Monday, February 28, 2005

Democrats, Imagine The Worst From Monarchists/Maoists

I have tried to reach out to the Monarchists (The King's Best Option: Go Back On TV One More Time) and the Maoists (Sought eDialogue with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Ideological Overture To The Nepali Maoists), but I think it a safe bet for the democrats to assume neither will "get" it, neither will come around to it. To both of them people who believe in non-violent political action are weak, so to speak.

So the democrats have to chalk out a strategy that has the ultimate goal of taking back the country from these two extremists through non-violent means. I suggest a three-pronged strategy.
  1. Massive open, internal debate which involves the largest possible number of Nepalis and friends of Nepalis the world over, but also inside of Nepal. My bias is for the medium of the web. The goal is to build a national/global coalition and enlarge that coalition as much as we can. 10,000 is better than 1,000. 10 million is better than 10,000. 100 million is better than 10 million. The two guns will have to be shouted down. The "emergency" does not exist outside Nepal's borders, it does not exist online. We could have a "ring" of towns along the India-Nepal border on the India side, and co-ordinate from there our action in the country, to support co-ordinated acts of massive, peaceful defiance within the country. All Indian political parties have already pledged any and all support. That could greatly help with logistics.
  2. A simple, clear platform. I propose an uncompromising one of two words: Democratic Republic. We might go to a compromise position of a Constituent Assembly, but no more talk of Constitutional Monarchy and Multi-Party Democracy.
  3. There has to be a very clear plan to take over power. A new constitution from scratch that is subject to a referendum. We should work to create a Nepal that (1) abolishes the army, hopefully after the Maoists disband their own armed units, (2) dramatically increases state expenditures on education upto the secondary level, and primary health care, making both free of cost and universal, and letting the poor have universal access to micro-credit to start small businesses, and (3) bans fund-raising by political parties, and instead the parties get funds for party building and election campaigns from the state that is directly proportional to the number of votes they might have earned in the last held national elections. Even if we are to do only 2, 3 and 4 if the Maoists refuse to lay down their guns, we will have stolen their political/social thunder, subsequent to which they are but a law and order problem, and that law enforcement will have to be quick and aggresive, with a major focus on going after the leadership, like in Peru.

In The News

Non-Violent Militancy, Concerted Global Action

Wow _____. Nice to hear you are well. I was wondering.

It would have been foolish to get arrested. I am glad you are in Delhi.

I have read of the army coming to look for the "_____ _____" in some news articles. So I am glad you are not in the country.

As for your US visit. Great idea. Looks like the logistics would be very easy to arrange. I can see most/all of your activities in the DC to Boston corridor. The Chinatown bus takes you anywhere for $10. Places to stay, we have people everywhere who can come pick you up and feed you and make you cook and things like that. And I persoally would be more than happy to contribute. The kind of help you seek, even if everyone on this list pitched in $50 each, that would be smooth sailing for a starter. I am in.

I think it is time to have a two-word political program: Democratic Republic. That makes room for Maoists also if they change their ways and long term goals. And most of the organizing could happen outside of Nepal to start with.

At this point, I would really like to emphasize blogging as a tool. There is nothing like it.

(1) People could use assumed names if they do not want to use their real names, and also from inside Nepal.

(2) The individual voice has unlimted space. So the discussions remain super-democratic. You could get outvoted, but your ideas remain in the public domain.

(3) No need to move stuff like with print pamphlets. There is immediate global access. And internet access is pretty out there within Nepal also. My brother in Janakpur has it, for one, not that he is much of a political person. So I know, the regime has not thought to see websites as threats. They are light years behind.

Check out

It has really helped me gather my thoughts, keep up with the news (, and reach out to large numbers of people without having to repeat myself, or show up in many places in person.

By the way, do you think you could help me get in eTouch with Rajendra Mahato and Hridayesh Tripathy? I know they are in Delhi. Have them write to me at, or if they have phone numbers, if I could have them, that would help. Thanks.

Come on over. Keep us posted. That solidarity site is just great. And the Democracy Desk(s) early bulletins really helped. Great work.

