February 17, 2011
Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) released a troubling report concerning two former U.N. officials based in Kathmandu and another well known advocate, who are now facing implicit death threats from Nepal’s ruling Maoist political party and have appealed to the United Nations for help and protection. The report was filed on February 15 by Thalif Deen.
Kul Chandra Gautam, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general and a longstanding deputy executive director of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, and Kanak Mani Dixit, a former press officer at the U.N.'s Department of Public Information (DPI) in New York and currently a senior Nepali journalist, have been declared "people's enemies".
A third individual under threat is Subodh Raj Pyakurel, executive director of Informal Services Sector (INSEC), the largest non- governmental human rights organisation in Nepal.
All three have been blacklisted in a cover story in the monthly magazine Lalrakshak published by the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist).
February 11, 2012
On February 8, bowing to the opposition's demands, Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announced that he was revoking his Cabinet’s decision to legalize the war-time transactions of property and land deals.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued an order to halt the Maoists’ attempt to legalize the land that they had seized. The Maoists' "Peoples Government" had acquired thousands of papers regarding purchase, sale and distribution of land and property during the conflict period, mostly by using force.
February 8, 2012
On Monday, they demanded that they be recognized as equivalent to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighters and be provided the same financial packages as promised by the party in 2007 — a demand neither heard before nor registered anywhere institutionally.
January 6, 2012
Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.
As baseball's New York Mets struggled toward their historic 120-loss season in 1962, their manager, Casey Stengel, famously lamented of his feckless team: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
The same might be asked of the various players in Nepal's carnival of political and diplomatic dysfunction: the dominant United Communist Party Nepal (Maoist), the pro-Indian Nepali Congress, the Madhesi parties representing the interests of the ethnically Indian lowlanders of the Tarai, and even the ostensible grownups in the geopolitical game, the diplomats of India and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Nepalese politicians dramatically describe their nation as "a yam between two rocks" to illustrate the vulnerable circumstances of a small nation trying to maintain its equilibrium and independence between two overbearing regional superpowers.
It would seem that Nepal could plausibly regard itself as the mountain maiden wooed by two determined and deep-pocketed suitors, instead of an imperiled potato.
However, halting efforts to exploit Sino-Indian rivalry to Nepal's benefit have been consistently frustrated by Nepalese weakness, exacerbated by the factionalism, opportunism and corruption endemic in local politics.
January 3, 2012
Today, Republica published an editorial by Arun KR Shrivastav, which, as far as I know is a first in methodically questioning the wisdom behind the Nepali government kow-towing to China’s position on Nepal’s Tibetan refugee community. Highly recommended reading.
CHINA, TIBET & NEPAL: Until that Happens By Arun KR Shrivastav
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming visit to Nepal purportedly to put bilateral relations irreversibly in the perspective of Tibet is the last masterstroke by the outgoing leadership in China to link its relations with Nepal firmly and solely with the Tibet issue. The current leadership is scheduled to demit office in less than a year. Nepal has adopted a One-China Policy that accepts both Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of China—a Chinese claim that rest of the world perceives as its insatiable aggrandizement boosted by its sheer size of population, geography and now the economy, ranked number two in the world. So, when it comes to bilateral relations or its worldview, Nepal has no opinion on any of the matters that the world finds wrong with China. And, with a Maoist-led government in power, the differences between the two nations on issues of ideology and therefore, the worldview, perhaps do not exist at all.
December 23, 2011
A survey released yesterday by Berlin-based Transparency International showed bribery has become so endemic that the South Asian region is second only to sub-Saharan Africa as the corruption hotspot of the world.
The watchdog surveyed 7,800 people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, finding 40 percent had paid backhanders over the last 12 months to public servants, with police being the largest recipients.
Nepali people were asked about their perception of institutions that are extremely corrupt, including parliament and police, and according to the survey, 53.4 percent of Nepali citizen felt that the level of corruption has increased in the country over the past three years.
A total 1,044 people (in 44 districts from 14 zones) were interviewed.
