Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ram Chandra Poudel And The Supreme Court Judges

What has Ram Chandra Poudel got to do with the Supreme Court Judges? Not much personally, but a lot symbolically. Like that first guy on the moon said, "A small step for a man, a big step for mankind."

Activist Judges Could Save The Day

I think these Supreme Court judges should similarly go after the Chief District Officers in Kathmandu valley who basically turned the lifting of the emergency at the end of April into a major league farce and postponed possibilities of national reconciliation. And they should go after the inappropriately named Information Ministry so as to facilitate freedom of press. And they should also address the grievances of the lawyers, their professional kith and kin.

If the Supreme Court justices could thus ensure the basic freedoms and rule of law, they will end up doing more for national reconciliation than any international player could hope to do, and I am talking the major world powers here.

The Supreme Court has to come to the realization that stretching Article 127 like it were a rubber band is not constitutional. Restricting basic freedoms when the country is no longer under emergency rule can not possibly be constitutional. That is precisely why emergencies come with automatic term limits.

P.S Donald Camp, a man whose official title is not a word, not a phrase, but an entire sentence, a run-on one too: the United States' Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs.

In The News

40% Of Americans Can't Point Out The Pacific On A Map

And the Pacific just so happens to be the biggest thing on the map.

Why do I point this out? For four reasons.

One, like it or not, the US is a large power and stands to play a major role in various corners of the planet. Nepal is one such corner.

Two, the "ignorance" of the movers and shakers amazes me. Being well read can only go on to reenforce the ignorance paradigm.

Three, the US is not really preparing for the realignments that will take place as globalization spreads its wings.

Four, ultimately, Nepal's civil war is for the Nepalis to resolve. The three forces could do it on their own. Or the international players could help bring the three forces together to do it on their own. As in, even if there is external involvement in peace negotiations, the hard work will still have to be done by the three warring factions of the polity. If they can get there sooner rather than later, it will show they do care about the country.

The average American is someone who has never heard of Nepal. The most heinous acts of violence in Nepal do not make news at this end. An average American listens to the FM radio.

Did I just say FM? That should ring a lot of bells in Nepal.

Nepals Neighbors: A Study In Contrast (press release), New Zealand ..... revelation in a recent survey that communist China is viewed more favorably than the United States by much of the world ..... 16 countries ..... almost two-thirds of Britons saw China favorably, compared with 55 percent who held a positive view of the United States. In France, 58 percent had an upbeat view of China, compared with 43 percent who felt that way about the United States. The results were nearly the same in Spain and the Netherlands...... U.S. favorability rating was lowest among three Muslim nations which are also American allies - Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan - where only about one-fifth of those polled viewed the US in a positive light......

Op-Ed Piece Sent To The New York Times

(I emailed this to for consideration with this message: Please consider publishing this. I think this could be a NYT contribution to peace in Nepal. This viewpoint deserves to be read by the power brokers in DC, and the opinion makers elsewhere.)

Engaging, Not Demonizing The Nepali Maoists Will Bring Peace

Nepal is the number one hot spot on the planet right now: it is not Kashmir, Palestine or Ireland. I could not have seen this coming in 1996 when I left the country for the US for college. The worst case scenario projected into the future is a Nepal that is akin to Pol Pot’s Cambodia that seriously destabilizes a region, South Asia, home to a fifth of humanity. Iraq could end up looking like a picnic.

So who are these Nepali Maoists? What do they want? What are their capabilities? Can there be a safe landing to the insurgency? Can the worst case scenario be avoided? Could these Maoists morph themselves into a major peaceful force for progress?

Do I see the worst case scenario unfolding? Yes, as much as I see the United States sending a “manned” mission to Mars. It could happen, but it is not going to happen, not any time soon. Maoism is an open book ideology. And a communist republic is a stated goal of the Maoists, but then so is a manned mission to Mars for the US government. Some groups like to describe their goals in utopian terms.

The western media and governments make the cardinal mistake of basing their knowledge and understanding of the Nepali Maoists on what literature is available on the Cambodian and the Peruvian Maoists, even Mao and Stalin. That prevents them from seeing the Nepali Maoists for who they really are, more a product of Nepal's specific social conditions than the bookish Maoist ideology. Yes, they are violent, but then the French revolution for liberty, the American war of independence from British imperialism, and the American civil war to end slavery were all violent, not that the Maoist violence in Nepal has clear and total parallel to those events, and not that I personally see violence as a legitimate political weapon.

