By Ram Khatry, Sydney
The Australian ambassador to Nepal, Glenn White, has apparently told Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda that there would have been no risks to him if he had visited the country last week, the official website of the chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) said on Tuesday.
The former prime minister of Nepal was due to arrive in Australia on June 23 for a weeklong visit, which was abruptly cancelled at the eleventh hour. Unsubstantiated media reports blamed the cancellation on the Maoist party’s fear that he may face ‘detention’ while in Australia due to his insurgency-ridden past.
Manarishi Dhital, a Sydney-based Nepalese journalist who closely studied the Maoist movement since 1996, told southasia.com.au that today’s meeting disqualifies all unsubstantiated media reports which were based on innuendos and false accounts.
A host of Nepalese language news websites including mainstream media in Nepal had carried news about the former guerilla leader’s visit before and after cancellation. The issue also divided the Nepalese communities in Australia with some excited to welcome their former prime minster while some others turning vocal about his role in the armed conflict.
Many websites reasoned that Prachanda did not travel to Australia for fear of being detained. Today’s news on the Maoist party’s website is being looked at as its attempt to disqualify those reports.
The cmprachanda.com claims that the Australian diplomat informed Prachanda that the circumstances around his failed Australian visit were not the way the media reported. Mr White apparently assured Mr Dahal that he “was in regular contact with the Australian government, police and the Attorney General” in the run up to the visit and advised that “there were no problems” whatsoever.
The Maoist boss on his part told the envoy that he too knew that things were not how the media reported, the website said, indicating he feared no risks to him during his Australian visit. He informed the diplomat that he could not embark on the journey due to work pressure within his party as well as the overall political situation of the country.
Assuring Mr White that he would visit his country ‘in due course of time’, Prachanda told him that the upcoming Australian election was another reason why he cancelled the visit.
“The report says that His Excellency, the Australian ambassador to Nepal, was in regular contact with the Australian government, Attorney General and the police. And the chairman also said that he could not travel due to his party’s internal programmes and domestic political circumstances. He also pointed out that he had no security threat in Australia. The misleading reports around the visit were beginning to polarise the Nepalese diaspora in Australia. Today’s news stops that process,” Mr Dhital said.
He further added that the ambassador’s statement clearly proved neither Prachanda nor any other political leaders will be in danger during their visits to Australia. Stating that everyone had their democratic rights to voice their opinions, the Nepalese diaspora should no more be divided on the subject.
Brisbane-based associate of southasia.com.au, Bharat Raj Poudel, on the other hand, believes that there are rising number of petitions against human rights violation at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Nepal – against both parties of the decade-long armed conflict which claimed over 17,000 innocent lives. “As such, one should bear in mind that host governments will be on alert and curious when they travel to western democracies,” Mr Poudel, who has just completed his PhD at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), expressed his concern.
The thousands of complaints lodged with the Truth Commission, Human Rights Commission and other judicial bodies must be resolved without further delay, Mr Poudel demanded. “Until and unless these complaints see proper legal resolution in accordance with accepted international standards, both parties to Nepal’s civil war will continue to be haunted by such incidents,” he said.
Mr Poudel reminded that apart from the implementation of the federal system, another equally big challenge to Nepal’s political system is the ‘peaceful and convincing’ resolution of the human rights and judiciary-related issues.