A day for the disappeared

Published On: August 30, 2016 11:30 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 30: Every year August 30 is observed as the ‘International Day of the Disappeared’. To commemorate the day in the capital, theater artists from Kathmandu’s Mandala Theatre, various human rights activists and families of the disappeared participated in an event titled ‘Where are they?’ at the premises of Mandala Theatre in Anamnagar.

Jointly organized by Mandala Theatre and National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Nepal (NEFAD), the free event included many art activities in tribute to the experiences of Nepali women who have lost their closed ones.

Mandala Theatre’s mobile theater truck ‘Junkiri’ acted as the entry tunnel for the event. Visitors climbed through the truck’s back door and made their way through the inside of the truck which was hollow and fuming like an oven.

“This is a symbolic way to make the visitors realize what goes inside someone when they lose a family member,” said Somnath Khanal of Mandala Theatre.

At the event’s site, a miniature message tree was installed where visitors could stick handwritten notes addressed to the victims’ family members.

Similarly, two large flex prints that depicted photo stories of two missing individuals were mounted nearby the message tree.

The event also saw on stage performance from a sarangi musical group. Whereas poet Nawaraj Prajuli recited a poem dedicated to the family of Nagma Mali and Swastika Mali. Parajuli was a part of the Mandala Theatre’s team that had visited many communities in search of stories about missing people. During this trip, Parajuli had came across the Mali sisters and got to know about their father who was missing for a long time.

Swastika also recited a poem that she dedicated to her father.

Rajan Khatiwada directed play ‘Adha Satya’ (Half Truth) concluded the event. The play co-written by Khatiwada and Sijan Dahal is based on various interviews they conducted with the victims’ family members and specially deals with the hardship faced by the female members of the family. After its successful staging at the event, Mandala Theatre is working on to take the play to different places in Nepal on their mobile theater ‘Junkiri’.   

It is said that more than 1300 individuals disappeared during the ten year long Maoist Insurgency. NEFAD, which is largely composed of victims’ family members, was established in 2009 and since then the organization has been actively advocating about the issues of the disappeared and missing.

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