Canada Forum for Nepal has released its fourth issue of – Concern Nepal. This issue contains a summary of activities of CFFN since early 2006 and contains three featured articles. Article “How Rewarding an Educational Program can be in a Remote Nepalese Village?” presents challenges and rewards of taking philanthropic projects in Nepal. “Road to Fair Representation” and “Call of Time and the Monarchy in Nepal” deal with issues in building fair representation system and the question of monarchy respectively. We invite you to enjoy the reading of our publication and get involved and contribute to Concern Nepal by sending news, views, op-ed writings and research articles.
In this Issue
- CFFN: Activities
- Petition Campaign | Radio Interview | Nepal Relief Fund | Himalayan Heartbeat| Interaction Programs
- Press Releases | Publication | Registration | Members’ Meeting | Miscellaneous
- Featured Articles
Unprecedented people’s movement in April 2006 forced the king of Nepal to relinquish his absolute powers. Thereafter, the proclamations of the house of representative, the historic peace agreement with Maoists, and the promulgation of an Interim Constitution are the key achievements born out of that uprising. Year 2007 comes with a greater hope for the long awaited desire of Nepalese people to establish a republic with a democracy that is fitting to the consciousness of our times. All indications are that the election of the constituent assembly promised to be held this year will do that and no power in the world could stop the will of the people of Nepal.
Nepal has been bestowed with diversity unfathomable by the rest of the world in many fronts like in ethnicity, language, culture, religion, geography, and the natural resources. Unfortunately, its history had fallen into a darkness spelled by a feudal monarchy and its sub-organizations. Grinding poverty, extreme backwardness, and socio-political disparities were the rewards presented to the people of Nepal for honouring such institutions for rather long. Thanks to the rising consciousness, Nepal’s neglected people mounted a massive grassroots uprising that shook the foundation of Nepal’s feudal structure. Nepalese people are at a juncture to seize their democratic rights and take on new responsibilities that have fallen onto their shoulders.
Nepal has enormous potentials to progress on its own. What it needs is political stability, incorruptible-and-committed political leadership, equal opportunities in education, health and employment, instruments for building a vibrant economy, and of course the rule of law. The new Nepal should guarantee regional autonomy, eliminate discriminations and injustices carried from the past, and emanate a hope for the future. With these commitments, Nepal should lay the foundations for building a prosperous economy and not be fooled by temporary and volatile projects on the name of poverty reduction and welfare. The current state of Nepal is like that of a fluid with transients and turbulences, and the days ahead are ever more challenging. At this moment, the time, energy and resources of the country should be concentrated on harnessing the energy of optimism floating in the population for solidifying the foundations for building durable economy. Each and every Nepalese should comprehend the sensitivity of the situation, embrace others, and add bricks for building lasting peace and prosperity in Nepal. They should realize that through unity and respect for others, they could dismantle the inequalities, discriminations, exclusions and myriads of other injustices. But first they should focus on mechanisms to elect an inclusive and representative Constituent Assembly and for building a permanent constitution that is just, inclusive, progressive and fitting of our times.
Report from the Executive Board
It has been just a year since a team of Nepalese Diaspora in Ottawa and Friends of Nepal started working under the name Canada Forum for Nepal (CFFN) in early January 2006. The desire to do something about Nepal, the feelings against the oppression of King Gyanendra’s military regime in Nepal at that time, and the hope raised by the historic Memorandum of Understanding reached between the Seven Party Alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on 22 November 2005 were the motivating factors for this organization. In the process, CFFN circulated a petition protesting the oppression of king Gyanendra and supporting the movement and submitted it to Canadian government and the UN in early February 2006. With this effort accompanied by other groundwork, an Ad-hoc committee of CFFN was formed on 26 February 2006. Looking back at the last one year, we are proud to say that it has been an amazing year for CFFN both in terms of its involvement in advancing its vision of “peaceful, democratic, just, and prosperous Nepal” and the changes of Himalayan scale that have occurred in the land where CFFN is dedicated to have its impact.
