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The Stanley Foundation

World Press Review is a program of the Stanley Foundation.

August 2001
Regicide and Conspiracy in Nepal
A Somber Anniversary

Regicide and Conspiracy in Nepal
KATHMANDU Nepali Times (independent), June 7: At this moment of instability and lawlessness, many may be tempted to fish in muddy waters. But doing so would only invite more grief to the people and the country....The question now is not tied to an individual, party, or ideology, but to the existence and future of the entire nation. At this moment of great tragedy and grim crisis, any force, whether political or nonpolitical, that pushes the nation into further anarchy should not be tolerated....If the nation does not survive this crisis, neither will we and our various selfish ambitions.
—Hari Roka

NEW DELHI The Statesman (independent), June 6:
That there’s more to the explanation of the blood-soaked royal dining room in Kathmandu than was officially provided has been clear almost from day one. Now, with experienced observers putting the weight of their assessment behind what plain logic seemed to have indicated, the most crucial question for New Delhi is how to react to the new royalty....Indian diplomacy needs to take into account three basic factors in reacting to the Nepalese situation. First, the strong suggestions of a violent palace coup. Second, possibilities of India’s not-so-friendly neighbors increasing their activities in Nepal. Third, and very strongly related to the second, Indo-Nepalese economic relations.

KOLKATA Bartaman (Bengali language), June 6:
The coronation of Nepal’s new king, Gyanendra, had to be held by imposing a curfew....The military had to be summoned to maintain peace....Unrest is being created by a powerful organization that aims to bring an end to monarchy....The organization is the Maoist communists who have close links with the ISI [the military Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence] of Pakistan....There is a deep conspiracy behind the killings....It would be very bad for India if the Maoist force captures power. China will be able to use Nepal for anti-Indian activities....India must take proper security measures based on this reality.

TURIN La Stampa (centrist), June 5:
Gyanendra is, since yesterday, the new king....Among the many explanations that have been given for the assassination of the royal family, the one that convinces most people is conspiracy....The Rasputin of the case is Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala—Hindu, conservative, and with many sympathies among Indian nationalists—who has never demonstrated enthusiasm for the democratic attitude of King Birenda. Gyanendra, say the people, could be an easier substitute, one with a more conservative attitude.
—Françoise Chipaux

JAKARTA Kompas (independent), June 8: In Shakespeare’s classical drama, the young prince Hamlet who was in a state of “love intoxication” went crazy and slew his own royal family....Dipendra (the Nepalese crown prince) was upset and went mad because the king and queen refused to accept Devyani Rana as his future wife. The black-haired aristocratic Rana was described as beautiful, talented, smart, and very suitable to become a queen.

BLENHEIM, New Zealand The Marlborough Express (conservative daily), June 7: Eighty percent of Nepal’s people are desperately poor subsistence farmers living in semifeudal conditions who live short, miserable lives in great squalor, trapped at the bottom of a rigid caste system and largely ignored by governments in Kathmandu. It is precisely their own impoverished and downtrodden supporters who will pay the heaviest price if the Maoists’ war expands and prospers, but they have a lot of support. Nepal is probably in for a hard time—and for a long time.

Continues Above

Nepalese women tend a shrine built to honor King Birendra and his family (Photo: AFP).

BANGKOK Krungthep Turakij (center-left, business), June 7: Nepal is another country where kingship is dying. The new king, Gyanendra, is only a cover-up for a coup d’état putting an end to the monarchy. The king figure is needed at the interval before the real mastermind makes his appearance....If the country lost two kings in three days, it won’t take long to count down the last day of the new one. Nepal will be the next country with no king.
—Chakkrit Permpoon

OSLO Aftenposten (conservative), June 6: A whole royal family shot dead while dining in their palace....This is an unparalleled event. Not since the czar and his family were mowed down after the Russian Revolution has the world experienced such a princely massacre....The event is all the more harrowing for the inhabitants of Nepal that the head of this last Hindu royal kingdom is divine, an incarnation of the god Vishnu; that the crown prince, according to latest information, went amok because he was refused marriage with the woman he loved; and that the romance had run aground because of investigations made by court astrologers. Not even with the wildest fantasy could a novelist have invented such an unrealistic story.
—Ulf Andenæs

HAVANA Juventud Rebelde (Communist Youth), June 4: Adding to widespread mistrust among the general population about what really happened last Friday in Kathmandu are declarations issued by Nepalese rebel forces, which have been active in the Himalayan nation for the last five years. According to them, the massacre of the royal family is the result of a conspiracy among conservative forces inside and outside Nepal; they accuse Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and international Islamic fundamentalist groups of having eliminated King Birendra because of his liberal beliefs.