December 2, 2011
According to a recent report published by Media Initiative for Rights, Equity and Social Transformation (MIREST Nepal), the 2007-2011 cost for supporting the Constituent Assembly election and the subsequent Constitution drafting process has so far totaled over Nrs 13.19 billion. At the current rate of exchange, that equals $155.5 million US dollars.
That’s quite a lot of money for a constitution that doesn’t exist.
Here’s the breakdown according to MIREST and the CA Secretariat:
UNMIN activities: 13.19 Billion
UNDP activities: 1.75 Billion
USAID: 2.72 Billion (US$32,031,400)
Swiss Development Cooperation: 2.72 Billion
European Union: 515 Million
CIDA-Canada: 470 Million
GTZ-Germany: 190 Million
Norway: 400 Million
UNFPN through CIDA: 210 Million
Through NGOs: 514 Million
(Other expenses through support from Germany and Switzerland Debate on Federalism, Constitution drafting, interaction, foreign trips, etc)
Head-Expenses on Constitution Drafting Process (Nrs)
USAID: 2.15 Billion
Switzerland: 2.69 Billion
UNDP: 1.64 Billion
German Government: 196 Million
CIDA: 460 Million
European Union: 515 Million
Korean Government: 408 Million
Norway Government: 408 Million
Head- Salary and Allowance Expenses of CA members Nrs (July 2010 to March 2011)
Salary: 219.8 Million (US$2,588,420, or US$4,306 per CA member)
Allowance: 30.39 Million
Medical and Treatment: 1.54 Million
Water and Electricity: 6.43 Million
Communication: 10 Million
Office Operation: 6.8 Million
Rental: 80.4 Million
Fuel: 5.25 Million
Medicine: 0.23 Million
Travel: 5.46 Million
Total: 400.16 Million
Head-Expenses on CA Chairman/Vice Chairman (July 2010 to March 2011)
Salary: 1.65 Million (US$19,430)
Allowance: 0.18 Million
Medical and Treatment: 2 Thousand 2 Hundred
Office Operation: 43 Thousand
Fuel: 0.34 Million
Others: 0.85 Million
Travel: 0.11 Million
Total: 4.1 Million
November 26, 2011
Conditions for Tibetan in Nepal continue to deteriorate amidst growing Chinese pressureNepal police forcibly returned a young Tibetan man who was escaping from Tibet to the Chinese authorities in September, according to information that reached ICT on November 23. According to the same Tibetan sources, the Tibetan - whose full name is known to ICT - is now in detention in Tibet. It is the first known case of the refoulement of a Tibetan from the border areas of Nepal since June 2010.
The return of the Tibetan, Tashi, was in contravention of established protocol between the government of Nepal and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that provides for the safe transit of Tibetan refugees through Nepalese territory and onward to India. These measures were put into practice after 1989 when Nepal stopped providing refugee status to new arrivals from Tibet. The 20-year old Tibetan who was sent back to Tibet is from a nomadic family in rural Biru County, Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. He was traveling into exile in mid-September with a group of five other Tibetans from his village of around the same age, two of whom were interviewed by ICT after they arrived safely in India some weeks later.
The six young men each paid 6000 yuan (approximately US $943) for a guide to take them from Lhasa to the Nepal border. After the group arrived on the Nepal side of the border in mid-September they stayed the night with a local family. The next day, three members of the group left with the guide to travel to Kathmandu, but were detained by Nepalese police on around September 11-13. Also detained were a group of 20 other Tibetans in the border area; all 23 were handed over to Nepal's Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. These 23 Tibetans were held in custody for at least 12 days before being handed over to the UNHCR, despite pressure from the Chinese embassy to return them to the PRC.
In the meantime, Tashi and two of his friends set out on a separate journey to Kathmandu on two motorbikes. But along the route to Kathmandu, two of the Tibetans were stopped by Nepalese police at a road checkpoint and detained in a police vehicle. They did not see what happened to Tashi, but said that the last time they saw him he was en route to Kathmandu by motorbike with a guide. They later learnt that he had been apprehended by police too and had not reached Kathmandu.
