KATHMANDU, May 22: The Maoist parties --Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led UCPN (Maoist) and Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist --have remembered their disappeared cadres at functions organised Tuesday at their respective party head offices at Perisdanda and Kopundol, on the occasion of the day of the disappeared.
Dahal-led Maoists inaugurated a monument to martyrs and disappeared at Perisadanda while the Baidya-led Maoists observed the day at Kopundol, to honor the families of the disappeared.
Since the start of the peace process, governments have been led by Maoist Chairman Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai as well as by Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and senior UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. The issue of the disappeared has been used as a bargaining chip in power politics, mainly in the formation of successive governments. But no government took the fate of the disappeared seriously nor did they take genuine initiative to form the truth and reconciliation commission and the disappeared commission.
They just mouthed their concern for the disappeared as so much eyewash before the people, announcing they would form those commissions some day but never actually doing so. Yet the Maoist parties hold formal functions every year in the name of the disappeared.
“We do feel very sad when we do not get a chance to learn of the whereabouts of our family members even when our own party heads the government twice. Our families, the public and journalists keep asking us why the whereabouts were not made public while the Maoists led the government,” said Pooja Khanal, chief of the Association of Fighters for Families of State-Disappeared, which is close to the Dahal-led Maoists. She argued that they got assurances from Koirala, Dahal, Nepal, Khanal and Bhattarai but nothing more. They encircled Baluwatar and Singh Durbar, demanding that the fate of the disappeared be made public.
“We continued to suffer. Raju Basnet [who is accused of disappearing people from Bhairavnath Battalion] was promoted by our party´s government even as I was at Baluwatar to meet Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to demand that he should not be promoted,” added Khanal.
The Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML parties are not serious about providing a solution. The Nepali Congress and UML were also in government while people were disappeard massively and the Maoists leaders also are accused of such disappearances.
“We know that our family members disappeared for a cause. But following the peace process, the issue should have been addressed on humanitarian grounds, forming appropirate laws,” said Ekaraj Bhandari, chief of the Association of Fighters for Families of State-Disappeared, which is close to the Baidya-led Maoists.
“But the leaders used the issue of the disappeared to play politics over constituent writing and government formation and to accumulate money,” said Bhandari, arguing that they only poiliticized the issue.
At the function, Khanal asked Chairman Dahal why the fate of the disappreared was not made public when the Maoists led the government on two separate occasions.
“I demanded an answer from Chairman Dahal,” said Khanal. Interestingly, Dahal said that his party would give continuity to efforts to make public the whereabouts of the disappeared and accused the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML of obstruction. But he did not mention under what pressure his party´s government promoted Basnet, who was accused of disapprearing Maoist cadres, and why his government did not take concrete steps to find out the fate of the disappeared.
The families of the disappeared have met every head of government and demanded to know about the fate of their near and dear ones. They got assurances. They also held protests.
President Ram Baran Yadav endorsed the truth and reconcialation and disapparance commission ordinance but this has drawn criticism from various quarters for including a controversial provision on granting amnesty even to those involved in serious human rights violation during the conflict. The Supreme Court has issued an interim order against the provision.
The Maoists observe the day of the disappeared on 21 May, the day in 1999 when then CPN (Maoist) central committee member Dandapani Nyaupane, Milan Nepali, Nabin Gautam and Kamala Sharma were disappeared from Tebahal, Kathmandu. According to the Maoists, 1,085 people were disappeared by the state in the 10-year insurgency period. People were also disappeared by the Maoists.