Their immediate problem should be solved by making new law.
By Biru Nepali
Kathmandu: Extremely marginalized communities including Chepang, Bhote, Majhi, Kumal, and Tharu have been living near forests and river banks for generations. These indigenous tribes are especially dependent on forests, water, and land. But since the government introduced the practice of biodiversity conservation, their condition, settlement, and lifestyle have been put at risk.
Due to lack of access to forests and water resources, conflicts are being created at different times between the Chepang along with other communities and wildlife living in the park-protected area and buffer zone.
During the virtual discussion program organized by Jagran Media Center in collaboration with the UNDP’s Parliamentary Support Program on the problems and issues of the people in the affected areas of Chitwan National Park in Bagmati Province, the experts, speakers, and participants have said that the Chepang people living in the buffer zone of the national park have been greatly affected.
After the establishment of the park, People who are relying on the natural resources of Chitwan National Park under Bagmati Pradesh, have seen additional problems and challenges with various laws and regulations related to forest protected areas made by the government to prohibit water, land, and forest-dependent livelihoods.
The protected area in Nepal covers 12 national parks, 1 wildlife reserve, 1 hunting reserve, 6 conservation areas, 13 intermediate areas and occupies about 23.395 (3.4 million hectares) of the country. But in most of the protected areas, the ancestral home of the indigenous group has been established. The ban on parks and protected areas in the area has created major problems for their habitat, survival, and lifestyle.
Speaking at the program, Madhav Prasad Poudel, Chairman of the State Management Committee under Bagmati Pradesh, stressed the need to enact new laws to establish the rights of communities living in park-protected areas.
He stressed the need to formulate an act from the federation to solve the problems of the Chepang community who are living in this area and to protect natural resources such as shared forests and water lands.
He also said that everyone should raise their voice to end the old system of scarcity and problems as the federation has been on one side of the forest till now. “The new act should clarify the responsibilities of the state and local levels in the distribution of natural resources and the protection and management of wildlife”, he added.
Similarly, Constituent Assemblymember and former president of the Chepang Association Govinda Ram Chepang said that the national park has discriminated against Tharu, Kumal, Bhote, Majhi, and Chepang castes who are living in the area around the national park.
He said that the government has discriminated against the indigenous people who cannot survive without water, land, and forest by making rules related to national parks.
Narrating the incidents of Resham Chepang who was shot dead by the National Park in Lothra River in 2068 BS and of Raj Kumar Chepang who was brutally beaten to death in 2077 BS at Saune Sakrantika Vela Vagar and of Dan Bahadur Chepang, Jit Bahadur Chepang and Bishnu Chepang of Madi Municipality-8 of Chitwan whose houses were destroyed by using the elephants and burned under the rules that were made in 2029 BS and the Act of 2052 BS but that were wrong, he said.
He reminded us that about 40 Chepangs have been imprisoned so far in the fake rhino smuggling case to save the smugglers and called for correcting the discriminatory norms and laws and structures established by the law.
Similarly, MP from Bagmati Pradesh Ram Lal Mahato stressed the need to take special initiative to end various conflicts that have arisen between the Chepangs and Nikunj as they have a long-standing relationship.
He argued that the Act, which was enacted in 2029 BS with the emphasis on wildlife during the establishment of Chitwan National Park, was impractical and stressed the need to enact a new type of development-friendly, human-friendly, and wildlife conservation-friendly act.
“As the local government and the state government have no authority over the Chitwan National Park under the federal government, a new law should be enacted again with the participation of local government, consumers, affected people in the central zone and experts”, he said.
Similarly, the federal government should compensate the park-affected communities living in the border areas of Makwanpur and Chitwan, he said, ” to resolve the conflict with Nikunj immediately, the laws and practices of the conflicting intermediate sector should also be amended”.
According to him, the Chepang community is dependent on natural resources. The area spread over Chitwan National Park is inhabited by communities including Bhote, Tharu, and Chepang in the vicinity of Rapti Municipality and Bharatpur Municipality. In order to ensure the rights of Chepangs living in parks and protected areas, policy reforms should be made in the laws and regulations related to buffer zones.
Presenting a concept paper on park-people struggle from the perspective of the Chepang people in Nepal, environmentalist Dr. Yogendra Yadav of Institute of Forestry Hetauda said that most of the protected areas have ancestral habitats of the Adivasi group but they have been displaced due to the establishment of park protection and this has created a big problem in their lives.
