War and peace

Although much of 2003 was marked by a ceasefire between the Maoists and the State, the war dragged on for three more years, costing the lives of thousands more.

Issue #136 14-20 March 2003

Much of 2003 was marked by a ceasefire between the Maoists and the State, and there was finally hope for peace. But the war dragged on for another three years costing the lives of thousands of more Nepalis.

During the 2003 ceasefire, the band Nepathya was on a peace concert tour. Its lead singer is featured in this issue on page 12.

Excerpts of the editorial published 20 years ago this week in issue #136 14-20 March 2003:

The most bizarre aspect of the present period of national deadlock is that our political forces are fighting over the spoils of peace even before peace returns. A ceasefire in any conflict is the most delicate time, where words have to be weighed before being uttered, actions thought through for their impact. A truce is a tight-rope act. And yet, our politicos are doing aerobics on the high wire with wild and woolly pronouncements. 

There has never been a time in Nepali history when the Nepali people had so little trust in the individuals and institutions who purport to rule over them. They have lost what little assurance they had on national-level politicians, they don’t trust the Panchayat throwbacks calling the shots now, they don’t trust the Maoists and their brutal methods, they don’t trust the Kathmandu elite with its arrogance and pomposity, they fear the security forces almost more than they fear the rebels. They have questions about the king’s motives, but are willing to go along with him.

When a group of musicians decided to do a peace roadshow this month, the organisers were surprised by the unexpectedly large turnout. People didn’t need to be bused in as they are in political rallies, this was no rent-a-crowd. The 200,000+ mostly-young Nepali men and women who attended the concerts in Dharan, Hetuada, Butwal, Mahendranagar, Dang and Kathmandu were spontaneously and openly telling the politicians in Kathmandu what they want. They want them to stop trying to wreck this chance for peace. The concert in Tulsipur, in the heartland of the insurgency, was the most heavily attended with upwards of 50,000 people from the outlying villages of Dang, Salyan and Rolpa. This was a musical referendum for peace.

From archive material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com

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