KATHMANDU, June 15: Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have urged the government to withdraw its decision to seek the property details of non-governmental organization office bearers and employees, saying that the move would largely discourage the work of civil society organizations.
In a meeting with Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa on Thursday, the NGOs warned of nationwide protests if the government’s decision was not withdrawn. They termed the decision an attempt to control civil society space and discourage NGO work at the grassroots level aimed at ensuring the rights of backward and marginalized communities.
“It seems the decision is being taken just to control civil society space. Such a decision must be withdrawn immediately,” said Gopal Lamsal, president of the NGO Federation of Nepal, adding “Otherwise, we will launch a nationwide protest against this illegal and unruly move.”
During discussions with a group of NGO representatives at his office, Home Minister Thapa asked them to come up with suggestions in writing if they have any issues related to the decision. The minister said the government has no intention other than to monitor the activities of non-governmental organizations and asked them to support the government.
Dismayed over the minister’s response, civil society leaders representing 13 NGOs have decided to protest against the government decision.
An emergency meeting of the NGO representatives held at the NGO Federation headquarters has decided to submit a memorandum at all 77 district administration offices (DAOs) on Friday. They have reached an understanding to expedite their protests if the government does not backtrack.
They have also concluded that the government’s decision will undermine the role of the non-governmental sector in shoring up democracy and human rights.
“When all particulars of the non-governmental organizations are already being submitted to the authorities why should we have to submit property details also? This is not the way to go about it,” said Lamsal.
Lamsal challenged the government to scrap all the non-governmental organizations if they are really of no use to society. “Otherwise, the government should stop such measures,” he said .
Earlier, the Home Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens, issued circulars to the DAOs asking them to collect the property details of non-governmental organizations and their office bearers.
The DAOs are also being asked to enforce a 15-day deadline for non-governmental organizations to submit such particulars and to scrap the registration of those that do not meet the deadline.