The Women LEAD office in Nepal screened a documentary for all the 2012 LEADers called the “Sari Solder”. Menuka, a 2011 LEADer and our Fellow, describes watching the documentary.
The documentary features the story of six women from different backgrounds and how they struggled to get justice during the civil war in Nepal from 1996 to 2006. The story of Devi Sunuwar (an underprivileged village woman) and Mandira (a human rights lawyer who helped her) was the best part for me.
Devi Sunuwar’s niece was taken by the Nepal Police army after she was falsely accused to be linked with the Maoists. The next day, Devi’s family found her niece’s dead body. She was not just killed but also raped by the Nepal police army. The way Nepal Police Army killed her niece was very inhuman. When Devi spoke against the Nepal police army publicly the Nepal police army came to look for her but she was not there, so they took her 15-year- old daughter Maina. When Devi went to the Army camp to ask about her daughter, the police acted as if they didn’t know anything about it. They said that there was no one named Maina and told her to leave. Devi was not satisfied with their answer, pressing the police for more information for days and months, with no news of Maina.
Fearing the Maoists, she fled to Kathmandu, where she continued to investigate her daughter’s disappearance. There, she got the help of Mandira, a human rights lawyer. In Nepal, where people are dying of poverty and injustice, Mandira counts herself as a privileged person. She wants to protect the rights of underprivileged people. She believes that since they can’t fight for their rights, people with more privilege must help them.
Devi, with the help of Mandira, convinces the police to tell the truth about Maina. They told her they had kept Maina and killed her but didn’t say where her body was buried. Both Devi and Mandira were not happy with their answer and wanted to know the location of the dead body. After 6 months, the police revealed the place where Maina was buried. They only found her bones inside the forest. Both the parents were sad to see their daughter in such a condition but they were relieved that they found out the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance. I was really inspired when Devi said “We are not born once, we are born twice. Only those who contribute to the society and known for their deeds are born twice. We are just being conceived now, we have to be born and make contributions. Then we will born a second time.”
After showing the documentary to our girls most of them were really touched but some found it meaningless. Rajina, one of the alumni, said that she found the documentary meaningless because people sacrificed and died but nothing was done about it. When the leader of the Maoists was asked about the people who died, he said that “while gardening lots of worms are killed”. She was shocked at his response. The film festival organizers said that the reason behind showing this documentary is to make people aware about what really happened and to tell them not to make the same mistakes again.
After discovering the dead body of Maina, Devi didn’t take any action against the criminals. Many of the girls thought that she should have continued the case and sought punishment for the criminals. In my opinion the documentary was really helpful for urban Nepalis as they didn’t go through all the troubles faced by the village people during the conflict. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t avoid politics because it is an integral part of our life. We as youth can bring positive change to this country and give a bright future to our upcoming generation.