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March 17, 2006

"SEXUAL CLEANSING" CONTINUES IN NEPAL, 26 NEW ARRESTS

The Nepalese government's violent campaign of "sexual cleansing" directed at the Hrw_logo_3 country's metis, or transgendered, as well as gay people, continues unabated, Human Rights Watch reported today. HRW said in a statement today:

"On the night of March 14, the eve of the Holi festival (festival of colors) – a major Hindu religious holiday – police in the Thamel and Durbar Marg areas of Metis_protest_2 athmandu rounded up 26 metis," said HRW in a statement. "According to the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepali non-governmental organization (NGO) working in the fields of sexual rights, sexual health and HIV prevention, they were taken to the Hanuman Dhoka central police station in

Kathmandu

. Five were later moved to Kalimati police station. Human Rights Watch understands that as of March 16, they have still not been permitted to speak to a lawyer. All have reportedly been charged with committing a 'public nuisance.' No further particulars of their alleged offence are known." (Left, Nepalese metis protest the arrest of 39 Blue Diamond Society members last August; note the sign saying, "Either kill us or let us live free")

“This is the latest incident in a violent police campaign to ‘cleanse’

Kathmandu

of those considered undesirable,” said

Scott Long

, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Police regularly assault and in some cases sexually abuse transgender people, all in the name of enforcing ‘moral values.’”

Those arrested included two staff, two outreach workers, and two peer educators working for the Blue Diamond Society. The Blue Diamond Society has repeatedly documented police abuse of transgender people, also known as hijras. In other recent incidents, on January 3, three metis walking in the Thamel district were reportedly severely beaten by four uniformed policemen who shouted, “Metis! Kill them!” The police threatened that “these hijras pollute the society and must be cleaned out.” On December 28, police arrested a meti, took her to the Shore Khutte police station, and forcibly stripped and mocked her while checking her genitals. They also allegedly threatened to cut her hair off as punishment for wearing women’s clothes. She was released the next day. For more information the Nepalese "sexual cleansing" campaign,"out the Blue Diamond Society website.

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