South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, launches today the report of the fact finding mission “Nepal Blockade – A Humanitarian Crisis amidst Diplomatic Kerfuffle” conducted in the Nepal-India borders from 10-14 January 2016. The mission was conducted by Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, a prominent civil society activist and researcher and the current Executive Director of Research Initiative Bangladesh; Jatin Desai, SAHR Bureau Member, activist and journalist from India; Mohamed Latheef, SAHR Bureau Member, former parliamentarian and senior human rights activist from the Maldives. Deekshya Illangasinghe represented the SAHR Secretariat.
The objective of the mission was to examine the trade blockade (September 23, 2015 – February 8, 2016) in relation to the internal factors in terms of the constitution making process, inclusive democracy and the protests by Madhes-centric parties, as well as the external factors, neighbouring India’s actions and omissions as well as the reaction of China in this context and in terms of states sharing borders with land locked countries.
The mission made observation tours to the border entry points at Birgunj and Bhairahawa on the Nepalese and Indian border; and held interviews with the Chief District Officer, security personnel, customs officials, officials at the Chamber of Commerce, journalists, political party leaders including leaders of the Madhes-centric parties, and the civil society. In Kathmandu the mission met with the Prime Minister of Nepal, HE K.P. Oli, civil society, former diplomats, journalists and academics.
This mission by SAHR is significant as it has been conducted by a South Asian organisation whose terms have included a multifaceted perspective obtained through dialogue with both state and non state actors in the specific context.
The report can be found here.