AIM and UNPO Call for Release of AIM Coordinator
On 7 December 2017, the Alliance for Independent Madhesh (AIM) and news sources such as the Kathmandu Post report that AIM coordinator Dr CK Raut, was arrested by the Nepalese police, allegedly for encouraging the supporters of the Alliance to choose No-Vote in Nepal's House of Representatives and provincial assembly elections. Vast parts of the Terai region are called to vote today in the second phase of the election and the AIM seeks invalid votes in order to show people's rejection of Nepal's policy toward Madhesh and the Nepalese constitution that came into effect in 2015. This arrest is one amongst the 1,000 that have been carried out by the Nepalese authorities in the context of these elections, on grounds of "attempting to spoil the election atmosphere".
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) condemns this arrest and that of the 956 other political activists across Nepal. Calling for the release of Dr CK Raut, the UNPO hopes that the presence of a European Union election observation mission in the country will help in guaranteeing a safe space for opposition voices to be expressed.
Below is a press release published by the AIM:
Nepal Police has arrested Dr. C. K. Raut, Co-ordinator of Alliance of Independent Madhesh (AIM) today from his Janakpur residence by barging into the residence by breaking the padlock at the main entrance gate at 9.30 am this morning on December 7, 2017. The police personnel, clad in civil dress, broke into the residence with sniffer dogs, without any search or arrest warrant, confiscated Dr. Raut’s personal computer, hard drive, mobile and threated his assistant Satya Narayan Khang and confiscated his mobile too.
Dr. Raut had recently urged his supporters, in a social media address to go for No-Vote in poll being conducted today in Nepal. AIM (Alliance for Independent Madhesh) strongly condemns this illegal and arbitrary arrest of Dr. Raut and confiscation of his personal belongings and considers it as infringement upon his fundamental rights.
Nepal is holding the House of Representatives and provincial assembly elections on 26th November and 7th December 2017 in two phases, after promulgating its new constitution in 2015, which a majority of the Madheshi people have rejected. Some 272,000 security persons have been mobilised to conduct the election, and they have been targeting and attacking “no vote” (NOTA) campaigners as well.
In the absence of the “right to reject” option in current elections, despite earlier provisions mandated by the Supreme Court, the Alliance for Independent Madhesh (AIM) is deliberately seeking “invalid-votes”, as a sign of rejecting Nepal’s discriminatory constitution and colonial rule in Madhesh/Terai. It is requesting people to mark outside the box on ballot papers. But the Government of Nepal has not only banned this campaign, but during the local election in September 2017, police arrested the Spokesperson as well as dozens of supporters of AIM, and threatened and tortured thousands of others.
We strongly urge that Dr. Raut is immediately and unconditionally released. Until then, we kindly appeal to human-rights bodies, civil societies and international communities to assure his physical safety while in detention and guarantee that he is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. Besides, we also appeal to all relevant bodies to assure that the election is conducted in a free and fair manner following the internationally accepted norms and procedures.
You can download the press release by clicking here (in English and Nepali).