WOW | Coffee Break
Enough Is Enou
Some days ago, thousands of youths took to the streets to protest against the incompetence of the government in dealing with COVID 19. The movement was called: Enough Is Enough. WOW caught up with six young people who were part of the protest to know what incited them to do it and what were their expectations.
Text: Pabita Dahal
What provoked you to become a part of the youth led protest?
Rubita: It was already two and a half months and there were no plans and strategies on how to go forward except the lockdown to combat the Covid 19 pandemic. I felt the government was taking even the lockdown for granted. The government was busy fulfilling luxurious needs like changing the carpets of Shital Niwas and not showing seriousness on the border issues and health of the people. I felt it is wrong and we must raise our voices. At the same time, some of the youths came up with the idea of peaceful protest and I joined in.
Khushboo: It was going out of control. While feeding the needy ones during the lockdown, I witnessed their suffering. The government had imposed the lockdown but was not doing other required things like increasing the rate of PCR testing, proper management of quarantine, management for migrant workers, etc. At the same time, so many other issues were taking place like the border issue, corruption on the budget of the Covid 19 pandemic, etc. I was so frustrated and thinking of doing something crucial to knock the doors of the government. In the meantime, youths organised the protest and it became a medium to show my resentment.
Spandan Lama Mocktan: The first case of Coronavirus in Nepal had been detected in January and it was obvious that the virus would spread in Nepal since we are very near to China. To protect us from the virus the government declared lockdown which is good, but they should have applied a strong strategy to stop its spread. Instead, they kept themselves just to the lockdown. We went to ask them what they are doing. We tried many forms of protests maintaining social distance but they didn’t listen. So some friends started the hunger strike. We just want to push the government to work on the frontline issues. We are on the edge of community transmission and they are not even being able to manage the situation of Kathmandu valley. We don’t want the government to fall. We are with them, but we want them to be transparent and serious about the various situations.
Sudan: The incompetence and carelessness of the government was prevalent everywhere, but we all were standing as mute spectators. At the time of a pandemic, the government is not taking a proper stand. The infection rates are increasing every day. There are not enough PCR tests. The situation of quarantine is heart-wrenching. Even in this very critical and sensitive time, leaders are busy with their own internal affairs. They forget their morality and responsibility. To remind them, I participated in this protest.
Jyoti: I have been living independently for almost two years, but as the lockdown began, I was forced to leave my workplace since the business was going down. I had no money and no idea when the lockdown would end. My parents brought me home to Thankot and took care of me because they knew I would suffer if I was left alone, but all people are not as lucky. I was very disturbed by reading the heart-wrenching stories about migrant workers. I started feeling guilty for my privileges and felt helpless that I could not do anything for them due to lack of power and resources. I also realised that the government could have done what we as individuals couldn’t. They have to take care of their people, but they were watching them suffer and die instead. Meanwhile, I saw Iih’s (who went on a hunger strike) story on Instagram where he asked to message him if someone wants to do something regarding the situation, that’s when I joined and that’s why I attended the protest.
Milan: I attended ‘Enough Is Enough’ protest as an observer. Thousands of people came to the streets but we didn’t have a proper plan to address the possible consequences. We just poured our emotions and frustrations. To collect a crowd and to use that energy in the right way are two different things. We must have proper knowledge of the issue and related authority which is supposed to address our agendas. Proper plan and applicable strategy to execute that plan are other necessities. We didn’t have that. So, the outcome was not as expected. It is not getting safe landing. We reflected on the weaknesses and decided to come up with the idea that we need to be peaceful first from within then only the protest can be. For that we need proper knowledge. To spread the idea that knowledge is important and initiate more creative forms of the protest, we started a protest by reading books where around 10-25 people came to Patan Durbar Square and read for one hour every day. Those who were interested and couldn’t come participated from their homes. Basically, it is an experimental protest. Our protest is not against the government but a reflection upon the current situation. We are unheard. Now, we want to see the power of silence.
