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The umbilical of impunity

Saturday, January 19th, 2013
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The meaning of the meeting between the Maoists and Kathmandu-based diplomatic community
ANALYSIS by KANAK MANI DIXIT
Leaders of the UCPN-Maoist met with the Kathmandu-based diplomatic community on Friday, with Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai officiating. European as well as South Asian ambassadors were present. India was not represented by the ambassador. The British seem to have pointedly sent the deputy ambassador.
The Western ambassadors spoke forcefully for democractic values, and showed concern re the absence of parliament, rule of law, and against corruption. They asked why general and local elections could not be held. Dahal and Bhattarai were silent. When challenged on transitional justice, Dahal suggested that the Western embassies help in formation of a truth and reconciliation commission.
Bhattarai suggested that his great achievement was to end the peace process, but there seemed to be scepticism among the diplomats about his ‘ownership’ of the process. Similarly, he sought to put all blame on the opposition, but there was scepticism on that as well.
The prime minister rejected all suggestions in relation to his attitude on the cases of Col Lama and Dekendra Thapa, and the meeting ended abruptly after it was suggested that the Col Lama case followed on the UK’s international obligations on human rights.
The Maoist leaders are worried that their entire edifice of state capture, total impunity, collossal corruption, exploitation of cadre and the country’s future will collapse if the Maoist perpetrators and stateside Army perpetrators were to be investigated. That is why they want both the army colonel and the murderers of Dekendra Thapa be set free, under the forced application of ‘transitional injustice’.

The meaning of the meeting between the Maoists and Kathmandu-based diplomatic community

ANALYSIS by KANAK MANI DIXIT

Leaders of the UCPN-Maoist met with the Kathmandu-based diplomatic community on Friday, with Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai officiating. European as well as South Asian diplomats were present. India was not represented by the ambassador. The British seem to have pointedly sent the deputy ambassador.

The Western ambassadors spoke forcefully for democractic values, and showed concern regarding the absence of parliament, rule of law, and against corruption. They asked why general and local elections could not be held. Dahal and Bhattarai were silent when challenged on transitional justice. Dahal suggested that the Western embassies help in the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission.

Bhattarai suggested that his great achievement was to end the peace process, but there seemed to be scepticism among the diplomats about his ‘ownership’ of the process. Similarly, he sought to put all blame on the opposition, but there was scepticism on that as well.

The prime minister rejected all suggestions in relation to his attitude on the cases of Col Lama and Dekendra Thapa, and the meeting ended abruptly after it was suggested that the Col Lama case followed on the UK’s international obligations on human rights.

The Maoist leaders are worried that their entire edifice of state capture, total impunity, collossal corruption, exploitation of cadre and the country’s future will collapse if the Maoist perpetrators and stateside Army perpetrators were to be investigated. That is why they want both the army colonel and the murderers of Dekendra Thapa to be set free, under the forced application of  ‘transitional injustice’.

The Maiost leaders have no sense of decorum, self-respect, national pride, shame or logic as they try to intimidate critics, lie to the people and, now, challenge the international community. They have now started a desperate series of private meetings with individual diplomats in Kathmandu.

The international community can call Dahal’s bluff and indeed provide immediate assistance in creating a proper transitional justice mechanism with full participation of the Nepali human rights community. As the EU statement from two day’s ago itself stated, transitional justice is not
meant to bypass the law and justice mechanisms. This should be made clear to the Nepali public.

The quality of human rights jurisprudence in Nepal is very high, the world does not know about it only because all court proceedings are conducted in Nepali, and few translations of the fine judgements (such as on Agni Sapkota case written by Ram Prasad Shah, or the recent one on  Mukti Pradhan case by Kalyan Shrestha) and presentations in court by our human rights lawyers are available. Thus, the experience and value of Nepali jurisprudence must not be neglected.

Given past Maoist record, there can be no doubt that Bhattarai, Dahal and others have no commitment at all towards the victims of the conflict or the people at large. We know that everything is geared to buying time, and then some more time, while these leaders sink their teeth into the state superstructure in order to destroy it.

The Supreme Court is down to six justices, Election Commission is empty, the Anti-Corruption Commission is without commissioners, and so on. The Maoists are trying to dillydally on the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission, and when it is established they will pad it with the kind of appointments that would make the future commission completely ineffective. They exploit the fecklessness of the Nepali Congress and UML leadership to achieve these ends. Nepal would not get back to lasting peace, victims would be neglected.

It is best to understand the reality that both the Maoist parties will never allow a proper transitional justice mechanism to be put in place, because the chieftains themselves would all be caught in the net. On the whole, the embassies seem to be coming around to the conclusion that the main stumbling block is Bhattarai, but we should remember that where it comes to impunity, and exhumation of atrocities of whichever side, Dahal, Bhattarai as well as Mohan Baidya are tied by an umbilical of impunity.

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