FOR NEPALESE IN AMERICA, WAR AT HOME IS A WORRY
by Chiranjibi Paudyal
American Reporter Correspondent
KATHMANDU, August 6, 2000 -- Nepalese living in the United States and Canada are very much concerned about the threat to multi-party democracy due to the Maoist violence and splits in the political parties in Nepal, they have told the American Reporter.
"We are very much worried about the terrorist violence of the Maoists and it has damaged the peaceful image of Nepal," said Krishna Niraula, president of the Washington-based Association of Nepalese in the Americas.
About 60,000 Nepalese are living in the U.S.A and Canada and most of them have come as students and among them about 40 percent are estimated to be living without legal documents.
Nepalese, who have come from the land of the lord Buddha, the apostle of peace and being the follower of Hinduism, which teaches fraternity and brotherhood, are very peace loving people.
Nepal is facing the Maoists problem for the last six years and the Maoists want to establish a Cuba and North Korea style Communist republic replacing the present British style constitutional monarchy established in 1990 through popular movement.
According to the official figures, more than 4,000 people - most of them Maoists themselves - security personnel and political party workers have been killed since the insurgency began in 1996. But the human rights organizations claim more than 6,000 have been killed in the insurgency.
"We want to invest in Nepal and contribute in the economic development of the motherland and for that the environment of violence and terror must be ended, Niraula told the American Reporter.
"We are living in the democratic country, the U.S.A, and being democratic we want to resolve the problem through dialogue.
"We urge the government and the Maoists to initiate dialogue to resolve the problem," he said.
Nepal government declared the state of emergency since last November and said that it would not hold talks with the Maoists unless they surrender weapons and participate in the democratic process.
"We don't trust the Maoists - they have betrayed us in the past. Talks can not be held until they surrender weapons," Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said recently.
Nepalese living in the Americas have made remarkable contributions in the economic development of Nepal, a poor country situated between India and China with per capita income of U.S.$240.
Niraula said the Nepalese have provided cooperation to the hospitals and schools in Nepal and provided scholarships to Nepalese studying in the UUnited States.
The government has recently formulated a policy of providing 10-year visas to Nepalese-Americans, who have American citizenship. "We welcome the Nepalese government's decision to provide 10-year visas to the Nepalese living in the U.S.A and hope it will certainly help attract investment into Nepal," he said.
Nepalese, who may look like Indians, Pakistanis or Arabs, have not faced any difficulties in America even after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he said. "We have no reports of any detention of the Nepalese in the U.S.A after the terrorists' attack."
The Nepalese community has started a program, "Sagarmatha," or Mt. Everest, on television and radio in Washington, and various cultural programs are being held regularly to promote and familiarize Americans with Nepalese culture.
They have also started to construct a Pashupatinath and Buddhist temples in the Lanham area of the nation's capital, and are planning to construct a Nepalese educational and cultural center, library and auditorium. About $1 million dollars has already been spent on the project, he said. `Nepal and the United States have enjoyed a very warm and cordial relationship since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1947. The United States is a major development partner of Nepal and has made major contributions to the country's development. It is now providing $20 million in assistance to fight the Maoist insurgency.
"We provide both development and security assistance to Nepal at a time of its needs," an American official at the American embassy in Kathmandu told the American Reporter.
The major focus of American cooperation now, as has been the case with most American support since the 1950's, is the strengthening of democracy, press freedoms, good governance, health, education and grassroots development.