Insurgency in Nepal
Nepal, with a population of approximately 29 million, is a federal democratic republic. The political system is based on the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 (2007), with a prime minister as the chief executive and a Constituent Assembly (CA), which is responsible for drafting a new constitution. The CA extended the deadline for the completion of a new constitution several times without agreeing on a final text. On 24 May 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that a further extension was unconstitutional, and three days later, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M)), dissolved the CA. For the remainder of the year, there was no legal parliamentary or constituent assembly body, and no constitution. Domestic and international observers generally characterized the 2008 CA election results as credible, although there were reports of political violence, intimidation, and voting irregularities.
There was violence in the Tarai region, although the number and severity of incidents decreased markedly following the end of the Maoist insurgency in 2006. Armed criminal gangs and groups associated with the governing UCPN(M) and a breakaway Maoist party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), reportedly committed acts of violence, extortion, and intimidation.
The most significant problems were the country’s inability to promulgate a permanent constitution that would enable a more stable political structure for the national government, the failure to hold elections to replace the dissolved CA, the continued absence of transitional justice mechanisms such as a truth and reconciliation commission to account for past human rights abuses, and the related failure to implement court-ordered arrests of military personnel, Maoists, and other individuals accused or convicted of human rights violations stemming from the country’s 10-year insurgency.
Military assistance encouraged the monarchy to seek a military solution to the rebellion; in doing so it dismissed the elected national and local governments, thus ending any true democracy in Nepal. Moreover, the military has been only moderately effective: the insurgents were active in nearly every district of Nepal, and had effectively challenged government control in over two-thirds of the country. In addition, the Royal Nepalese Army engaged in ruthless violence that has often increased recruitment to the insurgency.
The most fundamental source of support for the rebellion, aside from the corruption of political parties and authoritarian actions of the monarchy, was the pervasive exclusion of approximately 80% of Nepal’s population from leading roles in economic, political, and social life. Ethnic minorities, lower-castes, and women were systematically dominated, neglected, or actively excluded in many dimensions of social life.
In February 1996, the leaders of the Maoist United People's Front began a violent insurgency, waged through killings, torture, bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and intimidation against civilians, police, and public officials in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts. Over 13,000 police, civilians, and insurgents were killed in the conflict. The government and Maoists held peace talks in August, September, and November of 2001, but they were unsuccessful, and the Maoists resumed their violent insurgency.
In April 2006, the major political parties, in cooperation with the Maoists, organized massive countrywide demonstrations for the restoration of democracy, forcing the King to relinquish power. On April 24, 2006, King Gyanendra reinstated the 1999 Parliament. Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress Party was selected by the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) of political parties to again lead the government. The Maoists declared a unilateral cease-fire on April 26, and the new Koirala government announced its own unilateral cease-fire and plans for peace talks with the Maoist insurgents on May 3, 2006. The SPA and the Maoists have since signed a number of agreements, including, in November 2006, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end the decade-long insurgency. Both sides also agreed to an arms management process and elections for a Constituent Assembly.
The prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, of the Communist Party of Nepal - United Marxist Leninist (UML), took office on 25 May 2009 following the resignation of former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal whose party, the United Communist Party of Nepal - Maoists (UCPN-M), has a plurality in the Constituent Assembly. Domestic and international observers generally characterized the 2008 election results as credible, although there were reports of political violence, intimidation, and voting irregularities. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, but there were frequent instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently.
During 2009 members of the security forces, the Maoist militias, the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL), and members of other small, often ethnically based armed groups committed human rights abuses. Members of the Nepal Army (NA) were confined to their barracks in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2006. Members of the Nepal Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) occasionally used excessive and lethal force in response to continued demonstrations throughout the country. Maoist militias engaged in arbitrary and unlawful use of lethal force and abduction. Violence, extortion, and intimidation continued throughout the year. Numerous armed groups, largely in the Terai region in the lowland area near the Indian border, attacked civilians, government officials, members of particular ethnic groups, each other, or Maoist militias. Impunity for human rights violators, threats against the media, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention were serious problems
During 2009 there was significant internal conflict in the Terai. Numerous armed groups, many ethnically based, clashed with each other and with the local population. Police had a limited mandate and were unable fully to promote law and order. Members of the Maoists, the Maoist-affiliated YCL, and other ethnically based splinter groups in the Terai frequently committed acts of violence, extortion, and intimidation throughout the year.
The Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC) reported that during the year armed groups killed 229 civilians; of that number, the state killed 37. The OHCHR documented nearly 40 credible allegations of extrajudicial killings attributed to the NP in both the current year and 2008. Maoists and Maoist-affiliated organizations continued to commit abuses during the year in contravention of the CPA. Maoists regularly extorted money from businesses, workers, private citizens, and NGOs. When individuals or companies refused or were unable to pay, Maoist recrimination was violent or implied the threat of violence.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) called on the NP and the APF to enforce law and order across the country. Police did not respond to most incidents of violence, particularly events involving Maoists and armed groups in the Terai. There were multiple incidents in which police detained Maoist and YCL cadres for illegal acts, but political leadership within the Home Ministry freed the detainees or other political leaders intervened.
Although the government and Maoists agreed to support the voluntary return in safety and dignity of IDPs to their homes following the 10-year civil war, in practice the agreement was not implemented. In 2013, an explosion at a Government office in the Sarlahi district near the border with India, injured 12 people.
The fate of most of those who disappeared during the 10-year civil conflict (1996-2006) remained unknown. According to the the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), an independent constitutional body, , there were approximately 842 unresolved cases of disappearances, 594 of which may have involved state actors. As of October the government did not prosecute any government officials, current or former, for involvement in conflict-era disappearances, nor had it released information on the whereabouts of the 606 persons the NHRC identified as having been disappeared by state actors. The NHRC reported that Maoists were believed to be involved in 149 unresolved disappearances during the conflict. As of November the government had not prosecuted any Maoists for involvement in disappearances. On February 11, all of the members of the Commission on the Investigation of Disappeared Persons (CIDP) assumed office, marking the commencement of the commission’s two-year term. The CIDP and the TRC were established in accordance with a law adopted in May 2014 and were in fulfillment of a key component of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The overall number of conflict-era missing persons generally remained stable. As of September the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) listed 1,343 names of missing persons, compared with 1,347 the previous year. The ICRC reported that from January to September, 14 new cases were filed and 16 were closed.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list