2 MIN READ
verb, e.g. I don’t want to be pennered from Nepal
To be ‘pennered’ means to be expelled from Nepal for tweets that cause ‘social discord.’ It refers to the May 2016 case of Robert Penner, a Canadian national who was kicked out of Nepal for tweets in Nepali that, according to the Department of Immigration, violated the terms of his visa. For those who were upset with Penner, the fact that he tweeted in Nepali and that too at a troll-level intensity, was particularly enraging. To be ‘pennered’ for Robert Penner meant that he was forced to leave Nepal permanently. However, ‘being pennered’ has taken on a wider meaning. It has come to generate self-censorship and acts as a way of stopping commentary or criticism on ‘sensitive’ issues. Fear of being kicked out of Nepal like Penner has stopped many foreigners based in Nepal from discussing, writing, tweeting or commenting on anything remotely controversial in public. The list of topics that pennering has curtailed includes anything to do with the upper-caste and social inclusion, politics, the current government, Christianity, and corruption. Fear of being pennered particularly applies to long-term foreigners who plan to stay here for a long time and are here on work, marriage or educational visas.
Being pennered is arguably the ultimate revenge of the hill bureaucrats, likely the same people who have suffered – like many Nepalis – visa humiliations and deportations at the hands of Western countries. But why should we care about the pennering of some foreigners? Because it has set a trend: Nepalis have seen their rights to protest, criticize and speak out curtailed too on issues ranging from the building of roads to medical education to the state’s response to rape cases. This isn’t new in Nepal and rights always have to be fought for, but this government and this bureaucracy seems particularly in love with ‘pennering’. And there is no told-you-so glee to be had in discovering that some of the same people who supported the first peneering are now, albeit in different ways, being pennered themselves.
We welcome your comments. Please write to us at [email protected]
The Record We are an independent digital publication based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Our stories examine politics, the economy, society, and culture. We look into events both current and past, offering depth, analysis, and perspective. Explore our features, explainers, long reads, multimedia stories, and podcasts. There’s something here for everyone.
11 min read
Ranging from the deeply spiritual to playful, cheeky and contemplative, Ang Tsherin Sherpa’s work is innocent, full of sincere feeling, but also tongue-in-cheek.
2 min read
Tourism entrepreneurs treat the country’s reopening for tourists with measured optimism
13 min read
Some call NFTs a new era of ownership on the internet while others say it’s a fad and a threat to the environment. But what exactly are NFTs?
12 min read
Kesang Tseten, in documenting these grueling stories, has done his part by successfully bringing the experience of the Nepali migrant worker to our attention, and has thus recorded history in unforgettable images.
13 min read
An explainer on what sexual harassment is, the legal frameworks that aim to prevent and eliminate it, and what else can be done.
6 min read
It can be a political act for a woman to simply occupy public space. Teej songs, like those by Komal Oli, enable women to do so while joyfully singing and dancing, highlighting their desiring selves.
6 min read
In this new edition of Tim Gurung’s series on his life and times, he details the changing business climate in China and his eventual turn towards the literary world.
6 min read
The upcoming sci-fi film Ningwasum explores indigeneity, liberty, climate change while critiquing colonialism, brahmanical patriarchy, and capitalism.