-  Sunday 11 April 2021

State of Fear: dj vu for Nepalis

 KATHMANDU: Pamela Yates' documentary State of Fear, an epic tale of Peru's journey through state and rebel terror, struck its audience with a sense of déjà vu at the Yala Maya Kendra Sunday. The film, dubbed in Nepali, was scheduled to be screened at a private cinema, but was shifted to the above venue after "authorities" threatened to shut down the cinema if it allowed the screening.
"How similar to what Nepal is going through," whispered people in the audience as they watched in horror the tale of a country where the state strangled democracy and civil liberties in the name of protecting people from rebel terror.

The film narrates the story of Peru's 20-year fight with terror that started with the rise of the Shining Path, a Maoist outfit founded by Abimael Guzmán, and continued with the rise of Peru's tyrannical - and absconding - President Alberto Fujimori. Between 1980 and 2000, more than 70,000 people were killed in Peru.

Fujimori, elected president in 1990, used his countrymen's state of fear to consolidate his power. In the name of crushing terrorism, he dissolved a functioning congress, mobilized the state army, gave the army sweeping powers to arrest and keep people under detention without warrants, set up military tribunals, constituted death squads to finish off political opponents, brought known thugs to power, and institutionalized corruption.

Peruvians lived in fear that they might be labeled as terrorists. While the Shining Path forced rural people to join them, killing those who denied, the state armed villagers to deal with them. Security forces kidnapped young girls from colleges charging them with affiliation to the terrorists and repeatedly raped and tortured them.

Even after the arrest of Guzman and the disintegration of the Shining Path, Fujimori continued to rule the country with an iron fist, using the fear that had settled deeply in people's minds, to his own selfish ends.

Following the destiny of all tyrannical regimes, Fujimori's regime collapsed in 2000 after massive street protests led by human rights activists, much like the one being led in the country by civil society. The new government established a Truth Commission to investigate the human rights violations during the 20 years of violence.

The original version of the film, in Peru's indigenous Quechua language with English subtitles, was screened during the Barrel of the Gun section of Film South Asia 2005. The audience response then was so encouraging that festival organizers contacted the filmmaking crew for permission to dub the film in Nepali for non-commercial screening, according to noted journalist Kanak Mani Dixit.

The Nepali dubbing was done in just a week, with voluntary contributions. The subtitles were translated into Nepali by Dixit, script editing was done by documentary filmmaker Mohan Mainali, video editing was done by Ananda Shrestha, audio editing was done at Communication Corner, and voiceovers were done by theater director Sunil Pokharel's team. Dhruba Basnet's studio was used for editing purposes.

DVDs and CDs are available at Yala Maya Kendra. The screening was organized by Himsa Birodh Abhiyan.


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