John Lama: Tribunal to Investigate Maoist Killings
Institute A Tribunal to Investigate Maoist Killings
By John Lama
Whether ‘the only alternative to the present king can be his even egregious son and heir’, as suggested by Sunanda Datta Ray, in an article published in The Telegraph of India, will be decided by the Nepalese themselves, who are determined at all costs, to safeguard their sovereign independence. Nepalese, in keeping with their tradition of unrivalled bravery and commitment to the lofty ideals of freedom and liberty, have already started an incredible journey, however extremely arduous, towards republican democracy. The recent movement was a momentous milestone in that direction.
However, the seasoned Indian writer deserves kudos for some of his fair and dispassionate observations when he says: “As for what the populist leaders now want, the answer is a single word – power. Democracy is only a fig leaf; it is the opiate of the tens of thousands of people out in the streets.” This is exactly how the Nepalese have been treated in the present context by so-called democratic leaders. They have already started displaying their sinister inclinations heavily obsessed with power and pelf. The way some of the parliamentarians are advocating for the promotion of Chitra Lekha Yadav to the position of House Speaker, patently testifies to that theory. In the meantime, it seems to have been further complicated by the growing tensions between major parties over the same issue. Gratuitous preoccupation with such triviality has left major questions of far-reaching consequences egregiously neglected. And this is indisputably going against the popular mandate.
Again, Ray is right when he says the seven democratic parties have been a hostage to Maoist stratagems. They have become mere puppets at the hands of Prachanda, the Maoist supremo. As if to borrow the Maoist ruthless aggressiveness in style, their parliamentarians have been demanding stern actions against the players of former royal regime. Some of them are also seen to have raised voice in favor of punishing those who were implicated by the Mallik Commission in the aftermath of 1990 movement. In response to their demand, the government has already instituted ‘a high level Judicial Commission to probe into atrocities committed by the security personnel and officials against pro-democracy demonstrators across the country and recommend actions against them’. Similarly, the House of Representatives is reported to have issued directives to the government ‘to initiate action against officials involved in the controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) formed after the royal takeover of last year’. If the government is sincerely guided more by the penchant for establishing rule of law rather than the unleashing of political vengeance, while making such bold initiatives, it should certainly be admired and appreciated.
Here, in this context, this scribe is clear about one thing. Undoubtedly, the enemies of the people, democracy and the nation should not go unpunished, whether they are from the 30-year Panchayat regime, 12-year multi-party dispensation or the 14-month royal takeover. I don’t see any reason why scores of high ranking party officials who had, during their rule, catapulted themselves from rags to riches by unabashedly stealing the national exchequer thereby undermining the hard-won parliamentary democratic system that eventually led to the notorious royal takeover, should be benignly spared. Nor is there any point in providing impunity to the Maoist leadership that is squarely responsible for the death of more than 13,000 Nepalese. If the incumbent government is really sincere towards the popular aspirations that had been, in one way or another, ventilated throughout the 19-day movement, it should dare institute a high level tribunal to investigate into the gruesome killings that had been committed in the name of “people’s war” over the last ten years. Depending on the integrity and commitment of the government, international institutions including the United Nations, can be asked to lend their support in this admirable endeavor. Any kind of reluctance or placidity on the part of government in this regard will inevitably be construed as its having forfeited the rights to single out those accused of complicity in the royal dispensation. It is something relating to the poignant urge of the tears that thousands of orphans, widows, and relatives of other victims are forced to shed on account of Maoists’ terror accompanied by security forces’ retaliation.
In the meantime, parliamentarians have been demanding that the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) be brought under the House so that it will be subordinate to civilian authorities. The government has already come under fire for being lackluster in this direction. Concerned experts are even found to have warned that if the RNA is not brought under the control of House of Representatives, the country might face a military coup. Parliamentarians of the seven party democratic alliance are as much enthusiastic in lampooning the RNA as they are mum regarding the Maoist militia whose brutality has relegated the entire country to a horrible nightmare. Abhorrent pusillanimity on the part of lawmakers seems to have further emboldened the Maoist leadership that has obstinately rejected the suggestion that they dismantle their militia before the elections for the constituent assembly. In response to a query about the management of arms possessed by the Maoist guerrillas, Prachanda, in an interview with Nepal Magazine, is reported to have said: “The essence of the 12-point understanding (with the seven party alliance) was that the activities of both the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Royal Army should be put under the supervision of the United Nations or any other credible international organization.” Going by the past history of Nepalese Maoists, his pronouncement is nothing but a devious exercise in deception.
In principle, the idea of bringing the RNA under the House of Representatives is a brilliant one. Similarly, the suggestion relating to its nomenclature is also most welcome. Barring a few exceptions, the army of our country is a disciplined organization with impeccable commitment to our sovereign independence. In the course of protracted agitation against the royal regression, this institution was left ignominiously bruised by what is widely taken as political leaders’ unscrupulous assaults conspicuously in collusion with Maoists. The wide gap thus created between the democratic forces and RNA has yet to be bridged. Most important, RNA, a force to reckon with, is seen to have identified itself with the Nepalese monarchy – a bitter truth that can hardly be nullified either by democratic forces’ accelerated hobnob with the Maoists or their strategic imbecility that has become evident over the couple of years in their dealings with this institution. No less worth mentioning is the growing appreciation that the RNA is seen to have been enjoying of late, particularly in the Western World. Thanks to the Maoist barbarism accompanied by political forces’ inability to prevent the country from sliding down the precipice, international community appears to have started looking to the Army. Statements of US Senator Patrick Leahy and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher need to be taken in that perspective. Certainly, it does not bode well.