Explain Bista travel ban, PM tells ministry

– Post Report, Kathmandu

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli replies to Kantipur Editor-in-Chief Narayan Wagle, seated on PM’s left, at a press conference attended by top editors at Baluwatar in Kathmandu on Monday. He answered questions on Lenin Bista issue and the new criminal code that threatens the freedom of press and freedom of expression.pm’s secretariat

Aug 28, 2018-

Following widespread criticism, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Monday sought written clarification from the Ministry of Home Affairs as to why former Maoist child soldier Lenin Bista was barred from travelling to Thailand for attending a workshop.

Bista, who has long been campaigning for justice for hundreds of child combatants who fought during the decade-long Maoist insurgency, was stopped by Tribhuvan International Airport immigration officials on Friday. The officials said they had held Bista back as directed by the “higher authority”.

Bista accused the immigration officials of working at the behest of Surya Sudedi, advisor to Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, to stop him. Speaking to the editors of various media outlets on Monday, PM Oli said he asked the ministry to report him about the incident within 24 hours, according to PM’s press coordinator Chetan Adhikari. Oli invited editors from the print, broadcast and online media to present his position on different incidents that dragged the government into controversy.

The travel ban for Bista was widely criticised as being against the fundamental rights of a citizen. Bista has lodged a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission. He suspects the government, particularly former Maoist leaders, to have barred him fearing he would raise issues of child soldiers at the international symposium.

He was set to participate in a five-day workshop titled “Youth in Conflict Areas: Healing and Peace-building through Social Engagement”, organised by the Asian Resource Good Governance that started in Bangkok on Saturday.

Bista, who was dropped for integration into the Nepal Army for being minor, has been protesting under the banner Discharged People’s Liberation Army Struggle Committee demanding justice for himself and his peers.

The committee has been demanding employment opportunities for former child soldiers while treating the issue as a war crime. As many as 2,972 Maoist guerillas including Bista were disqualified as minors after verification by the United Nations Mission in Nepal in December 2007.

Published: 28-08-2018 10:54

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