It has been two decades since Nepal’s conflict began and ten years since the cessation of violence, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
and the beginning of Nepal’s ‘transition’ back to democracy.
Rather than continuing with the blame game, it is time we realise our collective failure in addressing the realities of the conflict and its impact on the people, the economy and our society.
What is done is done. But it seems that now we are slowly coming full circle: if we were to take ourselves out of a 2016 Nepal and put ourselves back into a 1995 Nepal, for example, things have indeed changed. For one, if you are of a minority ethnic or religious group, you likely have more confidence about voicing your opinions in 2016 than you did in 1995. You likely have more rights, at least on paper. You find the absence of a monarchy and the Hindu state it harboured. You find yourself imagining a decentralised and federal Nepal in 2016.
But, considering the price we paid for these achievements, in terms of lives, the economy, and development, it seems but a pittance to what could have been realised — what should have been attained.
Nepalis have often been sold the dream of Nepal being transformed into Switzerland or Singapore in a decade. Decades have passed and Nepal is like neither. The lives lost between 1996 and 2006, were justified in the hearts of many, even those families whose members were taken from them. There was apparently a ‘greater cause’ and what Nepal was going to be was bloody amazing.
But since the promulgation of the new constitution
, however, we have seen more bloodshed
than we have since the war ended. The people’s frustrations have again boiled over, and the moral corruption of the political elite is more shocking than it has ever been.
In the meantime, those impacted by the violence from two decades ago are still waiting for justice while the families of those killed months ago have only just started raising their voices. Those who had their fathers hung on trees or disappeared, and young boys that were coaxed into picking up and firing guns in the name of the revolution are yet to be given answers.
Young Tharu girls who were then in their early teens still have memories of being tortured and gang raped in army barracks are still denied even the semblance of truth — forget justice.
The search for truth has been exhausting, and indeed the reality is that many victims have just given up. They show up for protests and programs, but they have been compelled to learn to forget. In that sense, the state and the former rebels have already won. The establishment has reduced truth and justice-seeking to soirees at hotels and conference centres and the victims have in many instances begun to see little hope for much else.
So, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
and the Commission for the Investigation of Enforced Disappearances (CIED), which was formed illegally, and after 14 months of having done nothing, says that they are working through a ‘victim-centric’ approach, one can’t help but feel lied to.
In fact, it’s likely that a couple of decades from now, similar commissions will have been set up to ‘investigate’ the violence in the Tarai. The victims of the Maoist-led conflict will grow old, and still be attending ‘justice seeking’ meetings while the guilty politicians and security personnel’s children will have consolidated power.
A new group of victims will have emerged and no one will care about them, either. Of course, by then Switzerland will have awesome carbon-neutral cars that fly and are free for all citizens. What will we have? A bunch of commissions and commissioners with blood on their hands.
How many times do we need to share our story?, Seulki Lee
The torturous road to peace, Yubaraj Shrestha
State of impunity, Editorial