One of the Tibetans told ICT: "I was not afraid but very confused, because we didn't know where the Nepalese police will take us and what they would do with us. The police drove back for quite a long time in the dark and the road was very bumpy. After a while we saw many lights through the trees. There were around four armed police in the back of the jeep with us. Suddenly, the in-charge of the police yelled at us to jump and we jumped out of the jeep and ran up into the forest on the mountainside. We never stopped to rest until we reached the top; it was past midnight already. Our clothes were completely wet. We tried to spend the rest of the night at the top of the mountain, and next morning we saw that there was a family house and we went there to ask for something to eat and hot water to drink. Fortunately, the family gave us space to rest as well as food and drink. Then we asked them where we were and how far it was to Kathmandu from there. The mother told us that it will take more than two days to walk to Kathmandu, more than 150 kilometers."
The two Tibetans reached Kathmandu on September 24, after their departure from Tibet on August 28. It was only after reaching the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu that they learned that their friend Tashi had been been detained by Nepalese police after crossing the border and handed over to their Chinese counterparts on the Tibet side. According to several sources connected to the incident, Tashi is now being held in detention in Lhasa.
Although Nepal is not a signatory to international refugee conventions, the forcible return or refoulement of refugees to a place where their lives or freedoms could be threatened violates a fundamental norm of international law. However, there is no recourse for refoulement and Tibetans that are forcibly returned face torture and harsh prison conditions. That details of Tashi's refoulement are only now coming to light, nearly three months later, speaks to the increased difficulty in ascertaining information on refoulements and possible refoulements.
The last known refoulement from Nepal occurred in June, 2010, when two Tibetan monks, 20-year old Dawa and 21-year old Dorjee, and a 22-year old woman called Penpa, were detained by Nepalese police in Nepal's Humla district bordering Purang (Chinese: Burang) county in Ngari prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. The three Tibetans were held at the police post in the village of Muchu, about a day's walk from the Tibet-Nepal border. According to ICT sources, Chinese border police were in touch with the Nepalese police, and the three Tibetans were taken by helicopter to the border at Hilsa, accompanied by a Nepalese politician and a policeman. Chinese security personnel collected them there and took them back into Tibet. According to the same sources, two of the Tibetans, one of the monks and the young woman, were jailed and would serve around six months. The second monk was allowed to return to his monastery.
Tashi's two Tibetan friends who are now safely in India said that they and his family are now very worried about his safety and welfare. Tibetans who have been caught escaping from Tibet are known to have undergone torture and hard labor while in custody. One of his friends said: "Since our arrival [in exile] we have learned many stories about the new arrivals being handed back to Chinese border security after being arrested in Nepal. Very sad stories." They also described their own feelings on being in India, saying: "We already had an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and it was very great and we had that kind of feeling we are not be able express in words. Now we are dreaming and excited to join the Tibetan Transit School in Dharamsala. And also we are very keen to learn Tibetan and English. We don't have a specific dream for the future, but we definitely want to be real Tibetans."
Tashi's two Tibetan friends said that Tashi had similar reasons for leaving Tibet to theirs - a desire to see the Dalai Lama, to have a good education, and to escape from the strictures of the Chinese authorities' policies in rural areas, affecting their livelihoods. One of them told ICT: "My family had 80 yaks, 200 sheep and five horses before, and I was grazing them together with other people in the village. Before 2005, our land was not divided or fenced at all, but since 2005, the local government set up fences and divided the land according to the number of family members. Now we cannot graze livestock freely as before, because, you can only graze on your own land, and it is not really necessary to watch the livestock as closely as before. But the problem that so many families face is shortage of grazing, and the only option is to reduce the number of your livestock or rent the land of other families who have few livestock. Most people choose the first option. Now my family has 60 Yaks, 120 sheep and 4 horses."