Amnesty International
  • Nepal: on the brink of disaster .... A human rights catastrophe is looming in Nepal following the declaration of the state of emergency by King Gyanendra on 1 February. ..... "Wherever we went, we encountered a deep sense of fear, uncertainty and insecurity among the people" ..... Human rights in the countryside have been virtually destroyed by the conflict. Now, under the state of emergency, human rights in urban areas are under attack. The human rights crisis could soon be a human rights disaster...... appoint a Special Rapporteur to scrutinize Nepal’s human rights record
  • Nepal: A long ignored human rights crisis now on the brink of catastrophe (report, 18/02/05) ...... a human rights catastrophe is looming amidst heightened militarization and an attack on democracy ..... all internal and external communications were cut for seven days. ..... The new ministers .. are mostly hard-line politicians from the panchayat ..... a return to Nepal’s oppressive past ..... the bandh and observed the severe restrictions it was imposing on local communities ..... as it progressed, the bandh was becoming increasingly strong outside Kathmandu valley...... the main political parties are considering establishing a coalition to campaign for the restoration of democracy, which most likely will result in larger and more coordinated demonstrations. In the current repressive climate any mass demonstrations are likely to prompt a harsh reaction from security forces, with serious consequences for human rights ..... Since its deployment to fight the CPN (Maoist) in 2001 the RNA has grown rapidly to become the strongest element of the state. The state of emergency has further increased the military’s power .....daily violence and terror inflicted on ordinary communities across the country ..... grave human rights abuses continue to be carried out by both security forces and the CPN (Maoist) ..... threats to human rights defenders in Nepal ..... grave human rights violations by security forces, which had gone unpunished. The delegation found a growing pattern of extrajudicial killings, as well as large numbers of illegal detentions and "disappearances". The delegation met detainees who had been illegally detained and tortured in RNA barracks, including two 15 year old boys who had been severely beaten in RNA custody, before being sent to Kathmandu jail where they have been held for seven months in arbitrary detention, unaware of any charges against them and with no prospect of release. There were also reports of sexual violence by security forces against local women, including women living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). In Nepalgunj, one woman told the delegation how she had been gang raped by security forces personnel during a search operation in her village in 2004...... children who had been forcibly recruited, beaten and compelled to participate in Maoist military activities. There appear to be no facilities for the rehabilitation of children who have been involved in military activities ..... The state of emergency has aggravated the existing culture of non-accountability and lack of transparency. It has increased the pattern of militarization and restricted the space for political dialogue, thereby reducing the chances of peace. .....Those who were exposing and condemning the human rights abuses .. are being muzzled...... restrictions that are already in place under anti-terrorist legislation, which allow preventive detention for up to one year ..... although some rights provided in international human rights treaties to which Nepal is a party - such as freedom from torture and freedom from discrimination – are not suspended, in practice the Nepali people have no means for legally asserting these rights. ...... the effect of the censorship is profound ..... the lack of free information has greatly increased the sense of insecurity and fear among ordinary Nepali people ...... a lawyer in Surkhet district had recently been arrested for filing a torture case. ..... bus drivers being told by the CPN (Maoist) that they would cut the drivers’ hands off if they drive during the bandh, and then being told by local security forces that they would cut the drivers’ hands off if they do not drive .....a more coordinated approach by the international community is needed .....Under the state of emergency all legal remedies, apart from habeas corpus, have been suspended. However, although habeas corpus remains available, lawyers and human rights defenders told Amnesty International that in practice it is often ineffectual as the security forces mislead the courts and ignore court orders. ..... Security forces have demonstrated a widespread disregard for the courts for some time ..... why the security forces personnel involved had not been held in contempt of court...... on 10 February the Supreme Court - ruling in the habeas corpus case regarding former Chairman of the Nepal Bar Association, Sindunath Pokharel, who had been arrested in the crackdown following the state of emergency - for the first time requested that the defendant be physically produced before the court. Rather than complying with the court’s orders and allowing a precedent to be set, the authorities released Sindunath Pokharel on 14 February 2005. ..... The NHRC ... has been consistently denied full access to detainees, despite its mandate to visits all places of detention...... Both the government and military and the CPN (Maoist) leadership have failed to investigate human rights abuses or punish those responsible. The state of emergency will only reinforce the existing culture of impunity....... the RNA and police human rights cells - are largely cosmetic...... the security forces continue to remain outside the law for grave human rights violations, including possible crimes against humanity.....information provided by the RNA revealed a disturbing pattern of extremely light punishment imposed by courts martial on members of the RNA accused of serious crimes, including murder and rape..... in order to address impunity, all allegations of human rights abuses by security forces should be investigated by an independent authority and prosecutions should take place in the civil courts. ..... cases of rape or murder by security forces should by law be transferred to the civilian authorities...... Government representatives appeared to be genuinely concerned about Nepal’s image abroad ..... However, there appeared to be discrepancies between the information provided to the delegation by the government and that which the delegation was able to corroborate from other sources. ..... During the royal audience the King assured Amnesty International that the government remains entirely committed to its 26 March Commitment. ..... One sad casualty of the state of emergency is the proposed Human Rights Accord, which would commit both the government and CPN (Maoist) to abide by clear human rights standards and accept human rights monitoring....The Accord would be a valuable confidence building measure towards future peace negotiations. ...... ordinary Nepalis who are suffering most, as they are caught between the armed forces and the CPN (Maoist), both of whom adopt a ‘with us or against us’ approach ...... the human rights crisis in Nepal - which has for so long gone almost unnoticed by the international community ..... Given the importance that Nepal places on its international image and its dependence on international assistance, the position that the international community adopts will be of critical importance in shaping the policy of the Nepal government in coming months. It is therefore important that the international community, when sending a strong message about the importance of restoring democracy, stresses that this must be a democracy with human rights and protection for a pluralist civil society at its core.......

Major Indian Support For Democracy In Nepal

Nepal Democracy Solidarity Convention
Organized by the political parties and groups of India
24 February 2005
Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi

Chandra Shekhar, Former Prime Minister: Any human who pretends to be a god, who wants to be a god will be destroyed completely. This king does not seem keen to learn and think. He wants to subdue the wishes of the tens of million of people for his personal ambition ..... If the king does not change immediately, more actions from India are necessary ..... I wish the king of Nepal had some brain.

Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary, CPI (M): The king has murdered people’s democracy in Nepal ...... We will not give any chance to this autocrat. Our government is solidly behind you.

Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist): .....the absolute king is back. This time, this monarchy needs to be abolished completely ..... If our government supports this regime in Nepal we will wage a struggle against our government from here ..... Nepal will certainly be a people democratic republic soon.

Romesh Bhandari - Central Working Committee Member, Indian National Congress: The king needs to learn that suppressing people is going to be dangerous for monarchy. I had told Birendra once, “look at what happened in Iran, how the king had to flee, learn from that" ..... People are like steam. If you suppress them they will burst. The more the king suppresses the people, the more dangerous it will be for him ..... The king should take back his step immediately. We warn him.

Dev Brat Bishwas, General Secretary, Forward Block: .....all of India is with Nepal, the people of Nepal, and for the movement for democracy. We give you complete support for your democracy movement ..... This king - how did he dare take this step? ..... We are the largest democracy in the world. We have to support democracy movements, especially in our neighboring country Nepal, with which we have special ties. We believe you will start a joint movement soon.

Prof. Bimal Prasad , Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal: We should not forget the Nepal issue after a few months ..... The Indian government had issued strong statement immediately after the king’s move. But statement by themselves mean little if not followed by concrete action ..... we don’t know how long the fight will go on for ..... I never trusted this king’s motives. This is a very cunning man (ye bahut dhurt aadmi hai). I know him since long. Maybe he’s compulsive.

