Nepal Regime, India Target Maoist Leaders

Revolutionary Worker #1214, October 5, 2003, posted at

As fighting in the People's War in Nepal intensifies, the U.S. and other powerful countries are stepping up efforts to help the reactionary Nepalese government hunt down and arrest those leading this popular insurgency--the leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

As part of the conditions for negotiations the Nepalese regime had rescinded the "terrorist" tag on the CPN(M). The seven-month cease-fire came to an end on August 27. The very next day, Nepal's Information and Communications Minister Kamal Thapa, who is also the government spokesman, called editors of national dailies and other broadcast media to his office to inform them that the government had re-imposed the terrorist tag on the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), mass organizations supporting the people's war, and all individuals and organizations associated with Maoists. The government also announced a bounty of up to $50,000 for dead or captured senior Maoist leaders.

Then on September 16, Nepal's government reissued Interpol "red corner" notices calling for the arrest of 21 Maoists, including Prachanda, the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). (The New York Times mistakenly reported that Prachanda had been arrested.)

These notices, which had been withdrawn during the cease-fire, now once again authorize the police of 181 countries to arrest the named revolutionaries. A Nepalese court ordered the 21 Maoists to appear within 70 days to hear charges in the January 2003 assassination of a senior police official.

Once a Red Corner Notice is issued, member countries are obliged to deport the accused to the country where the case against them is originated. Such a green light for international involvement could be used to politically justify further intervention by the U.S., the UK, India and other governments opposed to the People's War in Nepal.

This is a crude attempt by reactionary forces--especially the U.S. which has put the CPN(M) on its "terrorist watch" list--to criminalize a popular revolutionary struggle. And this is yet another example of how the U.S. "war on terrorism" is being used to target genuine liberation struggles.

The People's War in Nepal has the support and active participation of millions of peasants in the countryside. It is aimed at overthrowing a thoroughly reactionary and corrupt regime. And in the areas where the Maoists have control they are already putting into practice their popular program of giving land to poor peasants, doing away with the caste system, and ending women's oppression.

The influence of the Maoists after the recent nationwide bandh--a general strike where millions of people shut down towns and cities all over Nepal--was summed up by the BBC: "Nepal's Maoist rebels...have successfully demonstrated their political clout in the Himalayan kingdom." (See "News from the People's War in Nepal: Countrywide General Strike and Military Actions.")

Clearly, what's going on here is in no way "terrorist" or "criminal" activity. And the leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are in no way "terrorists" or "criminals." They are revolutionary leaders who are leading millions of people to rise up and fight for liberation.

Even those who don't agree with the People's War in Nepal have to admit, with any honest, straight- thinking point of view, that what's going on in Nepal is not "criminal activity" but a conflict between two contending state powers--a civil war.

The U.S. has also stepped up its efforts to work together with India to help the Nepalese regime defeat the People's War. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Christina Rocca recently went to Delhi and said, "India's historic, cultural and social ties with Nepal continue to make it the most important outside influence on events in that country." Rocca told Indian officials, "Working in tandem, our governments can help Nepal defeat the Maoist threat..."

In the past few years, the Indian government--which has dominated and exploited Nepal for decades- -has arrested and extradited a number of Nepalese Maoists. And now India has arrested and is holding a major Maoist leader from Nepal.

On August 20--even as negotiations were still going on between the Nepalese regime and the Maoists--Chandra Prakash Gajurel (comrade Gaurav) a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was arrested at the Chennai airport in Madras, India. According to a press statement issued by CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda, comrade Gajurel was scheduled to fly to Europe to promote the party's policies and political programme.

Indian authorities claim they are holding Gajurel for using an illegitimate British passport. His supporters have pointed out that, even if this were true, the Indian authorities usually deal with matters like this in a few days or less and impose a fine, but in this case they have continued to hold him--for weeks, so far. In effect he is being held as a political hostage.

The extradition treaty between India and Nepal excludes the handing over of political detainees but the Nepalese regime has reportedly decided to officially ask the Indian government for Gajurel to be delivered into their hands.

In a statement issued on August 23, Chairman Prachanda said, "We urge the Indian government to treat Comrade Gajurel respectfully and release him without delay... At the same time, our party urges all intellectuals, journalists, lawyers and the broad masses of people who want to see the real emancipation and progress of the Nepalese people to work for the release of Comrade Gajurel (comrade Gaurav) and give a new impulse to the unity of the Nepalese and Indian people."

Already, public statements of protest have been issued by various political forces, and a call for still broader efforts to demand his immediate and unconditional release has been issued by the World People's Resistance Movement.

Such attacks on revolutionary leaders must be opposed by people around the world. Revolutionary and progressive-minded people must oppose any attempts to label the people's struggle for liberation as "terrorist" and must prevent reactionary governments from harming the people's leaders.

Opposing the persecution and unjust arrest of revolutionary leaders means supporting their right to lead the masses of people to seize power and emancipate themselves from centuries of poverty and subjugation.

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