ZAGREB Vjesnik (pro-government), June 4: The drama of the Nepal royal family is developing expected twists and turns and more and more unconvincing versions....According to two versions, everything...was caused by Dipendra’s intention to marry his chosen one from the aristocratic family Rana that ruled Nepal until 1951....The Rana family is the deadly enemy of the royal family. That Dipendra’s chosen bride is a Rana is another Shakespearean motif. The love of the Nepalese Romeo and Juliet could have calmed and solved the animosity between the two families....In any case, along with the royal victims, the truth also died and will probably never be discovered.
—Tomislav Butorac

A Somber Anniversary

NAIROBI Daily Nation (independent), June 5: As we mark 20 years of HIV/AIDS, the message coming out of the United Nations is grim: The epidemic is still in its early stages in many parts of the world....For us in Kenya, the statistics point to between 600 and 700 deaths daily….Kenya may have declared AIDS a national disaster, but there are still indications that we are not moving fast enough to mobilize support for those living with HIV/AIDS or to head off new infections.…We must mobilize every single sector to play a more active role in dismantling discrimination against people affected by AIDS, making drugs available at affordable prices, and focusing on preventive measures.

EDINBURGH The Scotsman (independent), June 5:
When the emerging virus was first reported in an obscure medical journal in the United States 20 years ago today, five young gay men from Los Angeles were the victims. Nkosi Johnson, the 12-year-old South African who achieved worldwide fame when he challenged the AIDS policies of his country’s president, is one of the most high-profile cases, indicating the ability of the disease to strike anyone down. He died on Friday. Yet after the stark tombstone adverts of the 1980s warned us “Don’t die of ignorance,” the epidemic didn’t materialize in the UK on anything like the scale predicted. That, and reports of the success of combination therapies in Western countries in recent years, seem to have lulled people into a false sense of security.

NEW DELHI The Indian Express (liberal), June 7: At an international conference on HIV/AIDS, an Indian delegate boasted that his country was relatively better protected from the disease because Indians were a moral people who were faithful to their spouses. While it may be tempting to believe him, statistics have a nasty way of puncturing such fantasies. According to the latest data from the National AIDS Control Organization, India is home to an estimated 3.86 million people afflicted by this condition….Given these seems there is nothing that is more likely to further the spread of the disease than complacency and self-delusion, both of which we seem to have rich reserves of….When it comes to HIV/AIDS, the ostrich act does not work.

TOKYO Mainichi Shimbun (centrist), May 31: Since it was first reported in June 1981, 58 million people have contracted HIV and 22 million have died. There were more than 36 million HIV sufferers in 2000. In eight African countries, more than 15 percent of the population has HIV....According to the World Health Organization, the numbers of those with the disease have increased 50 percent since 1991, and 95 percent are in Africa and in developing countries. Although Asia has fewer sufferers than Africa...the numbers of those with the disease may surge.

SINGAPORE The Straits Times (independent), April 27:
In the West, they should concentrate their efforts on getting more funding for research on an AIDS vaccine. Since the discovery of AIDS 20 years ago, worldwide funding on such research has amounted to little, compared with the billions spent on researching AIDS treatment. The reason is simple: vaccines...are far less profitable than medication....That being the case, drug companies cannot be expected to take the lead on vaccine research; governments and foundations must. They have combined to increase funding in recent years, but more needs to be done.

ALBERTA Calgary Herald (leftist), June 6:
As North America marked the 20th anniversary Tuesday of the first diagnosis of what has come to be known as AIDS, activists warned that future generations will demand an accounting for why the disease was allowed to ravage huge tracts of the developing world....AIDS continues unabated in the developing world, where the toll promises to be so high as to be almost unfathomable….World bodies such as the United Nations...have warned that the disease could destabilize whole countries.
—Helen Branswell

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