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The Ghosts of Nepal’s ‘Disappeared’  (Page 2 of 3)

Eight years later, Tharu remembers a broadcast she heard on a local government-run radio station in the weeks after her son’s disappearance: three male insurgents were killed in a skirmish with the Nepal Army, the broadcast said. Researchers of the civil war believe the state army sometimes fabricated these reports to account for the deaths of those it executed in custody, in case the circumstances of their disappearance were ever investigated. But no such official scrutiny has ever materialized.

Rights groups and associations representing families of the missing have petitioned for official action. However, their calls have found little resonance. Still shaping their role (and image) in Nepal’s new political landscape, the state army and Maoists see few reasons to address these extrajudicial killings carried out by their fighters, although on paper they committed to allow investigations into 'serious violations of human rights' during the war.  

After 10 years of bitter fighting that led to at least 13,000 combat casualties and traumatized rural communities, the Maoists and Nepal army signed a treaty stipulating the creation of a new and more democratic Constitution, integration of both armies into one defence force as well as probes into human rights abuses and war crimes. The Maoists, known officially as The Unified Communist Party of Nepal, had pledged to end the severe social and economic inequality perpetuated under the rule of the royal family and insular political clans. They succeeded in forcing the abolition of the monarchy, but otherwise have yet to force major reforms to make their rhetoric of a fairer society real. An undercurrent of deep mutual distrust and ideological differences, compounded by constant power manoeuvring, has kept the postwar transition from making much progress.

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The Nepalese government initially granted 100,000 rupees (currently valued at around $1,400) as interim compensation to victims’ families, the majority of whom have indeed received payment.

The government’s draft bill on disappearances includes provisions for criminal prosecutions but, by having teeth, this legislation has made parliamentarians nervous.The bill has languished, as parliamentarians are unwilling to advance a vote on it given the prevailing political discord. ‘The issue is becoming ever more remote’ and lost what little traction it may have had previously, says Kirsten Young, head of the office of the International Center for Transitional Justice in Nepal.

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