September 1 as ‘Black Day’ For Nepal

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Muslim militants-army of Ansar al-Sunnah-had killed 12 Nepali hostages on charges of helping the Americans in Iraq on 31 August 2004.

Today, Nepal observed the ‘Black Day’ by organizing various programs. The foreign employment entrepreneurs organized a protest rally in the Kathmandu and also submitted a memorandum at the Department of Labor and Transport Management demanding compensation as committed by the government.

Nepalese had strongly condemned the murder of 12 Nepalis by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna. Urging the armed militants to cease such activities. Nothing can justify such horrendous acts that disregard the most precious right – the right to life. The brutality with which these and other hostages have been killed and the way their execution has been displayed show the executioners’ total disregard for human life. The Nepali government is being heavily criticised for doing little to free the hostages. The government had failed to take concrete steps to secure the hostages’ release. The government denies the criticism and has condemmed the incident as a “barbarian act of terrorism”.

“The secretary-general strongly condemns all hostage-takings and killings of innocent civilians, which no cause can ever justify,” said a statement from Annan’s spokesman issued after the Nepali murders. The UN’s leader and most powerful body also denounced those who take innocent lives. “The secretary general is particularly disturbed by the cruel nature of these crimes and their use as public spectacle,” it added.

In a message broadcast by the state-run Nepal Television, King Gyanendra conveyed his condolences to the families of victims and wished for eternal peace of the departed souls. “The government did not do enough to get their release,” said Sudharshan Khadka, whose brother Ramesh was one of the victims. The killings marked the largest single massacre of hostages in Iraq since the start of the US-led war there. Nepal, which is not part of the US-led coalition in Iraq, said “We believe, the terrorists that killed the innocent Nepalese don’t belong to any religion, neither do they have any caste”.

The terrorist militants said the 12 Nepalis had been killed because they “came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians”.

Nepal is very disturbed and angered by the terrible and repulsive crimes and it provoked nationwide protests in Nepal. People in Nepal mourned the deaths. Thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Kathmandu and major cities in Nepal. An indefinite curfew had been imposed in Nepal. Police said some protesters had died in the violence. Protesters stoned the labour department building in Kathmandu, shattering windows and damaging equipment. In protest for the gruesome killings of innocent Nepalis in Iraq, different part of the districts, remained closed.

Local administration in eastern and western districts imposed an indefinite curfew after a crowd turned violent. A student rally disrupted traffic by burning tyres in central Nepal. An all-party meeting at the district administration office appealed people to maintain calm and restraint. On the other side, Hundreds of people belonging to Hindu, Muslim, Bouddha and Jain faiths took part in a peace rally in Kathmandu calling for national unity and inter-religious harmony. Lawyers, teachers, professionals, businessmen, women and students as well as some foreign nationals also expressed their solidarity by joining the peace rally. The rally concluded with people praying for peace and social harmony in different part of the country. We are equally shocked by the act of some terrorist in the name of Islam, which certainly does not say yes to such a heinous act.

Nepali Muslim Society and Millat-e-Islamia Nepal, have also condemned the brutal killing of the Nepali hostages in Iraq, through separate press statements. The statements termed the barbaric incident as going against the values of Islam. They have also expressed condolence to grief stricken families. “The efforts to fan Hindu-Muslim riots have not fructified. We are still bound by goodwill and friendship,” said Nazir Mian, chairman of the Nepal Muslim Ittehad. “We are shocked at the brutal killings and we condemn such a barbaric act,” said a press statement, issued by Puja Budhathoki. Nepalese Muslim groups have also condemned the killings, saying the “inhuman act is against Islam”.

Nepalese are still going to the Middle East to work in Iraq. More than 50 manpower companies are said to be involved in sending Nepalese workers to Iraq via Dubai and India. Most of them are reportedly working as security guards. On an average around 100 Nepalese have been going to Iraq every month.

Nepal is, perhaps, the only country on earth that there is no record of any religious conflicts in Nepal. The only fighting force of Nepal, the Gorkhas, known the world over for their valor and discipline, has never taken part in any wars involving religious or ethnic dispute either at home or abroad.

That’s probably why today, Mother Nature is showering tears on us in grief, the wind is sighing with us in disbelief. All Nepalese have been heartbroken by the senseless, gruesome murder of innocent Nepalese youths who were duped and taken to Iraq in the pretext of employment. It has shocked the country. Nepalese had not expected even in their wildest dream that the militants would turn so savage to kill their hostages without listening to any logic or by making any demand.

By murdering the 12 Nepalese for no reason, has shown the most ugly face of terrorism. The murder of those Nepalese, who had only intended to earn a living by selling their labour in alien land, has revealed the danger and difficulty. It is now very urgent for the government to bring back other Nepalese who are still in Iraq as there is always a danger of more of them being kidnapped and killed. The brutal killing of poor Nepali workers caught up in the hostilities without any demands or deadlines suggests that the killers are capricious, criminal bullies. The international community and government of Iraq should find the savage killers and punish them. This atrocious crime against poor workers from a small country having no role whatsoever in the Iraq war is senseless and shocking to the civilized world. The killing of Nepalese people is a tragic, incomprehensible loss for Nepal. Even, the new Al-Qaida trend of beheading human beings and posting the pictures on the Internet is horrific and most disgusting. This must come to an end. No cause could justify the heartless murder of the Nepalese hostage. Even terrorist should know the killing united Nepal. Nepal is and must remain unified and together.

It was a barbaric, depraved, cowardly act of premeditated murder against innocent human beings. Targetting innocent civilians in Iraq is deemed terrorism. They have taken the lives of innocent people. It was a crime against humanity. Murder of Nepalese people should be punished. This is against the people of Nepal.

Since terrorism has turned into an extremist regimen that accuses whole societies and countries. Even we know, being taken hostage is a frightening and highly dangerous event but no one can accurately answer the importunate yet legitimate question: How to stop terrorist acts? Nepal has always condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believes that such barbaric acts can never be justified.

Nepali journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is an editor for mediaforfreedom.com. She specialises in in-depth reporting and writing on Peace, Anti War, Women, Terrorism, Democracy, and Development.