EDITORIAL: Lost childhood

The state should also provide compensation to those children who lost their childhood and quit school for fear of their life after their parents were killed

It is shocking to learn that scores of children below 16 years of age had to quit school after one or both their parents were killed during the decade long insurgency that claimed the lives of at least 17,000 people across the country.

Although the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) has yet to come out with its final report government figure stands at 1,530 and five percent of the total forced-disappearances are said to be children aged below 18.

It means that as many as 80 children were victims of forced disappearances either by the state security agencies or by the then rebel Maoists who returned to the peace process in 2006 through a Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA).

CIEDP, which will complete collection of comprehensive statistics on the forced-disappearances within 60 days, beginning April 14, is expected to come up with its findings on the actual number of children missing or housed in orphanages due to loss of their parents.

Isolated reports from various districts suggest that the children had either to flee home or drop out of school after their fathers were killed or their mothers committed suicide.

The most disturbing news from Kavre district shows that as many as 21 children were killed during the insurgency, five of them in bomb explosions in rural areas.

The Kavre District Welfare Committee has revealed that 74 children had to quit their studies after their parents/guardians were killed either by the insurgents or by the security forces during the conflict.

Nine of the 13 children who had fled have yet to return home and their whereabouts are still unknown to the government authorities, insurgents and their guardians. It has been nine years and eight governments, twice headed by the Maoists themselves, since the CPA was signed.

However, the cases of enforced-disappearances have not been resolved as it took more than eight years to form the CIEDP.

The only ray of hope of finding the actual status of those people who went missing during the insurgency is the CIEDP. Boys were forced to join the Maoist insurgency and some of the girls are said to have been killed by the security forces after raping them in captivity.

The law related to Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and CIEDP has clearly stated that cases of rape, enforced-disappearances and torture and killing in captivity shall not be recommended for reconciliation or reparation between the perpetrators and the victims.

The persons involved in such heinous crimes deserve maximum punishment. The families who were traumatized from such harrowing incidents will not feel justice being imparted to them unless the perpetrators stand for trial.

The TRC and CIEDP may look into the cases of human rights violations committed by both the state and the then rebels during the insurgency. But the panels cannot recommend clemency on cases of serious human rights violations as defined and specified by law.

The state should also provide compensation to those children who lost their childhood and quit school for fear of their life after their parents were killed.

Save the monkeys

At least 50 per cent of monkeys found in the Kathmandu valley are infected with zoonotic diseases, including the dreaded tuberculosis and herpes B virus, diarrhea, obesity and scabies.

As a result the life expectancy of these monkeys has also been reduced by ten years. The monkeys which survive have developed strong immunity. Most of the monkeys are found in the Pashupati and Swayambhunath areas.

The population of monkeys is on the increase despite being infected with zoonotic diseases because of early breeding.

Experts advise against feeding the monkeys with junk food as many monkeys become infected with these diseases. Zoonotic diseases can be fatal if they are transmitted to humans from monkeys.

There are 1,627 monkeys in the Kathmandu Valley and about 900 of them have zoonotic diseases. With their habitats being increasingly destroyed more monkeys are entering human settlements and have become a nuisance and a major health threat.

The monkeys are even found begging for food.

As such, experts should devise projects to protect the monkeys from being infected with zoonotic diseases and preserve their habitat being encroached upon by humans.