KATHMANDU, May 19: Lenin Bista, a former Maoist child soldier, held a meeting with members of the South Asian Groups under the German Parliament recently.
During his meeting in Germany, Bista raised the issue of former child soldiers of Nepal who fought against the state for the then rebel Maoist party.
In his letter to the members of the South Asian Groups under the German Parliament, Bista has mentioned the sufferings faced by the former child soldiers who were disqualified by the UNMIN.
“Among the demands of their movement, they are seeking fair treatment of the former child-combatants as compared to support provided adult former-combatants, including the demand that the label of ‘unqualified’ (asaxam) be replaced by ‘discharged’ (bahirgamit),” Bista said in the letter on behalf of the former soldiers.
Bista, in the letter, has shared about their struggle committee which has been demanding rehabilitation of the child soldiers (who are now adults) who lost their years of youth to the conflict, and financial assistance, and a dignified recognition in the face of public and familial rejection in many cases.
In the letter, Bista said that their organization is asking the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to pressurize the government of Nepal to end to the practice of attaching disqualified in front or behind former soldiers’ individual names.
“We also request you to recommend government of Nepal to provide us compensation and support according to rank at the same level as received by the qualified ex-PLA and to recommend a public expression apology from UNMIN and the leadership of the government of Nepal and the then Maoist party for having employed the term disqualified as well as provision of compensation and support likewise,” read the letter.
Here are demands raised by former child soldiers:
1: The government to abandon the term ‘disqualified’ without delay and honor the discharged ex-PLA as republican fighters for their role in the struggle for change;
2: The authorities to treat the 4,008 Ex-child soldiers as other PLA members and address their demands in a sustainable way;
3: The government and concerned parties to take responsibility for the abuse of rights of the child around child recruitment.
4: To ensure child rights, justice must be based on domestic and international principles, and state and rebel parties must be held accountable.
5: Since ex-child soldiers have been deprived of the fundamental human right to education, the government of Nepal to address youth combatants’ practical concerns based on a social and economic package based on principles of social justice.
6: The Government to release unconditionally all discharged PLA who have been detained.
7: The Government to provide medical treatment, psychosocial counseling and special support schemes to the injured, mentally ill and traumatized, and disabled members of the Ex-Child Soldiers.