***IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

MAOISTS BOMB NEPAL HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP

 

Maoist guerrillas have attacked the Nepalese human rights office Backward Society Education (BASE) and threatened to kill its founder director Dilli Chaudhary.

On the night of 28 June, members of the Communist Party of Nepal (the Maoists) detonated a powerful bomb at Backward Society Education's (BASE) office in Dhangadi, Kailali and threatened to kill Dilli Chaudhary. Although no casualties were reported after the attack, the office was severely damaged with the complete destruction of the organisation's car, documents and furniture.

The increasing number of Maoist attacks and threats have forced Dilli Chaudhary and his colleagues to freeze their work and projects on bonded labour indefinitely.

"The Maoists' attack against BASE and Dilli Chaudhary must be condemned in the strongest terms. This attack threatens the lives of Nepal's poorest and most marginalised people, by further preventing the distribution of land and support to freed bonded labourers," Mary Cunneen Director of Anti-Slavery International said.

BASE and Dilli Chaudhary have been instrumental in organising kamaiya bonded labourers (agricultural bonded labour among the Tharu minority), increasing awareness of their rights. They led a successful campaign against this slavery, pressing the Government to outlaw bonded labour in 2002. The same year BASE received the Anti-Slavery Award for its work on bonded labour. In spite of the danger, Dilli continues to promote social justice for Nepal's marginalised people through education and income-generating initiatives.

 
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 
  • To arrange an interview or for further information contact Anti-Slavery International's Press Officer Beth Herzfeld on +44 (0)20 7501 8934 or email b.herzfeld@antislavery.org

    BACKGROUND

  • Bonded labour is one of the most widespread forms of slavery in the world, enslaving an estimated 20 million women, children and men. A person becomes bonded when their labour is demanded in return for a loan, working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week.

    In Nepal, most bonded labourers are dalit (untouchable) agricultural labourers and from the Tharu minority. For many years BASE pressured for bonded labour to be made illegal. In 2000, the Government declared that bonded labour was illegal, but failed to make any legal or social provisions. Landlords threw families off the land and out of their homes. BASE set up makeshift camps and provided food relief for the thousands affected and pressed for a bonded labour law.

    In 2002, the Government of Nepal finally passed a law prohibiting bonded labour among kamaiya and declared all loans taken as null and void. BASE works to ensure the law is implemented and that freed bonded labourers are registered and given land. BASE estimates thousands families still have not been officially recognised as bonded labourers leaving them without the support required by law and without land, putting their survival at risk.

    Further background

    About BASE & Dilli Chaudhary

 

5 July 2004

NR/9/04