Tashi's other Tibetan friend said: "We grew up together and were always together with the livestock on the mountains back in Tibet, so we had plenty time to discuss going to India so on. Particularly, we spoke many times about His Holiness, and the massive protest in 2008 in Tibet. We heard from elderly people in the village that His Holiness is in India plus we had much more information about the Tibet issue since 2008. We used to listen to Radio Free Asia on the mountains with our livestock sometimes. Finally, we made the decision to leave Tibet and go to India, since then, I became more interested in education than before."
As Nepal-China relations develop, Tibetan refugees in Nepal face increasing dangers both on the journey into exile and within the long-standing Tibetan community in Kathmandu. In one recent incident on October 17, four Tibetan community leaders were detained by Nepalese police following a speech by China's Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan on October 16, in which he blamed "international and domestic forces" for "coordinating [anti-China] activities in Nepal".
The refoulement comes at a time when Nepal's treatment of Tibetan refugees are coming under greater scrutiny by the United States government. Two U.S. Congressmen visited Kathmandu in late September and October with the situation facing Tibetan refugees on their agenda. On November 20, U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi authored an article in the Kathmandu Post urging the government to continue to protect Tibetan refugees. The opinion piece came days before Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha visited Lhasa, Tibet, where he reportedly thanked the Government of China for its support and pledged to not allow any "anti-Chinese activities" on Nepali soil.
November 23, 2011
Last Saturday, camouflage-clad Maoist ex-combatants lined up for interviews to decide whether – at long last—they would able to enlist in (a non-combatant branch of) the Nepal Army or be slated for re-entry into civilian society. These young men and women had been sequestered in cantonments for half a decade and – now that the long awaited moment had arrived – solemnity seemed to be the prevailing emotion. Photographer Niranjan Shrestha was present on Saturday and captured the mood:
Of the 19,000-plus ex-rebels living in the cantonments since 2006, the government has agreed to allow 6,500 of them to join the army, with the clear understanding that their jobs will be restricted to construction of infrastructure projects, emergency rescue operations and patrolling forests.
The remaining ex-fighters have the option of receiving a retirement payoff (between $6,300 and $11,000) or receiving a rehabilitation package that includes vocational training.
The reintegration process will probably take two weeks to complete and the combatants will remain in the camp until their leaders have worked out the logistics of the retirement and rehabilitation packages. Early reports suggest that the rehabilitation package is the least popular option, the majority preferring integration into the army or a lump sum to finance their re-entry into civilian society.
What’s remarkable about the orderly process is the context in which the rebels were forced into the cantonments in the first place. At the end of the 10-year conflict, Maoist leaders promised their fighters that they would all be integrated into combatant branch of the national army and be given equal stature to their counterparts in the Nepal Army.
But General Rookmangud Katawal, who was the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Nepal Army in 2006, when Maoist Supremo Prachanda became prime minister, fiercely resisted group integration of Maoist rebels into the army. Prachanda sacked General Katawal but, shortly afterwards, the President of Nepal overrode the decision and ordered General Katawal to resume his tenure as COAS. This resulted in Prime Minister Prachanda's resignation and a general collapse of the government.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the government struck an integration compromise. The ex-combatants willingness to follow their chain of command – even though Maoist leadership couldn’t make good on their earlier promises – may say more about the misery they have endured for the last five years than respect for their commanders.
In my April 27, 2011 interview with General Katawal, he made the following observation about the ex-rebels:
"I still believe and I will keep on believing that the boys and girls who are in the cantonments, they are almost prisoners of some of the leadership. Right now. They are frustrated. They want to come out of the camps as quickly as possible If, without any imposition or pressure, they were given a choice, the vast majority of these boys and girls would like to go to schools, colleges, and campuses. They would like a better future. They would like opportunities -- a wide gate opening up for them of various opportunities once they are educated. They could go to America, or the UK, or Tokyo or anywhere and they could sit for competitions and win the competitions, once they were educated. Once they were exposed.
