Nepali Times
Guest Column
Missing justice



The issue of justice and impunity is once more in the headlines because of the promotion of Toran Bahadur Singh, the in-charge of the infamous Bhairabnath base, and the army's attempt to prevent Niranjan Basnet from appearing in a civilian court.

Such blatant attempts to obstruct the path of justice have significantly weakened Nepal's human rights movement and have also given the Maoists an excuse to get away with their own abuses. The issue of transitional justice and truth has become a charade.

Government bodies and human rights groups currently dealing with missing persons also display a lack of seriousness regarding justice for the affected families. Perpetrators of war crimes, far from being punished, are being rewarded. Supreme Court verdicts and court directives have been ignored.

The families of the disappeared have been forgotten and their need for truth, justice and compensation have been deliberately ignored. Their uncertainty and pain is felt daily because they still don't know whether their loved ones are dead or alive. This trauma is accentuated by the psychological, economic, social, political and legal problems that they have to bear.

The victims' movement is becoming increasingly disillusioned and weakened by political divisions and the interests of NGOs and donors. Transitional justice has been an elite discourse limited to urban centres. The affected rural families are unsure about how the process will work, the results being promised and whether it represents the fulfillment of their demands or not.

The Disappearance Bill drafted in Kathmandu, which was approved in late 2009, focuses largely on amnesty and reconciliation. But how can we have true reconciliation through a bill drafted by the movers and shakers in Kathmandu without a word of input from those affected by what the bill proposes to correct? The Bill itself will likely linger before the Disappearance and Truth Commissions, and with no timetable for its acceptance, the government is off the hook on ending impunity and delivering justice to the families.

The Disappearance Commission should have been formed after the peace accord if the political parties were really serious about it. Now the government is preparing to just go through the motions of performing a ritual to keep donors happy. And why do we need two commissions?

In the villages, a single family is often a victim of different cases involving disappearances, killings, torture and rape. Family members don't need to face two commissions and go through the excruciating trauma of publicly reliving their memories. If the government and political parties are serious, they should ask us, the victims, what we want.

A single commission to deal with the issue of disappearances and war crimes should be independent and have the power to prosecute those involved. Otherwise negative history will be repeated as it was with the Mallik and Rayamajhi commissions set up to investigate past abuses.

Unfortunately, many families have lost hope for justice and reconciliation and feel marginalised by the peace process. Families and witnesses do not feel secure, and rights activists in the field like me face regular death threats.

The CDO, DSP and army major in Lamjung who were responsible for my father's detention and disappearance are still serving and have even been promoted. The Toran Singh and Niranjan Basnet cases prove that impunity starts at the very top and sets a precedent for those in the districts.

We doubt the intentions of the government and the Maoists, and we fear that they want to return to war. The movement to learn the whereabouts of Nepal's disappeared citizens is also at the crossroads. Seeking justice is an essential part of building a durable peace.

Ram Kumar Bhandari, whose father was disappeared in 2001, is a human rights activist based in Lamjung.

Disappeared - FROM ISSUE #484 (08 JAN 2010 - 14 JAN 2010)
Without a trace - FROM ISSUE #450 (08 MAY 2009 - 14 MAY 2009)
Vanishing hope - FROM ISSUE #466 (28 AUG 2009 - 03 SEPT 2009)
The long, long wait - FROM ISSUE #409 (18 JULY - 24 JULY 2008)
How can we forget? - FROM ISSUE #389 (29 FEB 2008 - 06 MARCH 2008)
"For lasting peace, we must deal with the missing" - FROM ISSUE #351 (01 JUNE 2007 - 07 JUNE 2007)

1. Nepallover
True article but what sadly the people who should hear to act have chosen to close their ears, lest they ruin the fledgling peace at hand by ruffling the feathers. It is not Niranjan Basnet but the Pyar Jung Thapa who should be tried and same goes on for the Barsa Man Pun and Prachanda, as it is them who order the human right abuses. Why is the man who killed AP chief still at large ? What about the killings in villages which are not high profile yet ? For example, Shahi in Kalikot who was killed by Maoist few years back, simply for being a supporter of Nepali congress ? Human Rights in Nepal is a dollar business. The more they can shout the more dollars they can attract. Niranjan Basnet is caught in between, as the court found out, he was not present when the crime happened. As all the perpetrator of the crime have left the army, the only scapegoat remained has been Basnet, while HR activist drool over scandalizing and demonising the Major. Injustice yields violence and therefore, it is important not to make false propaganda to victimise the innocent as it was done onto their near ones during the war time. If anyone is to blame for this injustice, it is the maoists, who did not utter a word against the crimes, neither done by themselves nor the criminals in the security forces. The first thing therefore would be to set the political parties in right place. Pleas for justice with criminals will only incite more frustratation as they will serve the purpose for their own interests. Human Rights organization in Nepal used to be one of the interests until Maoists were in opposition, to pressure the government. The legacy of threat and blackmail in the name of HR was set by Maoists. Moreover, it now has been a matter of economic concern. Politics of war economy, that can bring in some dollars; pathetic the story, more the dollars. So what ?: My plea to all the family of the victims, start a movement of your own. Form a political power, not to boost the interest of someone like Maoist, who use and throw you but a power that has genuine concern for Nepal and Nepalis, and yes without the greed for dollars !

