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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09KATHMANDU906
2009-10-02 12:37:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: CONTROVERSIAL ARMY GENERAL COULD BE PROMOTED

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  MARR  PREL  PINR  NP 
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RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 4782
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RHMFISS/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000906 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM MARR PREL PINR NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: CONTROVERSIAL ARMY GENERAL COULD BE PROMOTED

Classified By: Charge d' Affaires, a.i., Jeffrey A. Moon. Reasons 1.4 (
b/d).



1. (C) Summary: Based on media reports that Nepal Army (NA)
Major General Toran Singh, who is alleged to be complicit in
human rights abuses, was soon to be promoted to Lieutenant
General, the Defense Attache met with two cabinet ministers
and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) to voice U.S. concerns
about Singh's promotion. The Federal Minister committed to
communicate U.S. concerns to Prime Minister M.K. Nepal and
Nepali Congress party leader G.P. Koirala. The Energy
Minister and the COAS were reluctant to take any action to
prevent Singh's promotion without more concrete evidence of
human rights abuses. End Summary.



2. (C) On 1 October 2009, Nepali media reports suggested that
the GON was preparing to promote Major General Toran Singh to
Lieutenant General. Maj Gen Singh was the No. 10 Brigade
Commander of the Nepal Army when one of his subordinate
battalions, the Bhairavnath Battalion, allegedly detained,
tortured, and "disappeared" up to forty-nine Maoists in 2003.
No one has been held accountable for this alleged incident.



3. (C) The Defense Attache (DATT), after coordinating with
the Charge, approached two cabinet ministers who are active
members of the embassy-sponsored, civilian-military Core
Group on Security Sector Reform to register U.S. concerns
about the possible impact of Singh's promotion. The DATT
first met with Minendra Rizal, who is the Federal Minister
and a member of the Nepali Congress Party. The DATT
explained to Rizal that the U.S. values its relationship with
the NA and desires to increase its engagement with the Nepal
Army, but promoting MG Singh could have negative consequences
for U.S.-sponsored training and engagement with the Nepal
Army (NA).



4. (C) Rizal said he was aware that the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal opposed the
promotion and had made its position clear to the GON. Rizal
told the DATT candidly that the GON did not take the OHCHR --
or other UN agencies in Nepal -- seriously because they are
perceived to be overly sympathetic to the Maoists. Rizal
said, however, that the concerns of the U.S. carry much more
weight than the UN and that he would convey these concerns to
Prime Minister Nepal and Girija Koirala, the head of the
Nepali Congress Party. Rizal said that convincing the Prime
Minister would be easy, but persuading Koirala might be more
difficult.



5. (C) Later the same afternoon, the DATT called on Minister
for Energy, Mr. Prakash Mahat, at his residence to convey the
same message. Mahat, also a member of the Core Group on
Security Sector Reform, was less receptive and seemed to be
more concerned about defending the cabinets' plan to promote
Singh, stating that Singh had already been promoted once
since the alleged incidents. Mahat said there was no
concrete evidence of abuse and that a committee comprised of
three Secretary-level officials was recently formed to
investigate the allegations against Singh. The committee
reportedly found no credible evidence that Toran Singh was
involved in past human rights abuses. Mahat said he
understood U.S. concerns and the possibility of negative
consequences to future engagement with the NA.



6. (C) On the morning of 2 October 2009, the DATT made an
unofficial call on the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS),
General Gurung, at his official residence to discuss the
matter. Gurung said the matter was out of his hands. His
predecessor General Katawal forwarded the recommendation to
the Ministry of Defense and the promotion was now up to the
cabinet. Gurung said he personally felt that Singh is being
unfairly singled out because there are accusations but no
evidence. That fact that he was cleared once for promotion
to Major General set a precedent that should not be violated,
Gurung said. The COAS said he believes there is a small
group of human rights activists, including certain UN
officials, who want to punish Singh even if there is no
concrete evidence tying him to specific human rights abuses.

KATHMANDU 00000906 002 OF 002


Gurung said he would make available all documentation in the
NA's possession clearing Singh of human rights violations,
and suggested the DATT try to obtain the report from the
Secretary-level committee that recently investigated Singh
and provided its recommendations to the Cabinet Ministers.



7. (C) Comment: All three officials understand U.S. concerns
and the possible negative consequences for U.S.-Nepal
relations of Toran Singh,s promotion. The DATT emphasized
to all three individuals that there is significant interest
in both the U.S. Executive Branch and the Congress in Nepal
human rights developments. Rizal, who is a pro-American,
up-and-coming leader of the NC, stated that he would
communicate U.S. concerns to the Prime Minister and G.P.
Koirala. Mahat and the COAS were hesitant to follow up
without clear evidence implicating Toran Singh. As of 17:00
Friday, October 2, Post does not believe the Cabinet has
made a final decision on Singh's promotion. The Charge
d'Affaires will attend separate NC and UML party events
during the weekend of October 3-4, and will further
underscore our concerns in conversations with top party
leaders. End Comment.
MOON