"I am sure that the vast majority of them would just like to leave the cantonments and do their own thing because they have lost about 14-15 years of their lives. Who’s going to return that to them? And they know it by now. What have they got to show for 14-15 years? Right now, what they have been given is 5,000 rupees a month, and even that too, I am told by the [Maoists] commanders who came to see me, they are really only given 3000 rupees."
November 15, 2011
According to Rajdhani Daily, spokesperson Sudhir Kumar Sah of the Home Ministry issued the following statement on November 13, 2011:
The government is in a very difficult situation since the Tibetans have begun setting themselves on fire. The government of Nepal is committed on its one China policy. We will not allow any activities that go against the interest of our neighbors. This will lead to a situation where the government may have to slash all the facilities being granted to the Tibetans residing in Nepal, such as that of their freedom of movement.
Sah also warned that the government could opt to ban all Tibetan business activities.
Many assume that this latest warning is an attempt to assuage the potential misgivings of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jaiboa, who is reportedly slated to visit Nepal in December. Obviously, if the Maoist-led government cannot guarantee Wen that his visit will be a smooth one, chances are that the visit will be aborted.
As it stands, the Tibetans are in no mood to self-censor.
For most of the year, the refugees have watched in horror as monks and nuns in Eastern Tibet have used self-immolation as a means of protesting China’s repression of Tibetan religious and cultural freedom. Eleven monastics have set themselves on fire since March, at least five of whom died in the process.
More recently, Tibetans outside of Tibet have taken up the protest. At the beginning of the month, a Tibetan exile set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi before Indian police overpowered him and put out the flames.
On November 3, a Tibetan woman tried to set herself on fire in Kathmandu but was thwarted by friends.
On November 10, at the base of Kathmandu’s famous Boudhanath Stupa, where hundreds of worshippers were gathered for a religions festival, a Buddhist monk wrapped in the Tibetan flag and chanting slogans against China doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire with a devotional lamp. Onlookers quickly extinguished the flames and whisked him away before police could arrive to arrest him.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO NEPAL’S STRANGLEHOLD ON TIBETAN COMMUNITY
Human rights groups have frequently accused Nepal of arbitrary arrests and harassment of Tibetans. In July, Nepal prevented its 20,000-strong Tibetan community from celebrating the birthday of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
China accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of encouraging followers to set themselves on fire.
In response, the Dalai Lama has denied complicity and said that China's "ruthless policy" was behind the self-immolations.
The Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism's third-ranking leader, asked China on this week to review its policies toward Tibet in the wake of the protests against Chinese restrictions on their religion and culture. "These desperate acts, carried out by people with pure motivation, are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live," he said.
U.S. Representative Frank Wolf weighed in on November 3 by threatening to strip Nepal of its millions of dollars in US aid unless it loosens its stranglehold on Tibetan refugee movement. Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into exile, but the country has increasingly cracked down on Tibetans' movement and activities out of fear of upsetting its giant neighbor to the north.
Representative Wolf, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee that determines US funding, said he would try to block funding to Nepal unless it grants exit visas to Tibetans who seek refuge in the United States.
"We're not just going to cut them [Nepal], we're going to zero them out. If they're not willing to do it, then they don't share our values and if they don't share our values, we do not want to share our dollars," he told a congressional hearing on Tibet.
Wolf said he would propose the aid cutoff if Nepal's record does not improve by the time the United States looks at foreign aid funding next year.
The US Agency for International Development sought $57.7 million for Nepal in the 2010 fiscal year.
November 8, 2011
Today is the pub date for my newest book, a project that began more than three years ago. I gave digital cameras to Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal with the task of documenting their daily lives in their settlements. Caught in Nepal is the result of that joint effort. The book includes my essay on the 2000-year-old relationship between the people of Nepal and Tibet.
The book is now available. If you are not in Nepal you can still purchase a copy directly through the Nepali publisher’s website, (located in Kathmandu), or, if you prefer, through amazon.com.
Vajra Publisher's Link
November 4, 2011
The Seven Point Agreement removed a major stumbling block in efforts to finalize a peace agreement following the bloody Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006. But it now puts pressure on the coalition government to overcome political paralysis and get on with the job of writing a new constitution that will determine how Nepal develops after years of civil war and upheaval.
