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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU2280
2002-11-29 11:57:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: UPDATE ON MAOIST ACTIVITIES, NOV 22-29

Tags:   NP  PGOV  PTER  PHUM  CASC  IN 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KATHMANDU 002280 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS AND DS/IP/NEA
STATE ALSO PLEASE PASS USAID/DCHA/OFDA
MANILA FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA
LONDON FOR POL/REIDEL
TREASURY FOR GENERAL COUNSEL/DAUFHAUSER AND DAS JZARATE
TREASURY ALSO FOR OFAC/RNEWCOMB AND TASK FORCE ON TERRORIST
FINANCING
JUSTICE FOR OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL/DLAUFMAN

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: NP PGOV PTER PHUM CASC IN
SUBJECT: NEPAL: UPDATE ON MAOIST ACTIVITIES, NOV 22-29

REF: (A) KATHMANDU 2169

(B) KATHMANDU 2258
(C) KATHMANDU 2259

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KATHMANDU 002280

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS AND DS/IP/NEA
STATE ALSO PLEASE PASS USAID/DCHA/OFDA
MANILA FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA
LONDON FOR POL/REIDEL
TREASURY FOR GENERAL COUNSEL/DAUFHAUSER AND DAS JZARATE
TREASURY ALSO FOR OFAC/RNEWCOMB AND TASK FORCE ON TERRORIST
FINANCING
JUSTICE FOR OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL/DLAUFMAN

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: NP PGOV PTER PHUM CASC IN
SUBJECT: NEPAL: UPDATE ON MAOIST ACTIVITIES, NOV 22-29

REF: (A) KATHMANDU 2169

(B) KATHMANDU 2258
(C) KATHMANDU 2259


1. Summary: A year after Maoist insurgents unilaterally
broke a four-month truce with the government, this week saw
further reports of civilian deaths and widespread
destruction of public facilities. As two United Nations
agencies criticized the insurgency for exacerbating the
already precarious situation of the country's poor and
disadvantaged, children and schools continued to come under
Maoist threat, forcing some students to flee their homes to
avoid forced recruitment. Two interest groups publicly
opposed the upcoming "indefinite strike" against educational
institutions called by the insurgents. Opinion polls showed
clear support for US military assistance and no faith in
offers for peace talks by the Maoists. Conflict in the
Everest region has raised concerns that celebrations
commemorating the first successful ascent will have to be
canceled. End summary.

NAT'L HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION URGES END TO VIOLENCE;
CONFIRMS SEVEN CIVILIANS KILLED AT JUMLA
-------------- --------------


2. In a November 28 press statement released after a visit
to western Jumla district, the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC) called on the Maoists to stop killing
unarmed civilians and destroying essential infrastructure
such as hospitals, schools and banks. The fact-finding
mission, sent to investigate a November 14 battle between
Maoists and government forces (ref A), stated that four
civilians and three prisoners were among those killed.


3. NHRC has also appealed to the government to address the
immediate needs of the local citizens and to provide
compensation to the families of civilian victims in Jumla
and in other incidents around the country. In addition to
visiting the site of last week's battle, the team traveled

to southwestern Bardiya district to investigate the November
25 death of two students and a civilian woman who were
killed along with two police officers when a group of 12-15
Maoists opened fire on a market.


4. In a break with murderous precedent, sixteen of 18
policemen kidnapped by the Maoists in their attack have been
released. (Note: Military and police prisoners were also
released following the September 7 attack in Arghankanchi.
End note.)

JUMLA DAMAGE ESTIMATED AT 250,000 USD
--------------


5. The November 14 attack in Jumla did 20 million Nrs
(250,000 USD) worth of damage, according to local estimates.
Twenty-eight buildings, including the airport tower, bank,
post office and education office, were destroyed, together
with the private homes of three local families. According
to local reports, Maoists ransacked the private houses after
they had taken control of the District Police office,
walking away with "whatever they could lay their hands on."
The local branch of Rastriya Banijya Bank claims that it
lost 1.9 million Nrs (24,300 USD) in cash, and 1.6 million
Nrs (20,400 USD) in gold. A government assessment of the
damage is currently underway.

