Human Rights Awareness Centre (HURAC) was established to promote and protect human rights – the abuse of which is one of the major causes of conflict in Nepal. They believe that those who are ignored and devalued by society in the long term are victims of ‘structural’ violence. Direct violence in Nepal erupted from this underlying structural violence, and to build a lasting peace, everyone in Nepal needs to confront it. HURAC works to raise awareness of this prevailing indirect abuse, to make it visible, and to develop ways to address it in collaboration with those affected by it.
Human Rights Awareness
This project has its roots in the period just before the recent conflict. Even before the Maoists declared the ‘People’s War’, the government was violently engaged to restrict their activities, and people in the Rolpa were suffering indiscriminately. HURAC set out to minimise the impact of violence and remind both sides – the government and the Maoists – of their human rights obligations.
Since then, HURAC have worked to raise awareness of indirect, ‘structural’ violence which hampers the establishment of a lasting peace. This goes one step beyond addressing the direct violence, but they believe that protecting civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights is the precondition of peace.
HURAC has trained over 70 volunteer human rights defenders, and organised 18 training programmes which covered human rights and humanitarian law in detail. Thirty-six volunteer facilitators were also recruited, who intervene in local conflict and help develop non-violent solutions. The human rights defenders and facilitators are spread across all of Rolpa’s 51 Village Development Committees.
HURAC believe that maintaining their neutrality and impartiality has been key to their success, allowing them to continue working throughout the conflict; keeping contact with both sides, even during the state of emergency in which the Maoists were declared terrorists.
Monitoring Human Rights Violations
Local people in Nepal have been subjected to human rights violations and violence at the hands of both the government and the Maoists. Victims were afraid to protest for fear of reprisal, or were unaware about how and where to report the crimes. HURAC developed a network reaching from local to national level, which monitors and reports human rights violations. Maintaining a neutral and independent position has allowed the project organisers to continue working throughout the conflict and communicate with all parties.
Work has continued even after the cease-fire, as there are still many challenges such as resettling displaced people and dealing with land mines. Overall, the project focuses on gaining justice for conflict victims, as HURAC have learnt that until this is achieved, peace remains incomplete.
Coalition of Constitutional Assembly Support (COCAS)
This project was designed to support the recent Constituent Assembly elections, which were a crucial part of the Nepalese peace process. It aimed to support the legitimacy of the new Constituent Assembly (CA) through awareness-raising and promoting participation. 37 people were hired to promote the elections and trained in voter education. They conducted civic education and CA information events in each of Rolpa’s 51 Village Development Committees.