The agreement was announced by the four major parties of Nepal: the Maoists, the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the Madeshi People's Rights Forum (Democratic) party, which represents people living in the southern plains.
THE EX-REBELS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR INTEGRATION INTO THE ARMY
Up to 6,500 former Maoist rebels will be integrated into the national army. However, they will not be given combat roles. Instead they will be used in construction, development, natural disaster relief activities, industrial security and forest protection.The former rebels will be provided a bridge course and be integrated on an individual basis, as per the army's norms.
The rest of the roughly 19,500 U.N.-verified combatants will be offered rehabilitation packages worth up to 900,000 rupees (about $11,500), as per the agreement.
ADDITIONAL TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT
1. Weapons used by former Maoist fighter will be handed in to the state.
2. A peace and reconciliation commission will be formed within a month.
3. Land captured or confiscated by the Maoists will be returned to original owners.
4. The dismantling of the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League (YCL) will be completed before November 23.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE SEVEN POINT AGREEMENT
National consensus is a must to take the peace process to a logical end and complete the task of writing the new constitution.
So, as per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2006 and various other understanding between the political parties at different times, the following understanding has been reached to compete the remaining task of constitution writing and move forward as per the politics of national consensus.
1. Integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants
a) Existing records of the Maoist combatants residing in cantonments will be updated.
b) The number of the Maoist combatants to be integrated will be 6,500 at the maximum. Integration will be done under a directorate of Nepal Army and 65 percent of the personnel of the directorate will come from Nepal Army while remaining 35 percent from the Maoist combatants. The directorate will have the mandate of carrying out development related activities, forest conservation, industrial security and crisis management.
c) Combatants of the Maoist army opting for integration will have to meet the standard norms of the security agency on an individual basis. However, the existing recruitment policy on age bar, educational requirements and marital status will be made flexible. In this regard, one level in the educational requirements fixed for a specific post of the security agency will be relaxed. Similarly, age bar has also been relaxed up to three years of the maximum age set for entry into the security agency.
d) The rank harmonization of the Maoist army opting for integration will be done as per the standard of the security agency. Integration of the Maoist combatants into the security agency will be done in such a way that it does not bring any negative consequences in the career development of existing officers and other ranks.
e) Maoist combatants opting for integration will get responsibilities in the security agency after completing bridge course and training.
f) All the weapons stored in cantonments will automatically come under the government´s ownership once the process of integration begins.
2. Rehabilitation of Maoists combatants
a) An alternative package of education, training and vocational opportunity will be provided to combatants opting for rehabilitation. Depending on the nature and timeframe, the cost of the package will vary from Rs 600,000 to Rs 900,000.
b) Depending upon their responsibilities, the combatants opting for voluntary retirement and cash instead of the package will be categorized into four levels and those falling in the highest category will get Rs 800,000 while remaining three levels in the descending order will get Rs 700,000, Rs 600,000 and Rs 500,000 respectively. The amount will be made available in two tranches in two fiscal years. A formal decision to this effect will be made at a meeting of the Special Committee within two days.
3. Group division
The task of dividing the combatants opting for integration and those for rehabilitation will begin after the Special Committee takes a procedural decision in this regard within seven days and will be completed by Nov 23.
4. Formation of commissions as agreed earlier
a) As per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the bill on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission to Investigate Forced Disappearances would be endorsed by parliament after building consensus in the spirit of reconciliation. These commissions would be formed within a month.
b) The legal cases of the conflict era would be looked into as per the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution, 2007.
5. Relief packages for the conflict victims
Relief packages would be made available without discrimination to the kin of those killed and disappeared, maimed, displaced and those whose properties were damaged in the armed conflict. The relief packages to be distributed after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would be provided equally and without discrimination.
