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Commemoration as Movement to Justice

It was 18 years back from today, on 17 June 2002, an incident happened in Sukedhara Kathmandu which detached two emerging youth from our society. And their status is still unknown. It was not an accident that they went missing, but were forcefully detained and disappeared by the State security forces. The families of these persons are still unanswered.

Eighteen years is a sufficient time that could biologically and socially reproduce a youth of a similar age and enthusiasm. More than 1350 families are unanswered about the status of their family members who were forcibly disappeared by both State and Rebel forces in an armed conflict in Nepal. It includes the families of Bipin Bhandari, and Dil bahadur Rai.

Social concerns of armed conflict in Nepalese society are gradually fading with the time while the families of the war victims are left behind without any Justice. When one parson is disappeared, society losses something but the family of that person loses everything, their happiness, inner peace, self-confidence and their goals, they lose an entire member of the family.

I have been attending the Commemoration of Bipin Bhandari and Dil Bahadur Rai for last four years. And have been inspired with unceasing determination taken by their families while struggling for Justice. These commemorations are providing the psycho social supports to the families as they are attended by the families having similar stories. Commemorative initiatives taken by the families are sustaining the conflict victim’s movement in a creative and symbolic appeal for Justice

I still remember the ceremony from last year. While Bipin’s father Advocate Eak Raj Bhandari was demanding the State’s accountability on disappearance and right to Justice in a legal term, Bipin’s mother was remembering the food that was preferred by her son. It explains the psychological trauma of a mother that will hardly heal. The State is supposed to act as a guardian for each and every citizen. The aggression in the father’s voices and tiredness in his mother’s eyes clearly explains the failure of the State to assume its role as a guardian. Instead of ensuring Justice, The State has been re-victimizing the families by delaying the Justice process.

These commemorations remind us not only about their physical disappearances of these individuals but also about their dreams which were ruthlessly terminated. The families are commemorating the disappearances as per their cultural values and norms at their own community. And it has developed a mutually supporting community within the victim families.

Despite of the multiples victim’s movement and the Supreme Court’s verdict to the State to publish the status of Disappeared Persons, the State has been reluctant to own and acknowledge the disappearance.

Bipin Bhandari’s mothter and Sister commemorating Bipin

If the State does not acknowledge the victims, the society will not be encouraged to generate an empathy to the conflict survivors and will not facilitate an environment for reintegration and social justice. Leaving 63000 families (registered cases of war crimes) behind justice will takes us nowhere but towards another form of grievance and the conflict at the end.

Society will not extend its compassion to the victims unless the State officially acknowledge them. Hence the real justice can only be imagined if there is a proper participation of the Families in to the Justice process. And it is only possible by revealing the truth, ensuring prosecution, and the public acknowledgement at local level in a transparent manner.

My sincere respect to all brave souls who were disappeared while raising their voices for Justice and Human Rights. And the solidarity to the families in their continuous struggle for journey to Justice.

-Prabal Thapa