COCAP holds a general assembly twice a year in order to meet with all member organizations and discuss upcoming plans, trainings and campaigns. During the two day assembly held in Butwal, 14 new member organizations were welcomed into COCAP, making their membership a total of 42 members found in all 5 regions of Nepal.
The focus of these organizations ranges from child rights, legal rights to women rights and land rights. They offer unique experiences and skills to the member group. During this particular General Assembly some introduction was required for new members, sharing of COCAP resources was addressed and the role of volunteers in COCAP was discussed.
One of COCAP’s greatest attributes is the Peace Resource Center they have created at the secretariat office in Anamnagar, Kathmandu. It has not been easy to secure books and resources due to COCAP’s budget constraint, but they are acquiring books on Nepal’s conflict, women’s rights and other human rights topics. They have a library program system set up to help locate which books are available and they have been monitoring the media in order to track the different human rights violations in Nepal. These include those performed due to the insurgency, discrimination against lower castes or women, children’s rights, disappearances and freedom of press.
The two biggest obstacles with the resource center is how to share the information with the rest of the organizations outside of KTM and how to continue to build the resources for members, students, researchers and volunteers to utilize. Discussions continue on ways to be sure that materials are shared and growth will be possible. Of course, COCAP is always welcomed to those who are able to donate free human rights reading and training materials to help their organizations.
Appreciate the Volunteer
What is amazing to note about COCAP and member organizations is the number of volunteers that participate in their programs. COCAP alone has a network of over 200 volunteers that work in the office, during street campaigns and conferences and discussions. COCAP prides itself on the volunteer involvement and offers volunteers a chance to sit in on board meetings and give input and feedback into COCAP programs and future projects.
Volunteers have offered their time in creating COCAP documentaries and photographs to document human rights violations. Volunteers come from all backgrounds, from business persons and students to professors and activists. They provide their skills and services free of cost.
During the five political parties Movement for Democracy in April 2004 volunteers formed a human rights violation monitoring committee. In order to conduct their observation they put themselves between the demonstrators, which numbered over 10,000 people and the “security personnel” who were dispatched to keep order on the streets. These individuals found themselves acting as observers, protectors to those being beaten by “security personnel”, transporters for those who needed to be taken to the hospital, reporters on the daily events and investigators into those who had been arrested and taken away. Some monitors even found themselves receiving beatings, though they offered no attack or retaliation to the “security personnel”.
These volunteers continue their work through student groups, writing articles, displaying photographs etc, but their voices have been silenced greatly since the February 1st coup. Even after the lifting of the State of Emergency on April 30, 2005, many human rights organizations, activists and volunteers are just starting to begin their public campaigning for peace and democracy, knowing full well that they will be subject to unjustified arrests, beatings and other forms of suppression by those currently in power. It is not easy for one’s voice to be heard in Nepal.
Posted By Anne Finnan (Nepal)
Posted Jul 18th, 2005