Leaders attend Bangkok gathering

Kathmandu, November 26

A gathering of political leaders from both ruling and opposition parties began today in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss issues related to transitional justice.

Participants of the event, organised by the Swiss government, include Nepali Congress leaders Minendra Rijal and Ramesh Lekhak, and Nepal Communist Party leaders Barsha Man Pun, Janardan Sharma and Bhim Rawal, among others. Also participating in the event are rights activists and civil society members, including the president’s adviser Sushil Pyakurel and Tika Prasad Dhakal.

Both the parties confirmed the participation of the leaders in the programme. Nepali Congress Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said the two NC leaders flew to Bangkok to take part in a transitional justice-related programme organised by the Swiss government, while NCP Spokesperson said his party leaders were attending a ‘peace-related event’ in Thailand.

“NCP leaders’ participation in the event has not been discussed in the party meeting, but they have flown to Bangkok with consent of the two NCP co-chairmen,” said Shrestha.

Although the Nepali Army was also invited to the event, the government turned down the army’s request to send its representatives to Bangkok. Another stakeholder of the decade-long insurgency, the conflict victims, said it was initially planned that they would also be flown to Bangkok, but were not invited.

Conflict Victims Common Platform Chair Bhagiram Chaudhari said the organiser, the Swiss foreign ministry, told them the army and conflict victims would be invited in the ‘next phase’. “What we have been told by the organiser is the event will bring together stakeholders of the peace process of Nepal and The Philippines where they will share their experiences,” said Chaudhari.

Representatives of the embassy of Switzerland in Kathmandu could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. NC leader Lekhak told The Himalayan Times over voice-over-internet-protocol service that he was in Bangkok, but did not know anything about the gathering. However, sources said the gathering was part of an exercise launched by a section of rights activists and civil society members to forge political consensus to take the transitional justice process to a logical conclusion.

The Bangkok gathering also follows a recent national conference of conflict victims that adopted a charter demanding setting up a high-level mechanism to create conducive environment for the transitional justice process by bringing all stakeholders, including political parties, security agencies and the victims, on the same page.

In the charter, the victims have also demanded the existing transitional justice mechanisms— Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons — be restructured on the basis of laws rewritten or amended with the consent of victims.