What impact did you want to create?
Rubita: The government has to be competent is the main issue of this protest. We civilians are not here to remind them all the time what their job is. They should know what needs to be focused on during a time of crisis and they should acknowledge the priorities. If they are not capable of specific tasks, they should appoint someone competent to do it. They should figure out the immediate necessities and work accordingly. For instance, what is the need of the hour: changing the carpet of the President’s residence or managing facilities in quarantine.
Khushboo: The main agendas of the protest were increasing PCR testing, managing safe quarantine, and the safety of frontline workers. Individually, I feel that we youth have to come out and raise our voices against the government. In the past, most educated youths would ignore and tolerate everything. It is for the first time that they came to the streets and spoke out. The protest is to ring a bell and let the government know that the youths will not tolerate incompetence. They should change the strategies of work according to the needs of the time.
Spandan Lama Mocktan: It is not only our concern but every citizen’s concern because everyone is likely to be infected. We just want to make people aware that everyone should speak about the issues that are pertaining to them. Everyone should get the needed health facilities. Most importantly, the government should focus on the migrant workers who are suffering and manage their livelihoods for them.
Sudan: Typically, we Nepalese are very tolerant and decent. We don’t speak up. But we need to speak up against wrong. I think this protest will teach us all to speak up for our rights and against wrongdoing. The main motive is to make people speak. The government has shown indifference towards the health of the public which is the foremost important aspect of human life. There is no order. Corruption exists everywhere. Many people may think why do I need to speak, but they need to do it for their rights. And somehow, they did come to the streets with this self realisation.
Jyoti: We are simply telling the government to fulfill their responsibilities. We want the government to change their perspective and take responsibility as their inaction affects the lives of the public.
Milan: People may think about what change could happen by reading silently. It is a slow but effective process. We are creating peaceful energy within by being well informed. If we come out on the floor without knowledge, we may be manipulated. We need to acknowledge the real situation and strategy to fight the possible consequences. Another impact we want to create is that we should have the ability to speak up. That does not mean we should come to the streets only. We can speak from everywhere and about everything that is not in favour of society and the country. It is not a direct protest; it is an idea, an experiment.
What is your view on such protests getting politicised?
Rubita: I think it’s good if the political parties join hands with us for the same reasons. My only concern is our agendas and demands should be addressed.
Khushboo: I attended the protest as a non-political youth and I think most of the participants are also not inclined to any political parties formally. Even if they are members of any party, they are here as free youths more than representatives of their party. So if someone as a political leader is using the agendas as a weapon, it is the worst thing ever because this movement is initiated by the free youths and they should lead it till the end. Every party can come and support the protest, but they should not come in the front and show themselves as the heads of the movement. The ones who truly deserve to be at the forefront are Ihi, Shiwani and Sudan who went for the hunger strike. I feel that if people start politicising the movement, the worthiness of this protest will end. All youths would turn away. Individually, I am also not going to be a part of the protest anymore.
Spandan Lama Mocktan: It’s a movement of the people and it is normal that every time people come on the street, parties try to politicise it. In fact, it is the role of the opposition party to point out the wrongs of the government. Instead here we the educated youths did their work. So if they want to come and join us there is no problem, but I want to remind them that our only concern is to get better quarantine facilities and better response to the Covid 19 pandemic. We are not against the government; we want to work with the government. We are just fighting for the truth and our rights.
Sudan: I don’t have any political background and I have not attended any political protests yet but if any political party had spoken for the same causes, I would have supported them because health is not a political issue. It is an issue of the people. In fact this is a neutral protest and every individual came for this protest on an individual level. Of course, some members of political parties may have attended the movement, but they were not there for political reasons. We are not against the government. We don’t want to topple it. We just want a stable government, what we are against is the incompetence and corruption. There is no replacement for this government. They are doing amazing work in comparison to the past governments, but they showed carelessness in this critical time. The Prime minister is not being able to delegate responsibility to capable people.
