Almost a decade after a peace accord was
signed between the Nepalese government and the Maoist rebel forces, the truth
and reconciliation commission has opened up a wartime complaints registration
In three months, more than 55,000 complaints have been filed to the commission – including complaints against big political figures and top security officials.
Rajan Parajuli met with some of the victims in Kathmandu to find out more.
Deepak Hamal’s father was abducted by Maoist rebels one evening in 2004, when he was at home having dinner with his wife.
The next day his body was found along a walking trail in their village.
Deepak, now 36, was studying his master’s degree in the capital Kathmandu at the time.
“When I reached my home, the whole village had gathered there, but everyone was afraid to touch the body because there was a few improvised grenades near the body,” Deepak recalls.
“The militants has also left a letter with the words, ‘Why we had to kill Mr. Padam Hamal.”
Deepak’s father Padam was a retired teacher.
He was also the ward president of the ‘Nepali Congress’ party, which was leading the government at the time.
In the handwritten note next to his body, the militants blamed Padam for supporting the police to arrest Maoist rebels.
Back then, there was no way to register complaints against the rebels, or state security forces.
It’s why Deepak traveled 12 hours to Kathmandu to report the incident to the truth and reconciliation commission more than a decade later.
“I went to the head of police and the head of the district immediately after we found the dead body. But no one agreed to file the case. We kept fighting for 10 years,” Deepak said.
“Now at least we have a place that will hear our pain. I have filed a complaint against Maoist president Prachanda and his team. As the leader of the party, he is responsible if it was an institutional decision to kill my father.”
‘Prachanda,’ also known as Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was the commander of the rebel Maoist group that fought a decade long civil war from 1996 to 2006.
Today, he is better known as the Prime Minister of Nepal.
During the years of conflict in Nepal, seventeen thousand people were killed and thousands displaced. More than 1,000 people were also forcibly disappeared.
I am here at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at Babar Mahal in Kathmandu – it’s just meters away from the prime minister’s office.
The three-month window the commission opened for cases of conflict to be reported closed on July 16, just a few weeks ago.
Commissioner Madhavi Bhatta explains the types of complaints that have flooded in.
“We have received a range of cases from extrajudicial killings, property being seized, displacement, and torture. There are also complaints of rape, forced engagement of children as soldiers and many more,” Bhatta said.
The commission has until 2017 to conduct a complete investigation and recommend appropriate punishment for those involved, as well as identify opportunities for reconciliation.
But Bhatta says the deadline is at best, unrealistic.
“It’s impossible to complete the task in the given date. We may not finish the complete reading of these cases in the given time. I think we need to discuss with the experts to have an understanding about the time and the process it requires to complete the investigation,” argued Bhatta.
Nepal’s truth and reconciliation commission had been marred by controversy from day one.
Lawyer Govinda Bandi says justice through the commission is highly unlikely.
“What I have found is they don’t really believe they will get justice. There are a couple of factors. All appointments in the commission are politically motivated. And independent people kind of boycotted the process.”
Bandhi continues, “human rights activists silently boycotted. That raises the credibility question. The main reason people had to file complains in the commission is because they don’t have any alternatives. They are afraid that if they didn’t file the cases, that could result in the denial of reparation and compensation to them. But the justice is still in the question.”
The confusion has also increased this month with a Maoist led coalition now in government.
The leadership of the parties in power are among those accused of committing severe human rights violations.
According to Madhavi Bhatta, there is still debate within the commission regarding heinous crimes, and the application of amnesty.
The Truth and Reconciliation Act mentions that it does not allow amnesty for heinous cases such as rape, explains Bhatta.
“But it doesn’t clearly define whether mass homicide, individual killings and severe torture also fall into the category of a heinous crime. The provision for case postponement also does not favor the victim.”
The Maoists – rebels during the war but now in government – have been publicly demanding that amnesty be granted in cases of murder, the seizure of property and many more cases.
Back to Deepak Hamal, he says amnesty for crimes such as the murder of his father are unacceptable.
If they don’t get justice, he says, he’ll knock on the doors of international courts to find it.