A day of running back and forth to the Indian Embassy (a story in itself, but I got the Indian visa, and it's good to at least be legally able to leave the country in case the worst should happen) has left me really fried. There are extra Royal Army and police out patrolling as everyone expects....something to happen tomorrow (below), but no one seems to know exactly what. "Tomorrow we will see," is a common comment, with no further explanation. The Communist Party has called a mass demonstration and the UN Human Rights commissioner, among others, is determined to uphold their right to peaceful protest.
his vacation, conveniently taken during a crisis (sound familiar, fellow Americans?), wherein he toured various nations with whom Nepal has virtually no diplomatic links (Egypt, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Burundi - remember Burundi?) and, on his South Africa jaunt, got dissed by Nelson Mandela. Man, that's gotta hurt! This trip was referred to sarcastically in the local press as his "African safari."
The final leg of the trip, to Mauritius (remember Mauritius?) was cancelled at the last moment.
My email inbox contained the following cautionary letter:
Embassy of the United States of America
December 1, 2005
Important Security Information for American Citizens in Nepal
This warden's message is being issued to alert American citizens that the political parties (ed. note: over here, unlike the States, there are more than two! ironically, it doesn't matter because now the King runs everything!) have indicated that they plan to hold protests and/or mass demonstrations over the coming period. For example, demonstrations are planned for Friday, 2 December 2005 and may occur in a number of locations throughout the Kathmandu Valley.
This date also coincides with the return of the King and the expiration of the Maoist three-month cease-fire. During the coming months, American citizens should pay close attention to media reporting to stay informed about when these protests may occur. ...Given the nature, intensity and unpredictability of these disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution at this time, avoid road travel (a good idea - see "35 killed in road mishaps yesterday")and maintain a low profile. ...
American citizens are encouraged to refer to the Consular Information Sheet for Nepal and the current Travel Warning for Nepal (which hasn't been updated for six months) issued on June 24, 2005. ...In the event of a communications blackout, security information will be left at all of the major hotels in Kathmandu. (Ed. note: No names named - Major hotels, you know who you are!)from the Hindustan Times, Nov. 30th:
Nelson Mandela refuses to meet Nepal King
Links to news from Nepal:
The Kathmandu Post
The Himalayan Times
BBC South Asia
Indo-Asian News Service
South Asian Media Net
International Nepal Solidarity Network
Nepali Times (strangely unavailable)
The Rising Nepal (strangely unavailable)