UN High Commissioner for Human Rights UNHCR said that they are alarmed by reports that at least four people have been killed and many injured, from both sides, in violent clashes over the weekend during protests in the Terai area of southern Nepal. The latest killings bring to at least 50 the death toll since protests against the new Constitution began in August this year.
According to a press statement issued by UNHCHR’s Ravina Shamdasani, there is conflicting information about how the events unfolded late Saturday night, particularly about how the violence began. Reports suggest that protestors in front of the district police station in Saptari district pelted stones and used other violence against the police, who then responded with the use of live ammunition.
“We have also received allegations that after protesters were taken to nearby Sagarmatha zonal hospital for treatment, police entered the hospital and assaulted the protestors and hospital staff. There is a clear need for an independent investigation to establish the facts and to bring all perpetrators of violence to justice. We have been urging Nepalese authorities to ensure that existing national and international standards on the appropriate use of force are fully respected by security forces. Unfortunately, reports suggest that these steps do not appear to have been taken and more lives have been lost. The protestors must also renounce the use of violence,” said in a statement.
In addition to 50 deaths, many more individuals have been injured, prevented from working, prevented from going to school or from receiving essential medical treatment.
The protesters, from ethnic Madeshi groups, have been demanding that their concerns be addressed in the Constitution. They have been conducting a campaign of strikes and obstructions along the border between India and Nepal. On 8 November, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal issued a report on this crisis and noted that the shortage of fuel, cooking gas, medicine, food and essential goods has deeply affected life in the country. We stress that any obstruction of essential supplies and services is a serious violation of international human rights law, including the right to life. We call on all parties involved on both sides of the Nepal-India border to immediately ensure effective, safe and rapid passage of supplies.
“We have been urging all parties to engage in a meaningful, inclusive and open dialogue, to create a climate where minority and dissenting views are respected. We call on the authorities to work with the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that the concerns of the protestors are heard and constructive solutions are found. It is crucial that all parties involved work together towards a fair and sustainable resolution of this situation,” said reports.