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Saturday, February 16th, 2013
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The chants grew louder at the Occupy Baluwatar protests in Kathmandu on Saturday as Debi Sunuwar took center stage near the Prime Minister’s residence.
For the last nine years, 45-year-old Debi has been struggling for justice for her daughter, 15-year-old Maina Sunuwar who was allegedly tortured and killed by officers of Nepal Army in 2004 at Panchkhal on this very day. The case has become the iconic symbol of human rights violations perpetrated by both sides in the Nepal conflict 1996-2006 during which 16,000 people were killed.
“Why is the government still so hesitant to take action against the perpetrators?” asked Debi, speaking to hundreds of protesters gathered on the street to protest impunity and violence against women. Maina’s case gained the attention of the international community and under
sustained pressure, the army proceeded with an internal inquiry and brought three soldiers Col Bobi Khatri , Capt Amit Pun, and Capt Sunil
Adhikari before a court martial in 2004. However, they were found guilty only of minor offences like using improper interrogation techniques and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
Debi Sunuwar filed a complaint at Kavre District Police Office in November 2005 against the alleged perpetrators including Capt Niranjan Basnet, who was identified by the locals. Police made inquiries, and Maina’s body was finally exhumed in March 2007. The Kavre District Court has issued orders for the arrest of the four accused in 2008 but they are still free.
“Had she been alive, I would have been celebrating her birthdays and would have married her off by now,” Debi said tearfully.
The Sunuwar family who left their home in Kharelchok, Kavre in 2004, afraid of the army’s reprisal has since then spent a fortune in the battle
for justice. “We had to frequently change our location due to security reason,” Debi said, “our lives have never been the same since then.”
Sunuwar family’s home in Kharelchok is now is now rundown and Maina’s husband Purna Bahadur’s had problems with his mental health and died four years ago, at age 50. “Maina’s murder was too hard on him and he couldn’t handle the constant struggle for justice,” Debi said.
With the sole earning member of the family gone, Debi and her two young sons are finding it increasingly difficult living in Kathmandu. Debi has vowed not to observe the death rites of her daughter Maina until justice is delivered. Says Debi: “My daughter’s soul will rest in peace only when the perpetrators are put behind bars.”
Bhrikuti Rai

The chants grew louder at the Occupy Baluwatar protests in Kathmandu on Saturday as Debi Sunuwar took center stage near the Prime Minister’s residence.

For the last nine years, 45-year-old Debi has been struggling for justice for her daughter, 15-year-old Maina Sunuwar who was allegedly tortured and killed by officers of Nepal Army in 2004 at Panchkhal on this very day. The case has become the iconic symbol of human rights violations perpetrated by both sides in the Nepal conflict 1996-2006 during which 16,000 people were killed.

LONG WAIT: Debi Sunuwar demanding justice at Baluwatar for her daughter Maina Sunuwar who was allegedly tortured and killed in 2004.

LONG WAIT: Debi Sunuwar demanding justice at Baluwatar for her daughter Maina Sunuwar who was allegedly tortured and killed in 2004.

“Why is the government still so hesitant to take action against the perpetrators?” asked Debi, speaking to hundreds of protesters gathered on the street to protest impunity and violence against women. Maina’s case gained the attention of the international community and under sustained pressure, the army proceeded with an internal inquiry and brought three soldiers Col Bobi Khatri , Capt Amit Pun, and Capt Sunil Adhikari before a court martial in 2004. However, they were found guilty only of minor offences like using improper interrogation techniques and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

Debi Sunuwar filed a complaint at Kavre District Police Office in November 2005 against the alleged perpetrators including Capt Niranjan Basnet, who was identified by the locals. Police made inquiries, and Maina’s body was finally exhumed in March 2007. The Kavre District Court has issued orders for the arrest of the four accused in 2008 but they are still free.

“Had she been alive, I would have been celebrating her birthdays and would have married her off by now,” Debi said tearfully.

The Sunuwar family who left their home in Kharelchok, Kavre in 2004, afraid of the army’s reprisal has since then spent a fortune in the battle for justice. “We had to frequently change our location due to security reason,” Debi said, “our lives have never been the same since then.”

Sunuwar family’s home in Kharelchok is now is now rundown and Maina’s husband Purna Bahadur’s had problems with his mental health and died four years ago, at age 50. “Maina’s murder was too hard on him and he couldn’t handle the constant struggle for justice,” Debi said.

With the sole earning member of the family gone, Debi and her two young sons are finding it increasingly difficult living in Kathmandu. Debi has vowed not to observe the death rites of her daughter Maina until justice is delivered. Says Debi: “My daughter’s soul will rest in peace only when the perpetrators are put behind bars.”

Bhrikuti Rai

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