PICS: NAYANTARA GURUNG KAKSHAPATI
Too often those of us working on conflict-related disappearances here in Nepal fail to focus on these personal stories, getting lost in human rights terminology that can feel clinical. Our focus is understandably on documentation for police investigations, prosecutions in courts, and commissions of inquiry. But in much of our reporting we dilute what it means to have lost a loved one. Without their voices, how can we empathise with them, whose lives could so easily have been ours?
The 2005 abduction of Purnimaya Lama's husband, Arjun, has been covered in the media. Accounts tell of how Maoist cadres took Arjun while he was attending a ceremony to celebrate his election as president of a local school in Kavre district. The case has become notorious because UCPN(M) CA member Agni Sapkota was named in the First Information Report filed. But police have failed to give an adequate explanation of why they are yet to arrest Sapkota or any of the others accused.
Purnimaya is not alone in losing a loved one to either side during the conflict. There are thousands of similar stories across Nepal. To add insult to injury, the police have failed to bring any of those accused before a court, the Nepal Army actively blocks investigations, and political leaders fail to deliver on promises committed to.
The International Day of the Disappeared is a reminder that the pursuit of peace means not only the end of grave human rights abuses but also peace for those left behind. That requires delivering on their individual needs for truth, justice and reparations.
Robert Godden is Asia-Pacific Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International.