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V. Summary Executions of Civilians by Maoist Forces

The Maoists are responsible for a significant number of summary executions of civilians.   Often, the executions are preceded by torture of the victims, which in many cases is done publicly in front of villagers and family members.  The Maoists tend to target particular individuals for assassination or execution, particularly suspected government informants, local political activists or non-Maoist party officials, local government officials and civil servants, and individuals who refuse extortion demands from the Maoists.  The Maoists are also responsible for executions of off-duty army and police officers, often capturing them when they go to their villages to visit family members.  In the vast majority of cases, the Maoists officially claim responsibility for their killings, explaining that the executed individuals were “informers,” a vague charge which encompasses any act which defies Maoist dictates.  Typically, the Maoists will return to the village of their victim, and inform the family or villagers of the killing.  In more high profile cases, such as the murder of Ganesh Chilawal summarized below, the Maoists will post an article on their website describing the murder as a significant success in their “march towards victory.” 

Because the Maoists often kill individuals to punish them for rejecting Maoist rule—that is, collaborating with the government, engaging in non-Maoist political activities, refusing to pay extortion—the Maoists often carry out their executions in plain view, and occasionally demand that local villagers and family members of the victims be present during the killings in an attempt to ensure the maximum deterrent effect on the population.  In other words, the Maoists clearly use targeted killings to intimidate local villagers, ensuring that villagers know that deviance from Maoist demands will result in a brutal death. Because the killings are aimed at instilling fear, they are often accompanied by horrific torture and slow and painful killing methods, making the victim suffer for hours before death.  In other cases, Maoists simply execute their victims with a single gunshot.

An official of the Nepal Human Rights Commission explained to Human Rights Watch that the “killings from the side of the Maoists were intended to terrorize the population,” and that such killings, particularly the killings of suspected informants, were often “unimaginably brutal,” involving mutilations such as cutting out the tongues of victims, breaking individual's bones until the death of the victim, and burning victims alive.142  The head of Nepal’s leading  human rights organization, INSEC, similarly confirmed that his organization had documented that torture was used in the majority of killings committed by Maoists, and explained that his organization had documented many cases where victims had their bones broken or had been mutilated and tortured prior to death.143

The impact of the Maoists’ campaign of killings is clearly visible in Nepal.  A single Maoist murder sends an effective message to an entire area and makes the local population acutely aware of the consequences of arousing the suspicion of the Maoists.  In many of the villages visited by Human Rights Watch in Maoist-controlled areas, villagers were simply too terrified to even discuss any Maoist violations in the area.  The extreme brutality of the Maoist killings, as well as the remoteness of the areas in which some of the worst abuses have been reported, makes investigating Maoist abuses in Nepal much more difficult than documenting government abuses.  In rural Nepal, almost every village has Maoist informers (reportedly often children) and publicly discussing Maoist abuses could have dire consequences. In contrast, the government forces have only an occasional presence in rural Nepal when they move through on operations, so local villagers do not fear negative consequences from discussing government abuses.

The Maoists’ brutal treatment of informants indicates how the “dirty war” tactics used by both sides in Nepal contributes to an ever-increasing cycle of abuse. As documented elsewhere in this report, Nepali government forces rely heavily on local informants to identify and locate possible Maoists officials and activists, and then frequently carry out missions that involve the capture and execution of those suspected Maoists. Since one of the main threats to the security of Maoists activists is local informants, and not direct combat situations, the Maoists have resorted to unspeakable brutality to deter informants and to intimidate villagers.

Increasingly, both Maoists and government forces are blurring the lines of responsibility for killings by attempting to disguise themselves as belonging to the other side.  Maoists have dressed and acted like government troops in carrying out some killings, and government troops have dressed and acted as Maoists, as in several of the case documented in the previous chapter.  This reliance on misinformation and confusion contributes further to a climate of impunity in Nepal, as it makes it more difficult to establish responsibility and ultimately accountability for killings and other human rights abuses.

The continued targeting of peaceful non-Maoist political activists by the Maoists is a particularly troubling trend, and demonstrates the Maoists’ intolerance for political opposition to their absolute control.  Many of the political activists murdered by the Maoists committed no greater crime than continuing their membership in non-Maoist political organizations such as the Nepali Congress or the United Marxist Leninists, and many were popularly elected by the local civilian population.  The Maoists' ongoing campaign of murder against their peaceful political opponents reveals that they brook no opposition, and belies their public advocacy for a democratic state.