What do the Nepali Maoists want? They want an all-party interim government that will hold elections to a Constituent Assembly to draft a democratic constitution for a country that never really had democracy. It is for that idea in the case of Iraq that the US has spent upwards of 200 billion dollars and thousands of American lives. If Iraq had its “Maoists,” the US would not have had to part ways with all that money, all those lives.

But will the Maoists disarm before elections to such an Assembly is held? I don’t know. But that is the pre-condition the other two forces in Nepal, the democrats and the Monarchists, have to lay down. After elections are held, and multi-party democracy is introduced, what will the Maoists do to attain their goal of a communist republic? Their chief ideologue Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has repeatedly said that it is their “scientific, objective” analysis of Nepal’s socio-economic conditions that what Nepal needs right now is a democratic republic. The country will have to go through a few decades of “bourgeoise” democracy before it becomes “ripe” for a communist republic. And even then the attempt will be a peaceful transformation of the state. So, yes, the Maoists do intend to go to Mars, but it might not happen in your lifetime or mine, or that of any Maoist leader at the helm today.

Instead Nepal has a king with a dismal record. Before he ascended to the throne, the Maoists had infested a few isolated districts, and the insurgency had cost maybe 2,000 lives. After he took over and started experimenting, the insurgency has spread to more than 70 of Nepal’s 75 districts, and has cost an additional 10,000 lives.

And you have democrats, the parliamentary parties that danced to the tune of the limited democracy in the 1990s, who seem to be singularly incapable of a sustained, democratic dialogue among themselves and within their parties, leaders who admit the solution to the civil war is political and not military, and yet refuse to engage the Maoists in a respectful dialogue.

A Constituent Assembly is the only legitimate meeting point for the three forces on Nepal’s political landscape, the only lasting solution to the civil war. The force that is most reluctant to accept that reality is the force most responsible for the ongoing conflict, and that force is the Monarchists. Polls show such an Assembly will retain the monarchy, though in a strictly constitutional, ceremonial fashion, as it ought to be: anything else is undemocratic. Nepal is no Musharraf territory. But instead Nepal has a king who is bent on being “active,” and “constructive,” a king who likes to meddle, the country can go to hell.

Only such an Assembly will address the grievances of the DaMaJaMa coalition of the oppressed: Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila, namely the low-caste, the people in the southern plains, the Sherpa, Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Rai and Limbu of the hills, and the women. Such a liberation has been something the Monarchists have been against, and the political parties of the 1990s have only paid lip service to.

But instead of pressuring the king towards such an Assembly and telling the Maoists they can have it but only if they agree to disarm beforehand, the western media and powers have been spending most of their energies demonizing the Nepali Maoists. Sure there are extremists among Maoists who could justify such demonizations, but then how fair would it be to judge the Republican and the Democratic parties in the US based on the viewpoints of their in-house extreme right and the extreme left elements? The two most influential Maoists are both for a Constituent Assembly, and that is what they have to be taken for.

Nepal should move towards a Constituent Assembly that will turn the country into a vibrant multi-party democracy with a constitutional monarchy. That is the only road to peace. The best case scenario is such a development could herald a major era of social progress and economic growth in the region.

(Paramendra Bhagat, a New Yorker, is engaged in the peace process in Nepal primarily through his blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

So Much For Hindutva, Hindu Kingdom, And Hindu King

Now the BJP in India has come out for sealing the Nepal-India border. Looks like some common ground has emerged between the ultra "nationalists" in Nepal and the second largest party in India.

Sure this is election talk for the all-impotant forthcoming elections in Bihar. But then all talk by parties in democracies is election talk. It has to be taken seriously.

This also shows the BJP is not buying the line that the Nepali Maoists were not involved in the recent Maoist attack in Bihar.

I don't know one way or the other on that particular topic, but if the Nepali Maoists were involved, they are following in the king's footsteps of 2/1: opening up fights on several fronts at once.

Even a military power like the US admist it can only fight two and a half wars at any one point in time.

The king since 2/1 has been fighting three "wars." With the Maoists, the democrats, and the international community.

Phone Talk With Rajendra Mahto In Delhi

Audio Clips, My Reflections: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

In The News

Make It Official: International Conference In Delhi

The political center of gravity has already shifted to Delhi from Kathmandu. All worthwhile political dialogue on Nepal has taken place in Delhi since 2/1. Might as well make it official.

