Amnesty condemns enforced eviction of indigenous Chepang families by Chitwan National Park authorityThe rights organisation has called on the authorities concerned to hold the people accountable who set fire and razed down the huts of the landless families.
Amnesty International Nepal has condemned the forcible eviction of the indigenous Chepang families from their settlement by the Chitwan National Park authority on Saturday.
The human rights group has also asked the authorities concerned to stop enforced eviction of indigenous Chepang people from their settlements and ensure those involved in destroying their houses are held accountable.
On Saturday, workers from the Chitwan National Park set two houses ablaze and destroyed eight others using elephants with the intention of evicting the Chepang families who have been living in Kusumkhola, an area that falls under the park’s territory. Ten families were rendered homeless in the incident. They also lost their identity documents, money and other possessions in the incident.
The park’s move to evict the landless Chepang families by means of arson and vandalism, especially when the country is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the monsoon-related disasters, has drawn widespread criticism.
This is the second attack on the indigenous people perpetrated in the span of two months. In June, according to Amnesty, the Bardiya National Park authority had attempted to forcibly evict members of the landless Tharu community from their settlements.
“Forcing anyone from their homes is an act of cruelty. To do so with the use of arson and charging elephants, risking lives and destroying the few possessions of an already marginalised community, is unconscionable and a human rights violation,” said Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal. “The Chepang community must be protected. Any further attempts to force them out of their homes must be stopped. The people who have been forcibly evicted must be given effective remedy, including adequate alternative housing and compensation. Furthermore, the perpetrators responsible for these forced evictions should be held accountable for their actions.”
The members of the Chepang community who lost their homes are now in temporary accommodation in a school hostel nearby, and fear that other members of their community living near the Chitwan National Park could also suffer the same fate, said the human rights organisation in the statement.
Indigenous Chepang communities depend on subsistence farming, without having access to their own land. Nepal’s laws, which fail to meet international standards, currently only protect people living “on land that they own” and fail to ensure adequate safeguards against forced evictions of people who do not have ownership titles.
“No one should be subjected to forced evictions. It is appalling that during a pandemic and ongoing rainy season, when having a home is critical to keeping oneself safe, Nepal’s authorities have chosen to dispossess some of the most marginalised people and make them homeless.” said Thapaliya.