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Maoists Extort Nepal's Businesses

The Industrial Security Group, an organization representing the United States, France, Germany, Britain, India, the European Union, and the E-U's chambers of commerce, issued a statement calling on Nepal's Maoist insurgents "to cease all extortion and violent intimidation, to denounce these activities, and to fully implement their public commitments to avoid such criminal behaviors."

In May, the Maoist leadership signed an agreement with an alliance of Nepal's seven political parties to end such extortion. But these practices continue. Several multinational corporations in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, have received letters from the Maoists demanding thirty-million rupees, the equivalent of more than four-hundred-thousand U.S. dollars.

Nepali businesses are also systematically targeted; victims include financial institutions, garment factories, and small businesses. In addition to cash, the insurgents demand such items as motorcycles and furniture.

In Birgunji, in southern Nepal, dozens of businesses say they are facing closure and some have already closed as a result of extortion by the Maoist-affiliated, All Nepal Trade Union Federation. The insurgents are reportedly demanding money from various development projects in Nepal's Darchula district. Maoist insurgents also set up checkpoints on Nepal's roads and collect so-called "taxes" from motorists. Civil servants, ordinary Nepali workers, and farmers are forced to turn over part of their earnings.

More than thirteen-thousand Nepalese have died since the Maoists began their insurgency in 1996. The U.S. State Department says over the past year, "the Maoists continued their campaign of torturing, killing, bombing, conscripting children, kidnapping, extorting, forcing closures of schools and businesses, and committing other serious and gross human rights abuses."

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said Nepal's "Maoists have been an exceptionally brutal insurgency, and their forces have become accustomed to control over the countryside exercised through terror." The Maoists, said Mr. Boucher, "must renounce violence and the instruments of control, such as extortion, that have terrorized Nepal."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.