Let the international players bring the three parties together. In Delhi.
  1. Paris Peace Accord 1973 - Text of The Agreement
  2. Cambodia: Peace Agreements Digital Collection-United States ...
  3. Safeguarding Peace: Cambodia's Constitutional Challenge
  4. A/RES/45/3. The situation in Cambodia
In The News
  • India ready to help end crises: Thapa Kathmandu Post, Nepal Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran ..... The meeting lasted for nearly two-and-a-half hours at the Grand Hyatt suite, where Thapa is staying.... It is up to the parties in Nepal, India can't do anything..... the need to immediately start dialogue between the palace and parties so as to take on the bigger challenge: resolution of the Maoist insurgency through peace negotiations..... Delhi is also believed to have started back-channel diplomacy with the rebel Maoists last month
  • Surrendered Maoist commit suicide in army cell Kantipur Online, Nepal the third time that the Maoist had killed oneself while being detained at the security detention in the past seven months.... hung himself by the wire in his own room, while the sentry had gone to toilet.... Rayamajhi, however, had been refusing to go home and had asked not to call his parents..... the difficulties he would have to face after being released
  • Autocracy cannot take us ahead: Nepal Kantipur political parties should not harbor any illusion that the nation cannot move without monarchy..... democracy and monarchy cannot go together.... If reconciliation doesn't take place any time soon, the Maoists may prevail
  • Shortage of IC hits market Kathmandu Post, Nepal a massive rise in illegal imports of gold and silver from India was the main reason behind the current problem.... gold is cheaper by Rs 150 per tola (about 11.50 gram) in the Indian market and also silver is cheaper by Rs 200 per kg
  • Conference for a fair deal Kathmandu Post, Nepal Given the adamant attitude of our leaders of all sorts, there is no escape from getting ensnared in New Delhi.....Thanks to the violent conflict, we lost peace. Thanks to our leaders, we lost freedom. Thanks to further political conflict, we lost democracy. A further deepening of conflict can result in a loss of what we have not yet lost. That is monarchy and national independence. In that sequence, it is the institution of monarchy that stands most vulnerable..... he opened battles in all fronts at one go against the Maoists, the political parties and the international community...... he may prefer to break, if inevitable, rather than to bend and compromise ..... Kathmandu is quiet but Nepal is not ..... In terms of political negotiations and peace exploration too, Kathmandu is equally quiet; but, in this process, it has conceded its central role, more pronouncedly since the royal take-over, to New Delhi..... king could not visit New Delhi for technical reasons before the royal action in February and for political reasons after it...... countervailing visits by Nepali leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala, Bamdev Gautam, Hridesh Tripathi and a string of second-ranking leaders pleading for end of the direct rule of the king...... Equally effectively it can threaten to witchhunt the Maoists in India to bring them to sense...... India is not alone to handle the Nepali affairs. It is actually acting on behalf of big powers like the US and the UK. Even China has also been kept well informed...... better to hold an international conference on Nepal like the one on Cambodia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq
  • SC seeks reply from Home Minister Kathmandu Post, Nepal The minister is required to reply to the court within seven days
  • Extend help to HM, Camp urges political parties Gorkhapatra, Nepal Camp said that Nepal’s future was bright and the US would continue to assist Nepal in its fight against terrorism...... the government was eagerly awaiting for some high level visits from the US
  • Rebels seize children as recruits in Nepalese civil war, UK Last month about 4,500 pupils, aged between nine and 15, were marched from their schools in five districts and forced to attend a Maoist rally where they were exhorted to abandon their education and join the revolution, according to witnesses. It was the first event of a six-month children's campaign planned by the rebels....... they were marched for between four and five days each way to attend the three-hour rally .... had never left their home villages before, spoke with excitement of seeing buses, cars and motorcycles for the first time in their lives ..... more than 12,000 people have died, including 10,000 since the end of 2001 .... "They don't know reality, and basically they are attracted by the 'cultural shows' [the singing and dancing propaganda troupes that tour schools]. And some of the children are very much interested to play with guns and they imitate the older ones." ...... girls, who are typically forced into arranged marriages at a young age in rural Nepal, were easily seduced into joining the Maoists by talk of women's rights...... families are often more willing to hand over their daughters to Maoist recruitment teams than their sons, who are considered more valuable...... ''They organise militia in every school, they are called the 'baseline army.''
  • Cop missing after fresh police-Maoists encounter Times of India, India the second round of encounter between members of the CPI (Maoist) and the security forces — the district police, Special Task Force (STF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) — on Monday at village Piprahi Sultan under Bargainia police station in Sitamarhi district...... another encounter had taken place between the police and a group of Maoists near the Nepal border.
  • Deuba cleared of graft slur Calcutta Telegraph, India ... was against standard procedure but did not amount to corruption
  • Acquitted from one graft charge, Nepal’s ex-PM continues ... United We Blog, Nepal The Commission that has the extra-judicial right to accuse, try and give verdict in a case sensed that it’s decision to sentence Deuba and the company will have far reaching consequences to the royal government. That decision would have backfired ..... RCCC is a political arm of this government, it is expected that the game of harassment will continue in the days to come.
  • Trauma treatment should be integral to Nepal's human rights ... ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland Torture, extrajudicial killings, disappearances and other abuses often result in severe trauma for victims and their families. This trauma outlives the violation, leaving an indelible impression on the minds of victims..... National Human Rights Commission had all but ignored this issue even prior to the February 21, 2005 coup.....
  • NEPAL: Journalists stage nationwide protests Asia Pacific Media Network, CA
  • Nepal king to celebrate birthday without son:- Webindia123, India there will be one important absentee at the royal bash besides opposition leaders - Crown Prince Paras.....
