By Manarishi Dhital, Sydney
27 April 2020
Those who are familiar with my writing may find the views I am going to present in this article as a marked departure from my tradition. What I am going to present here is the voice of my entire generation. It would therefore be unfair to present the collective voice of my generation through the prism of my personal opinions and principles.
As this scribe was stepping into his teenage, the 30-year-long Panchayat System was just coming to an end.
Before the military, historic and geo-political factors that led to the downfall of that system could be analysed, my generation was already having to face one after another challenges. Some of those crises were political while some other were natural. But the fact remains that my generation suffered solely because of the political leadership’s criminal mindset that is completely free of consideration for humanity or the greater good of fellow citizens.
When we carefully analyse the designs of the leaders of my country to perpetuate their criminal activities against the youths of my generation in the 30 years since the popular democratic movement of 1990, rest of our life appears dark and deprived. The only saving grace is that my generation has learnt a good lesson from Mother Nature – we know very well that there is a fresh morning after the darkness of the night; there will be spring after the winter.
The very first crime against my generation was planned in the decade immediately after 1990.
The legacy of the newly-established pluralistic democracy was in the hands of a handful of leaders like Ganesh Man Singh, Girija Prasad Koirala, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Sher Bahadur Deuba in Nepali Congress and Madan Bhandari, Man Mohan Adhikari, Shahana Pradhan, Madhav Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Jhalanath Khanal and Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai on the leftist front.
These were the leaders who led youths of my country against the autocratic regime under the king in order to turn Nepal, as they promised at the time, into a fine specimen of multiparty system.
Corrupt elements would very soon sideline more ethical and morally robust leaders of the time such as Ganesh Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Shahana Pradhan and Man Mohan Adhikari while dark forces joined hands to plan the brazen assassination of world-class visionary like Madan Bhandari.
In the meantime, leaders such as Girija Prasad Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Madhav Kumar Nepal and K.P. Sharma Oli – who were in the opposing sides of the parliament – began dobbing in the milk and honey of the multiparty democracy.
Mr Koirala sowed the early seeds of political instability and corruption by causing the fall of his own majority government which was eventually continued by other leaders of his party including Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Leftist forces took full advantage of the internal feud of Nepali Congress party and formed the first communist government of the Himalayan nation. However, it soon became busy developing a nationwide network of non-governmental organisations and creating its own “elite” ruling class. This selfish behaviour of both Congress and UML gave rise to an extreme frustration in the people and a mass explosion was about to take place.
This is where Dr Baburam Bhattarai and others entered the murky waters of Nepalese politics transforming that frustration in the common people into an armed struggle which would eventually be one of the bloodiest civil war in recent history. The greed for power, oppression of the people and corrupt practices of Congress and UML made it possible for Dr Baburam Bhattarai and his fellow-comrades to organise and institutionalise what would eventually become the “People’s War” of Nepal.
Very soon Congress, UML, the Maoists and even some elements of the palace had one place to approach hoping to establish their own political clout – India.
Nepali Congress and UML both made the abolition of the autocratic Panchayati System irrelevant when they respectively made Surya Bahadur Thapa and Lokendra Bahadur Chanda the prime minister. Both were part and parcel of that abolished system.
Such political crime coupled with the violence unleashed by Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda meant my generation, which should have been able to enjoy social and economic advancements at least by the turn of the century, continued to suffer the fate of a least developed country.
These actions of Nepalese political leaders, who basically aren’t prepared to engage in ethical politics, are but crimes against humanity. My generation is yet to receive justice and compensation for this violation of our human rights.
Legacy of a monarchical system had effectively ended the moment bloody royal massacre took place at the beginning of the new century. But, when King Gyanendra became ambitious and tried to follow the footsteps of his late father Mahendra by introducing a repressive regime, it paved the way for a cooperation between the Maoists and the leaders who had already lost political legacy in the eyes of the Nepalese people.
Towards the middle of the 21st century’s first decade, my generation which was in the prime of its youth by this time, had to take to the streets against the king’s autocratic regime and the decade-long civil war.
Once again, leaders failed my generation by not delivering on their promise of institutionalising democracy and peace within the first decade of the new century – as promised. Hence, a further delay in the journey on the road of justice and prosperity.
The constitution-making process was not complete even at the end of the first decade.
Once again, Girija Prasad Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Madhav Nepal, KP Oli and the likes began to lock horns in the dash for office.
The promise to deliver justice for the victims of forced disappearance within the first decade of the new century did not eventuate. Leadership failed the victims and their families, once again.
No peace, no prosperity, no constitution and lack of promised justice for the victims of the civil war – it was all part of the continuing crime against humanity.
Then came the second decade of the 21st century. Just as the constitution was finished, elections were held and signs of institutionalisation of the new system were beginning to show, my tired generation had to deal with the devastation of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. As if it was not enough punishment for my generation, then came the Indian blockade on Nepal. Before the tears of civil war victims could dry, my generation now became the victim of an extremely cruel blow of Mother Nature. Still, no one – KP Oli, Madhav Nepal, Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai and Sher Bahadur Deuba – no one took any noticeable action that could alleviate the sufferings of the earthquake and civil war victims. These tragedies did not melt their hearts; they continued their petty politics trying to cut each other’s throats.
Now the third decade of the 21st century is upon us, and with a bigger challenge to my generation as it is for rest of the world. Nearly 200,000 people have already lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even now, amid this dark and gloom, Nepalese political leaders are flouting the scientific guidelines of the World Health Organisation as they knife each other for holding on to power.
Hundreds of thousands of youths of my generation, who were forced leave the country because of their political crimes, are now wanting to return home but the government does not allow them to. There is no support for youths who are away from their home in the country in search of jobs; neither does the government makes arrangement for them to return home.
My generation, in the third decade of the 21st century, lo and behold, is bound to march the highways in an attempt to flee cities and reach the safety of their native villages.
The rulers on the other hand are busy making illicit money in the importation of medical goods necessary to fight the pandemic.
They do not even hesitate to abduct fellow politicians as a means to extending their hold on power.
What would be bigger “crime against humanity” than cashing in on war, famine, earthquake and pandemic as a means for selfish political greed?
The world as well as my country shall one day win over the pandemic but how can my generation be liberated from the crimes against humanity entrenched deep in the psyche of our leaders?
As the world rushes to find vaccine for coronavirus, my own generation should brainstorm to find vaccine against the virus that has been destroying their life for the good part of the past 30 years.
Then at least the next generation will see some light after this darkness.
Originally in Nepali language, the article was translated by southasia.com.au.
Author is solely responsible for all aspects of the article – editor