Jyoti: I am new to almost everything. I don’t have much idea about these things. However, we have clearly mentioned that we don’t belong to any party and want to protest neutrally. Therefore there is no point in trying to politicise these protests.
Milan: When something becomes public, somehow it turns to become a political issue. We should not blame others for making it political, rather we need to have a proper plan on how to balance and give safe landing if it gets politicised. Otherwise, we may be exploited or manipulated. In short, we need to polish the issue and present it more strongly even if it gets politicised.
Do you think the government will fully address the agendas of the protest?
Rubita: To some level, they have addressed the demands by publishing the balance sheet of the budget that was separated for the Coronavirus pandemic. I am hopeful. Let’s hope they will realise at some point that they should give priority to serious issues like health over everything and work with a good strategy. Let’s also be optimistic that they won’t be too late.
Khushboo: The government would address the agendas when we form one representative team of the protest and send them to make a dialogue with the government. Otherwise, if everybody says I came individually, they will not call and address the issues. There has to be a team and they should go to the government and talk with them because the government can’t call every protester and talk individually.
Spandan Lama Mocktan: I am not 100% sure, but I am optimistic. Some have given us the tagline of privileged youths, but I want to say that who would speak if we don’t speak as educated youths because others are suppressed. The government has heard us somehow. They are increasing the PCR test in different districts. Maybe they would not have done this if the protest did not happen.
Sudan: Frankly, I don’t have any hope from the government, but to raise voice against its incompetence is our right. I also went for the hunger strike. We are doing all this for the real victims of this pandemic. If we don’t raise voices for them, who will? At the same time, we also want to encourage them to come out and speak. If voice becomes loud and collective then the government will be compelled to listen.
Jyoti: There has been news mentioning that the government will order a few more PCR testing machines. At the same time, our PM is saying that Nepali has strong immunity power and suggesting turmeric powder to combat Covid 19. Until and unless we get an official statement from the government mentioning that they will address all the agendas of protest, I wouldn’t believe that the government will address the agendas.
Milan: Government leaders are busy protecting their position. If they had understood the seriousness of the situation, we would not have had to come out on the streets. They were busy with corruption during lockdown when they were supposed to sit with the experts and make a better plans for the pandemic. Now when they ease the lockdown, the situation will remain the same. They are entangled in internal confusion. The fact is we don’t have time. It is not a matter that either the government would address the issue or not but the limitation of time. I doubt the government, but when guardians make mistakes, public need to be aware. Our weakness is that we only criticise the government and stop there. We need to criticise, challenge, and support the government.
What is Enough Is Enough?
Rubita: We Nepalese have been patient for a long time but now we have understood that no one is going to comprehend our patience. We cannot tolerate any more. We are going to speak against everything that is not as it is supposed to be. Every little thing that is against the welfare of society and country falls under Enough Is Enough for me.
Khushboo: I think it’s ringing bell for the government as well as the people. For the people, it’s an appeal to show interest in the affairs of the country, and for the country to say that people no more will remain silent if the government does wrong.
Spandan Lama Mocktan: People in different places and different communities are leading the movement Enough Is Enough raising different issues, but for me, right now, it is just for a better response to the Covid 19 pandemic. We might continue with something else in the future.
Sudan: For me, from the government’s incompetence and prevailing corruption to every immoral task committed by every citizen comes under Enough Is Enough.
Jyoti: I don’t know where to start, there are so many issues from the royal massacre secret to #DalitLivesMatter and every little incident inbetween. This is the movement that would prove wrong the belief that we Nepali people will digest any wrong. Now is the time to speak up against every single wrong around us.
Milan: This is the frustration of the youths against confusion, carelessness, problems, and incompetence of the government. It was a great opportunity but we could not give it a safe landing. The system always wants the protest organisers to be broken and failed. The results are in front of us time and again. Electricity power need proper poles and wires to give light otherwise the flow of the current can harm.