  • Leaders say collaboration with Maoists impossible, Nepal Modanath Prasrit said that the Maoists have accelerated murdering unarmed and innocent civilians .... Dr. Narayan Khadka of NC (Democratic) warned the political parties that some invisible power is conspiring to bring the political parties and the Maoists together for their personal interest .... the duel nature of considering the Maoists as friendly power in some occasion and viewing them as the terrorists in other is complicating the crisis
  • Nepal: Deepening Uncertainty Amid US Dilemma, Nepal to the United States: Reverberations of the Cold War-era Red Scare have combined with the imperatives of the ongoing War on Terror.... anxiety has deepened in the aftermath of King Gyanendra’s February 1 takeover of full executive powers ..... Amid the suspension of the democratic process and the curbing of civil liberties, including press freedom, it is understandable that a section of the U.S. government should feel the need to isolate the royal regime.... India and Britain -- responded to the royal takeover with a formal suspension of military assistance, the United States has demonstrated greater recognition of the realities on the ground...... Condoleezza Rice has said, the royal takeover will “crystallize” events.... The Maoists have suffered huge battlefield losses and deep rifts have weakened their political organization. The mainstream political parties, on the other hand, have moved closer toward recognizing the Maoists’ demands for radical changes in the polity...... Through sustained military pressure from the royal government and political encouragement from the mainstream parties, the Maoists might be willing to submit to peaceful methods of resolving the deep political, economic and social inequalities underlying the insurgency..... The kingdom stands to gain immensely as a potential transit point for trade between the two Asian giants. U.S. investment in Nepal's vast hydropower potential could target the huge markets China and India provide. Once peace is restored, Nepal could hope to regain its position as a leading destination for tourists and trekkers..... pattern of allowing the Europeans and the Chinese to mediate in the Iranian and North Korean nuclear crises ..... Indian interests in Nepal are primarily guided by that country's own perceptions and imperatives. Some, including those relating to Nepal’s vast water resources, are viewed with considerable suspicion in Nepal..... China has skillfully deployed economic incentives to draw Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka into its strategic orbit.... they all shun the Dalai Lama to Beijing's delight ..... they speak with one voice for Beijing's entry into the SAARC – to the palpable annoyance of New Delhi ..... Nothing should preclude the United States -- whose diplomatic relations with Nepal predates both Indian independence and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China – from constructing its own set of coherent and realistic policies aimed encouraging the kingdom to emerge as a strong, peaceful and prosperous democracy in South Asia.
  • Their Royal Highnesses to visit Japan, South Korea Gorkhapatra, Nepal
  • ‘‘Can't bid adieu to Nepal’’ Michael Gill Kathmandu Post, Nepal every time Gill returned to his motherland, he always found an excuse to come back to Nepal..... He thinks every stakeholder in this country should rise above one's own interest. "The far right and the far left and everyone in the middle should come together, forgetting personal interests" .... Nepal was certainly a peaceful country; but there also existed a great deal of injustice..... "The Maoists have asked many right questions, but they don't have the answers"..... "I think I'll come back. I've bought roundtrip tickets"
  • Nepal: Measuring the economic costs of conflict - The effect of ... ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland Economic growth slowed to an average of 1.9% over the FY2002-04 period compared to 4.9% in the decade preceding that...... economic disruptions have increased and development expenditures have decline sharply..... Measuring the Economic Costs of Conflict: the Effect of Declining Development Expenditures on Nepal’s Economic Growth...... physical infrastructures worth at least $ 250 million have been destroyed..... strikes, security checks, blockades, shutdowns, and extortion have increased the costs of economic activity..... 400,000 rural families have been internally displaced while thousands others have crossed over to India..... private investment rate(2) has declined from 15.4% in 1996 to 12.6% in 2004..... Government development expenditures stood at about 6% of GDP in FY2004, down from 9% of GDP in FY2001.... government security expenditures almost doubled from 1.6% to 3% of GDP ..... GDP per capita declines at an annual rate of 2.2 per cent relative to its counterfactual during civil wars ..... war directly reduces production and partly because it causes a gradual loss of the capital stock due to destruction, dissaving, and the substitution of portfolios abroad....... for conflicts after 1990, real GDP growth was 12.3 percentage points below normal..... civil wars reduce growth mainly by depleting the domestic capital stock in its various forms..... costs of conflict at 8-10% of GDP...... at US$66.2 billion for the 1996 to 2003 period..... 1% increase in development expenditure results in 1.57% increase in private fixed investment, 0.65% increase in public fixed investment, and 0.18% increase in public consumption..... the government investment may have multiplier effects on private sector...... A decline in development expenditure reduces government consumption, government investment and private investment -- lowering GDP growth...... FY2005-FY2009 ...... If the conflict intensifies and development expenditures decline at twice the current rate, total GDP growth lost is 10.3% - an average loss of 2.1% points of growth per annum...... the 3% overall growth loss observed for the FY2001-2004 period...... up to 57% of the loss in economic growth could be due to the decline in development expenditures..... the annual costs increase with each successive year of conflict. This is because the effects of decline in development expenditures accumulate each year, affecting GDP growth more as the conflict lengthens........ the effects of the conflict on GDP growth will persist well after the conflict is over, as low development spending during the conflict will have lowered the economy’s capital stock and development expenditures will take time to recover fully...... Nepal has benefited from a steady flow of remittances from overseas economies...... GDP per capita is forecast to be 7.8% lower over the FY2005-09 period in the conflict scenario than the no-conflict scenario......a poverty rate 4.8% higher than the no-conflict scenario.......

