The Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Kedar Nath Upadhyay, together with the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), Robert Piper, today drew attention to the humanitarian impact of the continuing bandh in the Far Western Region (FWR). While upholding the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression, the NHRC and the UN urge protest organizers and followers to guarantee the freedom of movement for ambulances as well as the transport of essential medical supplies, patients and food within the FWR. “Humanitarian access must be guaranteed under all circumstances in all parts of the country”, said RC/HC Piper. The Chairperson and the RC/HC also expressed deep concern about the rising tensions which culminated in clashes on 9 May between the police and demonstrators in Nawalparasi leaving several people with serious injuries. While recognizing the responsibility of State agencies to maintain rule of law throughout Nepal, they urged the security and law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and use minimum necessary and proportionate force while policing areas in which bandhs and protests are taking place. “Professional policing can play an important role to prevent tensions between protesting groups from further escalating”, said the Chairperson. The Chairperson and the RC/HC also highlighted rising tensions which have resulted in incidents of local violence between activist groups across the country, including in Kanchanpur and Nawalparasi districts. The increasing number and intensity of upcoming demonstrations creates the risk for more widespread violence. The NHRC
and the UN urge all parties to uphold human rights and take necessary practical steps to avoid violence during this period of heightened protests.