Anna phenomenon grows in Nepal too

August 25th, 2011 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 25 (IANS) As Anna Hazare’s public protest against corruption in the form of a fast in New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan reached its 10th day Thursday, support for the frail 74-year-old began to grow in neighbouring Nepal as well with civil society members and human rights activists showing solidarity.

On Thursday, dozens of Indians marched in a rally in capital city Kathmandu, holding up signs that said in Hindi, “All of us are with you, Anna”.

While the march was organised by the Indian Citizen’s Association in Nepal, it had been preceded Wednesday by a public rally in which some of Nepal’s best-known civil right activists had participated.

The rally at Shanti Vatika in Kathmandu, a public park where most peaceful demonstrations have been held, was called by the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust and saw the participation of Nepal’s lawmakers, former makers of the constitution and civil rights leaders.

The protesters held up placards with Anna Hazare’s photographs and the legend: “I support Anna.”

Nepal’s human rights organisations, who played a key role in the pro-democracy movement of 2006 that toppled King Gyanendra’s military-supported regime, have also issued statements condemning the move by the Manmohan Singh government of Nepal to arrest Hazare ahead of his protest and incarcerate him in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail for a day.

Coincidentally, as Anna Hazare’s protest continues in New Delhi, public protests have begun to grow in Nepal also against the prevailing corruption and lawlessness in the Himalayan republic as well as the failure of the major political parties to deliver on their promises.

With less than a week left for the promulgation of a new constitution and the certainty that the power-mongering parties would not be able to deliver by Aug 31, spontaneous public protests led by various groups have begun in the capital to pressure parliament.

A relay hungerstrike was started first by an alliance of seven rights organisations’ network led by women, who are asking for the draft of the constitution to be ready by Aug 31 and to start the process of disbanding the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army.

Now former MPs have begun a public protest near parliament while groups of young people, mostly students, have begun peaceful demonstrations at Basantapur, a public square near the old palace overlooked by the official residence of Nepal’s living goddess, the Kumari.

The Basantapur protest is the brainchild of Nepal’s only openly gay lawmaker, Sunil Babu Pant, who is asking the parties to either deliver the constitution Aug 31 or retire from politics forever.

“We are inspired by Anna Hazare but we are not copying him,” Pant said. “In Nepal, where the population is younger, the protests are being led by younger people.”

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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