People's Liberation Army Launches Offensive Throughout Nepal
Revolution #032, January 29, 2006, posted at revcom.us
On January 2, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) announced the end of a four-month-long unilateral ceasefire. That same day guerrilla military actions by the People's Liberation Army took place throughout the country, including bomb explosions in several cities and attacks on Royal Army vehicles. This was followed by major coordinated armed battles in many parts of Nepal, including near Kathmandu at key entry points into the capital city.
This was the beginning of an offensive captured in the slogan "Stand on the backbone and hit the head" – where the state’s "backbone" is represented by the major highways and suburbs and "hitting on the head" means striking at the strategic weak link of the enemy in the capital and headquarters.
Describing one major clash, the World to Win News Service reported: "In the two-day battle at Chitrya Bhanjayang, the Royal Army lost 22 soldiers, including an officer, and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) lost nine fighters. In the Dhangarhi attack, the PLA engaged the Royal Army at several different locations in the area while launching a centralized raid on the district headquarters. The revolutionaries destroyed the offices of the Chief District Officer, the district jail, and several other government facilities."
A year ago, King Gyanendra dissolved the parliament, banned political activity, arrested hundreds of political opponents, and instituted widespread censorship. Now, on February 8, he is planning to stage a farce of municipal elections to cover up his autocracy. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has said it will disrupt the elections and the anti-monarchy coalition of seven parliamentary parties is boycotting the voting.
The parliamentary parties announced a mass protest for Friday, January 20. In an attempt to crush all opposition the government instituted a night curfew in Kathmandu on January 17. Then the day before the planned demonstration, over 100 political leaders and human rights activists were arrested, many in early morning raids. A top government official said they had orders to arrest 200 people and that 22 security teams had been mobilized. A daytime 8 a.m.-6 p.m. curfew was announced for Friday and government employees were told to get to their offices early.
Starting Monday, January 16, all political demonstrations have been banned and public buses are prohibited from carrying protesters into Kathmandu. The day before the planned Friday demonstration, Internet services and both land line and mobile phone services were severed.
Reporters Without Borders has voiced outrage over Gyanendra’s persecution of the media and reports that the government of Nepal is responsible for half the number of reported acts of state censorship in the world in 2005. According to RWB, at least 425 journalists were arrested, attacked, or threatened last year in Nepal. And Human Rights Organization Nepal (HURON) reports that 599 people have been disappeared by Gyanendra's regime.
Over the January 21-22 weekend, people defied the ban on demonstrations in Kathmandu. Protestors hurled bricks and stones at the police -- who fired tear gas into crowds, beat people and arrested hundreds. Clashes continue between the Royal Nepal Army and Maoist guerrillas, including in areas close to the capital city. On Sunday, January 22, in Western Nepal, a battle lasted for three hours after rebels attacked security personnel who were trying to clear road blockades placed by the Maoists.
(Pluto Press and Insight Press, 2005)
In 1999, Li Onesto traveled deep into the guerrilla zones of Nepal where a Maoist revolution has been raging since 1996. Allowed unprecedented access, she interviewed political leaders, guerrilla fighters, villagers in areas under Maoist control, and relatives of those killed by government forces. Illustrated with photographs, Dispatches provides a vivid picture of the new people’s governments and courts, the redistribution of land, new cultural and social practices, and the emergence of a new outlook among the people.
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