Nepali Times
Editorial
Diasappeared rights


We have now given up trying to believe that the two sides in this country's mad conflict ever want to stop fighting. Oh yes, they'll talk about peace, about "maximum flexibility" and how they don't believe in a military solution. They may suspend the slaughter temporarily over the holidays, but nothing longterm. It is as if their very existence now depends on extending the conflict--the military so it can bolster its strength, and the rebels because if the killings stop people may turn against them. The palace doesn't want to compromise, and the comrades think forcing the people to live through this nightmare is the only way to realise their discredited utopian dream.

But if they don't want to stop the war, the least they can do is fight it according to the rules. There are laws enshrined in international charters that bind both state and non-state belligerents: if you must kill each other, go ahead, but don't kill unarmed civilians, don't summarily execute anyone (not even an enemy combatant) after capture, allow family members unhindered access to detainees, don't disappear people.

This is a dirty war, and impunity is rife. The guilty may be identified, but they are never caught and punished. The kill rate may have gone down this year compared to 2003, but the fall in fatalities is more than compensated by the extreme brutality of the murders-merciless butchery that would make Dasai sacrifices look humane. Dozens of nails are hammered into a victim's skull one by one, decapitation in front of family, severing of limbs, multiple rape and the desecration of dead bodies.

And if there is a fate worse than death for relatives of victims, it is the disappearance of their dear ones, the prolonged and dead-end uncertainty of not knowing where they are, whether they are dead or alive.

It is not that we did not know all this was happening around us. Some of these atrocities have been chronicled in these pages in recent years. But the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports released this week put it in perspective, telling the tale of a population caught in the vice of war. "Neither the government nor the Maoists are particularly concerned with the protection of civilians while they fight this dirty war," says the HRW report while documenting cases of extra-judicial executions.

The rebels are outlaws, we don't expect much from them. But a state can't say 'they started it firs&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;', 'they are worse', or 'they also do it to us'. A state party allowed by law to legitimately carry arms must answer to the laws of the land and international statutes to which Nepal is signatory.

The HRW report, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Civilians Struggle to Survive in Nepal's Civil War, documents individual horror that adds up to a shocking national tragedy. The report recommends an early signing of a Human Rights Accord and its monitoring by the National Human Rights Commission. Abuse and impunity are no longer a fringe phenomenon, it is the core of this war. Reducing it will afford some protection to ordinary citizens, and may help lay the groundwork for a future peace process. It will not end the war, it may not end the violations, it will not end the despair and grief, but it will be a first step.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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