Surendra Mohan, Senior Socialist Leader: The kings of Nepal have always been against democracy. After the coup of 1960, it took 30 years for democracy to be restored. But this time it won’t take that long. .... The political parties in Nepal, you need to go against monarchy now

Anand Sharma - Spokesperson and Member of Central Working Committee, Indian National Congress: You need to amend this constitution so that such type of incidents can never repeat in the future.

Vijay Pratap, Coordinator, Socialist Front: Now you have a clear choice to make - monarchy or democracy. The dark Feb 1 was a blessing in disguise..... I appeal to each political party in India to form a special Nepal cell..... The BJP needs to apologize to the nation, if you can’t get the Vishhow Hindu Parishad to retract its statement supporting the king’s coup...... What the king of Nepal did has nothing to do with Hinduism. ..... Differences will remain in terms of ideology. Such differences should indeed remain. But, you can still have a working unity. The Maoists should also realize this. ..... The Maoists support multi-party democracy only as a strategy, not as an objective. They need to compromise with the democratic political parties

A. B. Bardhan, General Secretary, Communist Party of India: The king has asked for three years. He wants three years to consolidate his autocracy. I tell you, this time, he will not have three years. See what happens within three months ..... The prime minister invited us in the evening of 1 February to discuss the situation in Nepal. I told him that evening that India should immediately stop military aid to this autocrat..... This king will not survive for long. .... The Nepali Maoists are Nepalis and the Indian Maoists are Indians. They are separate. India should not be paranoid about the Nepali Maoists...... We need to be conscious that this agenda should not die down after a few months.

Dilip Singh Bhuriya, President, Jan Bikash Congress: We are the largest democracy in the world. But in our neighbor democracy has been strangulated. Nepal is burning now.

Brija Bhusan Tiwari, Senior Leader, Samajwadi Party: My electoral constituency is near to the Nepal border. I have been meeting many Nepali friends. I was suspecting for long that this king would take such a step. He has always been against the people. He has been against the Nepali people of Indian origin ..... We need to put so much pressure on him that he is forced to retract his step.

Surendra Shastri, President, Jay Jawan Jay Kishan Party: He has always been against democracy.

Ramesh Dixit, Professor, Luckhnow University: This is rare occasion and issue in India in which, for the first time, political forces ranging from CPI(ML) to the Congress are together at the same stage. Interestingly, one former prime minister of India inaugurated this event, and another former prime minister is going to close it.

VP Singh, Former Prime Minister of India: For India, the important issue is not the king, but the nation..... we do away with autocracy and reinstate democracy without any mess, very cleanly. As they say, lets skim off the fat, without disturbing the milk.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ideological Overture To The Nepali Maoists

Maoism, or for that matter, Marxism, or Leninism, if followed like a dogma, leads one to a dead end. It has to be seen as a guidepost at most, and as one might apply it to one's local conditions, as the Nepali Maoists have tried to do, one has always to be taking into account the facts on the ground, as they stand and as they emerge, as well as lessons that can be drawn when Maoism was applied in other parts of the world, mostly to bloody, inhuman conclusions, like in Peru and Cambodia. If the Nepali Maoists were to ignore all facts on the ground, as well as those from distant lands, they end up being a closed cult, a dictatorial organization that leads its followers to disaster, and self-destructs its "movement" after the "fuel" might have run out, like that of a forest fire, taking a life of its own, coming to an end on its own, leaving little, if anything, in the form of legacy.

On the other hand, the Nepali Maoists can claim the theory of Maoism as their guidepost and inspiration that they have tried to apply to Nepali conditions out of a deep sense of patriotism as well as a non-compromising allegiance to social justice. And as they constantly seek empirical evidence to support their claims and goals, always keeping an open mind, not only to members of their organization, but also to those from other organizations with different ideologies, there is a possibility these Nepali Maoists could make major contributions to Nepali society, and help herald a new era of social justice, but only if they learn to harness the power of peace, compromise, and coalition-building, as they have harnessed the power of armed insurgency, and repeated statements that echo each other, only if they finally come around to the idea of co-existence with other political parties within a peaceful multi-party framework.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica Online: "Maoism has clearly represented a revolutionary method based on a distinct revolutionary outlook not necessarily dependent on a Chinese or Marxist-Leninist context ..... The young Mao was a nationalist, and his sentiments had been strongly anti-Western and anti-imperialist even before he became attracted to Marxism-Leninism about 1919–20...... Mao's nationalism combined with a personal trait of combativeness to make him admire the martial spirit, which became a cornerstone of Maoism...... Mao's political ideas crystallized slowly. He had a mentality that was opportunistic and wary of ideological niceties...... China's hundreds of millions of peasants, for he saw potential energy in them by the very fact that they were “poor and blank” ..... For a time after the creation of the Chinese Communist state in 1949, Mao Zedong attempted to conform to the Stalinist model of “building Socialism.” In the mid-1950s, however, he and his advisers reacted against the results of this policy, which included the growth of a rigid and bureaucratic Communist Party, and the emergence of managerial and technocratic elites—accepted in other countries, especially the Soviet Union, as concomitants of industrial growth...... Maoism's alternative to growth led by elites and bureaucracies was to be growth brought about by revolutionary enthusiasm and mass struggle. Maoism undertook to pit the collective will of human beings against the customary and rational dictates of economics and industrial management. The violent excesses of Maoism and its inability to achieve sustained economic growth led after the Chairman's death to a new emphasis on education and management professionalism, and by the 1980s Maoism appeared to be celebrated mainly as a relic of the late leader."

Also here: "His thought was complex, a Marxist type of analysis combined with the permanent fundamentals of Chinese thought and culture...... and the necessity of struggling against bureaucracy, wastage, and corruption in a country of 600,000,000 to 700,000,000 inhabitants, where very old civilizations and cultures still permeated both the bourgeois classes and the peasantry, where bureaucracy was thoroughly entrenched, and where the previous society was extremely corrupt..... In his effort to remain close to the Chinese peasant masses, Mao drew upon an idea of nature and a symbolism found in popular Chinese Taoism, though transformed by his Marxism. It can be seen in his many poems, which were written in the classical Chinese style."