Monday, June 27, 2005

Deuba: The Common Sense Meter

Deuba has been exonerated on one major graft charge. The regime just scored a major point. I mean, it was basically the Asian Development Bank's words versus some Monarchist puppets.

But it is a mystery he continues to be detained.

A second charge? If there is a Prime Minster Relief Fund, it is for the Prime Minister to decide where that money goes. It is discretion. And if the Prime Minister sends that money in all the wrong directions, that should be public knowledge, and the voters should punish the Prime Minister by throwing him or her out at the ballot box. Or if the very idea of the Fund is offensive, it should be gotten rid of by an act of the parliament. A Prime Minister who doled money out of a Prime Minster Relief Fund should not have to answer to an extra-constitutional body such as the RCCC. His case should have been taken up by the existing, constitutional CIAA with a govenment that was constitutional.

But, my bad. I misunderstood. He has been cleared of the charges to do with the Fund. So now it actually is the ADB's words versus that of the RCCC.

The RCCC's very formation is unwont. Its functioning even more so. The principle of separation of powers is routinely violated, the body has the powers of a court. Suspects are asked to speak against themselves and are punished when they don't. That violates another basic principle. It is to do with one not having to incriminate oneself.

The RCCC is power gone berserk. That is why the ideology of Monarchism stinks. It espouses unaccountable power.

I could write a few easy paragraphs criticizing Deuba. But that stays within the paradigm of democracy. No Deuba shortcoming is an argument against democracy.

On the other hand, I could say some positive things about him as well. But no praise puts him above the people. Let Deuba and the likes of him be subject to the ballot box.

Corruption is a valid issue, and the Congress as the party in power for most of the post-1990 period has to take some major responsibility, but the recourse is more democracy and rule of law. There is no other recourse.

