Between 2001 and 2004 hundreds of Nepali villagers disappeared as a result of the armed conflict that occurred in Nepal during this time. The whereabouts of many of these people are still unknown. In response to the disappearances in his home district of Lamjung including that of his own father, Ram Bhandari founded the Committee for Social Justice (CSJ) in the spring of 2007. CSJ’s main objective is to advocate for victim’s rights and assist families in discovering the whereabouts of their loved ones. Ram believes deeply in the need for local level activism and began visiting villages in Lamjung during the spring of 2007 to speak with families directly affected by the disappearances and learn about their needs. Since these initial visits, Ram has visited villages in districts all over Nepal speaking with families and exploring the same issues that he investigated in Lamjung. CSJ has since expanded and now conducts workshops, and awareness meetings as well as continuing family visitations. The group also acts as a community level watchdog for issues of social justice in Lamjung. Hopefully, with the help of CSJ and other organizations working for human rights in Nepal, affected families will eventually have the justice they deserve.
Besishahar, Lamjung district headquarters where Ram’s work is based
Ram outside the home that his father built in Lamjung
One of the main challenges of the JusticeMakers competition was to find an innovative way to ameliorate some of the social justice problems that exist in one’s community. For Nepalese applicant Ram Kumar Bhandari, just making sure his primary application submitted was a major feat. Faced with an unexpected faulty internet connection, he drove 200 kilometers from Lamjung to Kathmandu to submit his application. That sense of determination needs a serious shout out on our blog!
Ram Kumar Bhandari is from the western hills of Nepal whose father disappeared in 2001 during the decade-long conflict between Maoists and government security forces. His father’s whereabouts have been unknown ever since. Ram is committed to his community and is involved in local radio, promoting social volunteerism, and advocating for justice on the local level.
After graduating, Ram has been dedicating his time as a coordinator at the Committee for Social Justice (CSJ), an organization that works with families from Lamjung whose loved ones who have also gone missing during the conflict and have little means of obtaining information about them.
Ram’s proposal is an extension of his efforts with CSJ. He hopes to promote community awareness among stakeholders in the justice system — detainees, police force, local leaders, with trainings and awareness campaigns that address the lack of understanding for the justice system. You can read his proposal in detail here.
We recognize that some of the everyday challenges a JusticeMaker can face is just having access — to a computer, the telephone or even the post — something that is easy for many of us reading this (on the Internet) to take for granted. It’s a testament to Ram’s commitment to working for social change and demonstrates the tenacity required in spearheading a movement.