Monday, April 24, 2006

Children Among Victims of Police Attacks on Protestors :HRW

Nepali government’s crackdown on the current wave of demonstrations, police have brutally beaten and shot children, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said .The Nepali government must take immediate action to end all unnecessary use of force against pro-democracy protesters by the security forces. The authorities must also independently investigate and prosecute all officials found to be responsible, including those at the highest levels HRW said .
“The security forces have brutally beaten demonstration leaders with intent, and children as young as 12 without regard,” said Jo Becker, an advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “These forces are meant to protect people exercising their rights, not abusing them for it.”
Massive protests have taken place across Nepal for the past two weeks as part of a nationwide strike called by Nepal’s seven opposition parties and Maoist rebels calling on King Gyanendra to relinquish direct power. The protests have drawn tens of thousands of people into the streets in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, and other areas across the country.
More than 2,000 people reportedly have been injured and at least nine have died as security forces responded to the largely peaceful protests with live and rubber bullets, beatings, and tear gas. Human Rights Watch said it has visited six Kathmandu hospitals that collectively have treated more than 1,350 injured protesters during the past two weeks of protests. At four of the hospitals, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than a dozen injured protesters who had suffered gunshot wounds, bone and skull fractures, and head trauma.
Three of the victims were children, including two 12-year-old boys. One boy suffered a skull fracture from being hit by police during a demonstration on April 16. Another boy was shot in the head while running away from a protest in Gongabu in northern Kathmandu on April 11, and a bullet remained lodged near his right ear.
HRW said Injured protesters told that they believed the security forces deliberately targeted protesters’ heads. This allegation was supported by medical personnel at three hospitals, who reported that more than 60 percent of the injured protesters had suffered head injuries, primarily from being struck with lathis (long police batons).

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