KATHMANDU, Jan 6: A day after major political parties including UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML flayed the arrest of Nepal Army (NA) Colonel Kumar Lama in the UK, Gurkha Ex-Army Servicemen´s Organization (GAESO) on Sunday joined the chorus, questioning the UK´s commitment to human rights.
The umbrella organization of the retired Gurkha servicemen, who served in the British Army, demanded unconditional release of Lama. They have termed the arrest of a serving army officer "objectionable".
Issuing a press statement on Sunday, GAESO President Padam Bahadur Gurung said the move taken by the UK government without acknowledging the fact that they are crimes of "political nature" and without paying heed to the fact that Nepal is in the process of addressing conflict-era human rights violations has hurt their sentiments. "Nepalis themselves should be allowed to take decisions on issues of this nature," the statement said.
GAESO has also questioned the human rights credential of UK, giving a list of cases in which the UK had violated their human rights in the past. "As representatives of Gurkha soldiers, it is difficult for us to say that it is the UK that has given us more trouble," said the statement.
GAESO has accused the UK government of violating human rights by sending thousands of Gurkhas, who fought on behalf of the British government, empty handed and even denying them pensions. "Which human rights had the British Army followed while containing rebellion in Brunei and indiscriminately opening fire on unarmed peasants in the villages of Indonesia?" GAESO asked.
Likewise, GAESO has accused the British authorities of violating their human rights by forcefully converting many Kirant and Buddhist followers into Hindus while in the British Gurkha Army. "The policies of the UK government were illegal and of dual nature even according to the verdict of the UK´s appeal court four years ago. Shouldn´t the UK own responsibility for human rights violations against Gurkhas?" the statement further said.
"The UK does not have moral grounds to punish Colonel Lama unless it answers the questions raised by the Gurkhas," the statement said.
While stating that it fully respects international human rights laws, GAESO added that it also believes that those guilty of human rights violations in Nepal should not be spared. "But Nepalis themselves should be given rights to punish the perpetrators. The UK should be ashamed of talking about human rights issues," the statement added.