Summary Execution in Gharhal, March 8, 2004

On March 8, 2004, at about 4:00 p.m., a group of four Maoists came to the office of Nagendra Shah, a local landowner in Gharhal VDC Ward 7 who was meeting with his farm workers at the time.  Nagendra Shah had apparently caught the attention of the Maoists by claiming that he owned an AK-47 assault rifle.  The four men, whose faces were covered with handkerchiefs, surrounded Nagendra Shah, immediately fired three pistol rounds into his head, and ran away.  The villagers chased the Maoists and caught one of them, beating him to death with sticks.144  According to a relative of the victim, Nagendra Shah was murdered by the Maoists because he refused to give them money they had demanded to purchase weapons.  The Maoists had repeatedly come to see Nagendra Shah to negotiate over the amount he should pay them, and finally murdered him when he refused to meet their demands.145

Summary Execution of suspected collaborator in Devapur, February 21, 2004

On February 21, 2004, at about 10:30 p.m., a group of eight or nine armed men in black clothes came to the home of Rameshower Prasad Yadav, a forty-eight-year-old teacher living in Teta village, Bara district.  The men initially claimed they were army soldiers, saying they wanted Rameshower to come with them to search some homes in the village.  Rameshower reluctantly agreed to accompany the men, but apparently soon realized they were Maoists and attempted to escape.  About ten minutes after he left his home, Rameshower was knifed in the stomach and shot twice in the chest and once in the arm.  He died as villagers attempted to take him to a hospital.146  According to a relative, the Maoists killed Rameshwor because he had negotiated the peaceful surrender of two Maoists to the army just two weeks before his murder, and had refused to pay extortion to the Maoists.147 

Summary Execution of anti-Maoist human rights activist Ganesh Chilawal, Kathmandu, February 15, 2004

Ganesh Chilawal, a thirty-five-year old man, was gunned down in broad daylight by the Maoists for his work advocating on behalf of victims of Maoist abuses.  Chilawal was an active member of the Nepali Congress Party.  In 1998, he was attacked by Maoists in his village home for his pro-Congress activities.  He had been cut all over his body, and had to be hospitalized for three months.  After this experience, he founded the Maoist Victims Association, an NGO working to help civilians who had been victimized in different ways by the Maoists.  As part of this work, Chilawal spoke out openly against the abuses suffered by the persons who sought the support of his organization. 

The Maoists started threatening Chilawal directly.  He received threats to his life through letters, faxes and telephone calls.  His family told him to stop; they knew from his first experience that the Maoists could be very brutal in their assaults.  But Chilawal persisted in his work helping victims, and denouncing the Maoists, going so far as provocatively burning an effigy of the leaders of the Maoist movement in public.

On February 15, 2004, the family noticed an increase in the number of phone calls and faxes threatening Chilawal’s life.  It was a Sunday, and his family urged him to stay at home, not to go to work that day.  But he had meetings scheduled, and he went to his office.  His office workers noticed nothing unusual.  At the end of the day, at 5:10 p.m., Chilawal came out of his office to go back to his house.  As he came down the stairs, five rounds of bullets were fired at him. He collapsed and died almost instantly.  His office workers rushed out and noticed a motorbike with two men speeding away.  The Maoists have since claimed responsibility for Chilawal’s murder, even posting his murder as a success on their website.148 

Murder of anti-Maoist activist Musharaff Khan, November 5, 2003

Musharaff Khan was a member of a small Muslim community in the village of Raniapur 9 who had secretly started an anti-Maoist committee, working to counter some of the Maoist propaganda.  The Maoists found out about this committee, and told him to stop his activities.  As a result of this threat, he moved to Nepalgunj, coming to Raniapur only occasionally for fear of what the Maoists would do to him. 

He came home for the Muslim religious holiday of Muharram on November 5, 2003.  That same night, at 11:30 p.m., about twenty armed Maoists surrounded his house and forced their way in.  Eyewitnesses said that the Maoists were heavily armed, carrying grenades, pistols and semi-automatic rifles.  When they entered the house, they grabbed all the family members who were inside by their necks, and forced them to sit on the ground, facing down.  Musharaff Khan unsuccessfully tried to run away, but the Maoists caught him and took him away.  The family searched all night for him but could not find out what happened to him or where he was taken to.  Two days later, on November 7, his body was found in the fields north of Raniapur.  There were multiple injuries on his face and hands from beatings.  His body was riddled with eight bullets, including one through his ear, and another in the back of his neck.149 

Summary Execution of non-Maoist political activist in Mangalpur District, August 20, 2003

On August 20, 2003, at about 8:45 p.m., a group of three Maoists visited the home of Min Bahadur Thapa, the ward chairman of Dhanusha Govindapur VDC Ward 6 in Mangalpur, and a member of the Nepali Congress Party.  After identifying themselves as Maoists, the three men detained and blindfolded Min Bahadur Thapa and his brother, Bhuwan Thapa, telling the remaining family members that they would question and release the men, and ordering everyone to stay inside the home.  After being questioned, Bhuwan Thapa was released at about 2 a.m.  The body of Min Bahadur Thapa was found the next morning at 5 a.m. in a field about one kilometer from his home, his throat cut and his body apparently mutilated.150

Summary execution of suspected informants in Banke District, June 19, 2003

Around 10:30 p.m. on June 19, 2003, a group of men who identified themselves as Maoists came to the village of Bhandariya and rounded up about fourteen village men.  These men were taken to a spot along the main dirt road in Bhandariya village, and tied up “chicken-style,” in a squatting position with their arms looped under their knees and  tied up behind their ears.  Villagers, including family members and children, were gathered around, watching.  The Maoists shouted at the men, claiming that they had informed against the Maoists to the army.  Among other things, the Maoists said: “Three of our comrades were killed.  We are fighting for you and you dare to betray us.”151  The villagers believe that this was a reference to an army ambush near their village in which some Maoists, including a senior commander, had been killed. 

