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Editorial: Heed conflict victims

Editorial: Heed conflict victims

Lack of resources has never been the problem with Nepal’s transitional justice process, even though paucity of manpower and money for the two transitional justice bodies are a symptom of the underlying malaise. The root malady continues to be an utter lack of political will. There is zero political will to carefully investigate war-time rights abuses and to prosecute the guilty. This is certainly so with the two main parties of the current ruling alliance: Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center).

Top Maoist leaders fear any kind of in-depth investigation could snare them. The same applies to some senior Nepali Congress leaders like Sher Bahadur Deuba and Krishna Prasad Sitaula who were in top government positions as the state tried to suppress the Maoist insurgency. Then there is the Nepal Army—which led anti-insurgency efforts in the second half of the decade-long conflict—that has repeatedly thwarted any attempt at fair and independent investigation. With such powerful forces arrayed against them, no wonder thousands of conflict victims await justice.

Also read: Editorial: Nepal COP-ing badly 

Fifteen years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to formally end the civil war, conflict victims are no closer to a closure. The hope of the abovementioned actors is that the issue of transitional justice will fade away with time. Yet the pain of the families that lost their loved ones—who were either killed or ‘disappeared’ during the conflict—won’t go away so easily. In fact, the longer they are kept waiting, the more the old wounds will fester, which in turn will increase the risk of the conflict reigniting or of a new one flaring up. Nor will the international community easily forget, and Nepal’s image abroad will continue to suffer.

The Maoist insurgency happened as large sections of the Nepali society felt left out of the political and social mainstream. This is still the case today. The importance of addressing the grievances of the marginalized sections of the society—and no group has been as marginalized and mistreated in recent times as the conflict victims—and bringing them into the national mainstream thus cannot be exaggerated. Only then a truly inclusive society be created and only then will lasting peace be ensured.