s why I call him the ‘unroyal king/royal ex-king’. Like a lot of commentators, I think Paras needs help, not contempt. Those who still detest him must understand: we are all human, as are our families and relatives; who knows what crises we may have to face in the future?


Pearls before swine

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Prakash Dahal, son of UCPN(M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Facebook, 11 October

Prakash Dahal at his pig farm

Prakash Dahal at his pig farm

I only wish people did more research before commenting on my pig farm. Some friends seem to be stuck in the past. Some say Bahuns shouldn’t be farming pigs. Some say I am showing my worth. Some say black money, some say it’s because politics did me no good. I thank you all for coming up with comments that display your own abilities, but I wish to especially thank some people and say the following things to them:

  1. This is an age of equality, where you don’t look at caste, colour or gender. If you are the type that stirs up ethnic discord, you must be from another planet. And that is that.
  1. There is such a thing as dignity of work and I don’t think work makes anyone greater or smaller. Are all the world’s animals worthless? Are pigs worthless? Is it right to mock farmers like this? Apart from being the world’s most respected profession, agriculture is also the traditional line of work of most Nepalis. People who keep their backyards barren are trying to lecture me about my capacity and worth.
  1. Some say I kept 10 sows to legitimise my black money. I would like to challenge these people to look everywhere for black, red, green, yellow, or any other colour of wealth that is in our family’s name. They can take everything for themselves if they just give me Rs 100,000. With that money I would buy four more sows and expand my farm. Use your heads. I don’t know about other people in the party, but if you find any trace of my wrongdoing I will gladly kill myself. Please, my Facebook friends, find out my black money.
  1. I am not a senior leader of a party. I have been walking around the hills with our people’s militia since I left high-school 14 years ago. I am only a cadre and I will remain in the party and work for Nepal’s benefit as long as I am breathing. I have nowhere to go except politics. Is it sin for us in politics to be creative in other ways? How do you think we earn? Where does the money to study abroad come from? I am farming pigs in my free time so that I don’t have to beg from anyone. I don’t have a degree in my hands.

I also want to discourage youngsters from mortgaging their land and going for overseas labour. Instead they could use that money to invest in their own land, work four solid hours everyday and watch gold grow out of the land. Is it not more dignified to work four hours a day in Nepal than to be treated like an animal for 18 hours in the Gulf? When I see barren fields and villages empty of youth, I despair. My ambition is to show these youngsters that it is worth doing something right here in Nepal. If youngsters want to try out agriculture, we must respect their choice. Rest is up to you.

Read also: 

Prakash raising livestock

Devoted to painting

Sunday, October 5th, 2014
Lok Chitrakar

Lok Chitrakar

Nepal’s paubha master takes Kathmandu’s traditional art to Japan

Lok Chitrakar, 54, is Nepal’s most famous painter of paubha, the devotional art form that went from Nepal to Tibet to become the thangka. Now, he is taking 32 of his paintings even further to Japan where it will be part of a larger collection on permanent display at a museum.

As an autodidact, Chitrakar came from a family of artists and started using brushes at 12.  Today, his work is renowned worldwide with some of his paintings featuring in permanent exhibitions from Pakistan to Finland.

Chitrakar has been working with the Kanzouin Museum in Tokyo for the past 12 years which already has 30 of his paintings, and soon will be adding 32 more to complete a series that will ultimately have 108 paintings from Kathmandu.

Lok Chitrakar was working on a mandala for a Japanese client in 2000, and had to learn Japanese techniques to complete it. For this he got in touch with a Japanese friend who showed his work to people in the art scene there. There was no looking back, the Japanese were hooked.

Lok Chitrakar paintings 2


Lok Chitrakar paintings

Paubhas were first taken from Kathmandu Valley to Tibet in the 8th century when Bhrikuti was married to king Sron Tsan Gampo. She took paubha artists with her to Tibet, and this style later evolved into the thangka, which is distinguishable by newer Chinese styles. Thangkas depict Buddhist subjects or even deities from the pre-Buddhist Bon faith, while paubhas contain Hindu and Buddhist deities, reflecting the ancient symbiosis of Hinduism and Buddhism in Kathmandu Valley.

Some of the Paubhas that will go to the Kanzouin Museum in Tokyo were on a brief farewell display at Yala Maya Kendra from 26-29 September. “I like to show my work to the Nepali public before sending them abroad,” Chitrakar says of the paintings that will be shipped out later this month.

Green Tara

Green Tara



Six pictures in the Yala Maya Kendra’s exhibition were from private collections, like the striking Green Tara and Ganesh. Artist Ashmina Ranjit, who was at the exhibition said she has always been mesmerised by Lok Chitrakar’s work. “His paintings can put us in kind of a meditative state,” she said.

Given how intricate the paintings are, Lok Chitrakar is often asked how long it takes to complete one painting. “I never count the days, otherwise I’ll be discouraged,” Chitrakar replies laconially. “I just write the date on which I finish the work at the bottom.”

Lok Chitrakar paintings 3
Paubhas are a visual representation of religious philosophy, and always feature a central deity with moral and spiritual significance. The background and the details are up to the artist, but for the deity there are strict standards: body postures, facial expressions, skin complexions and hand gestures all carry important symbolism, developed over many centuries.

The deity’s eyes are always painted last. Chitrakar makes his own paint with crushed stones and vegetable dyes such as indigo, sometimes mixing silver and gold dust.

Lok Chitrakar is now used to international acclaim at various exhibitions he has been asked to put up at Harvard University or the Historical Museum of Shiga, Japan. When asked if he is proud to represent Nepal’s original Buddhist art form to the international public, Chitrakar answers simply: “I’m just proud to be an artist.”

Stéphane Huët

Read also:

Bring back the paubhas, RC Cone

The art of the gods, Tsering Dolker Gurung 

Nepal’s biggest paubha muralSalil Subedi