MAOISTS DISRUPT POWER SUPPLY TO REMOTE DISTRICTS;
HYDRO PROJECT DELAYED BY ONE YEAR
-------------- --------------


6. Electricity supply to the entire midwestern and
farwestern regions has been affected by Maoist destruction
of a 132-kilovolt tower in southern Dang district.
Following destruction of the tower, Dang and four other
districts have had to tap into electricity from an adjacent
power grid. As a result, all fourteen districts of the
midwestern and farwestern regions have had to resort to load-
shedding to meet the demand.

7. Meanwhile, the director of the 70-megawatt Middle-
Marsyangdi hydropower project announced that the insurgency
has delayed construction by least one year. The conflict
has made it impossible for construction to continue on a 24-
hour basis, and tightened security has prevented the project
from transporting explosives to the construction site.
Middle-Marsyangdi is the third largest hydropower project in
the country. A German development agency has supplied 85
percent of the 175 million USD project.

UNFPA BLAMES INSURGENCY FOR PLIGHT OF WOMEN
--------------


8. At a conference to address the effects of political
disruption on the women of South Asia, United Nations Family
Planning Agency (UNFPA) representative Bina Pradhan
expressed concern about the use of women in the Maoist
insurgency, and said that the conflict has placed Nepali
women in a desperate situation. Citing threats against
civilians, Pradhan said that women and children have been
among the hardest hit. "At the same time that political
disturbance has forced many of them to flee homes," she
said, "those who stayed back are reeling in abject poverty."
Pradhan stated that women affected by the insurgency were in
danger of being trafficked as a result of social upheaval
and bleak economic conditions.

CONFLICT ENDANGERS FOOD SUPPLY
FOR MARGINAL ECONOMIC GROUPS
--------------


9. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) has released a study identifying seven livelihood
groups as vulnerable to food shortages in the country, and
stating that the Maoist insurgency is contributing to an
already precarious situation. The report recommended
immediate action to assist subsistence farmers with land of
less than 0.5 hectares, rural service providers,
agricultural laborers, porters and urban squatters, the
groups most affected by food shortage. Subsistence farmers
make up 30 percent of Nepal's population and 80 percent of
those named as most vulnerable.


10. The FAO report cited unproductive land, small-sized
holdings and lack of irrigation as among the chief causes of
the food shortage, and charged that the country's armed
conflict is aggravating the problem. The report says that
the insurgency has cut off farming in "several areas," and
that many forests that served as food and fuel sources for
the Maoists--and for subsistence groups--have been made off-
limits by the government. (Note: Post reported food supply
issues in ref B. End note.)


11. In southwestern Bardiya district, farmers report that
Maoists have warned them against harvesting their rice or
any other food grains. The farmers expect that the
insurgents will steal the entire anticipated harvest of 40
metric tons of grain. In northwestern Bajura, locals report
that Maoists are demanding food from the villagers at
gunpoint, and imposing taxes on subsistence farmers with no
cash. When the farmers can't pay, the insurgents take a
portion of their harvest.

STUDENTS LEAVE VILLAGES TO AVOID MAOIST DRAFT
-------------- -


12. In southern Sarlahi district, students are leaving their
villages and settling in town centers due to fear of being
used as human shields by the Maoists. According to local
reports, Maoists have been pressuring village families to
provide 500 Nrs (7 USD) per month or send their children to
join the insurgency. (Note: Most farming families in the
Terai region earn less than 10 USD per month. End note.)
Students in Sarlahi are afraid to attend school for fear of
being kidnapped, says a local teacher.


13. Similar tales have come from areas throughout the
country, including far-eastern Ilam and southwestern Surkhet
districts. In Ilam, 150 youths are reported to have fled
their homes to avoid extortion and forced recruitment, with
another 65 reported in Surkhet. A local from one of the
villages in Surkhet claims that Maoists have already forced
70 lower caste or poor children to join the insurgency.


