"Identity of just one community is not acceptable to us", Limbu--indigenousvoice

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Admin03 Dec 2021, Friday
Source: Arjun Limbu's facebook wall

Arjun Limbu is now President of Kirant Yakthung Chumlung (KYC) for a second term. Before reaching the helm of the umbrella organization of indigenous Limbu people, he served as a central committee member, treasurer and vice president of KYC. He is also involved in scholarly researches about Limbus and rights of indigenous people. Indigenous Voice interviewed him about KYC's goals, activities and identity politics. Excerpts:

Please tell us a bit about KYC's inception?

We registered KYC in 1990 just a few months before restoration of multi-party democracy. Political situation was not favorable back then. Ethnic organizations would be seen as separatist movements aimed at causing communal riots in the country. But we were strong-minded to get over all the odds. KYC is now an influential ethnic organizations with its wings spread across 13 districts in eastern Nepal. 

Ethnic organizations would be seen as separatist movements aimed at causing communal riots in the country. But we were strong-minded to get over all the odds. 

Has KYC achieved the goals that it set for itself 25 years ago?

All goals have not been achieved. But we have certainly achieved some of our important goals. It was KYC that successfully lobbied with the government to declare a national holiday on the day of Chasok Tangnam. We are now working to preserve our language, culture and tradition. Education in our mother tongue, empowerment of our community, preservation of our culture, advocacy for our rights, awareness and expansion of our network are the major activities that we have undertaken now.

Primary-level education in our mother tongue has already begun in eastern Nepal. We have demanded that the government ensure education in mother tongue up to higher secondary level.

What is the status of gender parity in the key committees of KYC?

We believe that women are equal to men, and they are entitled to equal opportunities in all sectors. We have ensured 50 per cent participation of women in our central committees. They are not just there for the sake of inclusion; their participation is proactive and meaningful.

What is KYC focused on now?

Primary-level education in our mother tongue has already begun in eastern Nepal. We have demanded that the government ensure education in mother tongue up to higher secondary level. KYC itself runs programs to promote mother tongue. In addition, we have also been empowering Limbu women to be self-dependant by exploring self-employment opportunities. It has not only helped economic empowerment of Limbu women but also made them agents of change in the society.

Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. Identities of all ethnic communities should be respected and protected.

KYC has its head office in a well-structured building. Where does the organization get money from?

KYC is fortunate to have its own building not only in Kathmandu but some other districts, too. We get donation from our own community. And some donors and Adivasi Janajati Rashtriya Pratisthan have also contributed to us. 

What is KYC's take on the demand of an autonomous Limbuwan state?

Needless to say, Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. Identities of all ethnic communities should be respected and protected. Promoting identity of just one community is not acceptable to us. We are for an autonomous Limbuwan state, and this demand has to be addressed.                                  

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