Revolution #128, May 1, 2008
From A World to Win News Service:
We are posting the following articles about the recent elections in Nepal from A World To Win News Service for our readers’ information. As events unfold we will have further analysis of these important developments.
Nepal: Expectations for profound change soar to the sky
April 14, 2008. A World to Win News Service. On April 10 elections were held in Nepal for the first time in nine years. Final results are not yet available, but initial returns show that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is doing very well, with a real possibility of winning a majority in the Constituent Assembly (CA) that is being elected. There is widespread jubilation at the victory of the CPN(M) in many corners of the country among the people who are hoping that this election victory will open the door to a “new Nepal” and a way out of poverty and oppression. The voters clearly rejected the main political parties of the ruling classes in Nepal, especially the Nepal Congress Party, which headed most of the governments that fought viciously against the people’s war in that country, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), a party which, despite its name, long ago gave up on communism and also participated in fighting against the revolution. The few forces openly supporting the continuation of the monarchy also did very poorly.
The role of the Constituent Assembly is to begin a process of drafting a new constitution for a republic, a process which is expected to last one or two years.
This was not an ordinary election. For ten years, beginning in 1996, the CPN(M) waged a people’s war centered in the countryside of Nepal whose goal was to carry out a New Democratic Revolution and free the country from imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Two years ago a massive movement swept the urban areas of the country as well, forcing the widely hated King Gyanendra to step back from absolute power and reconvene parliament into which a significant representation of CPN(M) was co-opted.
International observers from many countries, including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Ian Martin, head of the UN mission to Nepal, were fulsome in their praise for the electoral process, particularly that it was more “peaceful” than expected. First reactions to the elections from the “international community” hailed them as the definitive end of the people’s war. How they will react to a resounding electoral victory of the CPN(M) is not yet clear.
In fact, there were quite a few killings in the period leading up to the elections and on election day itself. Maoists and their supporters were almost always the victims. The most outrageous incident took place in Dang in western Nepal, where police killed seven unarmed Maoist supporters and wounded more than 25 others. [See accompanying article.]
The question on everyone’s mind now is what will happen next. Pre-election agreements called for a joint government by the three main political parties in the country, the CPN(M), the NCP and the UML. The CPN(M), which has played only a minor role in the present government, is now expected to play the leading role in the new government to be formed following the Constituent Assembly elections.
A new government will be formed, but the underlying question facing the country is not which parties are in government but what the nature of the state power itself will be. As pointed out in an earlier AWTWNS article [Revolution #121, February 24, 2008], the basic question facing the country in the aftermath of ten years of people’s war is what regime will be consolidated on a nationwide level. The old state has been fighting to preserve the interests of the exploiting class and enforce Nepalese subordination to foreign imperialism and India. On whose power will rest the Nepal state that emerges from the Constituent Assembly process? What will be the future of the Nepal Army and the militarized police force that has done nothing but hunt down and murder revolutionaries and rape, terrorize and rob the masses? What will happen to the People’s Liberation Army that earned the love and respect of the poor peasants making up the majority of the country? Will Nepal be a base area for world revolution or will it continue to be locked into the spider-web of imperialist and foreign domination?
The king is almost certain to be sent packing, but will the state that emerges from the Constituent Assembly process be free from the feudalism the king represented? During the people’s war, the caste system with its horrific “untouchability” and other outrages was severely battered in the areas where the PLA had power. The same is true of child marriage, wife beating and other anti-women practices. Will the Constituent Assembly process be able to institutionalize these and many other such advances throughout the country?
In the countryside the revolution had ushered in a new system of “people’s courts” that enforced revolutionary order, and a different type of political power had been established. Will such institutions have a place in the new regime? What will be the role of the court system and government bureaucracy that served the old state?
It is certainly clear that there are powerful forces, and most especially the imperialist powers and the Indian ruling classes, as well as the exploiters in Nepal itself, who will be doing everything they can to make sure that no real revolution takes place in Nepal.
During the ten years of people’s war the CPN(M) called for distributing “land to the tiller” and the thorough destruction of the reactionary system led by the king, which kept the working class and the peasantry exploited and impoverished and enforced all sorts of medieval oppression on women, national minorities and the oppressed castes. The masses in Nepal have been demanding revolutionary transformation, and this is one of the main reasons for the massive electoral victory of the CPN(M). The burning desire for a “new Nepal” is vividly etched in the exuberant faces of the thousands of youth and others who have been taking to the streets across the land in all-day celebration rallies. As many of those who for years were the public face of the old state have resigned in humiliation, expectations of profound change soar to the sky.
