Freedom Declaration

Freedom declaration


On 1st May 2000, 19 Kamaiyas in Kailali district took the historical decision to file a petition for freedom from their landlord. In the months that followed, a Freedom Movement gathered pace in Nepal with thousands of Kamaiyas filing petitions and joining in sit-in strikes and demonstrations. Eventually, with bonded labourers protesting and literally sitting at the gates of Parliament in Kathmandu, the Government was forced to declare their freedom. On 17th July 2000 the practice of bonded labour was declared illegal and punishable by imprisonment in Nepal. The Kamaiyas were free but left homeless, landless and without education. The Government repeatedly promised to settle them but so far only a fraction of the Kamaiyas have been given small plots for housing. The freed Kamaiyas have themselves claimed clearings in forests and other unregistered government land. They have started “Freedom Settlements”, whereby small plots are distributed to each family, just sufficient for one year of subsistence farming. Some freed Kamaiyas’ future is still uncertain but one thing is clear; their children are in desperate need of education in order to break free from their history.