War Has Ended, Not The Peace Process
A decade has elapsed since the decade long ‘People’s War’ ended with the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between the then rebel party, CPN-Maoist and the government on Nov 21, 2006. It is surprising to see that the peace process is taking longer period than the war that led to it. It is still uncertain when the peace process will be concluded or when conclusion of the peace process will be announced.
If the peace process means resolving the issues included in the CPA, it can safely be said that most of the politically critical issues have been settled. But if the peace process means healing the scars of the armed conflict, there is much to be done. During their decade long war and the two peace dialogues held in 2001 and 2003, the Maoists had raised political issues such as republican set up, new constitution through the Constituent Assembly (CA), inclusive democracy, secularism and federalism. These have now been in place. The peace process had started at the backdrop of death of nearly eighteen thousand people, disappearance of over two thousand people. Over ten thousand were wounded and over twenty five thousand families were displaced during the period. Problems of these victims have not been fully resolved, the families of the disappeared persons have yet to get justice and relief as promised while the families of those killed in the war are still waiting for the relief as promised. The wounded have no less painful condition. The displaced have, however, been resettled long ago.
Definitely, impressive achievements have been made in the last ten years since the peace process began. The monarchy is gone and the republican system is in place. Inclusive democracy has been in practice. Certain per cent of seats or posts are reserved for oppressed and backward community or people in all state organs, mechanisms or government/public services. There is a new constitution in place promulgated by the CA. Women have reached the top posts. Presently the head of state is a woman and the chief justice is also a woman. What seemed unlikely some two decades ago has become a reality now.
But there are problems which have lingered on all along. It was stated in the CPA that a mechanism would be created within 60 days from the signing of the historic document in order to make public the whereabouts of the disappeared persons. That has not taken place yet. The Supreme Court in June 2007 made a verdict to provide relief to the victim families of the disappeared. The ruling also asked the government to immediately provide relief to the 49 victim families in such a way that the amount would not be counted in the relief amount to be given by the government in future. The government did provide the relief as per the ruling, but violated the ruling when it deducted that amount while providing relief to all families. The first government formed after the CA election in 2008 announced that it would provide a million rupees as relief to the victim families of the dead and disappeared. But till the date, in the last seven years, only half of the amount, that too in different installment, has been provided. More worrying is the fact that many families of the disappeared are yet to get the last installment of the half amount of relief. Even the present Maoist-led government seems to have not paid due attention to this. With a view to finding truth, providing justice to the victims and ensuring reconciliation in society, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been formed, but it has been poorly equipped legally, and there is doubt that it will provide justice to victims as such. The two-year term of the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons (CIDP) is ending in a couple of months, but it has performed almost nothing. Such is the situation that the families of those who made sacrifices to bring about the present political achievement are in pain when all others may be enjoying the fruits of the achievement.
The situation of the families of the disappeared and the dead would have been much better had the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML not neglected the issues. It is a fact supported by proofs. No government since the peace process formed in NC-UML coalition provided the relief and when any Maoist-led or Maoist-supported government decided to provide relief, they opposed it in different ways. Even in the process to form the related commissions, they created obstacles and delayed their formation. They might have made some gains politically by making the Maoist party helpless, but the victim families suffered. It is a sad part of the ongoing peace process that the NC and UML did not become empathetic to suffering of the victims of disappearance and the dead simply because most of the victims were close to the Maoist party.
To exhort people to take part in the people’s movement over a decade back, late Girija Prasd Koirala had said that the movement would be made so successful that no other generation would need to do any movement. But, despite success of the people’s movement II, aspirations of the people are yet to be fulfilled, and a decade has elapsed. Moreover, there have been movements of the Madhesi, Tharus and other communities. There is row over number and boundary of provinces. While socio-economic status of the people has not changed much despite partial success of the peace process, new forms of discontent are surfacing. The victim families of the decade long war are not given justice and they are not satisfied. New groups are expressing discontent in the streets now and again. The major parties have critical role to address all these discontent, and ensure smooth and full implementation of the new constitution. Or else, this may develop into another rebellion.