New exhibition documents stories from survivors of the insurgencyMemory, Truth & Justice—From the Survivors of the People’s War, an audio-visual exhibition that includes the stories of the survivors of various forms of violence during the 10-year long Maoist insurgency, is currently on show at the Nepal Art Council in Babarmahal in the Capital.
Memory, Truth & Justice—From the Survivors of the People’s War, an audio-visual exhibition that includes the stories of the survivors of various forms of violence during the 10-year long Maoist insurgency, is currently on show at the Nepal Art Council in Babarmahal in the Capital.
According to government data, 17,886 people lost their lives during the war; a total of 1,530 were disappeared and 8,191 were either disfigured or disabled. This data, including data of the deaths of people respective of their districts, pinned on a wall, welcomes one to the exhibition, reminding one of the stunning magnitude of the loss the war caused.
As visitors linger on the data, a keening cry can be heard coming from the adjacent room; the sharp cry, one learns later, is that of Reena Rasaily, who was kidnapped from her home in Kavre while she was asleep in her bedroom. She was later raped and killed by Nepal Army personnel. Artist Martin Travers has recreated Reena’s bedroom as it was on the night she was taken, dimly-lit and messy, books and belongings strewn here and there. The installation is a harrowing reminder of the toll that the war took on civilians, especially women.
The exhibition also includes stories of survivors told through audio and video, photo stories, the letters sent by the deceased, and the belongings of the dead and disappeared kept for memory. Documentaries are also shown on a daily basis.
Organised by Voices of Women Media (VOW Media), the exhibit is part of the eponymous Memory, Truth & Justice project, which was carried out over a period of four years. As part of the project, the stories of survivors of the war were collected and documented, the output of which makes the current exhibit.
It’s been 12 years since both warring factions—the state and the Maoists—signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which promised to grant justice to victims of the war. But transitional justice remains in limbo. This is primarily what prompted VOW Media to conceive of this documentation, said Bikkil Sthapit, program manager. “The prospect of truth and justice being granted to survivors is thinning by the day, while many of the victims continue to live in emotional turmoil,” Sthapit said, “Some of the survivors have also started to lose their memory so documenting and memorialising their stories was urgent. All we can do is pass on their stories and hope that justice will be served.”
Memory, Truth & Justice—From the Survivors of the People’s War continues at the Nepal Art Council from, 9am-5pm, till Oct 6.