INSEC’s Opinion on the List of Martyrs Published by Nepal Government on 13 March 2023
Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) has ceaselessly been documenting the situation of human rights in Nepal since 1992. Its documentations hold qualitative and quantitative statistics of human rights violations and abuses occurred till this date. INSEC has the detailed list of people who were killed, disappeared and injured during ten-year long armed conflict (13 February 1996 to 21 November 2006).
INSEC has published a victim profile assembling the details of the people killed, disappeared, injured and disabled in the armed conflict. It includes the details of 13,248 victims of killing and 931 of enforced disappearance. Victim profile was taken as one of the chief sources for the Nepal conflict report published by OHCHR on 2012.
Council of Ministers have decided to declare the people who lost their lives during armed revolution for restoration of democracy, nation’s welfare and progressive changes as Martyrs on 27 February 2023. While comparing the list of martyrs published by the government with the INSEC’s record, it was found that the some of the names were repeated, some were missing and some lacked details.
Decision of the council of ministers enlisted 8,470 people in the list of Martyrs on 27 February. Most of the people included in the list were those who lost their lives during armed conflict. INSEC has documented the cases based on five development regions according to the then state system, the same has now changed into seven provinces. Rukum and Nawalparasi Districts have been divided. Thus, these two districts have been separated and the record of other districts have been presented based on the provincial system.
As per INSEC’s documentation, 13,248 people were killed by both the parties in an armed conflict between 13 February 1996 to 21 November 2006. Among them, 7,905 were killed by the state and 5,343 were killed by the other parties. Similarly, 5,049 among 5,343, were killed by Maoists.
Names of 6,014 people enshrined under the list released by Government in Nepal Gazette were found in INSEC’s record while names of 2,456 individuals remain undetected. Among the detected names, 4,950 were killed by the State and 1,054 were killed by others. Majority of the martyrs published in gazette are form Karnali Province, numbered: 1,581. Among them, 1,262 are found in the record of INSEC. Eight hundred and forty-three individuals among 1,167 declared martyrs from Koshi province are in conformity with INSEC’s record. Similarly, out of 709 declared martyrs from Madhesh province, only 490 are found in the record of INSEC.
On the same note, among 1,113 individuals who have been declared martyrs of Bagmati Province, 965 are documented under the INSEC victim profile. In Gandaki province, among 686 declared martyrs, 577 are documented under the INSEC victim profile. Among the 1,567 declared martyrs of Lumbini province, 608 are documented under the INSEC victim profile. Among the 1,005 martyrs of the Sudhurpaschim, 789 are documented under the INSEC victim profile. Similarly,50 out of 58 declared martyrs of Nawalparasi and 430 out of 584 declared martyrs of Rukum are documented under the victim profile.
The list, issued by the government, doesn’t explicitly mention if the individuals killed in incidents after the peace agreement have been included as martyrs. In the past, the government had included individuals who lost their lives in fights and accidents under the list of martyrs as a means of ensuring financial assistance of 1 million rupees to the family of those individuals.
In response to the controversy regarding the indicators for deeming someone a martyr, the government formed two commissions immediately after the 2005-2006 public movement. However, the indicators determined by the report of the commissions have not been implemented. The report formed by a working group under the commission suggested three criteria of martyrs; ‘those who willingly sacrificed their lives for their beliefs and values, those who lost their lives unwillingly, and those who lost their lives for financial gain’.
The report of the commission emphasized that even those who lost their lives due to partisan agitations, attacks and murders by unknown groups, and vehicle accidents should not be declared martyrs. The indicators determined by Modnath Prasrit and Navraj Subedi’s commission report must be implemented by the government to prevent the use of this sensitive issue as a tool for political bargaining.
Also, according to the guidelines of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the government should focus on arranging the necessary mechanisms to advance the process of transitional justice by prioritizing the identification of individuals killed and disappeared during the armed conflict from 19 February 1996 to 21 November 2006.
INSEC appeals to the government to pass the amendment Bill of the Enforced Disappearances Inquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014 in alignment with the demands of the conflict victims and human rights community. INSEC requests the government to prioritize transitional justice for the victims.
Dr. Kundan Aryal
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