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A Nepali Doctor Is On Life Support After Fasting For 13 Days To Protest Corruption

The #IAmWithDrKC hashtag is trending all over Nepal as support builds for a doctor who intends on fasting until death unless the government responds to his demands for reform.

Last updated on September 1, 2020, at 6:37 p.m. ET

Posted on July 22, 2016, at 9:15 a.m. ET

Editors' note: This story has been updated to more clearly attribute phrasing from work previously published in Nepali Times.

Dr. Govinda K.C. is an orthopedic surgeon from Nepal who, as of Friday, is 13 days into a hunger strike. This is the eighth hunger strike the doctor has been on as he demands reform in Nepal’s medical education.

Courtesy of The Kathmandu Post / Via

K.C. has been protesting against corruption and to highlight the need for reform in the medical education sector since last year. One of his main goals is implement a health education act, which he believes is being obstructed by the interests of the head of the country's anti-corruption body.

There are 19 private medical colleges that dominate the medical education industry in Nepal. The majority of these colleges are expensive, with students paying tuition fees of nearly $30,000, and have been accused of allowing children of rich people to buy their degrees and threatening the medical profession.

K.C.'s last hunger strike in 2015 ended after 11 days when the government finally agreed to bar affiliations to new medical colleges until a new policy regarding medical education was passed. At the time K.C. called it a triumph.

K.C. has also demanded the impeachment of the head of Nepal's anti-corruption body for interfering in the medical science exams for personal gains.

According to Nepali Times, a day before the postgraduate exams at Kathmandu University, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) "dispatched a 'panel of experts' who cancelled the [test], saying that it had been leaked, and prepared a new one. One of the deans of the university then helped prepare the new questions, and his son scored top marks in the exams."

On July 10, K.C. began his indefinite hunger strike, making the following demands:

1. Passing of a health education act to provide basic medical education to Nepal's poorer communities

2. Impeachment of the head of the CIAA

3. Revoking of a bill currently tabled in parliament that allows the formation of a "cooperative" medical college

4. Implementation of all past agreements

Following his hunger strike, the #IAmWithDrKC hashtag has been trending throughout the country as support for K.C and his demands grows.

अरुलाई हानी गर्न वा प्रतिशोधमा डा.गोविन्द केसीलाई गलत साबित गर्ने प्रयत्न प्रत्युत्पादक हुन्छ। #IamwithDrKC

"It would be counter productive to try to prove Dr. K.C. wrong as an act of revenge."

Twitter: @KekiAdhikari

"Please bring your umbrella for the #umbrellarevolution to put pressure on government and members of parliament on behalf of Dr. K.C."

The sign reads: “The youth should move forward for good governance in the country. – Dr. Govinda K.C."

As K.C. continues his fast, protests have broken out on the streets of Kathmandu.

Twitter: @phalano

"The rally in support of Dr. K.C.'s demands and against corruption."

According to Bidushi Dhungel, a Nepali writer who is supporting K.C.’s cause, about 2,000 people showed up to a protest on Thursday. A bigger rally has been planned for this weekend.

Courtesy of Keshab Thoker
Courtesy of Keshab Thoker

"We called it 'silent protest against the silent parliament' and in the pouring rain, around 1,000 people showed up over the two hours," she told BuzzFeed News. "We held placards that read 'I am a parliamentarian. I am silent because I am in favor of the mafia.'"

Courtesy of Keshab Thoker
Courtesy of Keshab Thoker

Adding to the uphill battle K.C. and his supporters face, Nepal's government is currently in crisis as its prime minister prepares to face a no-confidence motion in the parliament. Last week he lost the support of the political parties that helped form his coalition government.

Courtesy of Keshab Thoker
Courtesy of Keshab Thoker

"So where usually by this point, the government leaders would be panicking about how to address Dr K.C.'s fast, right now there's no one really to take the responsibility," Dhungel said.

Courtesy of Keshab Thoker
Courtesy of Keshab Thoker

K.C.'s health began deteriorating about five days ago. According to the Kathmandu Post, his heartbeat has been fluctuating and he has complained about muscle cramps and chest pains.

The government has said it will form a committee to begin talks, but K.C. has maintained that he will continue to fast until the four demands are met.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.