The Nepal Project
During Nepal’s civil conflict between 1996 and 2006, more than 13,000 people were killed, thousands disappeared and the country suffered from human rights and humanitarian law violations including torture, displacement, arbitrary arrests and detention.
Members of Nepal’s civil society, such as peace and social justice activists, women’s organizations and other human rights defenders were targeted by government security forces, Maoist insurgents and armed groups.
We opened the Nepal Project in 2006.
Despite the signing of peace accords in the same year, and democratic elections in 2008, Nepal is still experiencing political violence, instability, poverty, inequality and economic and energy crises. Members of the civil society continue to receive threats and intimidation as they work for social justice and assist victims of human rights violations.
One of these members is Devi Sunuwar, whose daughter Maina was taken by the army in February 2004 from her home and died as a consequence of torture. To date, Sunuwar campaigns tirelessly for truth and justice for her daughter’s cause, though none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Our presence ensures her campaign can continue.
Without the security and protection that we provide, Sunuwar’s ability, and the ability of other defenders to develop solutions to Nepal’s challenges would be severely compromised.
As we continue to undertake our work in Nepal, our focus remains on those at risk. We protect those who are combating impunity and promoting the rule of law, women human rights defenders who are contributing to peace-building efforts and working for gender equality and the grassroots groups struggling for economic, social and cultural rights.
However, we would not be able to assist all these people without the work that we do in Canada.
Here at home, through volunteer recruitment and the formation of political support networks with local communities, organizations and government representatives, we work to build awareness of the threats against both human rights themselves and the defenders we accompany in the field. We also strive to inform the public about the effectiveness of non-violent strategies for addressing conflict.
As is the case with other Peace Brigades International country groups, PBI-Canada is an “anchor” from which the organization’s political and educational work is undertaken. Our work is a necessary compliment to the work of PBI volunteers in the field.
Our presence in places like Nepal discourages violence against human rights workers because our field volunteers are the symbolic representation of a global movement. This movement includes individuals, organizations and governments who care about what happens to those who work in favour of human rights and will respond to any threats against the personal safety and security of those activists.
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