After half an hour, several of the men were released.  The Maoists took away four men: Jahara Sheikh, Triveni Prasad Baniya, Shaijad Ali Sheik and Chet Prasad Sharma.  Shortly thereafter, villagers heard the sound of bullet fire coming from the fields outside the village.  They formed a search group, and at about 10:00 p.m., they found the bodies.  All four had been shot, and their legs and arms had been broken.  Villagers noticed what looked like burn marks on the body of Baniya.  One of his feet was twisted around completely.  Jahara Sheikh had bullet wounds in his forehead and his temple.  His eye had come out of its socket with the force of the bullet.  One of the four men survived the shooting; although he spent six months recovering in Bheri Zonal Hospital, he still is unable to walk properly.152 

Summary execution of suspected government informants in Dhanusadham, June 17, 2003

On June 17, 2003 at about 9:00 p.m., a group of five or six Maoists came to the family home of Shubha Lal Yadav, a fifty-five-year-old farmer living in Dhanusadham VDC ward 7.  The Maoists abducted Shubha Lal Yadav and his wife Radiya Devi Yadav, aged forty-five.  The next morning, the couple’s bodies were found on the eastern edge of their village, their throats cut.  Apparently, the couple was killed because Shubha Lal had called in the police a year earlier when his house had been robbed, and had maintained cordial relations with several police officers since then.153

Summary Execution of non-Maoist political activist in Bengashivapur, June 15, 2003

On June 15, 2003 at 11:30 p.m., a group of about thirty-five Maoists came to the home of fifty-five-year-old Girdhari Shah, the president of the village development committee in Bengashivapur VDC Ward 7, near Janakpur.  Girdhari Shah was a long-term member of the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP).  Three Maoists came inside the home, captured Girdhari Shah and tied his hands, and proceeded to search and loot his home, stealing thirty grams of gold, 45,000 Nepali rupees (U.S. $600), a VCR and CDs.  The Maoists also broke the family’s television.  They then went to the neighboring home and detained Girdhari Shah’s two sons as well as two guests staying at their house.  About one kilometer from the village, the Maoists questioned all the detained men, asking them whether they supported the king.  All where then released, except for Girdhari Shah, who was a well-known supporter of the king.  The next morning, the body of Girdhari Shah was found close to the place where he was last seen alive, his hands still tied, with two bullet wounds to his chest.154

Abduction and Possible Execution of a Local Politician in Kharkawai

Prem Bahadur Oli was an RPP ward representative in the village of Kharkawa, and he was active in local politics.  He was taken away by armed Maoists at around 10:00 p.m. on September 5, 2003. The Maoists surrounded his house, and forced their way in.  They went to Oli and started hitting and kicking him.  When his wife begged the Maoists to stop, they hit her and threw her against the door.  They also held a gun to the chest of Oli’s twelve-year-old son, and threatened to kill him.  They then handcuffed Oli and dragged him out of the house.  Oli has not been seen since then, and the family fears that he has been killed. 

A village woman who was present recognized three of the Maoists as men from her own village.  She says they have not returned to the village since Oli was taken away.155

[142]  Human Rights Watch interview with member of the NHRC, name withheld, Kathmandu, March 4, 2004. 

[143] The 2004 edition of the Nepal Human Rights Yearbook lists almost 100 killings committed by the Maoists using brutal methods such as beatings, throat-slitting, and hangings. INSEC Human Rights Yearbook 2004, p. 329.

[144] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 11, 2004.

[145] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 11, 2004.  According to one witness Nagendra Shah had initially falsely claimed that he owned an AK-47 when Maoists appeared in the area, in an attempt to prevent the Maoists from attacking him.  The Maoists then came to demand the non-existent weapon, and later demanded 700,000 Nepali rupees from Shah, who refused to pay.

[146] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 11, 2004.

[147] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 11, 2004.

[148] Human Rights Watch interviews, names withheld, Kathmandu, March 11, 2004.  See [online] for information from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) about Chilawal’s murder.

[149] Human Rights Watch interviews, name withheld, March 15, 2004.

[150] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 14, 2004.  Human Rights Watch was unable to interview Bhuwan Thapa, the surviving brother, because he had left the village and gone into hiding after the killing.

[151] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 16, 2004.

[152] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 16, 2004.

[153] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 14, 2004.

[154] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 14, 2004.

[155] Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, March 17, 2004.

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