DEAR Bhandariji, Your article truly capture the current state of sate, Nepal. Its long many days that we don't have any communication. Plz write to me since i lost ur email address. My email is

3. Seemankan
Article is powerful and good analysis. NGO and donors should learn from the ground. International community and support based INGO must reach the victims family and family associations directly not by peace agent based in kathmandu. NGOs have been playing to divide and mobilise innocent victims on their own agenda not for victims rights and justice. Conflict victims who lost their family members in the war, they have nothing and fighting to know the truth, and seeking justice. The political leaders are the cuase of impunity in Nepal, they are corrupts and violators, they should be hanging out to establish a New Nepal. What Girija, Prachand and Madhav did in favour of victims? The status of disappeared citizens is still unknown, its a big mistake of transition that the noted criminals are in power. Why Toran sing promoted? UML now is playing a very reactionary role and Bidhya seems like a mad widow, why you are promoting criminals? if you can, try to find Madan Bhandari's crimes? why are you following India and Oli's bad spirit? Stop it, and punish the criminals. NGO people don't try to abuse the innocent victims behind your project, you are another abusers in the name of rights. Yo satile sarapeko desh ma kehi hune wala chhaina! Aba chhittai peace process khattam hundai chha ra dherai Nepali marne chhan. IF you can not save justice, try to save your life and other as you can. Aba badala ko rajniti suru hunchha!

4. Mina Gurung
Dear Ram Dai Your article shows the fact condition of country . All the parties are busy in their own business. They will never punish the criminals but they will save if their political carrer will raise up by that issues. Any way don't stop your pen. One day your article will be documentation for new generation. Keep it up. Best of luck.

5. Reeta
Pyarjung thapa, Katuwal ani shere deuba lai sabvanda badi karbai garnu parchha, ani mb commander haru pani samatinu parchha, ani matrai impunity ko kaam suru huna sakchha. Sher bahadur deuba is the big criminals and he made abloddy history in Nepal imposing emergency, yesta aapardhi haru CA ma rakhera na ramro sambidhan banchha na ta dandahinata ko antya hunchha. Sabai criminals lai fairly sajaya nahunjel yo desh bandain ra victims ko rights ra demand pura hundaina. Now again, all the criminals in politics, security forces are sitting, drinking and drafting the so call bills together in Kathmandu and planning for amnesty and reconciliation. It is very impossible and a another war will begin soon. The players of peace like NGOs and INGOs, and corrupt media houses are also the cause of impunity, they are working on their agenda to make money and hold the peace market only. political leaders are all corrupt and bad criminals, they should be died soon, and people will make new nepal. To victims, you all have to come together without political bias with the humanitarian goals, and build a movement from ground for justice and peace. We salute your true movement and extend our solidarity from civil society.

6. Debra
Thank you for the article and to everyone in Nepal and overseas - please let us all ensure the security of those who have the courage to write such articles and potentially elevate their profiles. The risks taken by victims, human rights defenders and journalists are many, let's be there together if/when the pressure mounts.

7. बाबुराम
रामकुमारजी तपाइँको बुवाको सम्झनामा गर्नु भएको योगदान नेपाल र नेपालीहरुले कहिले बिर्सिन्नन्। तपाइँको यो काममा आउँदा दीनहरुमा थप बल पुगोस।

8. jange
The defense minister of the time must be the first to be put on trial. Then only the small fry.

9. Raktabeej
Ramji, your article is the missile for victim's struggle for justice. It is very difficult in Nepal to end impunity and provide truth and justice to disappeared families and thousands of conflict victims in the context where people are not safe like you, every party trying to break the spirit of justice and weakening the justice campaign. The dollar Org. and socalled NGOs are not interested with victims justice rather that of their peace projects for the sake of money and fame in the market, they are the enemy of victims movement. Maoist are not interested in this human rights business due to fear to face court and punishment, therefore not mobilising their cadres to give pressure on Niranjan Basent handover to Kavre court, and promotion of Toran, they will face the history oneday and its not good for Maoist party, afterall people want justice and peace. Its a big damage in Nepal, like many nice people like yours father detained and disappeared, illegally killed, who pay the cost of humanity? if you go for revenge struggle to punish the criminals by yourself then we will support your movement, aba hune Bhishan Kaatmaar Face garna sabai kaayar harulai Nimto dinuhola. Victims le justice napaye samma yo deshma peace process samvab chhaina, lesson ko lagi violation is necessary. Salute your bravery step and hope for justice still alive somewhere in the heart. Thanks.

10. Nisha, Sunsari
Yestai chala ho bhane kehi hune wala chhaina. Bidhya bhandari ko putla jalaunu parchha, aba victims haru le Bidhya lai bahiskar garnu parchha. Maobadi lai sachet parnu parchha. NGO ra party harule victim ka naam ma khel khelna chhada. Timra project ra gaddar rajniti le aaja hamro pyaro desh and pariwar dhwosta bhaisakyo, hamro blood and Nepali aamako aansu ajhai kati khanchau? vo aaba timro peace project ra peace process hamilai chahidaina, hamilai satya tathya ra nyaya chahiyeko chha. sabai victim haru ek bhayera sangathit andolan nirman garau! Ramji lai suvakamana, aandolan ko aguaai garnos, dhamki sanga nadaraunos! One day we all are dying, however we should bring peace to our next generation.

11. Bal Bahadur
Katuwal is still alive and Gyane is observing the transition. Army is aggressively planning to destroy the activist like you. Politics fail vaisakyo, Maoist are not interested in this human rights thing, you better rethink to write the articles against the army officers, nobody can save you nor do your human rights gurus protect you! Who you are to write against Army, one of the powerful institutions in Nepal! Sooner army will be more powerful and active, what they want that happen in Nepali politics, media and government, army has money, power and network. Human right is nothing in transition, sabai mile shanti, natra bhadragol, so you better keep silent. Hwos gare ramro! Marisakeka machhe khojnu bekar ho. Krishan Prasad Bhattarai already said in his primeministership time, 'all are dead'.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)