Isn’t climbing supposed to be one of “the” symbols of comradeship and team work? During the time Tenzing Norgay Sherpa — who would have been 100 years old Thursday — and Edmund Hillary climbed Everest in 1953, everyone was involved and shared the risk, the challenges and the joys of adventure.
How different it has been this year. As the world moves on to read of the next tragedy from Asia, the loss of 16 lives in an avalanche on Everest on April 18 at the start of the climbing season is for many likely to be yesterday’s news.
For us, though, our deep sense of sadness remains, only made worse by the tales of family and friends whom we have grown up or worked with in the Himalayan region.… Seguir leyendo »
On a bright afternoon in June of 1922, the Mount Everest pioneer George Mallory was leading a group of 17 men tied together in three separate rope teams toward the North Col of the mountain when he heard an ominous sound, and turned to see an avalanche fracturing the steep slope above them.
Mallory and his rope mates were spared the brunt force of the slide, but the two teams following them — comprising 14 porters from Darjeeling, India — were swept down the mountain. Seven died. Mount Everest had claimed its first known victims.
One of Mallory’s companions, Howard Somervell, would later write, “I would gladly at that moment have been lying there dead in the snow, if only to give those fine chaps who had survived the feeling that we had shared their loss....”… Seguir leyendo »
Nepal may be known for natural beauty and Mount Everest, but there is a dark side to this small, picturesque country. Women and girls are being bought, sold and smuggled across the Nepal-India border. Although reliable data on the scope of the issue is difficult to gather, Unicef reports that as many as 7,000 women and girls are trafficked out of Nepal to India every year, and around 200,000 are now working in Indian brothels.
I traveled to Nepal last spring to document the growing problem of sex trafficking and unsafe migration, spending the majority of time in Katmandu and along the Nepal-India border.… Seguir leyendo »
For more than two decades, Nepal, a resource-rich, impoverished country wedged between China and India, has teetered between paralysis and upheaval. Its people have witnessed the transition, in 1990, from an authoritarian Hindu kingdom to a constitutional monarchy; the massacre of members of the royal family in 2001 by the heir to the throne; a decade-long civil war between Maoist insurgents and the government that ended in a faltering peace agreement in 2006; and the removal of the monarchy altogether in 2008.
Since the civil war ended, after the loss of more than 16,000 lives, a stalemate has ensued as each party caters to caste, class and ethnic divisions instead of national unity.… Seguir leyendo »
I was at a dinner party in Kathmandu when a journalist friend looked at her cell phone and made a joyous announcement: “Mubarak’s gone!”
“He left Cairo for Sharm el-Sheikh. The army’s taken charge,” she said. No one at that Feb. 11 party, neither the foreign-educated Nepalis nor the expatriates who call Nepal home, had any connection to Egypt. Yet the victory felt personal. A bottle of wine appeared and we toasted Egypt.
As protests spread in Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Libya, what is emerging as the “Arab Spring” continues to resonate here. Just five years ago, the world was watching Nepal as it now watches the Mideast and we had our dreams of democracy.… Seguir leyendo »
Relations between India and Nepal took a turn for the worse last week when a leading Nepalese media company was unable to print its Friday supplements because of a shortage of paper.
The reason: 1,000 tonnes of newsprint imported from Canada and South Korea have been held up for a month at the Indian port of Kolkata, in what is widely seen as a politically motivated move by the Indian authorities.
This is the first time that any newsprint destined for Nepal has been held in the Indian port for "investigation" without any notice. Though India has now started to release the newsprint, there is as yet no official explanation for what appears to be a breach of the Nepal-India transit treaty.… Seguir leyendo »
Four years after the Maoists and the government of Nepal signed a comprehensive peace accord, the red-dressed Maoists' protests have once again surrounded Nepal. Since 2 May, they have been staging nationwide protests demanding the resignation of the prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, and the formation of new national unity government under the leadership of the Maoist party's chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Back in 1996, Maoists instigated a people's war in order to bring about a new democratic and federal republic. The decade-long insurgency claimed 13,000 lives and left thousands of people displaced, widowed, and both physically and mentally disabled. Victims are still waiting for justice.… Seguir leyendo »
In her 1967 travelogue, the Irish writer Dervla Murphy described my homeland, Nepal, as a country that had just emerged from centuries of isolation, and was baffled about how to be part of the modern world. Most of what the Nepalese — and she — did was to wait for something to happen.
“We waited endlessly for everything,” Ms. Murphy wrote. “For glasses of tea to be carried on trays from the bazaar, for a policeman’s bunch of keys to be fetched from his home down the road, for an adjustable rubber stamp which would not adjust to be dissected (and finally abandoned in favor of a pen), for a passport officer to track down Ireland (whose existence he seriously questioned) in a dog-eared atlas from which the relevant pages had long since been torn, and for the chief customs officer, who was afflicted by a virulent form of dysentery, to withdraw to a nearby field between inspecting each piece of luggage.”… Seguir leyendo »
Una de las primeras canciones que aprendí cuando empecé a ir a la escuela, en las estribaciones de los Himalayas, fue en nepalí y el tema era la felicidad del hombre. Cuando recuerdo la maravilla de aquellas montañas, donde no sabíamos de inviernos aunque cada mañana nos saludaba la espléndida visión de los picos perpetuamente nevados, tengo todos los motivos por estar agradecido de haber crecido allí. El paraíso, por supuesto, ha sido hace tiempo sustituido por la brutal realidad de la política. Hace casi un mes, la gente de Nepal celebró el establecimiento de una república que ahora suplanta a la monarquía tradicional.… Seguir leyendo »
A counterproductive Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.
Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.… Seguir leyendo »
Hace dos años Nepal era noticia por los combates entre la guerrilla maoísta y el Ejército y por la violenta represión de las manifestaciones contra el rey. Pero desde entonces ha vivido una serie de acuerdos de paz y acaba de elegir una Asamblea Constituyente en la que los antiguos guerrilleros han obtenido una amplia mayoría.
La comunidad internacional, representada entre otras organizaciones por una misión del Parlamento Europeo, que me honré en presidir, acompañó un proceso realizado en condiciones ciertamente difíciles.
Desde hace 20 años, Nepal se deslizó por una pendiente de inestabilidad política, desgobierno y corrupción que lo empobrecieron todavía más.… Seguir leyendo »
Nepalis will vote today for the first time since a democratic uprising in 2006 that rejected King Gyanendra Shah’s absolute rule and led to a peace deal that ended a 10-year Maoist insurgency. This is not an ordinary election. We will be voting for a 601-member constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution that most likely will abolish the monarchy and will certainly restructure Nepal.
It is compelling, and moving, to live through the remaking of one’s nation.
Still, Katmandu has grown hushed and watchful, and anxious, as Election Day has neared. In previous weeks, the political parties staged rallies, canvassed door to door, and filled the streets with scratchy loudspeaker announcements imploring us to vote.… Seguir leyendo »
By Samrat Upadhyay, an English professor at Indiana University, is the author of "The Royal Ghosts" and "Arresting God in Kathmandu." (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25/04/06):
NEPALIS weren't fooled. Although King Gyanendra announced last week that after a year of "safekeeping" democracy, he was willing to return power to the people, they continued to march: 300,000 Nepalis in the streets of Katmandu on Saturday. It was only yesterday, when Gyanendra announced that he would restore the Parliament, that the protesters were placated.
The question is whether this will be enough. After all, the resounding demand on the streets had been for a constituent assembly that would redraft the Constitution and eliminate the king's wide-ranging powers, establishing a government in which the monarch would be a figurehead whose only job would be to preside over ceremonies.… Seguir leyendo »
By Tariq Ali, an editor of New Left Review (THE GUARDIAN, 25/04/06):
There is something refreshingly old-fashioned taking place in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal: a genuine revolution. In recognition of this, the US has told citizens except for "essential diplomats" to leave the country, usually a good sign. Since April 6, Nepal has been paralysed by a general strike called by the political parties and backed by Maoist guerrillas. Hundreds of thousands are out on the streets - several have been shot dead and more than 200 wounded. A curfew is in force and the army has been given shoot-to-kill orders.… Seguir leyendo »
By Isabel Hilton (THE GUARDIAN, 24/04/06):
In the rapidly moving crisis in Nepal, a few lines are clear. King Gyanendra, with the desperation of the failing despot, tosses a small concession from his leaking boat. On the streets, the democracy movement reacts with contempt and a renewed determination to be rid of him. In the hills, the Maoists watch, alert for signs of betrayal by the seven political parties with whom they signed an agreement last November to push for a constituent assembly and a democratic constitution. Nepal - the world's only Hindu kingdom, with a population of 28 million people - is on the edge of a collapse, with far-reaching implications for the entire region.… Seguir leyendo »
By Isabel Hilton (THE GUARDIAN, 11/04/06):
Tens of thousands of protesters in Nepal have defied curfews and lethal force on the streets of Kathmandu and other cities to show their rejection of King Gyanendra's rule. At least three people have died, scores have been injured and dozens more arrested.The general strike against the king, due to end yesterday, has been extended by an alliance of Nepal's seven most important political parties, supported by the Maoist insurgents. The protests, which have been growing bigger each day, are reminiscent of pro-democracy demonstrations of the early 90s, which forced the king's predecessor, Birendra, to make concessions.… Seguir leyendo »
Isabel Hilton (THE GUARDIAN, 02/02/06):
On Monday a mayoral candidate in a suburb of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, was shot and critically wounded at his home by unidentified gunmen. Last Saturday Maoist rebels warned all election candidates to withdraw or face "severe action". Last month the Maoists killed a mayoral candidate in the east of the country. For King Gyanendra, who seized absolute power in a coup exactly a year ago, these incidents are evidence of the evil of terrorism that the municipal elections he has called for February 8 are designed to combat. If voters wish for a peaceful, democratic Nepal, he says, they must defy the Maoists and vote.… Seguir leyendo »
Democracy in Thin Air. John Burdett is the author of "Bangkok 8" and "Bangkok Tattoo" (WASHINGTON POST, 27/11/05).
Low Voices at High Altitude. Manjushree Thapa is the author of "Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy" and "Tutor of History," a novel (The New York Times, 12/02/05).
Peligro en el paraíso nepalí. Henry Kamen es historiador (EL MUNDO, 08/02/05).