Nepal to deport five foreigners arrested at coronavirus protest

KATHMANDU (AFP) – Five foreigners from Australia, China and the United States (US) will be deported from Nepal and barred from returning for two years after protesting against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, officials said yesterday.

The five were among seven foreigners detained last Saturday when hundreds of people defied a nationwide lockdown to take part in the peaceful demonstration. They demanded better virus testing, quarantine facilities for returning migrant workers and transparency from the government.

They were being deported for joining a political rally in “a breach of tourist visa rules”, Nepal’s Immigration Department chief Ramesh Kumar KC told AFP. “They will be sent to their respective countries when international flights resume. They have also been banned from entering the country for two years,” he added. Nepal suspended international flights until July 5.

Of the group, three Chinese and an American were additionally fined NPR10,000, while an Australian was slapped with a NPR20,000 penalty for also taking photos.

A Norwegian woman arrested was fined NPR5,000 but avoided being deported as she is married to a Nepali.

A Canadian arrested was let off after being found not to have taken part in the rally.

Nepal imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March and has gradually eased it since then, but large gatherings are still banned and public transport remains suspended.

The government warned protesters they could face six months in jail if they held rallies during the lockdown.