Agitating parties losing grip on protest: Rights groups

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 24, 2015-

As the Madhes protest enters the 131st day, right defenders have said the agitating parties are losing grip on the protest. 

Human rights defenders and reporters are working under stress in the Tarai, while the government is visibly absent in districts in the southern plains where the protests rage on. 

“There is anarchy in the Tarai in the name of human rights,” said Subodh Pyakurel, chairperson of the Informal Sector Service Center (Insec), speaking at a programme his centre co-hosted with the Human Rights Journalists Association (Hurja). 

“Human rights does not govern everything. What is happening in Madhes is terror tactics,” Pyakurel said, adding that the protesters have been barred from monitoring rights organisations other than Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD Alliance).  

As there is no chain of command, the protest is getting out of control, he pointed out, saying “leaders egged on protesters to get violent by announcing reward for sacrificing life”. 

“I have deposited video recordings of speeches delivered by Upendra Yadav, Rajendra Mahato and Amresh Kumar Singh in Tikapur at the UN. Based on that, we can file a case of treason against them,” he said.

Randhir Chaudhari, officer at the THRD Alliance, said that protesters are deeply 

disappointed with the delay in addressing their concerns, which was the reason for 

rage toward rights organisations. “But the claims 

that protesters have barred rights defenders and reporters are baseless,” Chaudhari argued. “I have seen Insec officers in the field in a few districts.”

However, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Human Rights Watch and THRD Alliance are the only organisations to produce reports on the Tarai in the past four months since the outbreak of the protest. 

“If rights defenders and journalists restrain themselves for fear of attack, let us know,” said Basudev Bajgain, officer at the National Human Rights Commission. “It is important to make our presence visible in the field.”

Bajgain, who has visited Tarai districts, said that protesters as well as security personnel were found to have been on alert in the presence of rights defenders and journalists on the field. 

“There are instances in Madhes where local youths have chased away political leaders, which we find quite concerning. It was the reason that leaders distance themselves from protesters. So, we need to make our presence visible,” he said.

Participants of the programme said government’s dilly-dallying approach towards addressing the Madhesi concerns was widening the chasm between the Madhesi and hill communities. 

‘Legal reforms key to booking HR violators’

Rights defenders have recommended the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) legal reforms as a first task for truth finding and recommending action against rights violators.

During an interaction with civil society members and rights defenders on Wednesday, participants suggested the commission to make a public commitment to the Supreme Court verdict in dispensing justice to win the confidence of conflict victims as well as that of the public and international community. 

The CIEDP was instituted following the Supreme Court order last year to form two commissions of inquiry on truth and reconciliation and enforced disappearances. The court had also issued the verdict asking the government to follow norms and practices in consistent with international laws to draft the Transitional Justice Act. “The commission also has to be clear on strategic approach on finding truth,” said lawyer Govinda Bandi, “It should decide whether it wants to look into individual cases or emblematic cases.”

Insec Chairman Subodh Pyakurel suggested that the commission look into emblematic cases considering the time allotted to it. “The commission should also engage in dialogue with conflict victims, which is the only way to win their confidence for the process,” he said. 

CIEDP Chair Lokendra Mallick said that the commission had started working on legal reforms and regulation would be endorsed within a few weeks. “We will start taking complaints from the victims once the regulation is adopted,” 

said Mallick.  The CIEDP had forwarded its regulations to the government four months ago. 

It has started drafting an act on disappearances, Mallick said. “The Act is needed to recommend actions against rights violators. We will formulate by-laws if our regulation does not cover all aspects.”

Published: 24-12-2015 09:15

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