Sunday, May 27, 2007

Students' Future Under Cloud!

In the same season of last year, I remember; a dozen of young girls in school dress were laughing and whispering to each-other at the backside of the Khulamanch where Maoist’s ‘Victory Mass Meeting’ was going on. On background we could hear one of the representatives of Maoists Women Association giving speech to the huge mass gathering. However, the girls didn’t seem noticing.

When I had approached them, they had looked at me with those innocent but curious eyes.

After talking to them I had come to know that they were there to participate in the mass meeting.

One of the girls, Ramila Maharjan studying in grade 9 in Shree Sharaswati Higher Secondary School, Thochu, Lalitpur had told that she was happy at the success of peace talk and was hopeful that there will be a peace in the country. She had also added that, with the new crack of dawn in the politics of the country there will be changes in the school policy as strikes and bandhs has ruined the life of students.

That was the hope of not only Ramila but of every students of this country when peace talk was success between Maoists and the contemporary government last year. However, that was the hope of last year! It was THEN, it is NOW! Now, when I look around I don’t know what Ramila and other whole students are thinking, wishing, hoping or praying for at this moment. I don’t know about them but, I am disappointed and frustrated! I regret for Hoping. Especially right now!

Today, there is a Kathmandu Valley bandh called by agitating ‘teachers and students’ unions - Educational Republic Forum (ERF) and All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R). The strike is against the lathicharge on the protesting teachers and students outside the Ministry of Education in Kathmandu on Friday that left about 80 teachers seriously injured.

It has been more than a week that schools and higher secondary schools have been closed by agitating teachers and students who are protesting against the problems of private school charging hefty fees, and are also demanding in the rise of teachers’ salary with facilities. There was a call for dialogue from government but after Friday’s incident it is under cloud. If something is not done to solve the problem sooner then students’ life will be under thicker and darker cloud in coming days than it is now, it is for sure!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wounds yet to Heal!

When her name was called she had slowly stood up and with tears rolling down her face had told “My daughter should have been alive.” Her daughter was tortured to death by Army after a group rape in army detention camp (2004). She was just 14 years old and was studying in nine grades.

Last year, Devi Sunuwar, mother of victimized Maina Sunuwar had come in the program organized by the Amnesty International Nepal on the occasion to celebrate 6th Anniversary of the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. When she had started her heart breaking story about loosing an innocent daughter, whole hall had fallen into silence and there was not a single face that didn't go through the same pain, fear and anger of Sunuwar. I was not the exceptional one in that group of people.

I experienced and saw the same expression on participants' face last week when watching a documentary "Dwanda Ra Balatkar: Shesh Smriti" (Conflict and Rape: A Relic) based on the stories of victimized women from both parties; government (army) and Maoists rebels in 12 years of Maoist movement in the country.

In these 12 years of civil war, we saw different faces of conflict and decadence of humanism. More than 13,000 people lost their life and almost everyone lost their loved ones and relatives. Pain of losing loved ones was one side of the war on the other side was the suffering that women and children had to go through. Like in every war of the human history, in this war too women were the most victimized compared to others. Some of them were group raped when they had gone to jungle for timber and grass, some were raped and physically tortured in the name of rebel or government spy and some were raped and kicked with boots infront of their family even infront of their husband. Whether they are Sarita, Kajal, Sita or Radha they all went through same pain- group rape and physical torture from both parties. Some lost their lives, some lost their reasoning power, and some regained their unconscious state after months of sickness and yet are afraid to speak about it due to the fear of being punished by involved parties and also outcast by the society. Devi Khadka, Maoist rebel (now she is a member of House of Representatives) was raped by army in detention center, through her story we came to know rape was even used as one of the war strategies. Numbers of women were abducted by Maoists too who were also sexually abused and used as sex-satisfying objects in their camps. Therefore, when I saw the documentary I strongly came to realize that this war is painted with tears and blood of innocent women.

New dawn in the country came with the success of Jana-Andolan I and II in 2006, peace-talk was a success and there was a hope of human rights being restored. People believed that persons responsible for tortures and murder will be punished and they will get justice. But, it seems our hopes will just remain hopes and nothing more as I read in the Kantipur daily on Monday (May 21) that about 35 police and army alleged of abuse and murders by Raimajhi Committee were just given punishment of 2 years without promotion by government.

If people alleged with murder, rape are out of the allegation this easily I will not be surprised at all when victimized people's families take states law in their hand to punish the guilty ones. We all know how "catharsis" works!