From A World to Win News Service

Backpackers Checking Out Nepal People's War

Revolutionary Worker #1227, February 1, 2004, posted at

We received the following from A World to Win News Service:

January 19, 2004. A World to Win News Service . Tourist arrivals in Nepal were up by 50% in November and December 2003 as compared to the last two months of the year before. This was unexpected, because the government has put the whole country under a state of emergency and many Western governments have advised their citizens to avoid the country because of the now almost eight- year-old people's war. But, according to BBC, at least, it seems that the people's war is one of the main reasons Western youth are coming to Nepal.

The British Broadcasting Service reports that many youth actively seek out a chance to chat with the Maoist-led rebels.

A Canadian trekking guide returning from the Khumbu region where Mount Sagarmatha (Everest) is located told a BBC reporter that for many of her charges talking with Maoist rebels was the high point of their visit. A professional with 18 years of experience, she said that she herself had several such meetings. "I have had pleasant talks with them and they were quite polite with me."

The president of the Trekking Agents' Association of Nepal put it this way: "We would like to see an end to the insurgency. But the fact remains that many trekkers have actually begun to enjoy their brief stints with the rebels."

A British trekker who came across the Maoists in the Annapurna region in Western Nepal last month said, "I enjoyed chatting with them." At the end of her meeting in which the rebels explained the reasons behind the people's war, she decided to give them 500 rupees ($7) to support their cause.

The BBC reported, "Declared a terrorist organization by the government, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has stated officially that it does not intend to harm tourists and for the seven years of the insurgency has so far kept its word. The rebels stop by teahouses to talk to tourists and ask for donations. Trekkers usually hand over an average of $14. There have been very few reported cases of tourists being pressured after refusing to pay. And those cases have tended to be with individuals who turned out not to be associated with the rebels. Many trekkers are happy to receive the souvenir of a receipt from the Maoists for their donations."

Nepal's dependence on tourism is one consequence of the country's domination and the feudalistic oppression of the people that hinders development. While the CPN(M) has made clear their intention to foster a self-reliant economy after the country's liberation, they are not at all opposed to people visiting their country with honest intentions, now or in the future. The fact that Western youth are eager to see a revolution in progress for themselves and hear what the Maoists have to say is a very bad sign for imperialism, the dominant world system that offers no future to any of the world's people. These backpackers come not only to see Sagarmatha, the world's highest mountain, but also the heights to which Nepal's peasants and other common people are aspiring to take their country and all humanity, a country where, to quote the Internationale, "a better world's in birth."