6. Implementation of past agreements and building an environment of trust
a) The UCPN (Maoist) would take an official decision to return the private and public properties seized by the party during the armed conflict to the rightful owners for their use by Nov 23. Due compensations would be paid to the owners for the loss caused by the seizure of properties.
b) The rights of the peasants would be guaranteed as per the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim Constitution 2007, and scientific land reforms.
c) The paramilitary structure of the YCL would be dismantled, while all the public and private properties seized by the YCL would be returned to the rightful organizations and individuals by Nov 23.
d) Vehicles used by the Maoists and recorded at the Transport Management Department as per the earlier agreement would be regulated as per the existing rules and regulations by Nov 23. Unregistered vehicles would be seized.
e) The local administration would monitor - and enforce if necessary -- the implementation of the agreement on returning the seized properties to the rightful owners. The political parties should cooperate with the government for its implementation.
7. Constitution writing and national consensus government
a) In order to take the ongoing peace process to a logical end and to complete the task of writing a constitution, the ongoing dialogues among the political parties will be continued. For that, a high level political mechanism will be formed.
b) The process of writing the new constitution will be accelerated. In order to make recommendations on state restructuring, a team of experts will be formed immediately on the basis of consensus in Constituent Assembly and the process of formulating a draft of the new constitution will be initiated within a month.
c) In line with the progress made in the peace process and constitution writing, the process of formulating a national consensus government will move ahead.
CHALLENGES REMAINING: PROTESTS WITHIN THE MAOIST PARTY
The deal has official cross-party support but has led to a schism within the Maoist party, with minority hardliners voicing criticism.
Mohan Baidya, right-hand man of former guerrilla leader Prachand, said Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had "gone against the decision of our party". Baidya said the deal amounted to a surrender by the former rebel fighters and "must be revoked".
More than 1,000 Baidya supporters took to the streets of Kathmandu, chanting anti-agreement slogans and waving black flags.
"This is humiliation for the People's Liberation Army (of the Maoists)," said Ram Bahadur Thapa, another senior Maoist leader.
The radical faction of the Maoists has wanted integration of about 10,000 former rebels, integration on the basis of units rather than an individual basis, and combat roles in the army for the ex-Maoist fighters.
Furthermore, the Seven Point Agreement comes on the heels of Bhattarai’s signing, last week, of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with India. The inking of this trade pact in Delhi came under immediate attack from hard-line leaders in the Maoist party, especially senior vice president Mohan Vaidya “Kiran”.
November 23 is less than three weeks away. The implementation of the Maoists’ promise to return the private and public properties seized by them during the armed conflict to their owners – not to mention the dismantling of the YCL – would be daunting tasks even for a party that was completely unified. The Maoists are not unified.
Signing the Seven Point Agreement is a major achievement; no doubt about it. All the parties should be congratulated.
Still, signing the document is one thing; implementing the agreement is quite another.
November 1, 2011
Nepali security forces detained more than 60 Tibetan refugees earlier today as they demonstrated in support of Buddhist monks who have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule in their homeland.
Police say the demonstrators were arrested after shouting anti-China slogans during a prayer service outside a monastery on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu. Bowing to Chinese pressure, the Nepali government is increasingly cracking down on gatherings of exiled Tibetans. On Monday, China's military chief, General Chen Bingde, said Beijing approves of Nepal's “firm stance on issues related to Tibet.” Chen made his comments in Beijing during a visit by his Nepalese counterpart, General Chhatraman Singh Gurung, who reaffirmed his promise to never allow “anti-Chinese activities” to take place on Nepalese soil.
The protest followed the 11th self-immolation in Tibet on October 25, when a monk set himself on fire during a religious ceremony.
Dawa Tsering, a monk in his thirties from Kardze Monastery in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prececture in Sichuan, became the 11th Tibetan to have self-immolated since March 2009, and the tenth since March of this year.
Details from various exiled sources indicate that Dawa Tsering was still alive immediately after monks and other people attending a religious ritual at the monastery extinguished the flames, although his current condition and whereabouts are not clear.
