Lenin Bista

Lenin Bista

Lenin Bista from Kavrepalanchok district was recruited as a child soldier in 2002 when he was 12 years old. He served the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist’s ‘People’s War’ for seven years before the peace process started in November 2006. During the verification for integration into the Nepal Army by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), Bista along with other 2,973 child soldiers were declared unfit and incapable. Since then, Bista has been leading the Discharged People’s Liberation Army Struggle Committee along with his friends demanding the fair treatment of the discharged child soldiers and remove the label of ‘unqualified’ given during the integration process. They have been further demanding rehabilitation of those child soldiers who are adult now with financial support and a dignified recognition for serving the liberation of people during the war.

Despite various attempts of several Maoists splinters to obstruct their movement, Bista and his colleagues have been fully dedicated to raise the matter of child soldier. They have been organizing various activities to make the parties accountable for whatever they did to the child soldiers in past. Even after the peace agreement was signed, the issues of child soldiers weren’t dealt and heard as per their expectation. Their demands were left unaddressed and even no parties have yet been serious about the genuine needs of those child soldiers. The child soldiers have also been demanding to make their life economically secure through any means

During this time, Bista faced a lot of problems in his personal and professional life. He was intentionally kidnapped, jailed and robbed frequently to abstain him from campaigning for the rights and rehabilitation of child soldiers. He was tortured frequently which even couldn’t stop his demands. Many distressed soldiers went abroad for employment and some even committed suicide. Bista remained intact with his demands for the welfare of those child soldiers.

On 24 August 2018, Bista was prevented from flying to Thailand from Tribhuvan International Airport to participate in an international youth conference. He was leaving to participate a five-day conference titled “Youth in Conflict Areas: Healing and Peace Building through Social Engagement”, organized by the Asian Resource Foundation. Bista was told he could not travel abroad because he was ‘partially blacklisted’ on the morning of August 24. Bista was stopped by immigration even after having receiving his boarding pass and clearing the immigration. He has filed an application at the National Human Rights Commission, which has already summoned the Head of Immigration and Home Secretary for an inquiry. Bista also filed a writ at the Supreme Court of Nepal and ordered the defendants to present a show cause notice. Bista says that he was intentionally stopped from the airport because the government and Maoist party was scared of raising the issue of the use of child soldiers in Nepal in an international forum. Thus, he was stopped at the final point of the airport.

Bista has felt that he lost his freedom of travel and expression as it was his fundamental right. He has filed complaint to National Human Rights Commission stating that the Government of Nepal violated his fundamental right of movement and expression. He also made an appeal for his and his family’s security since he received several threats via phone and other social media.

Even after the Maoist party merged with the then UML and formed a single party, they don’t want the matter of child soldier during the decade-long conflict of Nepal to be highlighted in any national and international forum. Hence, the Struggle Committee has been a threat to all those involved parties and persons. Bista still believes that the parties who made those child soldiers involve in the decade long armed conflict will be accountable and work further to rehabilitate them to maintain a cohesive life in community.

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