In call for cases, Doramba folk see chance for justicePeople of Doramba, a Ramechhap village that suffered heavily during the Maoist insurgency, have taken interest in the call for registration of complaints related to the conflict.
People of Doramba, a Ramechhap village that suffered heavily during the Maoist insurgency, have taken interest in the call for registration of complaints related to the conflict.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons have issued public notices appealing to conflict victims to register their complaints beginning mid-April through telephone, fax, email and letter. Dik Bahadur Tamang of Ramechhap said the initiative has given them hope for justice. “We have had the most difficult time of our lives,” said Tamang, voicing his wish to see the culprits punished within his lifetime.
The commissions, formed to look into the conflict-era cases, have finally started their work 14 months after their formation. The government had formed the transitional justice bodies nine years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which envisaged their formation within six months.
Around three dozen Doramba villagers were killed during the Maoist People’s War. On August 17, 2003, while talks were ongoing in Hapure, Dang district, 19 people were detained and summarily executed by the then Royal Nepal Army in Doramba. The majority of those killed were affiliated with the then rebel party CPN (Maoist).
The rebels had also locked out eight families by confiscating their property alleging them to have been providing information to the Army. Following the incident, more than 50 households were displaced from Doramba VDC.
“The Maoist rebels targeted me, placed me on their most wanted list. I survived by chance but how long can we hold the grudges against one another?” said Tamang. Like him, most villagers here were troubled either by the rebels or the state. They have waited too long for the state to begin the closure of their cases. They want to support the TRC in collecting and investigating the incidents.
Although the Army claimed to have killed them in crossfire, the National Human Rights Commission concluded that they were killed after they were taken under control. Amid criticism from all quarters, the security agency had admitted to its mistake. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in its Nepal Conflict Report described it as an emblematic case of rights violation during the conflict.
“It’s an opportunity for us to seek justice,” said Rajina Budhathoki, a villager. “Earlier, there was no environment favourable for us to file a case even if we wanted.”
However, Govinda Budhathoki of Tilpung, another victim, has reservations against the TRC’s work. “We don’t believe the state will take action against the perpetrators,” he said, terming the process a farce. He said he would register his case only if there was a guarantee that the guilty would be brought to justice. “If the perpetrators are not punished, we may be trapped into bigger problems,” he said.
The transitional justice bodies have an obligation to provide security to the victims if they feel threat from the perpetrator.
Bhakta Bahadur Thami, a villager from Daduwa, said he would not miss the opportunity. “The then Royal Nepal Army soldiers had held many of our friends hostage even in the time of peace talks. We want to see the guilty punished,” said Thami.
According to the locals, the soldiers had killed six persons in Deurali as well. “We know the persons who were involved in the incident. We are going to file cases against them,” said Uma KC, a villager.
Due to time constraints, the TRC has decided to collect cases through Local Peace Committees, which essentially are all-party mechanisms. After the victims questioned their neutrality, the commission has been holding consultations for setting up an oversight mechanism to monitor activities at the local level.