17 Years Of The Peace Agreement: The Suffering Of Missing And Innocent Families Continues

Nov 19, Kathmandu- It has been 17 years since the grand peace agreement was signed to end the armed struggle between the Government of Nepal and the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). On 5th Mangsir 2063, a comprehensive peace agreement was signed between the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on behalf of the Government of Nepal and Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' on behalf of the Maoists, and it was announced that the ten-year armed struggle was over.

Based on the historic agreement reached between the seven political parties and the Maoists on Kartik 22, 2063, it was announced that the armed struggle that had been going on since 2052 had ended, making the ceasefire between the two sides permanent.

When the then Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula read out the complete details of the peace agreement at the Birendra International Conference Center in Naya Baneshwar, the hall resounded with the sound of the kartal.

In the agreement, the issues of ending the centralized system of governance of the state and restructuring it in an inclusive, democratic, and forward-looking manner, and advancing the construction of a new Nepal through the election of the Constituent Assembly were emphasized. On that occasion, Prime Minister Koirala said that the major peace agreement concluded between the government and the Maoists has paved the way for the construction of a new Nepal and the politics of killing and violence prevalent in the country for 11 years has ended and a new history has begun through the politics of reconciliation.
Stating that the Nepali people stood on their own feet and solved the struggle and succeeded in surprising the world community, he said, "Today we have set a good example in the world by solving the struggle ourselves." Prime Minister Koirala informed that when he tried to bring Maoists into the mainstream of politics, he received a response that 'this effort of yours will not succeed", Prime Minister Koirala said that he is active in the peace process by putting his politics at stake as it is the religion of the democrats to make even the undemocratic a democrat.

Maoist Chairman Prachanda also commented that the efforts made by the Nepali people since 2007 to build a new Nepal through the peace agreement have been completed. He said, "This is the victory of the common Nepali people who want the progress of Nepal and the defeat of the regressives who want to keep Nepal in the status quo without allowing Nepal to grow forward. This successful example presented by the Nepali people has surprised the nations with great power and pride."

It was mentioned that both sides agreed to normalize the situation arising out of the armed struggle and to maintain peace in the society and to provide relief and rehabilitation for the victims and displaced people of the war and to carry forward the related work through the formation of the National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission. During the ten-year struggle, about 17,000 civilians were killed by the state and the rebel side.

In the agreement, the matter of publishing the information and informing the family members within 60 days from the date of the agreement on the real names, surnames, and home addresses of the disappeared persons and those who were killed during the war has been put as a priority, but that matter has not been addressed so far. A high-level Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed to investigate the truth about those involved in human rights violations and crimes against humanity during the armed conflict and to create an atmosphere of reconciliation in society, but the work of truth investigation and reconciliation is yet to be done.

In the agreement, both sides expressed a commitment to voluntarily return those displaced during the armed conflict to their ancestral or former places of residence without political prejudice, to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed due to the war, and to restore dignity and socialize the displaced, but this was not done formally.

During this period of about 20 years, the then-rebel party led the government three times and joined the government eight times. Although a commitment has been made not to discriminate and put pressure on other members of the family participating in the struggle, the people who are not directly involved in the struggle are still suffering. The struggle and the rights of the families of those who have been tortured and disappeared will be ensured as mentioned in the peace agreement, has not yet found meaning.

While welcoming the peace agreement, the neighboring and international community also responded that the agreement ended the politics and culture of violence and reflected the strong desire of the Nepali people for peace and stability. Prof. Birendra Prasad Mishra, coordinator of the then Ceasefire Code of Conduct Monitoring Committee, responded that the peace agreement was limited to the management of Maoist fighters, but was not focused on the unarmed, suffering people who were not related to the armed rebellion. He said, "Even now, there has not been much talk about the innocent and those killed in the war." When the incident happened at that time, it looked like a fight between the Maoists and the parties in power at the time.

Party leaders and workers were also killed. At that time there were three powers namely the king, the parliamentary political party and the Maoists. According to the developments in the country, after the triangular power balance, the king stood on one side and the Maoists with seven political parties stood on the other side. After the twelve-point agreement between the seven parties and the Maoists, the second mass movement took place. The king restored the parliament.

The peace process started with a ceasefire. With the formation of the negotiation team, a code of conduct monitoring mechanism was created and a peace agreement was reached. The interests of both sides were limited to protecting themselves. As a result, the Constituent Assembly was elected twice, and a new constitution came into being. It reached the Maoist government again and again. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Inquiry into Disappeared Persons have not been able to work yet. He was not given the right.

Prof. Mishra said, “Both the government and the Maoists need forgiveness. That's why even after reaching seventeen years, this issue could not be resolved. The families of those killed during the struggle must be addressed. Parents and families of those who have lost children are struggling to find justice. Federalism and republic came to the country, and parties took turns to lead the government, but the main question is what did the families of the innocent victims get. Still, the parties felt that they had no involvement in the war and apologized to the families of those killed, admitting their wrongdoing, even if not in full, for 'token' justice."

Mishra was of the opinion that now the peace process has become like an orphan without a parent. According to him, in the meantime, the peace process has become confusing because the parties have prioritized the formation and dissolution of the government. It is not from anyone to cause another war and cause disturbances. The government and the party want to solve the problem in a minute, but it requires a lot of courage and courage.