Like Mao broke with the Soviets, the Nepali Maoists should have the guts to break with Mao himself, the most important might be to do with violence. Real social change ultimately exists in a realm of peace. That peace has to be part of the Maoists' vision. It has to be added to their portfolio.

The first step could be an aggressive overture on their part to the Nepali parties with a vision of a Democratic Republic, with a Constituent Assembly as a first step, with a clear willingness to accept the verdict of the people, even if it might come in the form not of a Democratic Republic, but in the form of a reformed Constitutinoal Monarchy, and Multi-Party Democracy. They could still hope to mobilize the public opinion in some later referendum to turn the country into a Democratic Republic.

The second step could be to work within the multi-party framework to create a Nepal that (1) abolishes the army, just as the Maoists disband their own armed units, (2) dramatically increases state expenditures on education upto the secondary level, and primary health care, making both free of cost and universal, and letting the poor have universal access to micro-credit to start small businesses, and (3) bans fund-raising by political parties, and instead the parties get funds for party building and election campaigns from the state that is directly proportional to the number of votes they might have earned in the last held national elections.

The vision becomes one of attempting to create a classism-less society through peaceful, democratic means, the way of the ballot box. Classism-less, as different from classless. Classism-less allows for diversity in income due to the fundamental role of the market in wealth creation, but it does its very best to make sure no person's socio-economic background prevents that person from reaching his or her maximum potential.

I urge the Nepali Maoists to take their ideology to the next level by breaking up with Mao himself so as to no longer be a slave to a way of thinking that necessarily depends on unending violence, as if it were a group addiction, and not an intermediate step to liberation.

