Activism of Ethnic Social Movements for Constitutional Reform: An Analysis of Tamang’s Movement in Nepal
Indigenous peoples’ rights are one of the most dominant issues of ethnic social movements in Nepal after the political transformation of 1990. This research paper explains how indigenous peoples mobilize their organizations for constitutional reform to secure their rights recognized by the UN treaties and other mechanisms. The first democratic constitution of Nepal of 1990 introduced Nepal as multi-cultural and multilingual. The interim constitution promulgated in 2007 further declared Nepal a secular state and adopted the federal system structure of the country based on ethnic identity. In September 2015, the government of Nepal promulgated its new republic constitution in the country. However, the indigenous peoples’ organization – Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) rejected and considered the new constitution “regressive”, because it deleted many positive aspects based on equality rights decorated in the interim constitution. Subsequently, indigenous peoples have been struggling to fulfill their demands in the new constitution through its reform. There are 59 Indigenous nationalities under their umbrella organization – NEFIN, fighting to promote and preserve their rights. Among them, Nepal Tamang Ghedung is the national organization of Tamang indigenous peoples. Tamangs are the third-largest indigenous nationalities in Nepal who are united under their national organization Tamang Ghedung. They are struggling to secure their rights in the constitution as Tamang Ghedung’s movement’s central issue is the rights of the indigenous Tamang community.
This research employed the case study method to analyze how the activism of Tamang Ghedung is correlated with the indigenous peoples’ rights, which are recognized by International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No.169 and United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) 2007. The leaders of Tamang Ghedung were interviewed. This research focuses on four different areas to understand the role of Tamang Ghedung in promoting and preserving the rights of Tamang indigenous peoples through constitutional reform. First, it focuses on what sociopolitical context gave rise to Tamang Ghedung in Nepal. Then it analyzes the missions and goals of this organization. Thirdly, the method of activism this organization uses to achieve its goals. While studying their way of activism, the researcher also analyzes the strength and limitations of this movement. Finally, the researcher discusses the achievements of the movement Tamang Ghedung.
Keywords: Indigenous Peoples’ Movements/Constitution/Tamang Ghedung/Activism/Indiginous Peoples’ Rights.