Tag Archives: Nepal

May Day || Global

Global May Day 2016

One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:


Asia Pacific

Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.

Throughout East Asia, workers rallied to draw attention to labor conditions and call for reforms, from ending contractualization in the Philippines to protecting job security in South KoreaHong Kong saw thousands take to the streets to demand fair and standardized working hours along with a universal pension program. In Malaysia, PM Najib Razak took the day to announce an increase in the national minimum wage and an insurance scheme proposal.

Europe & Eurasia

In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party  leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.

Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.

The Americas

From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.

In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.

Middle East & Africa

Police in Egypt blocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.

South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.

Nepal News | Women

Nepal elects first woman president following establishment of new constitution
  • Bidhya Devi Bhandari, a member of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), was elected Nepal’s second president by the Nepalese parliament.
  • Though the presidency is largely a ceremonial role, Bhandari has had a long political career that began after the death of her husband, a Nepali politician, in 1993.
  • Although she worked to secure a one-third quota for women in Nepal’ parliament, Bhandari has been at the center of controversy surrounding the inclusion of women’s rights in Nepal’s new constitution, having made comments construed as supporting gender inequality in the country.

Read more:
Bhandari is Nepal’s 1st female President” (The Kathmandu Post)
This Woman Is Now Nepal’s First Female President” (BuzzFeed News)
A Himalayan first” (The Indian Express)

(Image Credit: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters, via BuzzFeed News)

Nepal News | LGBT

New Nepal constitution enshrines rights of LGBT citizens
  • Along with wide-ranging inclusion of vulnerable classes, gender and sexual minorities were identified as being entitled to political protections.
  • The constitution is the first to be approved since the 2008 abolition of the Nepalese monarchy.
  • Marriage is not defined in the constitution, but a special tribunal called upon by the Supreme Court has recommended the extension of marriage rights to sexual minorities.
“The nation’s leadership has affirmed that its LGBT citizens deserve the constitutional right to live their lives free from discrimination and fear.”
Read the full story at the Washington Blade.

Nepal News | Transgender

Nepal issues its first trans-friendly passport
  • Monica Shahi, a trans LGBT activist, was awarded the passport, which includes a third category for gender minorities.
  • The issuance follows the amendment of Nepal’s passport regulations earlier in the year.
  • Nepal joins Australia and New Zealand in designating a third gender option on passports.

“Today is an important day in my life and I hope the younger generation is encouraged by the move.”

Read the full story at Firstpost.

Interregional Feature | Bhutanese

Bhutan’s Refugees

Al Jazeera traces the history and future of the more than 120,000 ethnic Nepalis who have been driven from the country by an authoritarian government hostile to their culture and presence.  The feature follows a group of Bhutanese refugees as they make their way from their refugee camp in Nepal to the U.S.

View the full feature at Al Jazeera.

Nepal News | LGBTQ

Nepal’s LGBT community faces unique challenges atop already precarious social conditions after earthquakes
  • The Blue Diamond Society has been a leading organization for the support of Nepal’s sexual and gender minority community, and their tents have provided a place of refuge for individuals alienated from families and communities in the aftermath of the country’s devastating earthquakes.
  • Some in the community face challenging situations during the rebuilding period, such as lack of health services and facilities for third-gender-identifying individuals.
  • The Red Cross has designated staff devoted to providing support to society’s most vulnerable, and it has worked closely with the Blue Diamond Society to provide services and raise awareness about the community among volunteers.

“What Nepal is going through is beyond imagination. But we, the LGBTIQ people of Nepal, pledge with all Nepalese, that we will rebuild our lives, our families, our societies and our nation.”

Read the full story at Gay News Network.

(Image Credit: Paula Bronstein/Gay News Network)

Some Nepalis working on World Cup construction projects in Qatar denied leave to return to Nepal for funerals and family visits. More from The Guardian.