TEARS IN HEAVEN: A photo of journalist Dekendra Thapa's daughter at the Peace Museum in Patan.
The arrests of Colonel Kumar Lama in the UK and those accused of journalist Dekendra Thapa’s murder in Dailekh have put international spotlight on the gruesome crimes committed during the decade long civil war and steered the nation’s attention away from musical-chairs politics to issues that matter.
These two cases have not only exposed the real faces of Nepal’s leaders, but also shattered the Maoists’ facade. By objecting Lama’s arrest in the name of ‘national sovereignty’ and stopping investigations into journalist Thapa’s murder because it would ‘undermine’ the peace process, the UCPN (Maoist) has proved beyond doubt that it will do anything to obstruct the path of justice. The opposition parties too are sending out a similar message: ending impunity and delivering justice for war victims are not on their priority list.
However, trying to protect the murderers of Dekendra Thapa is equal to killing peace and protesting against the investigation into human rights violations only weakens nationalism. Humanity goes beyond national boundaries and by trying to restrict legal process with the rhetoric of nationalism our leaders are deceiving us.
A country is sovereign only when its citizens are able to live with dignity. And it doesn’t take external forces to weaken Nepal’s sovereignty; it automatically becomes hollow when rulers refuse to provide justice and reconciliation for thousands of Nepalis who were killed, tortured, raped, and disappeared and instead look for ways to pardon those involved in war crimes.
Seven years after the armed conflict ended, the arrests in the UK and Dailekh have once again made us realise how important it is to identify and punish perpetrators on both sides so that families of victims can find closure. However, if Nepal’s rulers sweep the dirty secrets of the war under the carpet and provide blanket amnesty to criminals, then wounds will continue to fester and could turn into potent ingredients for future unrest.
Read the full article in Nepali