A Missed Opportunity
Online photo: Kathmandu Post
The King blew it on Friday.
Some 30 families claiming to be Maoist victims were living out in the open in Tahity chowk, protesting and demanding food. http://kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=39968
In comes the blue meanies to break-up, beat-up, and disperse the hungry "internal refugees."
While blogdai believes that the King's takeover was necessary, scenes and photos like the one above show a fundamental lack of insight on the part of the Royal government. First, a tremendous opportunity was missed. Knowing that his every move is under world scrutiny, the King might have shown some actual concern for his people by taking this group of victims, legitimate or not, under government care, or some variation thereof. It would have been a simplistic gesture, to be sure, but support for the king would have increased and world opinion would have been positive. Now, there is a very real argument present that if the King had done this, it would have triggered a flood of frightened refugees into the capital, but such mass immigration is overstated; Kathmandu's population has already almost doubled with refugees in the last few years.
Second, photos of girls being man-handled by police are certainly bound to be used by every deposed political leader, human rights agency and world leader as grist against the King's policy. Those of us who live and work in Kathmandu know that these tactics are not new to the special police and are, to some extent, anticipated whenever they arrive on scene---it is how police "police" kathmandu. It is a rough, no-nonsense approach. The larger point is that these confrontations are unnecessary and create disturbing pictures to the world.
We are already seeing Western media outlets fishing for stories to back their universally chosen angle of "despotic King supresses vibrant democracy," so photos like the one above add new life to that scenario.
The King should have known better.