Friday, August 04, 2006

Responsibility Absurdity

Now that the military component of the royal regime has deposed before the commission probing into the state’s “suppression” of the democracy protests in April, it’s safe to reach that conclusion which was obvious from the outset.
Nobody is prepared to take responsibility for the 19 deaths (or 22 depending on who’s counting) because nobody can be expected to. Some members of the royal government have implied, in varying hues of candor, that King Gyanendra should take responsibility as the chief executive. The monarch, in his proclamation reinstating the House of Representatives, has already expressed his deep sorrow at the loss of life. If the commission wants King Gyanendra to make a more forceful acknowledgement, then it should have the gallantry to issue a summons to the monarch. The HoR Proclamation has cleared the way for that course; the commission members should summon their collective will.
If they cannot, then they should collectively acknowledge the obvious. The royal regime, in the normal course of discharging its duties, had imposed curfews in designated areas. Notification was made well in advance. Those who chose to defy the curfew understood they were in violation of those laws. Politically, they may have considered that very defiance as a potent symbol of protest. But, then, that was a matter concerning the protesters and their sponsors. Ministers, bureaucrats, military officials, police chiefs and everyone else acted within the general purview of their obligation to maintain law and order.
The commission and the theatrics surrounding it evidently helped the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) government to consolidate power in its early days and weeks. The show has now become a distraction.
The Mallik Commission that probed the “excesses” of the Panchayat government during the 1990 democracy protests named names and apportioned blame precisely for political purposes. Revisionists continue to attribute the failure of successive elected governments to take action to their magnanimity.
What they don’t tell us is that the attorney-general of the government that had accepted the panel’s recommendations had asserted they were not actionable on legal and constitutional grounds. None of his successors chose to reverse that affirmation.
Clearly, we don’t need to waste another day to know what we already know.