The Conflict in Nepal and the Role of Christians in Peace Making

September 27, 2006

Author: Dr. Kali Bahadur Rokaya

Source: EED

For centuries discrimination and violence against women, dehumanization of people on the basis of caste as a result of which the people belonging to the low caste have suffered tremendous exploitation, violence, suffering and humiliation at the hand of the so called high caste people, the plight of the landless, child labor, denial of the rights of the many ethnic groups, lack of religious freedom and discrimination against minority religious groups, lack of access and denial of justice to the poor, widespread and institutionalized corruption at every level, denial of political freedom and other fundamental rights to the citizens like freedom of speech, expression, publications, basic health and education, and unequal regional development, and ever widening gap between the rich and poor have been the main characteristics of the Nepali society. Nepali people have always been struggling and fighting for their basic rights as a result of which some changes in the political system took place from time to time, the latest being in 1990. Most of the Nepal has been ruled by autocratic and feudal rulers.

The political change of 1990 brought the monarch under the constitution and a multi-party parliamentary system was introduced in the country with a new constitution. The constitution of Nepal 1990 also could not guarantee all the rights to all Nepalese, for example the constitution made Nepal a Hindu kingdom and changing one’s religion is still illegal. Whenever people took to the street demanding for their basic and fundamental rights, they were always crushed by force and their voices were never heard. Corruption became more institutionalized and nepotism and favoritism flourished. People became disillusioned and started looking for better alternatives. As one of the visible expression of people’s frustration, despair and hopelessness , the Maoist movement was born. This was very much in line with what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, said in its preamble:

If man is not to be compelled to take recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, human rights must be protected by the rule of law.

After the launching of people’s war by the Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist) from February 1996, the situation of human rights in Nepal has continued to worsen. Arbitrary arrests, detention and torture, extrajudicial killings in the name of fake encounters, and disappearances of citizens have been on the rise. More than 15,000 people have been killed and more than 1,300 people have been disappeared. The government of Nepal has signed about two dozen international human rights treaties, conventions and protocols, but the record of their compliance is very poor. The one international human rights instrument and humanitarian law that applies to the internal conflict like the one in Nepal is the Geneva Convention common article 3 which those carrying out armed struggle against the state are also obliged to observe. Both the government and the Maoists have violated this provision in the Geneva Convention.