"Kidnapped" Nepali Students Recall Encounter with Maoist Fighters

Revolutionary Worker #1248, August 8, 2004, posted at http://rwor.org

The latest campaign by the bourgeois media to slander the People's War in Nepal has focused on reports that the Maoist guerrillas are "kidnapping" students and forcibly "indoctrinating" youth into joining the People's Army. These reports are full of stories about mass abductions, children being used as "human shields" and sexual abuse. Even those who are not sympathetic to the People's War in Nepal--but who have really studied the situation--know that the Maoists, who now control most of the countryside, have the support of millions of poor peasants, and from the very beginning, youth have been a powerful force in this revolution. Revolutionary organizations in the schools have carried out successful countrywide strikes and the young people make up a large part of the People's Army. Bourgeois disinformation would like people to think all this is because children are being kidnapped and brainwashed. But the fact is, the People's War is able to mobilize millions of youth to join the Maoists by clearly putting forward the ideological and political program of the People's War and explaining why it is in the interests of the masses to overthrow the current regime and build a new socialist society.

It is hard to find news reports that give a truthful picture of the People's War in Nepal, but every once in a while an article in the bourgeois press will inadvertently reveal something about the real situation. A recent Agence France Presse news report on 84 students and 36 teachers "kidnapped by Maoists" contains some hint of how the guerrillas are recruiting youth to support and join the People's War.

The following is taken from the AFP report which appeared on July 23, 2004:

CHAIMALE, Nepal (AFP) - Nepalese students, recounting their abduction by Maoist rebels, say the militants treated them well and wanted to hear their views--even if they were critical of rebel actions.

Ramila Acharya, 15, said she was terrified when armed rebels, who have been waging an increasingly deadly war to topple the constitutional monarchy, barged into their school in Chaimale and told them they were taking them away to teach the students "what a `people's republic' meant."

"I felt like crying and was very upset," she told AFP, providing a rare account of being kidnapped by the Maoists, whose "people's war" to install a communist republic had left some 9,500 dead since 1996.

"But the rebels treated us nicely. They gave us shelter and food to eat," even if they did make "us chant slogans like "Long live the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist!" she said.

The abductions of the students were the first ever in the Kathmandu valley.

Until last Sunday, the rebels had kidnapped students only from the remote countryside which they largely control.

The students were usually released after rebels tried to either indoctrinate them or persuade them to join their ranks.

The kidnappings followed a wave of Maoist attacks in and around the capital, seen by analysts as a show of strength by the rebels who want to install a communist republic in the deeply poor landlocked kingdom.

The 10 rebel kidnappers wore civilian clothes and carried pistols. Two were women.

"We had to walk for nearly nine hours, crawling many times through the jungle where the path was difficult, and reached an unknown place late at night," said 17-year-old Pushpa Raj Acharya.

They walked for nine hours, at one time having to cross a bridge built over a swollen river using a pulley suspended on a rope and were terrified of tumbling into the fast-moving waters.

The students said they were confined to a house they could only leave to go to the toilet.

But the rebels allowed probing and often hostile questions in their discussions with the students.

"We asked why they were destroying the country's economic infrastructure and why they announced the frequent strikes shutting down the country," said 16-year-old Ram Kumar Chapagain.

"They replied they will rebuild the destroyed infrastructure once they come to power and as far as the strikes go, they said they held them to see how popular they (the rebels) are," Chapagain said.

Another student Sanu Kanchha Bhomjon, 18, recounted: "We were asked to participate in an interaction programme and to speak about the rebels, their shortcomings and other complaints against them."

"They listened to us and our grievances against them. Then they explained to us about a people's republic and criticized the political parties of Nepal and the king," he said.

"They said we would be welcome to join their party anytime."

Their release, which the army has taken credit for, though the students and teachers said the rebels freed them voluntarily, was greeted with relief among fearful parents.