7 JANUARY 2020 I Security personnel in Sydney City have stopped a rally organised to “launch” Visit Nepal Year 2020, the scenic nation’s ambitious year-long tourism promotion exercise.
The organisers had no permission from authorities to march a rally, southasia.com.au understands.
The rally was being led by Nepalese tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai, Nepalese ambassador to Australia Mahesh Raj Dahal, Consul General of Nepal in NSW Deepak Khadka and Consul General of Nepal in Victoria Chandra Yonzon.
Events Planning Unit of the NSW Police had explicitly asked the organisers not to conduct the “procession for a number of reasons” including the fact that the event was “promotional and for commercial gain” which was “not in keeping with the legislation regarding a right to protest”.
Police had also considered the size of the contingent of participants in disapproving today’s rally. Authorities feared the entire footpath would be taken up by the marching participants, “blocking access for pedestrians”.
Dila Kharel, Sydney-based accountant and former treasurer of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Australia, was tasked by organisers to secure permission from the police and other relevant authorities.
He claims he informed the organisers about the disapproval and they had no plans to conduct the rally as such.
But someone in the rally appears to have decided to lead on a full-blown march causing embarrassment for the visiting minister.
“Participants were disappointed when they saw the parade being stopped by the security personnel. They blamed the organisers for the mismanagement,” Mr Humagain said.
However, counsellor at the Embassy of Nepal in Canberra has strongly denied that security officers stopped the procession led by the minister.
“First of all, it was not a rally,” Durapada Sapkota told southasia.com.au. “We formally concluded the program and decided to walk peacefully towards the Sydney Opera House,” Mrs Sapkota clarified.
There have been some protest from the community about the timing of the VNY promotional activities at a time when Australia is reeling under the worst bushfire emergency in history.
President of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Australia, Keshav Kandel had earlier told southasia.com.au that the organisers had to go on with today’s programme because it was already pre-determined and that there was no knowing when or if the minister would get another opportunity to visit down under for the launch.
“The Sydney programme on 7 January to promote Visit Nepal Year 2020 was pre-determined and as such it must go on because the minister is already here. However, it will be done in a manner to suit these sombre times,” Mr Kandel remarked.