Valley’s Nepalese grieve 12 killed in Iraq |

Valley’s Nepalese grieve 12 killed in Iraq

Naomi Havlen

The execution of 12 men from Nepal in Iraq on Tuesday prompted deep sadness from the small Nepali community in the Roaring Fork Valley.Dharmendra Prasai, who works at the Siamese Basil restaurant in Aspen, said local Nepalese were shocked and concerned about the news of their fellow countrymen slaughtered by Iraqi insurgents. The young men were simply trying to make better money in Iraq, he said.Members of the Islamic militant group Army of Ansar al Sunnah announced that they had killed their hostages on Tuesday. The kidnapped men were in Iraq working as cooks, cleaners and builders for a Jordanian company.News agencies ran photos of the young men, most clad in blue jeans and T-shirts, lying face down on the ground, riddled with bullets. The images came from the militant group’s Web site.In response to the news, protesters rioted in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Wednesday, and tourists were told to stay in their hotels, according to an article in The India Times.”It’s disturbing to us because we’re from a peace-loving country,” Prasai said yesterday. The Nepalese community in the central mountains of Colorado may number 40 or 50 people, he said, adding that the mountains remind him of his homeland.Prasai moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Nepal in 2001, soon after the nation’s Royal Massacre that left 12 people dead, including four members of the Nepali royal family. Maoist insurgents in Nepal have since terrorized the formerly peaceful nation, assassinating officials and weakening the government, Prasai said.Because of the civil war in Nepal, factories and businesses have closed, making work hard to find. The 12 men murdered on Tuesday were trying to earn money for their families back in Nepal, Prasai said.”You can do nothing over there in Nepal, so their families tried to send them abroad so they could send money home, come back later and live a pleasant life,” Prasai said.Many Nepalese feel that their government didn’t do enough to rescue the hostages, though the captors never stated any conditions for the release of the hostages, Prasai said.”We want to condemn what happened over there because it was totally inhuman,” he said. “After discussing among ourselves, we decided if there was anything we could do, it’s publicize something, to share our concern.”He said he feels safe in the United States, but he worries about his mother, father, wife and two children he left behind in Nepal.”Nepal has always supported the USA, and we want people to support us now,” he said. “We want to express our condolences to those families, and may their souls rest in peace.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is