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Page 16 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
ASIA / PACIFIC
February 15, 2016
Ethnic protesters in Nepal withdraw border blockade, strike
By Binaj Gurubacharya
The Associated Press
ATHMANDU, Nepal — The main ethnic group
that’s been protesting for months over Nepal’s
new constitution is ending its border blockade
and general strike, bringing relief to the Himalayan
nation severely short of fuel, medicine, and other
The United Democratic Madhesi Front said in a
statement it would continue its protests, but would no
longer block the border points where crucial supplies come
on cargo trucks from India.
The strike shut down schools, markets, and transpor-
tation in the south, and the group’s announcement came
days after frustrated traders and residents forcefully
removed the barriers at the main border crossing.
Ethnic Madhesis oppose the new constitution because
they say its seven federal states have borders that cut
through their ancestral homeland in the south. They want
a larger state, more government representation, and more
local autonomy. Talks with the government have
continued, but no agreement has been reached.
The Constituent Assembly adopted a constitution in
September after years of delay and despite protests of
More than 50 people have been killed since August in
clashes between the protesters and security forces.
In early February, vehicles passed through the Birgunj
border point, about 100 miles south of Kathmandu.
Hundreds of trucks rolled into Nepal bringing in supplies.
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS. Ethnic Chinese draw bamboo sticks
for divination during the celebration of the Lunar New Year at a temple in
Hong Kong. The celebration marked the beginning of the Year of the Mon-
key. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Chinese visit temples, fairs to
ring in the Year of the Monkey
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and others around Asia
flocked to temples and fairs to pray for good health and
fortune on the first day of the Lunar New Year.
In Beijing, hundreds of thousands of people visited
traditional fairs held in parks, as well as Buddhist and
Taoist temples offering singing and dance performances
and open-air markets selling handicrafts. Ethnic Chinese
people in other countries celebrated the holiday as well.
February 8 marked the first day of the Year of the
Monkey — the ninth animal on the lunar zodiac calendar.
The weeklong holiday, known as the Spring Festival in
China, is focused on family reunion and is a time when
students and migrant workers return to their hometowns.
It is the country’s most important holiday.
Dancers dressed in lion costumes entertained the
crowds in Manila’s Chinatown, Indonesia’s ethnic
Chinese prayed in Jakarta, and the Sydney Opera House
was lit red.
Travel agent Meng Su lined up to burn incense at the
Tibetan Buddhist Lama Temple in central Beijing, which
is regarded as a popular tradition that brings good luck to
“Chinese people revere the power of nature and believe
in gods, so we hope to express our blessings and that the
gods can hear us,” said Meng, 39. “It’s also a way for us to
find some comfort.”
Another Beijing resident, Yan Xiaying, 29, said her
mother had a clear target as the pair visited the temple.
“I guess my mother hopes that I get married soon,” Yan
said, with her mother agreeing.
BACK TO BUSINESS. Local residents of Nepal and India living near the border cross a bridge at Birgunj, Nepal. Vehicles passed through the
main border point between the two nations after local residents forcibly removed barriers set up by ethnic protesters who for months have demanded
changes in the new constitution. (AP Photo/Jiyalal Sah)
Fuel trucks also obtained oil from the main storage at
Raxaul in India.
Nepal Oil Corp., which imports and distributes fuel in
Nepal, said it took days for normal supply to resume in the
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The statement also indicated problems among the
Madhesi groups. The United Democratic Madhesi Front is
made up of four main Madhesi groups, and the statement
blamed Sadhbhawana Party leader Rajendra Mahato for
weakening the front’s protests.