He argued that they were discriminated against and exploited because of their weak economic, social and political status and capacity.
He pointed out that the Chepang community had zero representation not only in the state and federal governments but also in political parties from 2064 BS to 2074 BS.
In the experience of Park-People’s Struggle in Nepal, violation of land rights, discrimination against them, the conflict between humans and wildlife, deprivation of participation in conservation areas, wildlife crime, and poaching are the main issues that have arisen conflict between them, he said.
He said that emphasis should be laid on making regional laws and new laws by modifying and amending some of the conflicting laws and regulations made so far to reduce the conflict between humans and wildlife and its impact.
Similarly, Ekal Silwal, an investigative journalist from Chitwan, said that it was a big mistake to evacuate forcibly the indigenous community while establishing the Chitwan National Park. “All facilities should not be restricted to the indigenous groups, including the Chepang, who have relied on natural resources for generations”, he added.
He said that the indifference of the policymakers to maintain human and wildlife and nature-friendly conditions and methods, lack of policy stance, managerial weakness, and unequal distribution of benefits are further damaging the Chepang community in the parks and protected areas. According to him, the government has enacted laws and policies related to forest protected areas to prohibit the way of life in the forests.
Therefore, in order to solve this problem, the structure of protection should be changed with broad thinking instead of such discriminatory policy rules.
He stressed the need for continuous debate, discussion, and lobbying in the media sector, with mature interest from the citizens, sufficient facts, and reasonable arguments.
Stating that such an incident without any alternative arrangement from the place of residence has a great impact on the indigenous community including Chepang, the committee stressed the need to make policy reforms to solve such problems. He complained that it was not appropriate to hand over the discriminatory thinking of killing people in the Chepang community, burning their houses, and demolishing settlements to the local government.
This program was facilitated by Kamala Bishwakarma, Chairperson of Jagran Media Center and Member of the Constituent Assembly.
Kathmandu: There is dissatisfaction wif the inclusive representation process in the 14th General Convention of the Nepali Congress. Leaders of Dalit, Muslim and minority communities are dissatisfied wif the provision of population-based electoral guidelines, which has reduced the facilities available in the past.
They has been urging party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and other office bearers to correct the election directive. Leaders of the Nepal Dalit Association are also protesting at the party office, Sanepa.
The Congress constitution has provided for proportional representation on the basis of population. Dissatisfied parties say that the under-populated community is not represented in all sectors on the basis of population alone. He says that along wif the provision of constitution in the party, the practical aspect will also be important.
We has no objection to the current system. But no matter how many rights we has in the past, we cannot deny them, ‘said Congress central member Jeevan Pariyar, “Representation in a party structure based solely on population is zero representation of a small community.” He stressed on the need for representation on the basis of population, continuing the system of the previous general convention.
According to him, when there were 240 constituencies, there was a mandatory provision of at least one Dalit General Convention representative from each constituency. “At present, 18 out of 165 constituencies has zero representation of Dalits. Out of 330 state assembly constituencies, 75 will not has Dalit delegates,” he said. “Our demand is to ensure inclusive representation everywhere.” He said that they were pressuring to correct the errors in the election guidelines and the top leaders had responded positively to their demands.
How many delegates come from the inclusive group?
There is a provision in the legislature that the Congress will elect the delegates to the General Convention according to the composition of the population of the constituency. Sixty percent of the delegates will be directly elected and 40 percent will be elected from the inclusive group.
According to the constitution, eight clusters has been divided into inclusive groups including women, dalits, indigenous tribes, Khas Arya, Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim and backward areas.
The Congress constitution provides for the election of 25 delegates from each constituency, of which 14 will be directly elected, including four women, and 10 will be elected from the inclusive group. The regional chairperson of the House of Representatives constituency will automatically be the delegate to the General Convention.
Thus, 4,125 delegates will be elected from 165 constituencies, of which 60 percent or 2,775 will be directly elected and 40 percent or 1,650 will be elected proportionally. The number of women delegates to the General Convention will be 1,304.
Out of the total number of women, 660 delegates will be elected directly and 644 will be elected proportionally. This number is only 31.6 percent of the total delegates to the General Convention.
From the inclusive group, 498 or 30.2 percent delegates to the Adivasi Janajati will be elected. 227 Madhesi (13.8 percent), 232 Dalit (14 percent), 94 Tharu (5.7 percent) and 72 Muslim (4.4 percent) delegates will be elected. Under the inclusive group, 31.9 percent or 527 delegates will be elected from the Khas Arya community. That is, the inclusive group will has a majority of Khas Arya.