The Forum which started as a preparatory organization has been registered as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada with the following objectives:
1. Seek support of Canadian and international policy makers, and organizations for the cause of peace, democracy, human rights, social justice, and development in Nepal;
2. Organize workshops, interaction programs and educational activities on contemporary issues of Nepal;
3. Conduct research on social, political, economic, scientific and environmental issues of Nepal and support endeavors of prosperity in Nepal.
The memberships of this organization are open to all who are motivated to work on the above objectives.
Here we provide a highlight of our activities since the inception of CFFN in early 2006.
1. Petition Campaign
On January 2006, CFFN launched a petition for peace and democracy in Nepal. The appeal summarized the current Nepalese political crisis and appeals for all to denounce the autocratic royal regime and to express solidarity to Nepali people who were fighting for democracy and human rights. The petition was also posted on-line by the Kantipur Publication, a leading daily newspaper in Nepal. The petition stressed that the 12-point MOU signed by seven major parliamentary parties and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) was a ray of hope for building peaceful and democratic Nepal and appealed to the international communities to use their collective influence on King Gyanendra to put country in the path of peace, democracy and economic stability. The petition was handed to UN and Department of Foreign Affairs Canada along with CFFN position paper presented at UN Human Rights Consultations in Canada.
2. Radio Interview
On 16 February 2006, CHUO 89.1 FM Radio Ottawa interviewed Pramod Dhakal, a CFFN committee member, on issues related to press, media and human rights in Nepal. Mr. Dhakal stressed that situation of press freedom and human rights were dire in Nepal. He praised the 12-point memorandum-of-understanding signed by seven parties and the Maoists as a positive step. He added that king must respect the spirit of the MOU and permit the people to bring a democratic constitution through an election of a constitutional assembly – a most desired way to prevent further death and catastrophe in Nepal.
3. Nepal Relief Fund
On April 17, 2006, CFFN collected a fund of $2,833 (Nepalese Rs. 179,131) from the Nepalese community in Ottawa and other well-wishers, and handed it to Janandolan Primary Health Treatment Fund (a fund for the treatments of the injured during the peoples’ movement in Nepal) on April 19, 2006.
4. Himalayan Heartbeat
CFFN organized a multifaceted cultural evening, “Himalayan Heartbeat: Nepal Cultural Evening” on 7 July 2006 in Ottawa. The program was attended by prominent Canadians like former Foreign Minister Hon Flora MacDonald, former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific Hon David Kilgour. In the event, the chief guest of the evening, renowned Canadian mountaineer, Andrew Brash, who helped save Australian Lincoln Hall in the Mount Everest, said that the Himalayas present extreme challenges that humble any seasoned mountaineer but a spontaneously presented human tragedy that made him abandon his climb to help save another person has profoundly affected his life afterwards. Mr Brash also touched on the idea that Nepal should focus on building a just and equitable society. Nepalese youth artists performed beautiful dances that spell bound the audience and a movie “Ujeli: A Child Bride in Nepal” was screened, which presented a very poignant theme of social justice to the audience. Also there was a spectacular display of Nepalese arts and crafts in the Nepali bazaar.
5. Interaction Programs
- Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal
- On 18 February 2006, CFFN and Harmony International jointly organized a panel discussion on “Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal” in Ottawa. Four speakers from different backgrounds, highlighted social, political and economic factors that were contributing to the crisis in Nepal. As a chief guest, Hon. Flora MacDonald, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, expressed that Nepal was on the verge of being a failing state. She was critical of the government decision for not reciprocating the four-month long Maoists ceasefire. She raised concern about the difficulties that the ordinary people were facing in their daily life following the coup by the King using his military power.
- Reflections on Nepal
- On November 18, 2006, CFFN organized an interaction program where Nepalese Diasporas and Nepal experts of Canada welcomed the peace accord of 8 November 2006 between seven party alliance and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a rainbow over the horizon of Nepal. Program participants diagnosed issues related to constituent assembly election, inclusive democracy, the practice of formulating aid-reliant economic plans and educational reform in Nepal.
