Christians, Muslims and Hindus for coexistence without confrontation
The date is rapidly approaching when Nepal’s new constitution will come into play. Tribal groups want the country partitioned on ethnic lines, Hindu’s want it divided on religious lines, and Christians are praying that their rights as minorities will be represented in the implementation of the new constitution. The constitution comes into effect May 28th . The days leading up to this have been full of violence, based on ethnicity and religion, despite the plea for non-violence from Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders.
By Kalpit Parajuli
5/21/2012 Nepal (AsiaNews) - In the past 25 days, tribal groups have brought the country to a halt with strikes and violent demonstrations ahead of 28 May, date when the new constitution will come into effect. Tribals want an ethnically based federal state. The government deploys troops to avoid more clashes between ethnic minorities and Hindus. Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim leaders have appealed to tribal leaders "to stop immediately violence among ethnic groups and work for peace in the country". This comes after tribal groups brought the country to a standstill to push for greater protection in the constitution set to come into effect on 28 May. Religious leaders call on tribal and ethnic minorities to respect each other and stress the need to favour a climate of reconciliation after 11 years of civil war.
As the date when the new constitution will come into force, the country's ethnic groups are trying to shape the new state institutions to their own benefit. For the past week, pro-federalism tribal minorities have clashed in Kathmandu with Hindus opposed to the country's partition along ethnic lines. Police arrested 50 people.
Yesterday, thousands of tribals, including Newar, began a general strike in the Kathmandu Valley that could spread to the rest of the country.
To avoid further interethnic clashes, the government has deployed troops in the centre of the capital and in high-risk areas.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announced today a state of alert. He also said that school and many public buildings would remain closed.
In some cities, multiethnic security teams have been working with police.
Mgr Anthony Sharma, archbishop of Kathmandu, said that because of the general strike, thousands of people are going hungry. In western regions, Himalayan villages are without supplies of food, drugs and drinking water.
"Sectarian violence makes no sense. It has never brought anything good," he said. "At this historical moment, people of different faiths must be more tolerant and not fight each other."