By Christine Khamis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
KATHMANDU, Nepal –
Police shot and killed three ethnic Madhesi protesters in Rangeli, Nepal last week. The killings occurred amidst continuing political discord over Nepal’s new constitution.
Protesters disrupted a pro-constitution rally run by the Youth wing of Nepal’s governing Communist Party last Thursday, according to Toyam Raya, the chief district officer of the region. The event was organized to honor Nepal’s current prime minister, K. P. Oli.
The United Madhesi Front, a group that has organized most of the Madhesi protests, reportedly warned the Youth wing of the Communist Party not to have its rally. The United Madhesi Front also said that it would disrupt any attempt to honor Prime Minister Oli.
Protesters began to throw stones at police, at which point the police fired tear gas at them and attempted to use batons and blank shots to control the crowd. When those tactics did not work, the police then opened fire on the protesters.
The number of injuries is unclear at this time. Mr. Raya states that eight protesters and 13 police officers were wounded during the conflict, while the Madhesis say that 35 people were injured.
The Madhesis have repeatedly called for changes to the new constitution, primarily because it redraws the boundaries of Nepal’s provinces. The redrawn districts, according to the Madhesis, deny them adequate political power and representation. They have called for the districts to be redrawn so that electoral constituencies are based on population and proportional representation. Members of the Madhesis have held talks with Nepali authorities on the issue, but those talks have failed to end in agreement.
Nepal’s parliament proposed a constitutional amendment in an attempt to quell the protests, but the Madhesis rejected the amendment this week. Laxman Lal Karna, a member of the United Democratic Front, says that the amendment was incomplete and failed to address the Madhesis’ concerns.
Since the introduction of the new constitution in September 2015, over 50 people have been killed in confrontations between police and protesters. Protesters have also blocked supplies coming in from India, leading to a severe fuel shortage in Nepal.
For more information, please see:
The New York Times – Nepal Police Fire on Madhesi Protesters, Killing at Least 3 – 21 January 2016
Voice of America – Police Fire on Protesters in Southern Nepal; 3 Killed – 21 January 2016
Business Standard – 3 Killed in Police Firing as Madhesis Clash with CPN-UML – 21 January 2016
ABC News – Ethnic Protesters in Nepal Reject Constitutional Amendment – 24 January 2016