Email From Arzu Rana Deuba
Gagan Thapa Arrested, Deuba Re-Arrested

In The News
  • Former Nepal PM, six others cleared of graft charges Hindustan Times, India .... Deuba, detained since April-end, will continue to remain in detention till the agency pronounces a verdict on a second charge ... "The truth has finally prevailed. Justice has been done," said a triumphant Arju Deuba, wife of the leader ...... The entire country as well as international community has been closely watching the two cases ...... "Though it might not have been appropriate, it was a decision taken by the cabinet," commission officials said. "Collective cabinet decisions do not fall within Nepal's Corruption Act." ..... The charged ministers had defended themselves saying the cabinet had authorised the distribution of the money and cabinet decisions were above the law...... The Deuba cabinet had also authorised Nepalese Rs 12 million to the king's aunt, Princess Helen...... granting of extraordinary allowances by the present government to two of the deputy chairmen of the council of ministers....... attributed the commission's decision to "intense public pressure" .... charged with awarding a contract at inflated rates to a party member.
  • Sacked Nepal PM cleared of graft charge Reuters AlertNet
  • Sacked Nepal PM wins graft ruling 999 Today
  • Nepal former PM wins graft ruling Journal of Turkish Weekly
  • Rebels Free 90 Students Abducted in Nepal Guardian Unlimited, UK Rebels typically hold abductees only for two or three days... the rebels have been abducting large groups of students in remote villages to teach them about their nine-year revolution.... About 250 students were taken from a nearby village on June 15 and sent back three days later.
  • Rebels abduct 90 students from Nepal village China Daily
  • 12 die in Nepal ambush News24, South Africa
  • Security officers killed in Maoist clash Radio Australia
  • 12 security personnel killed in Nepal violence Sify, India
  • Maoists hurt 17 security personnel in Nepal:- Webindia123
  • US envoy to discuss Nepal crisis BBC News, UK
  • Bihar Maoists have sneaked into Nepal: Indian police Kantipur Online, Nepal a red alert along Nepal-India border in Parsa-Rautahat area, after a group of about 50 heavily-armed Maoists sneaked into Nepal from Bairgania area..... were involved in last Thursday night’s daring raid on Madhuban .... ‘Operation Dhamaka’ .... The Maoists attacked their targets with precision and resistance.... one of the pamphlets recovered from the site read ‘Seize property of reactionary country, India, and distribute it to the poor’..... very well coordinated; and it was strikingly similar to the myriad of recent Maoist attacks on security installations in the northern neighbour..... the ‘compact revolutionary zone’ stretching up to Andhra Pradesh in South India.... Across India, 160 districts in 12 states are considered as Maoist affected, and intelligence officials say more new districts are being affected by the threat. The rise in Maoist activities is considered as India’s ‘No 1 national security threat’.
  • Delhi junks Nepal link in strike Calcutta Telegraph Senior intelligence officials in the capital have voiced doubts over the involvement of Maoists from Nepal in Thursday’s daylight attack on a small border hamlet ..... “Only a foolish leadership will get involved in joint raids with its counterparts across the border” ..... Maoists from Nepal continue to use the bordering states for shelter and treatment.
  • 2 killed as police, Naxals clash on Nepal border Indian Express
  • A Refutation Of Harper's Article On The Maoits by Li Onesto INSN the May 2005 issue of Harper’s magazine .... contributes to a growing mountain of harmful disinformation..... in areas run by new revolutionary governments, they are radically changing the economic, political, and cultural life of millions of poor peasants .....a center set up only for “victims of Maoist torture” (no victims of the RNA) ...... Sweeping censorship and systematic disinformation by the Nepalese government have had a huge impact on people’s opinions and what they know and don’t know about the Maoists, not only internationally but within Nepal itself .... a journalist who left the Maoists, was imprisoned and tortured by the government and now writes for a Maoist newspaper..... the People’s Liberation Army is made up of tens of thousands of common peasants who are not “caught in the middle” but have joined the insurgency...... In Nepal over 85% of the people are peasants in the countryside, desperately poor, malnourished, and exploited by corrupt officials, landlords, and moneylenders. Lower castes and oppressed ethnic groups face systematic discrimination under a rigid caste system. Women are intensely suppressed and treated as inferior in every facet of society. A king controls the army and an oppressive monarchy is deeply embedded in the ruling structures of society. The whole country is subordinate to, dependent on, and dominated by India and imperialist countries like the U.S............. Nepal’s ruling class has not and cannot solve the basic problems of food, water, sanitation, and health care because this requires tearing up the existing economic, social, and political relationships within Nepalese society and between Nepal and other countries..... In areas they control real changes are taking place: redistribution of land, equal rights for women, end to the caste system, autonomy for oppressed ethnic groups, healthcare, education and the building of roads and bridges......... the composition of the PLA squads and platoons...... overwhelmingly made up of those on the very bottom of society—lower castes, ethnic minorities, peasant youth and many, many young women........ People like Griswold may talk about government repression, deep poverty, and powerlessness among the poor. But they don’t uphold the right of the people to really struggle against any of this..... Feudal traditions like arranged marriages, dowries, and polygamy ..... women’s bodies are owned, controlled, and bargained over in everything from marriage to sex trafficking...... the tyranny of local landlords, corrupt politicians, and moneylenders...... Extremely significant and liberating changes are taking place in the Maoist base areas..... in the Maoist areas caste distinctions have been abolished and intercaste marriages are common....... the Maoists have real support. ...... The Maoists do not force anybody to fight. How can anyone force a man or woman to fire a gun? You need courage, dedication and spirit of sacrifice to become a fighter in the People’s Liberation Army. It’s not like playing video war games on a computer. It’s a life and death struggle. Only the most courageous men and women can prepare themselves to fight for revolution. There is a saying in Nepal that ‘a carried dog cannot hunt a deer.’” ....... How could the Maoists have achieved their current military and political strength without the genuine support and participation of thousands who believe in the goals of the revolution and on this basis are willing to go into battle and risk their lives? ........ video, photographs, and reports of massive Maoist rallies in the countryside ..... During the 2003 negotiations 30,000 people attended a Maoist rally in Kathmandu ...... the RNA has engaged in battles where they faced thousands of guerrilla fighters .... RNA soldiers and police captured by the Maoists have told reporters that while they had to listen to propaganda and were asked to join the revolution, they were not harmed. They were warned that if they were captured again, they would be severely punished, but they were given money and food so that they could go back to their village instead of returning to the RNA....... The vast majority of the 12,000 killed since the start of the war have been civilians murdered by the Royal Army, along with suspected revolutionaries also tortured and murdered...... Moriarty says, “It’s not Islamic fundamentalism, obviously. but it is a very fervent brand of Maoism that could cause great trouble in this area. They’ve said they’re going to invade the United States. I’m not too worried about that, but you ignore what they say at your own peril. You can’t pooh-pooh the Maoists and the threat that they represent.” ...... this little lie is part of a bigger lie—that the Maoists in Nepal are terrorists, so backing the regime in Nepal is part of the “war on terror.” ...... liberal Harper’s ...... we come to the conclusion: one side should be crushed—the Maoists......
  • RCCC asked to take action against Giri, Bista NepalNews “Is it fair that Dr Giri take Rs 960,000 and Bista take Rs 1 million through a Cabinet decision?” Dahal asked
  • Building peace amid violent conflict in Nepal by Kamala Sarup NepalNews ..... it’s time to invite the Maoists for peace talks ..... The Maoists' struggle may even spill over to Bhutan. .... The effects of the on-going violent conflict in Nepal have been enormous both in terms of economic loss and human suffering.
  • Maoist raid in Bihar has Nepal stamp on it Newindpress, India "They could be wary of the fallout, perhaps why they don't want to admit to such an operation'' ..... Told to raise his hands, he was shot in the palms..... The attack on Madhuban was the first of its kind, attacking multiple targets in broad daylight. Usually, Naxals attack one target, that too under the cover of darkness.... Their planning had military precision, they started the offensive at 1.15 pm and ended it at 1.25 pm.... Bands of 20-25, many of them women, attacked each target while other groups cordoned off the town..... The Maoists were carrying wireless sets through which they were receiving orders from Mainuddin, their zonal commander who was killed in the encounter that followed.... "When our house was being attacked, one person stood outside the gate. When a pistol got jammed, a back-up team provided a new one. Some were ready with stretchers to carry away the wounded, others were only operating walkie-talkies''.... signs of increasing cooperation between Maoists on both sides

