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Atrocities Committed Against Nepali Children

Horrible Atrocities Committed Against Nepali Children?

By Kamala Sarup

Suman was 10 years old when he came to Kathmandu after he lost his entire family and was nearly killed when the Maoists conflict began almost 11 years ago. Now he is one of hundreds of thousands of Nepali children directly affected by the Maoists war. His uncle sent him to Kathmandu to avoid the terror and conflict that have become part of life in a large portion of rural Nepal.

Pushpa Bhandari, 14, was returning from school when she sustained injuries in crossfire between security forces and rebel Maoists at Chisapani village. In eight months since the injury she has recovered from the bullet wound, but the mental trauma compelled her to drop out from grade seven.

13 years old Sunita Aryal said "Before the Maoist war, we lived in Bag lung. When the conflict broke out in October 1996, we took refuge in another area. Meanwhile we have a house in Bag lung. But we cannot go there because there is hatred, and robbery is widespread. We'd like to go home. If we could, our problems would be partly resolved". These are words of Sunita Aryal.

She said "One day I arrived home from school and found my father had been killed. We can not go to school, because several times we are sent home from school. When I heard about my father's death, I was very sad. I cried a lot." She said.

It said some of the children had witnessed horrible atrocities committed against them and their families. They have to sell sex to survive. The war-affected children of the eastern Nepal have no opportunity for education. Many are homeless, forced to flee because of Maoists terrorism.

Another girl, Jamuna Thapa 18, said " People were being killed in Dang. We were very scared. All of us fled with our uncle. Many other children in Dang have had similar experiences".

Jamuna, Suman, Pushpa and Sunita are one of thousands of Nepali children directly affected by the 11 year Maoists war. With the escalation of murders, thousands of children are pouring into urban and semi-urban areas.

Eleven-year-old Nabin Dhakal had no idea why he was taken or why the guerrillas who took him were fighting. He just knew he had to do what he was told. "Otherwise, your life could be in danger," he said. "I saw people being sent to distant areas. When there was physical punishment, we were invited to witness"

Today, more than ever before in history, cities and towns are the battlefield and Nepali children the victims. With the destruction of school buildings, health posts, drinking water taps and frequent strikes, the children are badly affected. Today they have to struggle against an insurgency that is turning bloodier. There are growing reports of an increase in the number of child Maoists soldiers in an active role.

Armed Maoists force the students from grade six to 10 and their teachers to go with them. They are then made to undergo insurgency training by the rebels and would be drafted into their rebellion against the authorities. Those forced to fight are generally poor, illiterate and from rural zones, while volunteers are usually motivated by a desire to escape poverty or lured by appeals to Maoist ideology.

Prativa KC, 14, said "we don't want to die early. We want peace, we want to be happy like other people".

They are separated from their families and communities. Maoists war has taught them to hide at the sound of an explosion or a gunshot.

Even recently, executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, condemned the appalling situation of child rights' violation in times of armed conflicts in Nepal and elsewhere in the world. Addressing the annual UN Security Council meeting on children in armed conflict areas, she called on the Council members to work hard to end the use of child soldiers, the killing and maiming of children, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and sexual violence against boys and girls. "But, as the past year has demonstrated, our efforts so far have fallen short of what is required. From Liberia to Nepal, from Congo to Colombia, girls and boys have continued to be caught up in war,". She added, "What we have seen in Nepal and Afghanistan, for example, is that schools have been turned into recruitment centres, military targets. The misuse of schools, their occupation and attacks on them are one of the worst violations of children's rights."

In order to solve the issue of the growing insurgency, all political parties will have to forge a consensus and arrive at a conclusion on how this challenge to the security of the people can be met.

On the one hand, the government-Maoist peace talks passed through various obstacles and on the other, the movement launched by the parties had some impacts in the society. Basically, the continued agitation gave rise to scuffles between children, resulting in anarchy in the country. Such incidents of confrontation, violent conflict and anarchic situation definitely leave negative impact in the psychology of children.

It is true that after Nepal ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the child rights horizon has widened in Nepal.

Fulfilling the international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child involves the daily advocating of child rights with government officials, insurgents like Maoists of Nepal, their commanders, civil society representatives, and children.

And also sad part is hostile environments prohibit children from attending schools and parents from earning money to provide for their children. If Maoists war itself cannot be stopped. We cannot expect children to grow up normally amid guns and explosives. Most child recruits into Maoists are from poor families or from minority or indigenous groups.

The exploitation of children in the ranks of the rebels must end. Children are dropping out of childhood. The psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children can be devastating and may haunt them through life.

The principle of family unity, as safeguarded in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, must be the basis of all support for these children. War can lead to temporary or permanent separation of children from their parents or other adult caregivers. Those relationships are the major source of a child's emotional and physical security. Separation can have a devastating social and psychological impact.


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