Conflict-hit victims’ plight moves visiting Columbian

Kathmandu, March 12:

There might be little that’s common between Columbia, a country that lies to the north-west of South America, and Nepal. And yet they share the same agony. Both these nations have witnessed the loss of countless lives and property as a result of protracted internal conflict.

Concluding her two-day visit to Nepal, Gladys Avila, a member of International Convention against Forced Disappearance, said, “We might be located in different parts of the globe but we share the same agony and sentiment.”

Avila met conflict victims in several districts, listened to them and promised help. But unlike other foreign delegates, she also shared the stories of thousands of people of her country, who shared a similar fate. Her own brother, Eduardo Avila’s whereabouts are unknown. He was 26 when the United Self-defence forces of Columbia detained him on February 20, 1993, on the charge of involvement in Leftist Revolution.

Avila formed an organisation named Association of Families of the Detained Disappeared comprising the family members whose relatives’ whereabouts were unknown. After her arrival in Nepal, she felt the necessity of similar organisation in Nepal as well. “It is our primary right to be informed of the whereabouts of our disappeared relatives,” she said. She opined that the Human Rights Commission should immediately open a unit constituting the conflict victims.

Avila condemned the ordinance issued by the government on forced disappearances. She said the ordinance is neither favourable to the victims nor it meets international human rights standards. She said that the government must disclose the whereabouts of the missing people and punish the perpetrators. She also underscored the need to provide education and employment to the conflict victims.

She said, “Nepali people cannot wait for another 20 years to be availed of these basic rights.”