Execution of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein sparked dissent around the world, Nepal not being an exception: government, parties and various other organisations condemned the action saying this was the extremism of inhumanity of the American suppression.
Prime Minister Koirala was the first to make a note: “This is not a fitting punishment with this civilised human society. This must be eradicated from the world,” he said the same day Saddam was executed.
His comment was the essence of the Nepalese’s respect to human rights and an individual’s right to life. Nepal has removed the provision of capital punishment since the establishment of democracy some half-century ago, ending the autocratic Rana regime where capital punishment was in practice. Interestingly, the parliamentarians recently, better abruptly, demanded execution of Kamal Thapa who was home minister in the erstwhile royal government. The demand received irate response from the human rights bodies, media and civil society.
Against the execution of Saddam, communist groups in Nepal organised protest rallies on Saturday and Sunday. In hundreds, they chanted anti-American slogans. But none of them said Saddam was right or he was great.
Denial to the regime of Saddam and protest against his murder has clarified Nepal’s stand, both of the government and the people, on corporal punishment. Maoist party spokesperson Krishna Bahadru Mahara’s statement protesting the execution of Saddam has signified their respect to human rights and person’s right to life, which had been rare in the communist history around the world. While we see provisions of capital punishment in most communist countries, Nepalese communists have meaningfully made a good diversion from this mainstream of the communist ideology, respecting the right to life of an individual. This evidently has proven the fact that Nepalese leftists do not necessarily protest American campaigns unless they are against human values, liberty and human rights.
In a letter to Kantipur daily on Monday, readers stated Saddam’s execution was an act of cowardice on the part of the US government. “If the US teaches humanitarianism to the world, why do it kills a helpless prisoner?” joint letter by Madan Dhungana, Krishna Bahadur Subedi and Rishi Ram Aryal reads.
Similarly, in her letter to the same daily, Pratima Pokhrel said Saddam’s execution is the extreme point of crime against humanity committed by the US government, which has saddened the human rights activists.
A columnist Krishna Jwala Devkota said Saddam is the winner, Bush is the loser in the Iraqi war. He said, if the murder of 148 is the cause for Saddam’s execution, Bush and Blair must hang themselves to death over a dozen times because they have killed over 600,000 Iraqis in the last three years.
Bush not only hanged Saddam but also the principle of justice, freedom and fraternity that had was propounded by the American War of Independence. He raises question, if Saddam’s attack on sovereign Kuwait is against the humanity, can’t this principle be applicable to Bush’s attack on Iraq?
In its editorial, another daily Annapurna Post said, democrats around the world know the autocratic regime of Saddam (which had inhumanly suppressed the liberty of the Iraqi people), but the way he met his end is against the human values, ethics and morality. The papers praised the balanced statement by the Pope from the Vatican.
Nepal has just come out of the grip of a despotic ruler. It was expected that a furious population irked by the royal rule of King Gyanendra would support the killing of another despotic ruler. Certainly, this has raised hope in Nepal that the king will not be killed even if he is overthrown in the fist sitting of the constituent assembly.
The executive committee of the Nepal Bar Association, formally included condemnation statement in its Birgunj declaration adopted on Sunday. The declaration says, killing a person is a crime against humanity.
Protest of the Saddam execution has provided a bright future in Nepal in regard to respect to human rights and strengthening democratic values. Clearly, there is no possibility in Nepal that the government would adopt the provision of capital punishment to any kind of offence.
Editor’s note: Are people in Nepal completely unaware that it was an Iraqi, not American act? Saddam’s trial was held under Iraqi law, with Iraqi prosecutors and defence, due process was followed, according to Iraqi law, an appeal against the sentence was dismissed by an Iraqi court, the death warrant was signed by Iraq’s three-person Presidency Council – President Jalal Talabani and two vice-presidents – the sentence was carried out by Iraqi executioners. American officials questioned the political wisdom – and justice – of expediting the death of Saddam Hussein. But why let the facts get in the way of a political statement?