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Nepal remembers stories of conflict victims through pictures

KATHMANDU: Telling stories of the conflict era, not only recalls our situation of decade-long insurgency, but also warns us to check repetition of the merciless conflicts in the future.
Several cases had gone unnoticed or we were unable to record them, but those incidents which are recorded in history should be recounted as it is, so that such event will help book the perpetrators to justice or concerned victims will get reparation.
The prolonged transitional justice process in Nepal has constantly snagged us and compels to ponder about the conflict victims who are waiting justice for several years. Sooner or later, the nation should settle the issues related to transitional justice through valid process.
In the meantime, Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) organised a photo exhibition in the Nepal Art Council of Kathmandu with the aim of recalling conflict era cases and help support the victims for justice.
The decade-long Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) which came to an end with the note of providing justice to the conflict victims as stated in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). Every visitor thinks about the pathetic situation of the conflict victims. “I still carry scars from those days in my body and my mind,” says a conflict victim, sharing her experiences during the exhibition under the theme of ‘Anticipation of the Justice’.
However, the commitment stated in the CPA is yet to be materialised due to various factors. Several commissions were formed, but they failed to deliver justice to the victims, who are still wondering in the street in the name of getting justice. They have not abandoned hopes because they love humanity and human kind, and wish such incidents would not repeat in the future.
One who visits the Art Council to observe the photos will realise the real trauma that the conflict victims bear.
“This is why story-telling and its documentation are crucial to the process of attaining justice for victims of conflict. It’s crucial to not only look at the large-scale political, social and economic repercussions of the conflict, but the personal impacts as well,” said Sabin Shrestha, executive director of FWLD.
The stories presented through pictures remind the brutal situation of torture, sexual violence, displacement, kidnappings, extortion and so on from both sides (state and the Maoists), the organisers said.
These stories serve as a reminder of the impacts the conflict had, and we hope that their documentation will help prevent these horrific acts from ever being repeated, Shrestha states in his note about the photo exhibition.
Victims want support and demand justice, but providing justice through valid process should not be a challenging task in the contemporary era of civilised society where we expect or want to enjoy full implementation of rule of law.
“I light an oil lamp every morning with the hope that my husband will return home,” said Tulasa Pathak, a conflict victim, sharing her story. Similarly, another victim said, “If there is some kind of soap to wash away this taint.”
The stories and photos of conflict victims and survivors of the armed conflict reveal the pain and injustices they have been suffering over the years.
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Anup Raj Sharma inaugurated the week-long exhibition on July 4.

Published Date: Monday, July 8th, 2019 | 07:24 PM

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