Sunday, June 26, 2005

For Democrats Reinventing Self More Important Than Any Alliance With Maoists

For months after 2/1 the Nepali Congress was still not for a Constituent Assembly. That proves it was not any kind of royal pressure but its own inherent status quoism that the Nepali Congress refused to do business with the Maoists during the 1996-2002 period so as to make possible a safe landing for them so as to bring them into the mainstream. During several rounds of peace talks, the Congress refused to go beyond some mere cosmetic changes to the 1990 constitution.

Those among the seven parties that might have been desirous of the idea of a Constituent Assembly stayed complacent, and let Girija Koirala call the shots. I remember one news clipping of a meeting of the NC central committee. The majority spoke in favor of an Assembly. Girija kept quiet during the meeting. Two days later he spoke at a public event. He was against the idea of an Assembly, and so that was to be the party line!

That is not democratic. It should not have been Girija but the majority in the NC central committee that should have decided the party line.

The biggest reason the democrats are not getting as much public support as they should is because they keep hinting they want to go back to the 1990s. October 2002 to date has been the worst period of governance since 1990, no doubt, and the post 2/1 period has been a fiasco. But the 1990s were not really a great democratic period. And the democrats need to face that fact head on.

I read in the news that Girija met with the king for two hours before he went on his Delhi pilgrimage. I am all for dialogue. I think all political players should meet each other on a regular basis. But if the king were to sense he can break up the democratic coalition any time he wants to by giving a few select concessions, he has little incentive to comply.

As they say, know they enemy, not that I see the king as an enemy, but he is a political opponent of the democrats, sure. There are a few conclusions I draw from his public acts.

One, he is a fairly smart guy. He is not particularly charismatic. But he takes pride in mastering administrative details. He is not an idealist. He is a realist. He does not expect the army top brass and his underlings to respond to him because he is king. Instead he doles out money, because money works. One of the first things he did after he became an activist monarch was to give himself a major pay raise. This guy can smell money from a hundred miles away.

Two, he is not going to do the Birendra thing, pick up his binoculars, and see people in the streets, and give in. Right before Deuba was inducted back in the second time, there were major street protests going on. He defused the sitution by holding "consultations" for a month. And he did manage to split the democratic coalition. Girija at that time had declared Deuba a persona non grata. To him personal vendetta was more important than the democratic cause. The king conveniently made use of that split. First of all, the "movement" is nowhere close to that boiling point. Second, even if it gets there, the king will attempt to similarly defuse the situation, divide and rule. So the democrats need a strategy to get to that boiling point, and then they need a clear strategy to keep the democratic coalition intact. To their credit, their program is simpler and much clearer this time around. A four point agenda is an easier rallying point than a 18 point one. On the other hand, there also has to be a Plan B. What if the endgame gets complicated? What if the end is not a peaceful negotiation among the three forces? What if it is more like a revolution and the king gets thrown out and exiled? What is the democrats' gameplan for that? How will they stay center stage when that happens?

The four point agenda is a major step of progress. Girija traded the idea for a Constituent Assembly to stay put with his idea of parliamentary revival. But the four point agenda has to be kept alive and breathing. There has to be a willingness to constantly face reality. To revise strategy as circumstances change. Finetune as you go along.

The democrats' singular aversion to hitting back amazes me. If you don't respond, the mud sticks.

The king says the democrats have been corrupt. What do the democrats say to that? Nothing. Instead point out all the money the monarchy took from the people over centuries, the current king's major pay raise, the money doled out to the army top brats, the massive increase in the military budget, and now both Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bishta have emerged major punching bags on the issue. But no. The democrats are not hitting back. Instead they just repeat the four point agenda like a mantra.

The king says the democrats have not dealt with the Maoists good enough. What do the demcrats say in response? Nothing. Instead point out it is the king's aversion to the idea of a Constituent Assembly that is the greatest roadblock to peace. Point out the insurgency shot through the roof after he started experimenting with his idea of a "constructive" monarchy. Just look at the spread of the insurgency nationwide, and look at the death figures, and of human rights violations and disappearances. His has been a reign of terror.

So when you get hit, you hit back.

More important, the democrats need to repackage themselves, reinvent themselves. If democracy in future is going to be same old, same old, there is little incentive for the people to come out in support.

Sure there was some massive corruption in the 1990s. What do the demcrats propose now that will make the situation different in the future? What are the democrats going to do about inner party democracy? This is a major sticking point. Girija has got to be the most undemocratic democrat there is. If you are a Congress person, the party line is decided when the guy addresses a public gathering, not at the central committee meeting. He is the guy who gives you a ticket to contest elections, or not. He is the one who gives you money for the election. That arrangement is ridiculous. He would rather the party split than reform and split it did. How does that make his mentality substantially different from that of King G? King G deems to speak on behalf of all Nepali people, Girija deems to speak on behalf of all NC people. Democracy is where people themselves speak on their behalf.

The reform has to be carried out now. Before the movement can gain momentum. Progress does not depend on what the king or the Maoists do. It depends on the democrats' willingness to do some basic homework.

I gladly offer my Proposed Constitution as a starting point to such discussions.

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