The situation in Nepal is still very fragile, only last month a general strike called by the Maoists brought a part of the country to a halt. At the beginning of the peace process in 2006 the UN estimated there were 32,000 rebel fighters still armed, to date only 19,000 have given up their weapons. With 128 rebel groups still at large in the South, the task of building peace in Nepal is far from complete.
But, there is still hope for Nepal. Peace Direct funds the work of YAPE in the south of country, who intervene in conflicts before they are able to threaten this fragile peace process. YAPE works to bring justice to people who have suffered human rights abuses to challenge the culture of violence as well as responding to conflicts as they arise.
In October of this year Peace Direct’s Head of International Programmes, Tom Gillhespy visited Nepal. YAPE’s representative Bhoraj Timilsina took Tom to meet the people who had suffered through Nepal’s years of conflict. Tom met a widow who talked painfully of her husband’s abduction by Maoists. The rebels extorted money and valuables from her through threats to her missing husband’s life. Only after two years did she find out he was already dead. Bhoraj has bought this case to court, and whilst the case remains ongoing, by demanding justice YAPE is taking the first steps to bringing an end to the cycle of violence.
In September a disagreement between local people and Maoist affiliated trades unions threatened to enthrall a whole town in violent conflict. Local youths began gathering in the town centre armed with knives, spears and iron rods, whilst on the other side of town the union members were preparing for a fight. The police became involved and arrested some of the youths, which only provoked the situation further as townspeople swarmed the police station accusing the police of caving in to the Maoists by arresting people who were just looking to protect their communities from attack.
Bhoraj Timilsina from YAPE was invited to intervene. As a well known human rights activist, the opposing parties were confident their side of the story would be heard without bias or vested interest. At the police station Bhoraj held mediation talks between the community and the transport workers that resulted in the opposing sides signing a pledge to live in harmony.