The most important question is what type of social system the new republic in Nepal will represent and enforce. In Nepal and around the world, supporters and friends of the revolution will be closely observing the coming weeks and months as the new republic is formed.
From A World to Win News Service
Nepal: the Dang massacre of Maoist supporters
Apri 14, 2008. A World to Win News Service. On the evening of April 7, the Nepali press initially reported that Maoist members of the Young Communist league (YCL) ambushed Nepali Congress Party candidate Khum Bahadur Khadka in the city of Dang, surrounding his car and opening fire. Seven YCLers were killed and 25 wounded. According to the Kathmandu Post, Khadka “somehow dodged bullets,” and one media report described a “15 minute long exchange of fire” between the two sides. A “government source” told the Kathmandu Postthat “police fired over 80 rounds as Maoist cadres fired at them indiscriminately.”
Dang is located in the southwest of Nepal, a historic hotspot during the years of the people’s war. It is the city closest to the historic base areas of Rolpa and Rukum. Emotions were running particularly high in the election campaign, as the area was the scene of repeated intense clashes between the Maoist guerrillas and Royal Nepal Army in 2003. The city itself was the last outpost of the old state before reaching the liberated area, and was a concentration point for military special forces, secret police and foreign intelligence.
The news reports of these killings took place in the midst of a storm of denunciations of the Maoists for violence, even though the Maoists were the party that suffered the most deaths by far during the course of the election campaign (seven Maoists and one UML member were killed before the Dang massacre), mainly at the hands of the police. Nepal’s newspapers waged a relentless campaign to associate the Maoists with violence against peaceful democratic candidates, portraying them as little more than thugs and gangsters—creating public opinion to justify police action against them. The Kathmandu Post headlined its front page only four days before the election, “Young Communist League rampage unrelenting” and “Maoists lead in attacks on rival parties.”
The media didn’t talk about the gangsters who were guarding the candidates and protecting the election process throughout the country – the Nepal police forces, who, under the leadership of Congress Party and UML-led governments, had year after year racked up one of the worst human rights records in the world, according to international human rights groups like Amnesty International. More, they had carried out their bloody crimes in defense of a social system that has condemned the great majority of the people of Nepal to a life of endless toil, poverty and hunger.
Nor was anything said about what the YCL represented: youth who had been active fighters or supporters of the war for liberation that rocked Nepal for ten years, who had been pioneers in fighting for women’s liberation – the ranks of the Maoists were about the only place where young men and women could breathe free of the stultifying atmosphere of arranged marriages and patriarchal authority that smothered them. They were fierce fighters against every type of discrimination. For instance, when YCLers meet for the first time, they ask only each other’s first names. In Nepalese, the last name is often indicative of caste, and they don’t want to be influenced by that.
But the press accounts of the killings in Dang just didn’t fit the facts. If a 15-minute firefight occurred, why were the Maoists the only dead and wounded, and not a single policemen or the Nepali Congress activist? Also conveniently ignored by these accounts was the fact that the police never even claimed to have found any weapons on the dead and wounded Maoists. After the investigation reports came to light, even Jimmy Carter had to label the killings “assassinations” of the Maoist youth.
Investigation results revealed that at about 8 pm on the road near Lamahi, a group of 40 or 50 YCL members intercepted a group of Nepal Congress youth who had come in from the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. One account says that they were engaging in one of the long-established practices of the Congress Party (the main ruling party, close to India’s Congress Party), paying people to vote for them – only this time they had tried to pay off some Maoist supporters, who promptly turned them in. A few days earlier a candidate from another right-wing party (RJP) had been similarly apprehended by the YCL while handing out bribes. He had the enormous sum in Nepal of 40,000 rupees ($6,500 U.S. dollars) in cash on him. The night of April 7, the YCL apprehended the 33 Nepali Congress youth and tried to turn them over to the police, as they had done on several other occasions. The Congress Party candidate Khadka seems to have come to their rescue, accompanied by a large contingent of plainclothes police, and the police once again decided to release the Congress youth. This led to protests by the Maoist youth, and the police promptly opened fire on them. Not a single policeman or Congress activist was treated for any injuries. One eyewitness, Keshav Pandey, told the Himalayan newspaper that there was no exchange of fire, and that the police had “opened fire indiscriminately.”
The comrades who sacrificed their lives in this cold-blooded massacre are Min Bahadur Pun, Labaru Chaudhary, Jiulal Chaudary, Purnajung Sen, Chet Bahadur Budhathoki, Sital Chaudary and Prakash GM.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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