Monday, October 03, 2005

Tales Of Torture

Suchana Oli is an eighth grader of Banki in Dang district. Her tale of torture and detention shows that there is little difference between the brutality of the Maoists and the security forces.

Suchana’s father was a policeman who was killed by the Maoists. Her mother died when she was little. She lived with her stepmother who was a rebel sympathiser and allowed the Maoists to come to her house, eat and stay overnight regularly. Last summer, a group of Maoists led by a local girl named Bihani came at night and took Suchana with them. Earlier, they used to come to Suchana’s school and abduct children above grade six so this wasn’t new to her. Suchana walked for six hours to a place called Panchakule and had to listen to their instructions. Two-and-half months later Suchana managed to escape from Maoist clutches at midnight. She walked all night fording rivers and across forests back to her home. Her stepmother refused to let her enter the house but Suchana forced herself in.

The next morning the Maoists came to the house and Suchana’s stepmother told them she had returned. They interrogated her and Bihani took her knife out and cut off one of Suchana’s right toes. She writhed in pain and bled profusely but before they left the Maoists warned that no one was to give Suchana medical treatment. Her sister finally came and took her to a health post. Her foot had been infected but despite that Suchana enrolled in grade nine of the local school. She covered her swollen foot in a plastic bag to cross a stream.

Barely three weeks after she started classes, six Maoists came, locked the school up and told the students to follow them. Most refused but 10 children were blindfolded and forced to walk. When the blindfolds were removed Suchana found herself back in Panchakule. They were then sent to Deukhuri and Bardiya to extort money. Suchana’s group was assigned to travel to Kathmandu for three months and had to walk nearly all the way through jungles, coming to the highways only to cross bridges.

They were led by a comrade named Tarak and a woman named Pabitra. One night, she pretended to go to a toilet and escaped. But there was nowhere to go in Kathmandu, so she went to a police station and surrendered. The police took her to Hanuman Dhoka where they interrogated her but didn’t believe her answers.

What the police did to her in Suchana’s own words: “They blindfolded me and asked questions, I kept answering. Someone held my hand and another slapped me in the face, in the darkness I saw sparks flying. But I didn’t cry. He asked me: ‘Who sent you?’ I said I couldn’t go anywhere that is why I surrendered, if you don’t believe me, go ahead and kill me. After that they slapped me again on both cheeks and boxed my ear.

They used dirty words. Next morning they said you are hiding something, we’ll electrocute you. I was alone, and there were these two men interrogating me. They tried to take my T-shirt and trousers off. The next day six people took me in a van, they said it was Janai Purnima. They took me to the police headquarters. One of them whipped me in the thigh with his belt while another held my head. Then one of them hit me in the stomach with his finger. They made me do situps. I begged forgiveness but they beat me repeatedly. Again and again they told me I had to help them, they even told me they’d allow me to join the police force or go abroad. After they got what they wanted, they brought me back to Hanuman Dhoka and locked me up again. What do I do now? If I go back the Maoists will kill me. If I knew this ws to happen I wouldn’t have surrendered. My life is in shambles but I am worried about my brother. The Maoists had said they’d take him away him if I escaped again. I’m sure they have abducted him. I really want to study. If I could find a job, I’d work. What will my future be? How will I survive?”

Maoist student leader Krishna KC has been detained for 25 months in the army barracks. Despite being released by the Supreme Court, police rearrested him and the District Appellate Court of Patan instructed that he be kept in police custody for 20 days. KC was interviewed in detention and had a speech impediment, which he said was caused by torture in detention.

I was blindfolded and kept in a dark room. Then they started asking about the whereabouts of Baburam and Prachanda. They interrogated me for two hours and tortured me brutally. When I fainted they beat me mercilessly. There were blood clots all over my body. There were hundreds of detainees. In Bhairabnath, I met 225 prisoners on my way to the toilet. I could hear screams of tortured prisoners in every barrack.

It’s not possible to talk about all the mental and physical torture. Many have died as a result. I was electrocuted and hit on the face until I bled. The worst torture was being blindfolded for two years. For twenty-two months they tied my hands behind my back and kept me blindfolded. I was kept at Bhairabnath, Yudha Bhairab and Ranger Battalion. These are the main barracks where people are tortured and killed.

Officials from the NHRC, UN High Commission and ICRC visited me. Whenever news about a detainee is published in the press, that person is moved to another detention place where he is tortured severely. When I was taken from Bhairabnath to Yudha Bhairab I was taken to the jungle, put in a sack and beaten. A prisoner named Khadka Buda died asking for water. He was not a Maoist. Padam Nakarmi died the same way. I spent days eating rice grains from the floor.

They kicked me while reading the news from Amnesty International and Kantipur. When the papers wrote about Matrika Yadab and Suresh Ale Magar they were also tortured. Matrika Yadab is still very ill. Both are in the Ranger Battalion in Chhauni.

They have said openly they will not spare anyone. A general by the name of Biplab Gurung told me that I was lucky. When I was arrested I was the Kathmandu Valley bureau chief. When I was taken in, there were hundreds of detainees in the hall but very few were real Maoists. They end up torturing and killing hundreds of innocent civilians.

(Source: Nepali Times.)

In The News

  • Government ready for talks with parties: Dr Giri NepalNews .... Dr Giri said he was “cautioning the leaders about their disregard for the constitution”. Since they yanked reference to monarchy from their party statute and started talking in shrill terms on a republican set-up, the royalists also have the right to say that they believe in a “monarchical democracy,” he argued...... Giri said the crisis may be further complicated, if the parties remained obdurate on their stance for agitation by disregarding the imminent place of the king in the country.
  • Maoist insurgency to most serious threat to Nepal: German envoy called all legitimate political forces to unite to bring Nepal back into a multi-party democratic framework and to address the Maoist insurgency by peaceful negotiations.
  • RNA responsible for Palpa incident: Civil Society The Civil Society's Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (CSCMC) has said that six Maoists and one civilian were not killed in crossfire by army personnel on September 24 in Bhadrapur area of the Palpa district..... The field report of the CSCMC has said that the Maoists were killed during unilateral action of the RNA at a gathering of armed Maoists...... several rounds of 'rampant firing' is reported to have taken place, and the 'civilians have been found injured, terrorised and local teachers manhandled.'..... the Maoists had not fired in the incident, but they were with arms and the army patrol fired at them without any warning...... earlier the RNA said that the Maoists were killed in a retaliatory action of the RNA after the Maoists attacked the patrolling security force. RNA is yet to comment on the report of CSCMC.
  • NHRC calls upon the govt. to ease surface travel The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government to lift curfew orders clamped along all the eastern and western highways in order to facilitate public travel by bus during the Dashain festival, which kicks off from Tuesday..... Passengers traveling by buses along the Mugling-Narayangarh-Hetauda-Pathalaiya road section in the east and Dang-Lamahi-Nepalgunj-Mahendranagar section of the Mahendra highway in the west have been facing serious ordeals of having to spend whole night at various places even without food due to curfew imposed along the highways from 8 p.m. to 4 a. m next day ..... since the citizens' right to move freely has been hindered due to the night-time curfew, it must be lifted.

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