#Civil Rights
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba

We are writing to inform you of the increasingly difficult situation in which Backward Society Education (BASE) is finding itself, caught between the maoist rebels and the government imposed state of emergency.

As you may have heard, last week maoist rebels attacked three of the organization's offices in Kailali District. Motorcycles, office furniture, files, and -- in one case an entire Area Office -- were torched.

The apparent reason for the attacks was that BASE ran a rural saving and loan program in cooperation with the local government. The rebels are against this kind of government program. However, the rebels have since then also targeted BASE's child programs.

There are indications that beneath the allegation the real reason may be that the maoists are displeased that BASE has advocated peaceful social change successfully over the past years. Many of the poor rural workers who might otherwise have joined the maoist movement, have stayed with BASE instead. This one could say has been an achievement for peace in a otherwise rapidly detoriorating situation.

It therefore comes as a complete surprise to read the Home Minister's comments in today's Kathmandu Post Wednesday April 3rd) that the government is considering taking away BASE's registration, in effect closing the organization. The government is accusing the organization of supporting the maoists.

It is alarming that the government should consider using the powers of the state of emergency to shut down one of the largest civil society organizations in Nepal. BASE has over 30,000 members and support from many more men and women from marginalised communities, such as the freed bonded laborers whom it helped liberate. Under the current political situation, these people have no legal way of assembling or protesting the government's action, should it decide to take any.

The organization's identity as one of the oldest and most established NGOs in Nepal working for human rights and non-formal education make the accusations of support for the maoists unbelievable at best. Given that the maoists attacked the organization offices last week only, the government accusations seem patently ludicruos. It seems clear that the government is acting with other motives. It is a very disturbing development for the country as a whole, if the government begins to abuse the extraordinary powers granted under the state of emergency to settle old scores and eliminate the free debate in civil society.

Dear Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern about last week's attacks on three offices of the organization Backward Society Education (BASE) by Maoist rebels in the Kailali district. Reportedly, motorcycles, office furniture, files, and -- in one case an entire area office - were torched. BASE is an internationally respected organization with more than 30,000 members, serving a marginalized community such as the freed bonded laborers. It plays a critical role in providing humanitarian assistance, social services, and education to the former bonded laborers.

I also urge you to retract your government's threat of de-registering BASE, and I ask you to support BASE's ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the freed bonded laborers and other marginalized people as the best road to peace.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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The Save our organisation - Backward Society Education (BASE) petition to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was written by Som Aryal and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.