Paramendra's Reading Lists: Maoism

In The News

March 4, 2005
  • ...... Nepali democracy had not worked for sometime ..... solution should have been sought through further democratizing by addressing the problems that had been encountered in the last one and half decades ..... Until and unless major democratic political reforms are conducted, the problems Nepal has faced will not be solved. We have to address the underlying problems, not symptoms of those problems like corruption, Maoist insurgency, or even the King's intervention...... the attitudes of the cabinet, the capability of the State and the increased power concentration does not provide much hope ..... how can we establish a system whereby corrupt and irresponsible leaders are pushed aside democratically ...... the negative consequences of extreme centralization may take place at a faster rate now ..... could lead to an explosive situation ..... they do not consider a country democratic that is governed by a single party for a long time ..... support to the Maoist by some Nepalis and to the monarch by others is an indication that the Nepali people are seeking alternatives that they did not get from the political parties in them last decade and half ..... The solution is to accommodate them through institutional reforms. We must not forget that the Maoist have popular support as well ..... if genuine reforms are carried out, even if the Maoists do not agree to a settlement, their support base could erode ..... no democrat can question the issue of election for a constituent assembly ...... The king should not be too worried about the constituent assembly...... The longer he is involved directly, the more threat to the crown. The possibility of a coalition among the Maoists and the political parties increases as well...... polity should be reformed to diffuse power among different level of governments and different branches of government ...... In between the elections, other mechanisms are necessary to hold public officials accountable...... Many governments have objected to UN's mediation because they perceive that it could lead to the formal recognition of the rebels. In such cases, other international agencies or countries have mediated...... a substantial section of the Nepalis support them ..... a substantial population is not happy with the status quo of extreme inequality and discrimination they are facing and would even support groups that promise radical transformation through violent means ..... the Nepali mainstream media has totally failed to represent the perspectives of the marginalized groups like the indigenous nationalities, dalit, madhesi, Muslim, and women
  • India firm on Nepal democracy Calcutta Telegraph, India .....India was in touch with the international community over the developments in Nepal in an effort to evolve a coordinated response
  • Nepal tightens grip, extends detention of Opposition leaders Economic Times, India .....
  • Nepal regime cracks down on college teachers: New Kerala, India ..... Security forces Thursday marched inside the campus of Kathmandu's Trichandra College where about 20 to 25 college teachers had assembled at the office of Nepal Professors' Association to celebrate the release of fellow lecturer Shoubhagyajan Karki......being released Thursday after his family moved the district court.....They made some of the teachers sit in the van for nearly half an hour and then allowed them to go."It was a naked show of might to intimidate teachers," the association said...... the administration is trying to harass teachers ..... 58-year-old mathematics teacher Man Bahadur Bishwakarma, still continues to be detained in a prison in Bhaktapur
March 2, 2005
  • Nepal army flushing out rebels: New Kerala, India ..... track down rebels who escaped following a major battle with government troops ...... 70 rebels and four members of the security forces died ..... Bloodshed in Nepal has continued, despite King Gyanendra's takeover of direct power a month ago, which he said would help contain violence.
  • Crackdown on rebels in Nepal continues Times of India Information and Communications Minister Tanka Dhakal defended the action and called on the media to restrain itself. "This measure is not censorship," he said
  • US, India working together to restore democracy in Nepal Malayala Manorama, India "India, in our view, plays an absolutely critical role. As far as Nepal is concerned India is a major power. The United States is far away. India is right next door" ....."India has been very, very firm in its conviction that the King must move very quickly." New Delhi has taken the position, like the US has, that what the King has done is "not in the interests of Nepal," he added.
  • US may suspend military assistance to Nepal: New Kerala ..... the Feb. 1 dismissal of Nepal's government by King Gyanendra was a "serious setback" for democracy and risks eroding Kathmandu's ability to fight the Maoist insurgency .....
  • US Faces Dilemma Over Nepal Security Aid -Official Reuters ..... the king "probably emboldened the Maoists and made it more likely that the Maoists have a stronger position than they did before February 1." ..... New York-based Human Rights Watch said this week that many of the hundreds of Nepalis who have disappeared since the insurgency began in 1996 were probably victims of extrajudicial execution by security forces...... The United States was thinking seriously about whether to push for censure of Nepal by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights
  • US ambassador prevented from meeting detained Nepal leader Daily Times, Pakistan Moriarty had sought a meeting with Nepal Congress president and ex-prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala at his house in Maharajgunj, on the outskirts of Kathmandu ..... the second time Moriarty has been denied access to Koirala
  • Nepal prevents US envoy from meeting Koirala: New Kerala .....several envoys, including Moriarty and Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, India's ambassador to Nepal, had tried to meet Koirala but had been turned away .....The refusal comes even as the US State Department released its reports on human rights practices in nearly 200 countries, including Nepal. The report on Nepal called the Nepalese government's human rights record poor with continuation of serious abuses...... It also came down on the Maoist insurgents, saying they have continued their campaign of torturing, killing and forcibly conscripting children.
  • New Nepal rebels brutalize old friends Seattle Post Intelligencer ......Armed with guns, iron rods and carpenters' tools, militants swarmed through a Nepalese village and banged at one door. Inside, they threw a woman to the floor, beat her and drilled holes into her legs...... They beat 40-year-old Pun with iron rods for hours, kicked her and attacked her with a hand-powered drill. Then they fled, leaving her to die...... "The only cure for fear is to not to fear" 1996, the ragtag Maoist rebels began their armed campaign. They began to sweep through the country, taking control of vast swaths of remote terrain where there had been no roads or government presence, setting up kangaroo courts and instilling fear among poor villagers...... In August, Thapa met the Maoist top brass when they came to Katmandu for peace talks with the government...... some 70 rebels raided their home and broke open the door. The women fighters said: "Take off her clothes!" ..... Naked from the waist down, Pun was beaten and tortured until she fainted. Electrical wires from a solar power panel were rigged to her arms...... Today, she lives in constant pain, able to walk only with assistance.
  • ADB distances itself from reports on Nepal aid: New Kerala, India Contrary to government-run media reports that the ADB had pledged to continue its assistance to Nepal, Rahman said: "In view of the recent political and security developments in Nepal, ADB is reviewing the implications for its operation in Nepal." ..... Newly appointed Nepalese Finance Minister Madhukar Shumshere J.B. Rana last month confronted reports of aid suspensions by saying though bilateral donors could be influenced by political considerations, global donors like the ADB and the World Bank were likely to continue assistance.
  • Nepal official denies reports of secret mission: New Kerala, India ......The present regime has been trying to woo the support of New Delhi, saying it should support the king since the Communist insurgency is a problem shared by both India and Nepal. ..... Sharad Chandra Shaha ...... Shaha, who was advisor to the previous government headed by Lokendra Bahadur Chand and was considered close to the present king's father, late king Mahendra, said he had gone to India to attend a two-day conclave hosted by India Today.
  • Censorship in Nepal enters second phase Statesman ....asking journalists to write only what the security forces told them about the Maoists or face punishment
  • Fidel Castro supports Nepal king Times of India, India ..... After China, Russia and Pakistan, a fourth country has expressed support for Nepal's beleaguered King Gyanendra - Cuba.
February 28, 2005
  • Nepal's king under pressure inside and out The Japan Times
  • Nepal royal takeover raises risk of disappearancesReuters India, India ....."Even before the coup, the army was more likely to terrorise Nepali civilians rather than fight the Maoists. They had complete impunity," Saman Zarifi, Human Rights Watch's Asia deputy director, told Reuters. "After the coup, there's even less accountability for the army. The fear is that the army is going to go on the rampage."
  • NEPAL: Focus on the impact of the conflict on rural healthReuters AlertNet, UK ..... Health facilities in rural Nepal have been contracting as the nine-year rebellion has left up to 80 percent of the country in the hands of the Maoists. Most government-employed health workers are afraid to make field visits to regions controlled by the rebels in case they are abducted and forced to work for the insurgents. If they do offer health care in Maoist regions, they are at risk of being targeted by security forces and accused of "helping the terrorists"...... An estimated 48,000 female health care volunteers (FHCVs) play a key role in reaching out to people in the rural areas. But most of them are now reluctant to go to the villages ..... pressure from both sides of the conflict made the work impossible
  • Nepal rebels vow to keep up resistanceTaipei Times, Taiwan ..... lifted the blockade but are now threatening a military campaign and a`mass movement of the people' against the king ..... "We are lifting the indefinite blockade of transportation to show our deep responsibility toward the people" ..... The monarch, who says he was forced to act because of the insurgency, has ignored repeated calls from the international community that he restore democracy
  • Declaration by the European Union on the situation in NepalReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland ..... the action taken by the King is a serious setback to the prospects for a negotiated and democratically based solution to the conflict in Nepal .....
  • Nepal Maoists find support in ChhattisgarhIndo-Asian News Service, India ..... "In February, the Maoists have held over 35 rallies and more than 72 meetings in Dantewada district of Bastar that borders Andhra Pradesh" ..... the Maoists had flooded the rural areas of Dantewada with banners and posters pledging support to the rebels in Nepal ..... some of the banners vowed to hit government installations in Bastar as what they called a "punishment for the Indian government for not acting tough against the Nepal king
  • Nepal: The King Says Terrorism No Longer (press release), New Zealand ..... King Gyanendra said ... we are fighting for democracy and against terrorism..... "When we have chosen to uphold democracy and fight against terrorism, why are they shying away from helping us? I can see one thing clearly emerging out of it. Our objectives are the same. We are going to meet somewhere. But we have chosen may be different paths in attaining that objective" ..... "They must say what they must say and we must do what we must do" ..... "There is so much work to be done and that work has to be done together"
  • 5 Nepal parties to launch stir from Mar.8:- Webindia123 ..... protest meetings, flag demonstrations ..... Balbahadur Rai of Nepali Congress, Jhalanath Khanal of CPN-UML, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar of NC (Democratic), Chitra Bahadur Ale of Janamorcha Nepal and Bharat Bimal Yadav of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (A).
February 27, 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005

3 Months Or 3 Years

If King G and his yes-men do not change course and do not restore fundamental rights, how long do you see them lasting. 3 months? 3 years?

They have been in denial regarding the major global backlash they have generated.