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Indigenous peoples have suffered a litany of human rights violations over the past five decades as a result of abusive conservation policies, said Amnesty International and the Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC), in a new report published on August 9.
The report, Violations in the name of conservation, documents how the establishment of National Parks and other “protected areas” has resulted in tens of thousands of Indigenous peoples being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands and denied access to areas they depend on for subsistence. Focusing on the examples of Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks, the report highlights how the enforcement of these policies has frequently led to cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, unlawful killing and forced evictions from informal settlements.
“Nepal is often held up as an exemplary conservation success story. Unfortunately, that success has come at a high price for the country’s Indigenous peoples, who had lived in and depended on these protected areas for generations” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
“From the 1970s onwards, Nepal’s governments have adopted an approach to conservation that has forced Indigenous peoples off their ancestral lands and severely limited their ability to access traditional foods, medicinal plants and other resources. Heavy-handed enforcement of these policies has subsequently resulted in numerous cases of torture or other ill-treatment and unlawful killings.”
National parks and other “protected areas” cover almost a quarter of Nepal, with the vast majority located in the ancestral homelands of Nepal’s Indigenous peoples. Decades after their establishment, many Indigenous peoples who were evicted remain landless and at risk of further forced evictions from the informal settlements where they now live. They have not been provided access to alternative livelihoods or compensation for their losses.
Amnesty International and CSRC have documented several recent incidents of forced evictions and attempted forced evictions by national park authorities, including in Chitwan and Bardiya. On 18 July 2020, authorities at Chitwan National Park forcibly evicted ten families from the Chepang community, who had been displaced due to floods and landslides and were living in a buffer zone – an area designated to provide local people with access to forest resources – outside the park boundary.
Amnesty International and CSRC found that the park had given the families a verbal notice only a week before the eviction, contrary to international standards and requirements under Nepal’s new Housing Act. An official investigation into the incident was launched by the Ministry of Forests and Environment later that month but despite repeated requests, Amnesty International and CSRC have not been able to obtain information about the results of the investigation.
In Bardiya National Park, some Indigenous peoples have continued to pay malpot, a land revenue tax, despite not having had access to their land for decades, after floods and a change in the river course resulted in the land being considered as part of the national park. They told Amnesty International and CSRC that they do so in the hope that they will once again be able to access their land, and because malpot receipts are required to claim compensation for crop damage.
Access to food and resources
The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (NPWC) 1973 remains the overarching law governing “protected areas”. The law restricts hunting, grazing, tree cutting, land cultivation or forest use, and bans all building in a national park or wildlife reserve, measures which have severely impacted and dramatically altered Indigenous peoples’ way of life.
Apart from those living in Buffer Zones with access to Buffer Zone forests, Indigenous peoples who have resettled outside the Buffer Zones are barred from visiting national parks, leaving people already deprived of access to their homes, land and other forest resources to fend for themselves and pay costs they can ill afford, potentially resulting in food insecurity and health and housing concerns.
Due to lack of alternative livelihoods, financial hardship and inability to meet household costs, many Indigenous peoples evicted from their land have been compelled to become sharecroppers (bataiya), cultivating other people’s land in return for 50 percent of the harvest.
The bataiya system, which is governed by social rather than legal norms, has serious human rights implications. Locals interviewed in Banke and Bardiya districts reported that they frequently experienced exploitation by landlords, including having to do household work or collect fodder and fuel wood without payment.
Arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and excessive use of force
Indigenous peoples are frequently arrested and detained for entering national parks and reserves. Many of them have faced ill-treatment, and sometimes torture, at the hands of army personnel deployed in the parks. Some have died as a result, including 26-year-old Raj Kumar Chepang, who died after being beaten by army officers in Chitwan in July 2020.
Ms. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever before her.
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California, Novemeber 8:From the earliest days of her childhood, Kamala Harris was taught that the road to racial justice was long.
She spoke often on the campaign trail of those who had come before her, of her parents, immigrants drawn to the civil rights struggle in the United States — and of the ancestors who had paved the way.
As she took the stage in Texas shortly before the election, Ms. Harris spoke of being singular in her role but not solitary.
“Yes, sister, sometimes we may be the only one that looks like us walking in that room,” she told a largely Black audience in Fort Worth. “But the thing we all know is we never walk in those rooms alone — we are all in that room together.”
