IofC Nepal recently organized an online Trustbuilding Dialogue on the topic of human rights and the Madheshi people. The Madheshi are the inhabitants of the Terai region in the south of Nepal at the foothill of the Himalayas, which also borders India. According to a recent report by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), the Madheshi have long been discriminated against in Nepal because of their perceived ties to India. In addition, they have ‘borne the brunt of long-standing fear by the government of Nepal of ethnic groups living in India migrating into Nepal and changing the ethnic composition of the country.’
The online Dialogue sought to facilitate honest conversation and create a clear understanding of Madeshi concerns. Below is the English translation of a report by the Nepalese media.
An interaction has been held in Nepal between human rights activists and stakeholders on the issue of Madhesh.
The speakers of the conversation were of the opinion that dialogue between the Hill communities and the Madhesh was necessary. The interaction was made possible through a Zoom meeting organized by Initiatives of Change (IofC). The interaction was moderated by Meena Sharma, General Secretary of IofC Nepal. During the interaction, human rights activist Rita Kumari Sah said that this kind of dialogue should be held between the Hill and Madheshi communities at the central, state and local levels.
However, she said that she has experienced the development of the idea that the youth should have a dialogue with the Madhesh. Sah also said that the youth have felt the need to integrate the community. Similarly, Bhaiya Ram Yadav argued that positive thinking should be maintained from the center for the dialogue. Keshab Dahal, Chairperson of IofC Nepal, said that it is ironic that Nepal is a country of diverse castes and languages and cultures but there is little or no dialogue between the communities.
‘We know much more about India and China but we don't know about the situation and problems of different communities within our own country. It is said to be a country with diverse languages and cultures. But, ironically, we treat each other like strangers,’ said Dahal.
There was a common understanding among the 48 participants across the country and cultures that there was a problem of non-integration between the hills and the Madhesh due to various reasons. The speakers said that there should be active participation of the youth to reduce this friction.
Despite a decade long armed conflict and various movements, they are working to establish effective dialogue and interaction between the Hill and Madhesh communities, said Kamal Kandel, an initiator with Initiatives of Change (IofC) Nepal. Chairperson Dahal said that social transformation is possible only when the youths of the Hills and the Madhesh speak openly about our problems.