- Interim Constitution and Ethnic Issues
- Another interaction program was organized on ongoing ethnic and constitutional issues of Nepal on 14 February 2006 in Ottawa. After a serious discussion, the participants converge to the conclusion that a constitution assembly must be inclusive of all sectors of society if the constitution made by such body is to win the hearts and minds of the people. Formulating a new constitution for a country is a special event in history and all sectors of the society should allow be participants of this process.
6. Press Releases
- Appeal for Peace and Democracy
- In January 2006, CFFN launched a campaign for peace and democracy with an appeal sent to media and friends. The appeal was printed in its entirety by a prominent English language newspaper Kantipur, it is still prominently placed to this date by Kantipur Online.
- Rights and Democracy
- Soon after the interaction program of February 2006, CFFN brought the highlights of the program in a press release, which was covered by a number of newspapers, including Kantipur.
- People’s Uprising
- In the heights of April uprising, CFFN released a press release in support of the people of Nepal and in opposition to the oppressive regime of king Gyanendra. Although, due to press censorships, it could not appear in Nepalese media, it was widely circulated through emails.
- King’s Address
- In response to first State of the Nation Address by King Gyanendra, CFFN issued a press release supporting the people of Nepal and denouncing the the deceptive move adopted by king Gyanendra. It was also widely circulated through emails and given to Nepalese media.
- Post Uprising
- In May 2006, CFFN issued a press release in celebration of people’s victory and with words of caution to not derail the achievements of the people’s movement.
- Promote Nepal
- CFFN press release covering the successful Himalayan Heartbeat program of July 2006 was published in more than 20 newspaper around the world. Click here for a sample news.
- Peace Deal
- A week after the November 2006 peace deal between Seven Party Alliance and the NCP (Maoist), CFFN organized an interaction program and published the highlights in a press release. A number of newspapers covered the newspapers such as NepalNews.com.
- Constitution and Issues of Representation
- On February 11, 2007, CFFN organized an interaction program whose findings were released in a press release and published by a number of newspapers. Please read NepalNews.com for a sample.
- Canada Forum for Nepal (CFFN) established its website. The domain cffn.ca was acquired. This website has been a source of valuable information and great way of connecting to the world. Today, more than a thousand people of Nepalese origin receive CFFN information through the mailing system of cffn.ca website.
- Concern Nepal
- This newsletter – Concern Nepal – is a periodic publication of the Canada Forum for Nepal. It is circulated electronically and posted in its website. At the moment you are reading its fourth issue. We invite you to be part of the Forum by getting involved and by sending news, views, op-ed writings and research articles. You can reach us by sending email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Historic Document Collection
- CFFN has made significant effort in making important historic documents of Nepal through its website cffn.ca. This was conceived in response to frequent requests we received from Nepal enthusiasts from Canada and around the world. Because document translation is a difficult and time consuming endeavor, we are building he volume gradually. Nevertheless, we have already put most of the documents that our non-Nepali friends request from us in a recurring basis.
8. By-Laws and Registration of the Organization
CFFN spent some time in late summer and early fall of 2006 in drafting, reviewing and re-writing its By-laws and then in registering the organization. As a result CFFN is registered as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada, Government of Canada.
9. General Members’ Meeting
As per its Bylaw CFFN organized the first meeting of the general members on 27th January 2007 in Ottawa. The executives elaborated the By-laws, board composition, election process, meeting procedures, and the processes the current executive went through while registering the organization to Industry Canada. Executive board also presented an idea that if CFFN should be involved in a small way on a project, education is the area where the impact would be the largest. There was general consensus that education sector is in need of help and might be the most important issue for Nepal. However, there were cautious notes from the members on whether CFFN will have perennial source or resources to support long lasting projects. The Board agreed to be small in its involvement, if it is decided to be so, and also agreed to look further where and in what form CFFN can be involved in education. As a background on educational project, the Board also highlighted about the school of Tibetan organization in northern India.
