Relatives of people disappeared by the government wept as they narrated their stories at a press meet at the Nepal Bar Association in Kathmandu on Monday. Mothers, sisters and wives have been trying to find out what happened to their dear ones after they were taken away either by the security forces or by the rebels.
"Eight months have passed since my brother went missing," said Parbati Maharjan of Lalitpur. "He took care of the whole family and after his arrest my parents are almost starving to death..." She broke into sobs, unable to finish her sentence. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, other participants started crying too. Even human rights activist Padma Ratna Tuladhar could not hold back his tears.
Indra Kishori Shrestha of Bhaktapur said she knew where her son is but hasn't been allowed to meet him. "They pointed their guns at me and said that they knew what to do with women in the nearby forest," she said, her voice trembling. "Who do I turn to now?" Sita Prasai, a young government employee, was remarkably collected when she recounted how her husband was taken away 10 days ago. But, later when other speakers broke down, she could not control her tears. "Who understands the heart of a woman?" she asked. "Especially when it has to do with her husband." Sita added that she was ready to accept any punishment if her husband was found guilty. "But I must be told of his whereabouts and the reason for his detention."
Nearly 70 people, mostly women, spoke of their fears for those disappeared. They had just ended their week-long relay hunger strike before publicising their plight through the press. At the meet, three women announced that they would begin a fast-unto-death. "They are all mothers who want to know what has become of their sons who were disappeared after being taken by the state," explained Shanta Bhandari, secretary of the Society of the Relatives of Disappeared Persons. "If the government does not listen to us, we will all join the fast-unto-death and die."
Besides those taken by security forces, relatives of those disappeared by the Maoists were also there. On several occasions in the past, they too made their pains public. Several human rights organisations have brought out lists of people disappeared by both sides.