Outcry in Nepal over parading of naked boys in Terai

January 31st, 2009 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 31 (IANS) Over 30 domestic and international rights organisations, including Unicef and Save the Children alliance, have flayed an ongoing protest in Nepal’s southern Terai plains during which the organisers reportedly paraded a group of naked young boys.”In the name of protests, the Samyukta Sangharsh Samiti (SSS) that has been active in the Terai made 25 boys under the age of 14 parade through Jaleshwor town naked,” Children are Zones of Peace (CZOP), a network of organisations working to protect child rights, said in a statement issued here.

“All our member organisations condemn it,” it added.

The rights alliance said its attention was drawn to the incident when a local daily, Nepal Samacharpatra, reported Thursday that children were being “punished” in the name of protests in the southern town that has remained turbulent for nearly a fortnight.

Violence erupted in Jaleshwor, the main town in Mahottari district, after the Maoist government of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda announced that an “integrated service centre” would be opened at the nearby town of Bardibas.

Jaleshwor locals feared it would lead to the relocation of the district headquarters to Bardibas, and called closures in protest.

The shutdowns continued for almost a fortnight, erupting in arson and violence and on Thursday, compelling the administration to declare curfew for two days.

According to media reports from Mahottari, the protests are being led by the Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, and regional Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party that this month withdrew its “moral support” to the Maoist government.

The rights bodies said that to parade naked children in winter to draw attention to a protest movement in which they have no stake was “an unimaginable example of exploitation and attack on them”.

“It shows the protesters have no empathy for children,” the statement said. “It is regrettable that a group that is fighting for its own rights and identity has not been able to respect, protect and understand children’s rights.”

The act, the rights bodies said, violates Nepal’s interim constitution and the UN Child Rights Convention that guarantee every child the right to live with dignity and unviolated privacy.

The rights bodies are also urging the media not to publish photographs of the naked boys as it could reveal their identity and affect their right to privacy.

Nepal’s leading political parties, including the Maoists, have come under repeated public criticism for deploying minors in their political programmes, which at times turned violent, putting lives in danger.

According to the UN, the Maoists recruited child soldiers during their 10-year armed insurgency in violation of international norms. Even two years after the civil war ended and the signing of a peace pact, the child soldiers have not been discharged.

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