GYAN P NEUPANE
KATHMANDU, June 3: Stating that thousands of naïve minors, who were unwittingly involved in Maoist insurgency, were deprived of their child rights, rights to education and other basic human rights, representatives of ex-Maoist combatants have demanded that the government, the former rebel Maoist party and other concerned agencies should be held responsible for the violation.
The Struggle Committee of Discharged People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Nepal demanded that they should be given justice based on national as well as international laws for being “misused” during the 10-year-long Maoist insurgency.
The former combatants have been living as civilians after being discharged from various Maoist cantonments.
The government and then Maoist party had agreed to end the insurgency by signing the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006. Nearly six years after signing of the CPA, 1,421 former Maoist combatants were integrated into Nepal Army. But altogether 4009 youths who were staying inside various Maoist cantonments were termed “disqualified” on various grounds and later discharged from the cantonments.
Of the total 32,250 registered ex-combatants, 4009 were found disqualified during the verifications monitored by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Some of them were “disqualified” because either they were under-age or they joined the Maoist Army after the ceasefire.
“We joined the Maoist army with an aim to change the country for better,” Lenin Bista, chairman of the struggle committee, said while addressing its first national conference held in Lalitur on Thursday. “But we were termed as disqualified to join Nepal Army because of being under-age.”
He said they want justice for being used by the then Maoists rebels. They also held the government responsible for failing to stop the Maoists from using them during the conflict. He argued that the country attained democracy through their fight but they were eventually described as disqualified at the end.
The conference came up with a conclusion that they should stand united and fight against their exploitation and for being deprived from education as well as child rights. “After being deprived of our rights, we request the government to ensure our social justice, compensation and long-term plan for our livelihood by introducing socio-economical programs,” Bista said in a statement released on Thursday. “The country should also take responsibility to ensure health facilities to all the discharged PLA members who were injured and disabled during the armed conflict.”
They also strongly demanded that the “disqualified” tag mustn’t be used for any official as well as other people. They instead want to be called as “discharged Maoist combatants”.
“We were disqualified on the basis of our age but not upon our competency and work,” ex-combatant and founding member of the struggle committee Kranti Makar told Repoblica. “The country’s political system has been radically changed. This all became possible due to our active participation as combatants even though the UNMIN discharged us afterward.”
Addressing the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who is also a former rebel Maoist leader, said that the government has been still putting serious efforts to fulfill the combatant’s demands. He assured that the CPN (Maoist Center) will continuously struggle for the fulfillment of their demands and ensure that they are given due respect for their contribution.
First appeared in Republica national daily