Nepal's current politics is largely power-centered. Ideology and idealism have not only taken a back seat, but become almost extinct in the concerns of politics and politicians. Those in power do not hesitate to act as overt or covert stooges of outside forces even if that means working in detriment to national cause and interest. But of late, some young people from at least three major parties--Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Nepali Congress have tried to give an impression that they are not all that happy with the way things are going on in Nepal. Their conscience, it seems, has begun to prick them.
Radheshyam Adhikary of NC and Agni Kharel of UML have resigned from the Transitional Justice Committee of the Constituent Assembly, Lekhnath Neupane, former president of the Maoist-affiliated students union, has quit the party expressing serious dissatisfaction over the conduct of party's top leaders and the politics they pursued.
Krishna Belbase, a Maoist leader, quit as the head of Tribhuvan University's International Relations Department, and like him Bharat Pokharel quit as the head of CEDA expressing their differences with the conduct of their parties over national affairs. But Adhikary and Kharel have not made the reason of their quitting the Transitional Committee public. And, is what they did was enough? Apparently they resigned because they differed with the government's draft bill on formation of the Commission on Disappearance as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Baburam Bhattarai, the biggest beneficiary of the dual standards that the international community has adopted on human rights in Nepal, has been able to rope in the power hungry Nepali Congress and the Madhes Parties in first granting general amnesty to cases -- murder, torture, disappearance, plunder and capture of property--committed by the Maoists and all political activists and getting the two commissions to endorse these political decisions.
Ambassador DeLisi may have given many saintly advices to Nepali Congress whether to go on a bandh or not, but through his silence, or mildness of disapproval of over the general amnesty issue, he may face the anger of the victims of conflict. Thankfully, Nina Pillari, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has belatedly issued a warning that the UN may not approve this act of condoning crimes by Maoists and the Nepali Congress, the two parties that signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)- six years ago, but the two parties are eager to give an indecent burial to that accord now.
In essence, Sushil Koirala-led Nepali Congress has deprived the family of Muktinath Adhikary, a pro-Congress human rights activist and High School teacher from Lamjung, killed by the Maoists brutally, of ever getting justice. Koirala has condoned the murder of 13,000 plus people, and his hands are as stained by blood as are Prachanda's now. Why? All that in the name of completing the peace process and constitution making? But what will the constitution founded on denial of justice and institutionalised crime deliver? Ambassador DeLisi's comment on his Facebook site would be worth watching. Is he happy with the way his favourite Nepali actors are pursuing the right to life and liberty in Nepal?
Yes, Bhattarai's sole motive is to continue in power. He faces internal threat to his government. His Deputy Prime Minister and some members of the cabinet, like Bhattarai himself, sabotaged the scheduled visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabo. Why was it necessary for them to sabotage this visit? Bhattarai inappropriately leaked the visit date. Gachchhadar not only refused to see the Chinese delegation which had come to discuss preparatory arrangements for the visit, but also warned the Prime Minister that Wen Jiabo may not get enough security as required. What was the basis of his assessment? Did he discuss the issue with senior Home Ministry and Police authorities, or it was in his personal interest to have the visit stalled? Moreover, United Democratic Madhes Front's warning to withdraw support from the government on the eve of Wen Jiabao’s proposed visit was clear in its intent given its timing. Bhattarai, Gachchhadar and the UDMF are exploring forming an alliance against a larger section of the Nepali Congress, UML and Maoists, in the hope that Bhattarai may continue as PM by breaking all the parties if the UCPN-M central committee asked him to quit on December 23.
But what will affect the course of constitution making and the peace process is how Nepali actors use their conscience, expertise and commitment to it. What Kharel and Adhikary did gives some indication.
That is why Bhattarai is in a hurry to have his way with the four-point agreement including Madhesi youths’ integration en masse in the Nepal army, and withdrawal of the cases. By the twin acts, he wants to establish himself within the Maoists party as well as Madhesi groups. Resignation by Adhikary and Kharel, therefore, have come as a mild challenge to this gross violation of Human rights and sweeping immunity that will be granted to Maoists and Madhesi activists.
But their resigning from a committee will not mean anything unless they get their respective parties around to their views and general principle of rule of law that impunity and the rule of law, impunity and the spirit and principle of constitutionalism do not go together. You cannot have a democratic constitution by killing the basis and right to justice.
Baburam Bhattarai has always been an unadulterated advocate of killing of political opponents and denying justice to those who differ with him. A TRC on his terms, and mass withdrawal of cases just because Sushil Koirala agrees to Bhattarai's proposal have to be seen as an act of NC-Maoist willingness to endorse crimes against humanity. Nina Pillai, by warning against any such step, has expressed the silent voices of many Nepalese, suppressed under fear of reprisals. A puppet TRC with a mandate to endorse the unconstitutional decision of the government backed by Nepali Congress and the Maoists will legitimise crimes of all types, including murder in the future.
This is also an occasion to ponder, at least for those occupying high and mighty chairs of the Constituent Assembly, including the speaker, and chairman of the Constitutional Committee, to show some degree of 'conscience' or let impunity prevail in the name of creating conducive atmosphere for completing the twin processes.