The Koirala Congress and the Deuba Congress have actually come under the same umbrella to organize protests, as have a few others.

On another note, as a Buddhist I am deeply, deeply, deeply offended the king shut down the Dalai Lama's office in Kathmandu.

The king is giving clear hints he will not be able to stand the backlash, but he is not acting upon it. It is like, he ousted Deuba, then got him back into the saddle after massive street protests. He will have to perform a repeat act on the emergency. He will have to restore all fundamental rights before he can even think of other alternatives.
  • Dozens of Maoists killed in Nepal violence Daily Times, Pakistan ....guerrillas raided a TV station ..... 400 rebels attacked forces in the village of Hasulia ..... hundreds of suspected Maoist rebels attacked a state-run Nepalese TV station in the remote southwest, forcing the outlet to suspend broadcasting .....
  • Nepal Maoists withdraw blockade but graver measures on cards: New Kerala .....would call an indefinite countrywide shutdown soon ..... would start "from another month" ..... next Nepalese month of Chait that begins March 14...... rumours of the guerrillas planning 1,000-hour shutdowns along the lines of the Gorkha National Liberation Front-led struggle for a separatist Gorkhaland in the hill areas of eastern Indian West Bengal state. ..... The guerrillas would be undergoing a review of their strategy in view of India and Britain, two of Nepal's largest donors for military supplies, announcing a suspension in the aid to show their disapproval of the royal takeover...... Prachanda's statement suggests that the Maoists are trying to network with likeminded forces outside Nepal. They are already said to have close links with two outlawed Indian organisations branded as terrorists - People's War of Andhra Pradesh and Maoist Communist Centre of Bihar.
  • Singhal backs emergency in Nepal Indian Express, India Gyanendra seems to be using his RSS and Hindutva connections in India .....Singhal said Maoists should be crushed militarily and the international community, including India, should support the King in his initiative ..... ‘‘I welcome the Emergency imposed by Nepal King Gyanendra and all the Hindu community in India supports the move by the world’s only Hindu king to save Hindus of Nepal from the Maoist terror"
  • EP for sanction against ruling elites in Nepal UK edition The European Parliament (EP) has called on the European Union Council of Ministers to impose smart sanctions against the ruling elites in government and the military until democracy is restored in Nepal...... the campaign of arbitrary arrests, censorship and general repression...... called for a negotiated and democratically based solution, which it stressed, was the only "sustainable way to end the current conflict" ..... 732-member EP ..... The MEPs pressed the Nepalese Government to allow the Tibet Refugee Welfare Office (TRWO) and the representative office of the Dalai Lama in Kathmandu to resume operations, and expressed concern that the closure might be interpreted as a trade-off with China on the state of emergency.
  • EU for smart sanctions Times of India The European Parliament has called for its 25-member club to impose smart sanctions against Nepal, just hours after King Gyanendra adopted the shrugged shoulder and raised eyebrow as a diplomatic strategy to face down international criticism of his bloodless coup. India, the UK and the US, it said, could do much to stop the world simply rolling over and accepting the King's coup...... "the chances of greater violence and even a Maoist victory will only increase" if the world took a "wait and see" position. ..... "Nepal needs immediate, coordinated international action" .....emphasized the importance of a negotiated and democratic solution.
  • World Bank suspends monetary aid to Nepal Deccan Herald, India .....the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also indicated that it will follow the WB's line ..... As per the current budget, the government needs to mobilise nearly 450 million USD foreign loans and grants to meet its expenditures.
  • US rejects Nepal King's 3-yr timetable for restoring democracy Economic Times, India .....the US was in constant touch with India and Britain
  • Nepal Govt release seven people, including former ministers Press Trust of India, India .....Homnath Dahal, Agriculture Minister in the dissolved government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba; Khagendra Bhattarai, former President of Nepal University Teacher's Association and Lokraj Baral, former Nepalese Ambassador to India ..... Pradip Nepal ...... Bishnu Nishthuri and two other journalists ..... The release comes a day after King Gyanendra told some reporters that the government has softened press censorship and called on the international community not to isolate Nepal.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sought eDialogue with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

I wrote to a few days back seeking an eDialogue with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai for this blog. I have not heard from them, and likely will not. So I guess I will go ahead and write an open letter to him and send it to the same email address.

But before I go into that, I would like to quote from Prachanda's second statement after Nepal's "2/1" because I see plenty of room for common ground between the democrats and the Maoists.

" life style and banner of liberation for the people of every class, caste, tribe, region and gender who were oppressed in the past by the feudal brahmanical old state ..... This is the time of rigorous birth pang for all of us when the People’s Democratic Republic is taking shape. ..... The dictatorial rule of king was imposed on Nepalese people in 2017 by the feudal elements through military power, hijacking the limited achievements of Nepalese people’s democratic struggle which started in and around 2007 and thereafter as a protest against the then Rana clan’s rule. Because of the plunder, corruption, smuggling, killings and terror unleashed during thirty years long royal family regime in the shape of Panchayat , the country was pushed down to the level of world’s most impoverished and vagabond country. ...... take democratic struggle of Nepali people toward completion, in real sense of the word ..... the monopoly of feudal palace over arms and military force ..... achieved yet another epoch making feat by dismantling the unilateral structure of governance based on feudal Hindu chauvinism by granting the rights of self-determination to the people of oppressed class, caste, region and gender and by forming regional autonomous republican governments that work as a prototype of Union of States and paving the way for the same with Nepalese features and laid the foundation of new national unity...... Now, Nepal is no longer a birth place to mercenary soldiers ..... King Virendra who was comparatively liberal and patriotic ..... Subsequently, a coordinated attempt was made to systematically defame and marginalise parliamentary reformist political parties ..... we had appealed to all the parliamentary forces of country to forge a broad alliance for constituent assembly and republicanism ..... We once again repeat our commitment to jointly move ahead with all the forces, on the basis of common minimum goal of constituent assembly and democratic republic. ..... unconditional constituent assembly in order to complete the democracy and expressed its readiness to talk to the ringleaders of old state ..... the possibility and rationality of talk with Gyanendra Shahi has ended in the aftermath of murdering of achievements of 046 by him ..... we also appeal to the United Nations and international community to halt all kinds of aids ..... we are committed to the democratic values and ready to cooperate with these countries and organizations. ..... No one now can stop the birth of new democratic Nepal."

