Many of the over 1,300 people still listed as missing after the Maoist war in Nepal left behind material objects. These are the only memories that remain, connecting the families to the loved ones who were disappeared.
These memorabilia from the decade-long war are the only substantial things that the family members have protected – 14 years after the conflict ended. They occupy a special place in the family homes and work places, preserving their presence. The objects also keep faint hopes alive that by some miracle, the family member will suddenly reappear one day.
More than 17,000 Nepalis were killed during the insurgency, there were brutal human rights violations and war crimes, including summary executions, disappearances, torture, rape, solitary confinement.
Since the end of the conflict in 2006, limited support has been provided to survivors and their families of the disappeared. However, there are no answers to questions like whether they are alive or dead, who killed them, why, where, when?
The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed on 21 November 2006 between the government of Nepal and the Maoist party. It brought ‘peace’ to a country weary of war, and propelled the former guerrillas to power.
However, 14 years and 11 prime ministers later, there have been no efforts to trace the missing, and tell families the truth, or give them justice. Two commissions were formed to investigate gross human rights violations and charge perpetrators, but neither have done much.
The discourse around transitional justice in Nepal has approached memory, truth and justice in legalistic terms so that the experience of acute loss of families is often lost. Missing are the personal accounts of survivors and families of victims.