Local and provincial governments are taking reparative measures for conflict victimsVictims welcome the initiative, saying it should be replicated across the country
At a time when the federal government seems reluctant to provide justice for the victims of the decade-long armed insurgency, the local and provincial governments have started taking some steps to provide reparations for the victims locally.
Reparation, truth-seeking, prosecution, and institutional reformation to ensure that there is no repetition of violence in the future are the four major components of the transitional justice process, which has been dragging on for more than a decade now.
With financial assistance from the Province 3 government, statues of 21 people killed by Nepal Army have been constructed at Dandakatari in Doramba Rural Municipality of Ramechhap.
Nineteen unarmed Maoist cadres and two locals were shot dead after their arrests in August 2003 while peace talks between the government and then Maoist rebels were going on at Hapure of Dang district.
The provincial government allocated Rs2 million, following a request from the victims’ families for setting up the statues in memory of those who lost their lives during the conflict.
Dhan Bahadur Tamang, chairman of the Doramba Sahid Smriti Prathisthan, said establishment of the statues is a part of measures to recognise the contribution of the victims.
“We have a long-term plan to develop Doramba as a war tourism destination,” said Tamang, who is among the 11 who managed to escape in 2003.
The local governments from Bardiya, one of the districts most affected by the insurgency, with the highest (197) cases of disappearance and 212 deaths from 1996 to 2006, are ahead of others when it comes to initiating the reparation drive.
Bansgadhi Municipality has constructed a memorial park dedicated to those who were killed or disappeared from the area during the conflict.
It has also created a fund from which the victims’ families can take a concessional loan.
The municipality also has launched income generation activities aimed at uplifting the economic conditions of such families.
“We got to witness the present change due to their [victims’] contribution. Now it becomes our responsibility to work in recognition of their contribution,” Shalik Ram Adhikari, mayor at the municipality, told the Post.
Similarly, Rajapur Municipality from the district has started writing the profiles of those who were either killed or forcibly disappeared from the area.
Barha Bardiya and Badhaiyatal Municipalities have named the roads in their areas after the victims while creating a basket fund for the livelihood support for such families. Shuklaphanta Municipality in Kanchanpur and Ratuwa Municipality in Morang also have named local infrastructure after the names of the victims.
“We are happy to see the local and provincial governments taking some steps towards recognition of the victims. The federal government must come up with such reparative measures without delay,” Bhagi Ram Chaudhary, chairperson of the Conflict Victims Common Platform, told the Post.
At least 17,000 people were killed and 1,344 forcefully disappeared while hundreds of others were injured as victims of either the state or the Maoist party during the insurgency. Though the families of those who were killed or forcefully disappeared got Rs 1 million each as interim relief, no other steps at providing justice or reparations have been taken, 13 years after the insurgency ended.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on the Enforced Disappeared Persons in the four years of their formation could do nothing except collecting the complaints. The truth commission has received around 63,000 cases while the disappearance commission is sitting on around 3,000 cases. Both the commissions have been defunct since April as the government hasn’t been able to appoint new officials. Lack of agreement among the ruling and opposition parties over the seat-sharing has delayed the appointment process. Nor has the government amended the Transitional Justice Act in line with the Supreme Court ruling and international obligations.