I observe a few things here:
  1. The Maoists have long sought common ground with the democrats for a Democratic Republic. It is the democrats who have so far not reciprocated.
  2. The totality of their ideology can not be used against them. The UML itself continues to be a party with a long term communist dream. But all we have needed to deal with the UML is its short term commitment to the multi-party democratic framework. I think the Maoists have to be given the same option. But for that to happen, the democrats will have to move and agree to the Constituent Assembly idea and the idea of a Democratic Republic.
  3. Curiously, only such a broad political front of the Maoists and the democrats will bring down the level of violence in the country. Right now, violence is the only option the Maoists have to express their uncompromising vision of a Democratic Republic. But a broad front will give them a purely political outlet and violence will become less necessary.
  4. I believe in non-violent politics. You can get pretty "militant" within the democratic process, depending on how hard you are willing to work with your message, organization and fund-raising. But then peace-making requires that you deal with hitherto warring parties so as to bring the violence to an end, and to bring the players into the political mainstream where people still compete for influence but now it is a framework of electoral politics, not gunpower anymore. Think Northern Ireland. Think IRA. The Maoists and their violence will have to be given a similar outlet. You address their politics so they have the option to put down their guns.
  5. I must admit I am a little distrusting of the violent ways of the Maoists. But then I am even more distrusting of King G and his commitment to the democratic ideal. And I am very distrusting of the social agenda of the Nepali Congres, the UML and the RPP. We do not need 100% trust between us to do business with each other. What you seek is a Common Minimum Program.
  6. It is legitimate for the democrats to fear the Maoists will create a front with them to oust the Monarchists and then turn on them to reach their goal of a communist dictatorship. That fear is legitimate but it does not have to be crippling. Step one, you create a front with the Maoists for a Common Minimum Program of a Constituent Assembly. That front would include democratic parties that are for a Democratic Republic, as well those that are for a Constitutional Monarchy. Once that front gathers steam, step two, the monarch will have two options, to agree to such an Assembly, or be totally washed away. But you ensure mechanisms to guarantee all parties' acceptance of the Assembly's outcome, especially from the Maoists and the Monarchists, step three.
  7. The king himself offered a Constituent Assembly after taking over. It is sad the likes of Girija and Deuba never came to offering the same when they had the option to. As if the likes of Girija and Deuba are more Monarchists than the monarch himself. That is a sad state of affairs.
  8. I think the biggest reason the likes of the Nepali Congress and the UML do not want an alliance with the Maosts is that they do not like the Maoists' challenge to the high caste domination of the country that the Congress and the UML symbolize. That is despicable.
  9. I mean, what I like about Badri Mandal is he is the Sadbhavana's best hope to kick the Koiralas out of Morang. And I would like to see that happen. But for the short term, I am okay with a Sadbhavana-Congress alliance, as long as it is for a Constituent Assembly.

An Open Letter To Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

Dr. Bhattarai, hello. I watched a few video clips of you at your party's website, and there you are with your trademark cap. And I think I have seen you in person once, during the early 1990s. You were walking on your own, near what they now call the Democracy Wall in Kathmandu. I think it was you, I am pretty sure it was you, but I can't be sure. You looked pensive, and had a briefcase in your hand, no cap though, just the beard.

Most politicians, be they in Nepal, India, or the US, spend most of their time talking, no time listening, and even less time reading. But you are an exceptionally smart, well-read person. I respect your intellectual prowess.

Let me first state where I am coming from, ideologically speaking. I am a free marketeer, a one person one vote democrat, and a social progressive. And a Sadbhavana alumn now living in the US.

You and your party envision a federal structure for Nepal. And that speaks to the Sadbhavana alum in me a lot. You have taken the cause of Dalit and Janajati empowerment, something the Monarchists have been against, and the democrats have only paid lip service to. So I see common ground between you and me, the social progressive. I am for a Constituent Assembly, with or without the Maoists. So that is common ground between you and me, the one person one vote democrat. That is a lot of common ground.

As for the free marketeer, let me explain. I hope you will not mind if I said Gorbachev knows more about communit theory than you and Prachanda. After all, he was in a direct line of succession from Lenin himself. And he has said the market is it. The command economy does not deliver the goods.

But I must make it clear that I see a lot of deficiencies in the so-called free market economies of the world. There are basically three components to any economic unit, be it micro or macro. (1) Physical capital. (2) Financial capital. (3) Human capital.

My criticism of the market economies is that it has so far refused to put Human Capital on par with the other two. For example, there should be a creative partnership between the public and the private sectors to ensure lifelong education for everybody on the planet. Without that, there is no free market. Free trade can not be only about goods and services, it also has to apply to movements of labor.

Because of my major emphasis on Human Capital within a market concept, I think you and I can seek common ground there also.

And you will allow for the market. Lenin himself reintroduced limited markets after the 1917 takeover throught the NEP, New Economic Policy, because he immediately realized the command economy did not work. But he died an early death, and someone Lenin would have preferred did not succeed him ended up succeeding him. And out went the market, totally.

And the one person one vote concept can be expanded to have total campaign finance reform in the Nepali context, in a way that perhaps exists nowhere else. How about making it illegal for any politician or party to raise money? Instead, all political work, like party building and elections, are funded publicly through a democratic formula. Say the state gives each party an annual sum that is directly proportional to the number of votes that that party received in the last national elections. That would make multi-party democracy pretty classless, don't you think?

I can imagine collaborating with someone like you on further developing the concepts of Human Capital and Campaign Finance Reform, both in the national and global contexts.

But all that will have to be later.

