This week Freedom Forum recorded three incidents where Nepal police manhandled and arrested about a dozen of people for protesting against government actions.
On July 25, the police arrested three youth Arjun Poudel, Som Sharma, and Biplab Khadka for shouting slogans against Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at a program held in Kathmandu. They were released on July 26.
Again on July 28, the cadres of Nepal Communist Party, under Biplav's leadership were arrested for waving black flags against a visiting foreign official.
Similarly, in a separate incident, Khadka and Sharma were rearrested from Maitighar Mandala while staging demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The Bill has been passed by the House of Representatives amid public grievances and was scheduled to be passed by the National Assembly on the same day.
Freedom Forum vehemently condemns police action. FF strongly urges Nepal government to respect and hear the opinion and expression of every citizen which is prerequisite to functional democracy.
Moreover, right to peaceful assembly and protest is an fundamental human right in democracy. The Constitution of Nepal guarantees every individual the right to expression and peaceful assembly. The Local Administration Act, 2028 B.S. and Muluki Criminal Code, 2074 B.S. prohibits use of force over peaceful assembly unless and until it turns violent or there is a perceived threat to peace and security. The arrest and manhandle of protestors sitting with pamphlets, within the protests permitted vicinity is a sheer violation of law. These forms of intimidation puts chilling effect on the citizens to express their right to free expression, peaceful assembly and protest.
"Black flag protest is a civilized protest. Muzzling this peaceful form of protest to stifle dissent is against the democratic values. The right to peaceful assembly and expression is a bulwark of democracy. Government should respect this liberty vested on citizens. Dissent is a beauty of democracy. State should hear and acknowledge the dissent, rather than employing police force to suppress it." argued Taranath Dahal, Executive Chief at Freedom Forum.
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