APPEAL TO SAVE Dr. C. K. Raut, PhD (Cambridge)
[Scientist, Political Activist, Author, Freedom Fighter, Observed 11-day fast-unto-death for freedom of speech, Facing 7 sedition charges demanding life-imprisonment, Frequently under house arrest, talks/DVDs/books banned – photos below]
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to you at this time to update you about the continued oppression of Dr. C. K. Raut by the Government of Nepal, and seek your assistance in stopping the state’s brutality and violence as well as protecting his fundamental human-rights.
Born in a poor family of a remote village of Saptari district of Nepal, Dr. Chandra Kant Raut holds a PhD from Cambridge University, the UK. He worked as a scientist in the USA prior to returning to Nepal in 2011 to work for the upliftment of his society. He is the founder of the Injot Movement, an initiative for social transformation targeted at Nepal, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. He has been a recipient of a number of awards including Mahendra Vidyabhusan (honoured by the King of Nepal), Kulratna Gold Medal, Young Engineer Award and Trofimenkoff Academic Achievement Award. He has also authored ‘A History of Madhesh’, ‘Madhesh Swaraj (Self-rule)’ and ‘Denial to Defence (autobiography)’. He is the director of a documentary, ‘Black Buddhas’, highlighting discrimination, racism and colonisation imposed on the “black” Madheshis by the Nepali ruling class people. He has given talks on the issues of the Madheshis, throughout the world including at Harvard University.
In recent years, following the principles of non-violence of Buddha and Gandhi, he has been advocating for an end to racism, colonisation and discrimination imposed on 12 million indigenous Madheshis, the people of the southern plain region of Nepal called Madhesh/Terai, by the Government of Nepal. In this regard, upon an official invitation from the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, he also attended a meeting of the Constitutional and Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (CPDCC) in Singh Durbar, and suggested for the constitutional rights to secession for indigenous people in the constitution.
However, on 13th September 2014, the Government of Nepal arrested him and charged with a treason, demanding life-imprisonment for him, for addressing a cultural annual festival of the indigenous people, called Santhals. (“Nepal: Authorities must unconditionally release CK Raut with immediate effect,” Amnesty International, 17th October 2014; “Nepal: Drop Sedition Charges against Madheshi Activist: Arrest of CK Raut Violates Free Speech Rights,” Human Rights Watch, 14th October 2014; “Immediately release Doctor Chandra Kant Raut who have been confined into illegal and arbitrary confinement,” Asian Human Rights Commission, 13th September 2014; “Regarding Dr Chandra Kant Raut charged with sedition,” Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales(BHRC), 6th November 2014.)
He started fast-unto-death demanding freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the Article 12(3)(a) of the Constitution of Nepal, and opposing physical and mental torture and death-threats given to him in the police custody. The fast ended on the 11th day (1st October 2014) after signing an agreement with the government ensuring freedom of expression and after getting an assurance for his unconditional release within the next 48-hours. However, instead of releasing him, the government slapped a treason charge against him, demanding life-imprisonment. Dr. Raut was sent to the Dillibazaar Prison on 14th October, after he refused to pay a bail amount of NRs. 50,000 (€425) as ordered by the Special Court.
However, people of Madhesh started a campaign to collect NRe. 1 (€0.01) from each person to get Dr. Raut released from jail and gathered more than four times the required amount within just one week. Respecting people’s verdict, Dr. Raut came out of jail on 24th November, paying the bail amount raised from people’s voluntarily donations. But on 26th November, fearing a planned peaceful mass assembly, more than 400 Madheshi supporters and activists including Dr. Raut were arrested on the eve of the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu, solely looking at the colour of their skin on a racial manner (“Dissenting Voices at Risk,” Amnesty International, 5th December 2014; “Mass arrests on eve of SAARC summit,” Asian Human Rights Commission, 29th November 2014). He was released after three days.
Since his release on bail, Dr. Raut attempted to reach to people through mass assemblies throughout the southern plain region of Nepal to thank them. His assemblies drew tens of thousands of people everywhere. Looking at the ever increasing number of participants in those mass-assemblies, the government virtually banned any mass-assembly or even meeting of Dr. Raut, and has been violently attacking on participants and activists, contrary to the rights to peaceful assembly enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal.
During the brutal suppression of a mass-assembly on 3rd January 2015 in Biratnagar, an eastern town of Nepal, Dr. Raut was injured severely from the police attacks. Police broke his right leg and he bled from the injury. He was taken into the custody and was released only at the mid-night, refusing any medical assistance he urgently needed due to pain from fractured leg. Later he had to get his leg plastered. The police used several rounds of tear-gas shells and bullets to disperse the gathered mass. The police brutally beat many locals, entering into their houses, and arrested dozens of activists. Even after that, on 8th January, the police intervened in the Birgunj mass assembly, fired several rounds of bullets and tear-gas shells, and arrested about a dozen of activists, including Dr. Raut, who went to address the assembly despite his fractured leg. He was detained in the Armed Police Force (APF) camp amidst a forest in Bara. Similarly, on 19th January, the police again foiled the Martyr’s Day ceremony in Lahan, by firing several rounds of tear-gas shells and bullets, and arresting Dr. Raut to prevent him from attending the ceremony. Similarly, on 4th April, the police severely beat Dr. Raut when he reached to the venue of mass assembly in Jhapa. Dr. Raut sustained head and arms injury, and had to go through medical treatment for several weeks.