CFFN carried out a number of other activities throughout the year. They include networking, delegations to Human Rights consultations, consultative meetings with CIDA and other organizations, participating in events organized by like minded organizations, bidding for a capacity-building project, periodic communications with members and friends, and so on.
How Rewarding an Educational Program can be in a Remote Nepalese Village?
Former Teacher, Fisher Grade School, Illinois, USA
Sometimes there are moments in life that are worth reflecting upon. There were years not so distant from now that I used to be called Mrs. Lea by my third and fourth grade students at Fisher Grade School of Illinois, USA. It was a time when I assimilated the studies about Nepal in my classes to achieve four objectives: to make the learning interesting and fun; to make my students understand about life in the poor countries and value what is available to them; to make my students do something about the children of the world that are less fortunate; and to subtly teach my students about project development, marketing, sales and other valuable skills while raising fund for a Sister School in Nepal.
Many years after our Sister School project was ended and as the years of my retirement advanced, my curiosity about what might have happened in Nepal as a result of our endeavors grew more intense. This quest to know, along with other endeavors we had become involved with in Nepal, took my entire family to Kathmandu in December 2006. It turns out that sometimes simple beginnings can bear unexpected and delightful outcomes that are worth mentioning. (Continue reading article…)
(Author’s Note: This is a second part of a five part series. Please see all parts here.)
These days, a rapid political transition is taking place in Nepal – a tiny country on the Himalayas. However, the changes taking place in Nepal are of Himalayan scale and are intriguing the spectators of international politics and diplomacy on an unprecedented level. Nepal’s transformations are noteworthy because this country is characterized by complex interactions of hard-to-solve-issues of ethnic, religious, cast-originated, geographic, and regional differences manifested and highlighted by 10 years of armed conflict. These issues are further compounded by gender, economic, educational and other disparities, and also by a labor of transition from feudality to modernity. In this backdrop, Nepal is attempting to develop a system of representation that is fair, futuristic, and acceptable to all. This endeavor of providing fair rule and unity for Nepal’s 28 million people, who are increasingly aware of their rights, is a tall order for any mortal living in this planet.
Nepal’s rapid march in pursuit of answering the question of “who represents me?” to its people is a tough one and, if successful, bears potential to become a model for the whole world. This ideal of developing a system of just-representation where people’s values and interests are embodied by their representatives in the parliament is not emerging out of a vacuum. Nepal is attempting to ride on the strides made by world’s democracies when they made transitions from old Anglo-American and elite-centric model to relatively modern proportional representation system but with a heightened meaning into it. (Continue reading article…)
Call of Time and the Monarchy in Nepal
Dr Ishara Mahat
Monarchy has long been a tradition in Nepal. Its demise was due during Rana regime but is overdue now. This institution has been delinquent and unpopular at best. Those who benefited enormously from the feudal structure of the past are trying to find a loophole to sneak back on the name of so called ceremonial monarchy. But if history of South Asia is any indicator, people have to be free from the old feudal power entirely if they were to be assured that their peace and prosperity will not be robbed by the feudal elements any more.
Monarchy was supposed to be a system that unites Nepal under the leadership of a king. A wishful thinking must have been that the poor and deprived people would become wealthy and powerful by entertaining corrupts and oppressors, and encounter less problem with the system. In reality, however, the opposite is true. Even a common sense should indicate that a democracy can hardly be empowered if the interest of an individual takes over the interest of the community and the state. (Continue reading article…)
To see Peaceful, Democratic, Just and Prosperous Nepal!
This newsletter – Concern Nepal – is a periodic publication of the Canada Forum for Nepal and is circulated electronically and posted in its website. We invite you to be part of the Forum by getting involved and by sending news, views, op-ed writings and research articles. You can reach us by sending email at email@example.com.