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A National Seminar on The Role of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) in the Mine Ban

25th June 2006 | Nepal - Landmine ban

A National Seminar on The Role of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) 
in the Mine Ban
(A National Seminar on Maoist Involvement in Addressing the Landmine Problem)

25 June 2006

The conflict in Nepal witnessed landmine use on all sides; the peace process is an appropriate time in which to consider and take account of this use.

With this purpose in mind and in conjunction with Geneva Call, the Nepal Campaign to Ban Landmines (NCBL) organised a national seminar entitled, “the Role of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) in the Mine Ban” on the 25 June 2006 in Kathmandu. Landmine victims from both sides and members of non-governmental organisations attended alongside representatives from the government and the Maoists, all of which was conducive to a fruitful exchange of views.

The Hon. Pradeep Gyanwali, member of Peace Dialogue Committee and Minister of Culture, Tourism Aviation was the chief guest. He emphasised the need for mine action in the course of the ceasefire, underlining that banning the further use of these weapons does little to deal with the landmines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) that remain in the ground whilst the country moves towards peace. Underlining the truth of these words, a number of victims recounted how they had fallen prey to mines and IEDs in the course of the conflict.

Ms. Purna Shova Chitrakar of the NCBL explained how her organisation has called on the interim government of Nepal and the Maoists to not only immediately cease the use of landmines and IEDs, but also to implement a mine action programme including but not limited to the clearance of former conflict areas, providing assistance to landmine victims and facilitating mine risk education.

Deploying its network of expertise in the area of mine action by non-State actors, Geneva Call  helped to arrange the attendance of Mr. Abunawas Maslamama, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines, at the workshop. Having worked with Geneva Call, Mr. Maslamama was happy to share his perspectives on the importance of universalising the mine ban in Nepal, and to reflect on the benefits for confidence building that such a measure has brought to relations between the MILF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Following this, Ms. Katherine Kramer of Geneva Call made a presentation on the organisation’s work in Nepal. She underlined the importance that both sides go beyond a temporary moratorium on the use of landmines in the course of the ceasefire, and that they move towards a definitive and permanent commitment to banning these weapons. Ms Kramer also encouraged an approach to mine action involving former combatants from both the Maoists and Army of Nepal

Encouragingly, Hon. Hom Nath Dahal member of the Parliamentary Monitoring Team, expressed his views on the need for a full ban on landmines and IEDs.

Finally, Ekraj Bhandari, Member of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist’s (CPN-M) Dialogue Team took the floor. He felt it was important to draw attention to the plight of landmine and IED victims and that, as soon as the CPN-M was in government, such victims would be the party’s first priority . By way of recommendation for future workshops, Bhandari suggested both that similar workshops be held with a more balanced Maoist-national army focus, and also that they be organised in more remote areas of Nepal.

Ms. Kramer then closed the seminar on behalf of the NCBL and Geneva Call by offering a summary of the morning’s discussion. It was clear that the day had allowed the perspectives of both sides on the landmine issue to be heard and considered by all those present. Taking these views into account, it is now important to move forward with efforts to rid Nepal of landmines and IEDs.