The Court gave Dr. Raut a clean-chit on 23rd April 2015, citing insufficient evidences for the charge of treason. Despite getting a clean chit from the court, his talks, meetings and assemblies have been brutally suppressed by police, and essentially banned, with more than a thousand arrested, a hundred injured and fake cases filed against several hundreds of his supporters over a span of a year. Dr. Raut himself has been arrested for more than 15 times.
Dr. Raut has been put under frequent house arrests, and has been prevented to attend even religious ceremonies or funeral rituals. His privacy and security has been compromised by the government (“Police intrudes Dr. Raut’s privacy and security keeping him under 24 hours surveillance,” Asian Human Rights Commission, 3rd July 2015). He has been banned from even giving an interview. On 26th May, he was arrested from a media room of a TV station, forbidding him from giving an interview. His documentaries and books have been also banned (“Police going berserk in Nepal’s Terai,” Asian Human Rights Commission, 29th July 2015).
Despite such brutal suppression by Nepal Police, Dr. Raut has instructed his supporters to stick to non-violence, and not to submit to police provocations. On 9th January 2015, he announced a ‘rose movement’ and asked all his followers and well-wishers to hand-over roses to police, in retaliation to the force and violence they use.
But recently the state has become further aggressive and has been vehemently attacking on republicanism, secularism, constitutionalism and, most worryingly, even very fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, movement and peaceful assembly.
Most recently, Dr. Raut was arrested on 2nd February 2017 and tortured in police custody for 86 days for organising peaceful mass-rallies on 18th January 2017 to celebrate the Martyrs’ Day, attended by an estimated quarter a million people throughout Madhesh/Terai. For this, the Government of Nepal also issued orders to freeze all of his properties and bank accounts, leaving his pregnant wife and two little children in jeopardy. (Asian Human Rights Commission, “Dr. C.K. Raut’s properties and bank accounts frozen and passport annulled by the government,” April 11, 2017, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-024-2017 )
Under such a harsh condition, the support of international communities in defending human rights, freedom and democracy becomes even more pivotal. Acknowledging that the rights to freedom of speech, movement, peaceful assembly and association are the fundamental rights of all human beings everywhere, as also mandated by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Nepal is a signatory, we expect acknowledgement and assurance of the rights to freedom of expression, movement and peaceful assembly from the state and its agencies. We hereby appeal to you to oppose any infringement on fundamental human rights by the Government of Nepal and its agencies as well as to assure the physical safety of Dr. C. K. Raut, his family members and supporters.
Should you need further information, please feel free to let us know. We are very hopeful that you will be responding to this matter in due manner. Thank you very much.
Asst. Prof. Kailash Mahato
Email: ourmadhesh [at sign] gmail.com
- A brief introduction to Dr. C. K. Raut:
- An introduction to Madhesh/Terai and its issues:
- An overview of the arrests, protests and police suppression of Dr. Raut (2014-2015): http://www.slideshare.net/blackbuddhas/dr-c-k-raut-arrests-protests-and-police-suppression-2015-aug
SELECTED INTERNATIONAL APPEALS:
Nepal: Authorities must unconditionally release CK Raut with immediate effect
Amnesty International, 17 October 2014, Index number: ASA 31/007/2014
Nepal: Dissenting Voices at Risk
Amnesty International, 5 December 2014, Index number: ASA 31/008/2014
Nepal: Drop Sedition Charges against Madhesi Activist: Arrest of CK Raut Violates Free Speech Rights
Human Rights Watch, October 14, 2014.
Regarding Dr Chandra Kant Raut charged with sedition
Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), 6 November 2014.
Immediately release Doctor Chandra Kant Raut who have been confined into illegal and arbitrary confinement
Asian Human Rights Commission, September 13, 2014, Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-132-2014
NEPAL: Mass arrests on eve of SAARC summit
Asian Human Rights Commission, November 29, 2014
Save Dr. C. K. Raut Campaign
Asian Human Rights Commission,
NEPAL: Fair trial possible for Dr. Raut?
Asian Human Rights Commission, October 14, 2014
Police intrudes Dr. Raut’s privacy and security keeping him under 24 hours surveillance
Asian Human Rights Commission, July 3, 2015.
Police going berserk in Nepal’s Terai
Asian Human Rights Commission, July 29, 2015.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal, Nepal Monthly Report – September 2014, Published on 30 September 2014.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal, Nepal Monthly Report – October 2014, Published on 31 Oct 2014.
NEPAL: Police must follow due process in arrest and investigation
Asian Human Rights Commission, February 10, 2017.
NEPAL: Dr. C.K. Raut’s properties and bank accounts frozen and passport annulled by the government
Asian Human Rights Commission, April 11, 2017.