I believe the need of the hour is for the democrats and the Maoists to forge a common front against the autocracy imposed in the country. For that the Maoists need to reassure the democrats that peaceful co-existence with the non-Maoists within a multi-party framework is something you and your party are capable of. I urge you to take steps to that effect. Please seize the moment.

Three Years: Too Long A Wait

The king keeps saying he needs three years to restore democracy, to put down the Maoists. The only people he has gone after really since his takeover are the democrats, as if the Maoists have given him a good excuse to do something he has wanted to do all along.

Three years for what? To keep clamping down the people? To keep up with the human rights abuses? To keep gagging the press? More not less democracy is the answer to the Maoist threat. After all, is not the "Maoist threat" that they might take over, declare a communist republic, and take away all fundamental rights?

The king should just face the reality that a Constituent Assembly is the only way out and act in ways that will make many parties want to campaign for a continued monarchy within such an Assembly.

And a question to Americans: You got rid of your King G, G for George, why can't you see a Nepal without its King G?
  • Nepalese king pleads for foreign help Independent Online, South Africa ....dozens of heavily armed guerrillas stormed a local station of state-owned television in Kohalpur, 500km west of Kathmandu, and ransacked the office as well as the studios.....
  • Global Imperialist Designs The Royal Coup in Nepal CounterPunch, CA The immediate internal options are perfectly clear ­ the continuity of a democratic delusion under Monarchy or a full-fledged democratic republic with Maoists being on the negotiating table...... The Indians and others have consistently shown their preference for monarchy with a democratic tinge....... they prefer a democratic façade rather than a full-fledged parliamentary democracy in Nepal...... finding a suitable internal power bloc with which they can negotiate, and their interest to sustain a particular hierarchical relationship with Nepal..... forces the foreign capital ­ Indian and others - to negotiate with rentier interests in Nepal, whose main motive is to capitalise on their role as intermediaries, on their capacity to rent out the local market and resources ..... their preference is for a monarch that symbolises a grand negotiator. But on the other hand, the grand rentier can create grand hurdles to gain grand favours, too. Hence, a limited 'democracy' would provide a safety valve ..... leads to the foreign preference for a façade of democracy in Nepal under monarchy ..... It is not that the Nepali rentiers and political elite will ever shift their allegiance, but the continuous presence of China definitely allows them to use this fact to gain favours from the only organized imperialist coalition present in the region ­ the Indo-US Imperialism...... Some "security" intellectuals have started proposing that India must not insist on any immediate restoration of democracy...... Till recently, the trick of calling the Maoist revolutionaries Chinese agents (or even Pakistani/ISI agents) and faking evidences to prove this ..... seven countries account "for over four fifths of cumulative FDI [in Nepal]. India alone accounted for one third [owning 35% of the enterprises with FDI and 35.8% share in the total FDI], followed by the United States and then China." ..... considering its need for a political stability in Nepal to derive sustainable economic gains from there, and thwart any rival interest from evolving ..... the amount of political support for the Nepali "democrats", at least within the ranks and leadership of the parliamentary left ..... They might help in stopping the evolution of a united front of the democrats and the Maoist peasant revolutionaries in Nepal, and hence by effect not allowing the full-fledged republic to come up. .....
  • King says he'll restore democracy in Nepal International Herald Tribune, France .....urged Maoist rebels to join peace talks and shrugged off the suspension of military aid by India and Britain ..... pleaded for international support to crush the Maoist revolt ..... "We want our friends to help us by word and by deed. If that is not the agenda they want to go along with, then they should tell us what their agenda is. ....."You have given me something that is badly infested. ....."They must say what they must say," he said, "and we must do what we must do." ..... The rebels, meanwhile, have blockaded roads to disrupt food and fuel supplies since the takeover. They have focused on the 200-kilometer, or 125-mile, highway that connects Katmandu to the country's interior and leads to India. ..... On Friday, traffic piled up at checkpoints around the country, waiting for security forces to escort civilian convoys.......
  • Nepal: Responding to the Royal Coup Reuters AlertNet ..... the immediate policy steps needed to pull Nepal back from the brink. A unified international response is critical, and the best mechanism for that would be a contact group comprising key countries and organisations involved in Nepal: India, the U.S., the UK and the UN. "If the world simply rolls over and accepts this coup, the chances of greater violence and even a Maoist victory will only increase", says Crisis Group President Gareth Evans. "This is not the time for 'wait and see'. Nepal needs immediate, co-ordinated international action"....... a politically broad-based effort to address not only the insurgency but also the underlying issues that have fuelled it. ..... suspending all direct bilateral and multilateral budgetary support to the government; and initiating a review of all current development assistance programs and preparing plans for their phased suspension and withdrawal...... further measures, including complete suspension of all aid; sanctions; a ban on Nepalese troops from their lucrative involvement in UN peacekeeping operations; and encouraging the UN Security Council to investigate and prosecute both government and Maoist war crimes suspects.
  • Nepal stops intelligentsia from flying abroad Hindustan Times ..... includes about 200 people...... Gurung, a professor at the prestigious university as well as general secretary of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, was flying to India for the regional preparatory meeting of the fourth conference of the Permanent Forum of the UN on Indigenous Nationalities in Shillong from Friday to Sunday...... include former Supreme Court judge Laxman Arryal, who is also one of the drafters of Nepal's current constitution, and former Deputy Speaker of Parliament Chitralekha Yadav..... Lokraj Baral, political scientist and former ambassador to India, was arrested while returning from India. The 70-year-old who suffers from heart problems, is still in detention.
  • Ties with Nepal to receive high priority: Kalam Sify, India President A P J Abdul Kalam told a joint sitting of Parliament.
  • US asked to freeze military aid to Nepal Hindustan Times, India .....King's power grab, which has reportedly led to increasing human rights abuses. ..... T Kumar, the US-based advocacy director for Amnesty International, told a congressional human rights forum in Washington ..... The United States, which has branded the Nepalese Maoist rebels as terrorists .....
  • Nepali King considers peace as Nepal's prime agenda Xinhua
  • The Calculus Of Failure