Note: This article has been taken from blogpost:
Government in Nepal continues with show of intolerance towards dissenting views and inability to hear any criticism no matter in how many fronts they fail. After arrest of Kanak Mani Dixit by Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on the charges of corruption as chairman of Sajha Yatayat, a cooperative with government of Nepal being highest shareholder, government has detained Robert Penner. Mr. Penner is a Canadian national and works as scientist in an Information Technology Company, Sprout Technology Private Limited, Kathmandu based private company. He stay is perfectly legal as he has obtained working visa.
Nepal Police detained Robert Penner on 02 May, 2016 without explaining the reason behind his detention.
In a democratic country rule of law is most significant aspect. Every citizen has right to know of his/her crime before being detained by security agency. However, Robert Penner, despite being foreign national was not informed of the reason behind his arrest. It is a petty. Many people would be perplexed why would government act so rash against a foreign national? The reason is even more preposterous.
Robert Penner is an active Twitter, a micro blogging website, user. Unlike many foreign national, he has deep interest in the Nepali politics and gradually tried to go to the depth of understanding Nepali society. He didn’t like others stayed in Kathmandu and analyzed based on Kathmandu based media reports and talking with people here. He put an extra effort to move outside the eco-chamber of Kathmandu valley and visited places like Janakpur and Birgunj, epi-centre of recent Madhesh uprising, to understand the issues in more details. He also tried to learn vernacular languages like Nepali and Maithili to get the message as it is. This is what Akhilesh Upadhyay, Chief Editor of English Daily, The Kathmandu Post has to say about him.
But then Nepal is going through reverse transformation. There are people who want to turn the clock backward. It’s exactly a decade back that people came to street demanding change in the structure of the state that was contemptuous of her people. People Movement was followed by Madhesh movement that ensured that a large chunk of people reclaimed their status of being equal citizen back. However, in recent few years, vanguard of old order has made comeback. They have attacked the changes that were result of people’s direct mandate. There are many reasons but the primary being their own privileges that resulted from the oligarchical system were under risk. For the first time questions were raised against their privileges and their incompetency. They were asked tough question which they were never used to even hearing leave aside giving answers. For the first time they were exposed to larger audience for their failures. As expected backlash begun once they took charge of the power structure again. One instance of being drunk with connections is a tweet from celebrated Human Right Activist in Nepal
Going back to the arrest of Robert Penner, he was arrested, based on at least what is seen on the surface, is complain by anonymous twitter handle on Twitter.
To this Hello Sarkar (@Hello_Sarkar), twitter handle of online complain hearing mechanism of Government of Nepal, replied with following tweet.
@bibekdhun @robpenner This issue has been already been dispatched to the concerned authorities. Thank you.
Another anonymous tweeple also complained with following tweet.
@Hello_Sarkar This foreigner @robpenner is breaking immigration rule 28(1)(e)(f)(g)(i) , he should be booked. Post with the registration (case) number.
To this the same government of Nepal administered handle replied
@UnitedNepal1 reg. no. 30983 has been sent for action to Home ministry. For more information click here: http://opmcm.gov.np/gunaso/hellosarkar.php
This quick but rare endeavor of otherwise non responsive Government of Nepal, proven by recent criticism of doing nothing for earthquake survivors was followed by following action against Mr. Penner.
For benefit of readers some of the tweets that were meant to be objectionable by two anonymous twitter users were as following.
Now, what does it matter if some Nepali citizen or some foreign national made such comment? How do these tweets incite communal hatred or exacerbate community relations. International law on Human Rights gives universal jurisdiction to government and people raising the issue. Both alien and citizen can raise the issue without inviting criminal procedure. The government is trying to muzzle the fundamental human rights of its people to express their opinion. In recent weeks systematically, both covert and overt means are being implied to silence views that are not in line with those who are in power. They are being put under psychological pressure by naked show of high handedness be it reprimanding Mohna Ansari, member and spokesperson of National Human Rights Commission-Nepal (NHRC-N), a constitutional body or by arresting publisher and activist Kanak Mani Dixit on flimsy charges. Its time we realize that remaining silent is not an option anymore