The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Nepal
and local NGOs are concerned over reports of child injuries, arrests and detentions
during recent anti-government rallies in the country and have called on both the
security forces and the protestors to protect children from abuse.
Over the past week, the seven main opposition parties have held democratic
demonstrations during an indefinite nationwide strike in protest against King
Gyanendra, who assumed direct rule on 1 February, 2005 after suspending the
According to local children's rights NGOs, many young boys, especially homeless
street children, have been seen walking side by side with adult demonstrators
raising anti-king banners.
Many of these children have been arrested by the security forces and taken into
custody, according to a local NGO, Child Protection Centres and Services (CPCS).
"We call on the security forces and the political activists not to abuse one of
Kathmandu's most vulnerable populations - its street children," the CPCS said on
In addition, UNICEF also stated that it has received some very disturbing reports of
children being beaten up after their arrest and detention. Several children between
10 and 14 years old had been arrested in the capital and other cities, the
children's agency added.
"Children have no place being near demonstrations that could turn violent," Nepal's
UNICEF representative, Suomi Sakai, said. She further explained that while children
do have the right to freedom of expression under the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC), their parents and guardians have the responsibility to ensure that
children are exercising their rights in an age-appropriate manner.
Sakai wanted to send a message to the rally organisers that they have a
responsibility to ensure that children are out of harm's way, particularly homeless
children without a family.
"In particular, organisers need to ensure that demonstrators are not asking children
to help find tyres, stones, pieces of wood or other potential missiles," Sakai said.
During a press conference on Wednesday, government spokesman Shrish Shamsher Rana
accused the democratic parties of abusing the rights of children by making them
participate in their rallies. He even went to the extent of accusing the parties of
using them as 'child soldiers'.
In response, the parties accused the government of violating the rights of children
by using unnecessary force against innocent children, who have been subject to
police brutality as well.
"The armed police injured my head and kicked me," said 12-year-old Sudan Lama,
showing his bandaged head. "Many of my friends had to go to the hospital for
treatment after they also got beaten up," he said.
A night curfew has been in place in the capital since last week and activists have
also expressed concern that many children are not aware of this. The CPCS said that
the children are usually unable reach to their shelters on time, and as a result
they end up "at the mercy of the security forces, who have over the past few days
not shown any sympathy to those who have no home to go". [Source: IRIN]
Posted on 2006-04-26