26 Sep - 2 Oct 2014 #726

Death of justice

If the perpetrators and the state showed even the slightest sign of remorse for wartime atrocities, survivors may be willing to forgive. But they will never forget

Nepal’s conflict ended eight years ago. But the war is not finished as long as the pain of bereavement of the survivors remains, those whose relatives were disappeared still grieve, the wounded and displaced are left to fend for themselves.

The feudal Nepali state was a perpetrator of structural violence. The Maoists, however misguided in their pursuit of an obsolete ideology, believed that only revolutionary violence could counter it. Had they tried to learn from history, they would have known that violence is never the answer, that it breeds a cycle of vengeance. So it is that today, the disgraced revolutionaries have no answer  when posed with the question: “What was it all for?”

Nepal’s conflict had no victors and no vanquished. Neither side won, the Nepali people lost and the country’s development was pushed back decades. And we are left with a legacy of violence and lawlessness during this prolonged transition. Going from monarchy to republic cannot be called ‘progress’ if it doesn’t make a difference to the people’s living standards, doesn’t create jobs, or  prevents us from being more inclusive and taking a great leap in development. The country was unilaterally declared ‘secular' without the people’s consent. Federalism, touted as the biggest accomplishment of the revolution, is just a slogan and has stopped meaning true devolution and autonomy. Instead it threatens to fragment an already disunited country. Whatever political progress was credited to a war fought in the name of the people was not worth the blood that was shed and the sacrifices made.

Now, a state composed of war mongers from both sides that visited such misery on the nation wants us to let bygones be bygones. Not only do they not want to say sorry, they are forcing Nepalis to forget the past, or else. Forget who executed your innocent father, don’t ask who raped your daughter, disregard the commissar or captain who disappeared your brother, don’t you dare name those who ran torture chambers. Because if you don’t, we will let the peace process collapse. So, they blackmail us with the threat of violence while the internationals look on. They vilify human rights defenders and those who seek justice, accusing them of being in the payroll of ‘foreigners’. They insult, even in death, a father who suffered untold pain by refusing to eat for nearly a year demanding that those who murdered his teenage son be brought to justice.

The death of Nanda Prasad Adhikari this week has seriously smeared Nepal’s democratic credentials. It has exposed the selective activists, a deceitful state, and an undependable international community which mysteriously refused to speak and act on a human rights issue that they were so passionate about till recently. How did protecting the ‘process’ suddenly become more important than protecting ‘justice’?

In this special issue of Nepali Times which should be marking the festive season, we have tried to remind ourselves of those forgotten and abandoned victims of the war.  Many are still waiting for justice, minors who witnessed horrific violence are now troubled and destitute adolescents, no one hears the silent cry of rape victims, and there are hundreds of families of the disappeared for whom every day without closure is an occasion for fresh mourning.

If the perpetrators and the state showed even the slightest sign of remorse, if they took concrete steps to set up a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Enforced Disappearances, there is a chance that the relatives of the victims and survivors would be willing to forgive. But they will never forget.

Dasain is said to mark the victory of good over evil. In Nepal, it looks like evil still has the upper hand.

Read also:

Statute of denial, Mallika Aryal

Children of war, Kunda Dixit

Still missing them, Deepak Gyawali

The sad saga of the Adhikari family, Damakant Jayshi

Irreconcible truths, Editorial

Forced to disappear, Tufan Neupane

Just want justice, Bhrikuti Rai

“I need to know why”, Gopal Gartaula

Transitional injustice, Editorial

Post-conflict stress syndrome, Taylor Caldwell

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