14. The threats against students have come in the middle of
wheat-sowing season, depriving their struggling families of
much-needed extra labor.

INTEREST GROUPS PROTEST SCHOOL CLOSINGS
--------------


15. At least two organizations have publicly criticized the
call by Maoists for an "indefinite strike" against
educational institutions. Following a meeting with the
Minister of Education and Sports, members of the Private and
Boarding Schools' Organization told reporters that they hope
to be able to convince Maoists that schools have already
been "set free" and that no further steps need to be taken.
The All Nepal National Free Students' Union (ANNFSU) has
declared a plan to rally students from 500 schools and
colleges to protest the strikes.

STUDENT INJURED BY ATTACK ON SCHOOL;
MAOISTS BOMB TRIBHUVAN UNIVERSITY
--------------


16. Officials from a Kathmandu school expressed relief that
only one student was injured when a Maoist bomb exploded on
the ground floor of a building packed with students and
teachers attending afternoon classes on November 28. The
bomb, planted by a group of ten young men who forced their
way onto the campus grounds, exploded in the library,
destroying four computers and a photocopying machine, and
blowing out part of the brick wall. The second and third
floors of the building were also damaged. One student, who
was picking up his school certificates on the ground floor
when the bomb exploded, suffered minor injuries.


17. On November 29, an early-morning bomb exploded near the
administrative offices of Tribhuvan University on the
outskirts of Kathmandu. The blast damaged the building, but
no injuries were reported. Tribhuvan is Nepal's oldest and
most prestigious university.

OPINION POLLS SHOW NO FAITH IN PRACHANDA,
APPROVAL FOR US MILITARY AID
--------------


18. Two Internet opinion polls, recently published by the
weekly Nepali Times, show overwhelming support for US
military aid to Nepal and a clear lack of faith in Maoist
leader Prachanda's sincerity. Respondents were 64.9 percent
in favor of US military aid. When asked whether Maoist
leader Prachanda is serious in his latest offer for peace
talks, 67.7 percent of respondents voted no, with only 26.6
percent saying yes.

CONFLICT THREATENS EVEREST JUBILEE
--------------


19. In yet another blow to tourism, trekking outfitters are
concerned that planned celebrations commemorating Sir Edmund
Hillary's historic first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 will
be disrupted by the ongoing conflict. According to
newspaper reports, trekkers have heard Maoists in the
Everest region boast that they will attack Lukla airport
once the tourist season ends later this month, and Post has
heard increasing reports of Maoist activity in the area (ref
B). British trekking outfitter Himalayan Kingdoms was
reported to be monitoring the situation daily, and prepared
to refund clients' money if the security situation worsens.
The 50-year anniversary celebrations are scheduled to begin
early in 2003. Tourism in Nepal is reported to have slumped
by more than 70 percent since the insurgency began.

MAOISTS CONTINUE VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS
AND GOVERNMENT FACILITIES
--------------


20. Maoists in northeastern Taplejung district killed two
civilians on November 22, taking the young men to the
playground of a local secondary school before shooting them
in the back of the head. On November 23, also in Taplejung,
Maoists called 28-year-old Laxmi Poudel from his house and
beheaded him in his front yard. In the same village on the
same night, Maoists shot and killed a second young man after
abducting him from a wedding ceremony. Meanwhile, in
Kathmandu, Maoists detonated a pressure cooker bomb in the
home of an ex-policeman. No injuries were reported.


21. On November 26, Maoists burned down the Brahmapuri
Village Development Committee in southern Sarlahi district,
destroying all village records. On the evening of November
27, a bomb blast destroyed the land revenue office in
Taulihawa, the capital of southern Kapilbastu district.
Total loss from the incident is estimated at 500,000 Nrs
(6370 USD).

MALINOWSKI