With her ascension to the vice presidency, Ms. Harris will become the first woman and first woman of color to hold that office, a milestone for a nation in upheaval, grappling with a damaging history of racial injustice exposed, yet again, in a divisive election. Ms. Harris, 56, embodies the future of a country that is growing more racially diverse, even if the person voters picked for the top of the ticket is a 77-year-old white man.
In her victory speech Saturday, Ms. Harris spoke of her mother and the generations of women of all races who paved the way for this moment. “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she told a cheering and honking audience in Wilmington, Del. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
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That she has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever has underscores the extraordinary arc of her political career. A former San Francisco district attorney, she was elected as the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general. When she was elected a United States senator in 2016, she became only the second Black woman in the chamber’s history.
Almost immediately, she made a name for herself in Washington with her withering prosecutorial style in Senate hearings, grilling her adversaries in high-stakes moments that at times went viral.
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Yet what also distinguished her was her personal biography: The daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, she was steeped in racial justice issues from her early years in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., and wrote in her memoir of memories of the chants, shouts and “sea of legs moving about” at protests. She recalled hearing Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to mount a national campaign for president, speak in 1971 at a Black cultural center in Berkeley that she frequented as a young girl. “Talk about strength!” she wrote.
After several years in Montreal, Ms. Harris attended Howard University, a historically Black college and one of the country’s most prestigious, then pursued work as a prosecutor on domestic violence and child exploitation cases. She speaks easily and often of her mother, a breast cancer researcher who died in 2009; of her white and Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff, who will make history in his own right as the first second gentleman; and of her stepchildren, who call her Momala.
It was a story she tried to tell on the campaign trail during the Democratic primary with mixed success. Kicking off her candidacy with homages to Ms. Chisholm, Ms. Harris attracted a crowd in Oakland that her advisers estimated at more than 20,000, a tremendous show of strength that immediately established her as a front-runner in the race. But vying for the nomination against the most diverse field of candidates in history, she failed to capture a surge of support and dropped out weeks before any votes were cast.
Part of her challenge, especially with the party’s progressive wing she sought to win over, was the difficulty she had reconciling her past positions as California’s attorney general with the current mores of her party. She struggled to define her policy agenda, waffling on health care and even her own assault on Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s record on race, perhaps the toughest attack he faced throughout the primary campaign.
“Policy has to be relevant,” Ms. Harris said in an interview with The New York Times in July 2019. “That’s my guiding principle: Is it relevant? Not, ‘Is it a beautiful sonnet?’”
But it is also this lack of ideological rigidity that makes her well suited for the vice presidency, a role that demands a tempering of personal views in deference to the man at the top. As the vice-presidential nominee, Ms. Harris has endeavored to make plain that she supports Mr. Biden’s positions — even if some differ from those she backed during the primary.
While she struggled to attract the very women and Black voters she had hoped would connect with her personal story during her primary bid, she continued to make a concerted effort as Mr. Biden’s running mate to reach out to people of color, some of whom have said they feel represented in national politics for the first time.
Many witnessed — and recoiled at — the persistent racist and sexist attacks from conservatives. President Trump has refused to pronounce her name correctly and after the vice-presidential debate, he derided her as a “monster.”
For some of her supporters, the vitriol Ms. Harris had to withstand was another aspect of her experience they found relatable.
“I know what I was thrown into as the only African-American at the table,” said Clara Faulkner, the mayor pro tem of Forest Hill, Texas, as she waited for Ms. Harris to address a socially distanced crowd in Fort Worth. “It’s just seeing God move in a mighty way.”
While some members of the political establishment professed outrage at the insults, friends of Ms. Harris knew that her pragmatism extended to her understanding of how the political world treats women of color.
Senator Cory Booker, a colleague and friend of Ms. Harris’s who has known her for decades, said in an interview that some of her guardedness was a form of self-protection in a world that has not always embraced a barrier-breaking Black woman.
“She still has this grace about her where it’s almost as if these things don’t affect her spirit,” Mr. Booker said. “She’s endured this for her entire career and she does not give people license to have entrance into her heart.”
After waiting days for results, Democrats rejoiced in a victory that offered a bright spot in an election that delivered losses to many of their candidates, including several high-profile women.
Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, who got involved in politics through Ms. Chisholm’s presidential campaign, said she always believed she would see the first Black woman at the steps of the White House.
Source: New York Times