One source indicated he was initially taken to hospital before monks then took him back to the monastery to prevent his arrest by police arriving at the hospital at around the same time; another source indicated he refused medical treatment and pleaded not to be taken to hospital. Both sources suggested however that Dawa Tsering was at the monastery in the care of other monks and laypeople, who were preventing Chinese police – stationed at the monastery in large numbers since the Tibet-wide protests of 2008 – from interrogating or detaining him.
Eye-witnesses report that Dawa Tsering was participating in a religious ceremony at the time of a Cham (monastic) Dance, attended by hundreds of local people inside the monastery when he set himself alight and shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. The atmosphere at the monastery in the immediate wake of the incident was said by sources to be extremely tense, with Chinese police deployed around and inside the monastery in an apparent stand-off with the monks and lay-people protecting Dawa Tsering.
October 20, 2011
This week a young nun became the ninth member of the Buddhist clergy to set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule in the remote Himalayan province of Tibet, while two protesters were shot and wounded by police during a protest outside a police station, human rights groups said yesterday.
The nun, Tenzin Wangmo (20), died after setting herself on fire on Monday outside Dechen Chokorling nunnery in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture where a number of other self-immolations have taken place this year. (See previous blog entries for backstory.)
MEANWHILE IN NEPAL
Four Tibetan leaders in Kathmandu were detained on October 17 by Nepali police following a speech by China’s Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan on Sunday (October 16) in which he blamed “international and domestic forces” for “coordinating [anti-China] activities” in Nepal.
China has made Nepal’s handling of Tibetan new and long-staying refugees a focal point in its bilateral relations and presses Nepal to crack down on activities it deems to be “anti-China.” The Nepalese authorities have become increasingly compliant in meeting this demand.
In one incident on Monday, three Tibetan community leaders - Thrinley Gyatso and Jampa Dhondup from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office and Tsering Dhundup, head of the Boudhanath Tibetan community – were taken into police custody for several hours of questioning, that included whether representatives of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala would join the thousands of devotees attending a significant prayer ceremony (October 18) to mark the passing of a venerable Tibetan Buddhist lama, Trulshik Rinpoche. Trulshik Rinpoche had been one of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s teachers and the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He died on September 2 in Nepal where he had established Thupten Choling Monastery, Nepal’s largest monastery. A witness to the questioning told ICT that there were indications that the questions followed directions from the Chinese Embassy.
In a separate incident in Kathmandu on October 17, Chime, the head of the Jawalakhel Tibetan settlement, was detained for more than an hour by police and questioned following a visit to the settlement by U.S. government officials earlier that day.
On October 16, China’s ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan spoke at Nepal’s Press Club, saying: “We have the authentic information that our oldest and nearest friend Nepal is turning into a playground for anti-China activities. Some international and domestic forces are coordinating their activities against China.”
Yang Houlan’s comments contribute to an atmosphere of tension for Tibetans in Nepal this week. China appears to be moving Nepal to impose the kind of limits on civil and political rights that China imposes on Tibetans in Tibet. Beijing has buttressed its expectations with cash and other assistance to support Nepal in carrying out security measures targeting Tibetans.
On July 26, 2010 the first “Nepal-China border Security and Law Enforcement Talks” concluded with Beijing and Kathmandu agreeing to establish high-level intelligence sharing capabilities targeting “anti-China” activities and border management, in addition to a pledge from Beijing for an annual aid package to enhance Nepal’s handling of “anti-China” activities. Greater cooperation between Chinese and Nepalese security forces regarding intelligence sharing and border enforcement increases the threat of forced repatriation for Tibetans.
September 21, 2011
Human rights monitors and foreign diplomats in Nepal who monitor the situation for Tibetan refugees transiting from Tibet through Nepal are concerned for the safety of 23 Tibetan refugees in custody in Kathmandu, Nepal. The group of Tibetans has not been turned over by Nepalese authorities to the UNHCR, as per established protocols, and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has written a letter demanding that the Tibetans be released into Chinese custody for return to Tibet.
The 23 Tibetans were arrested by Nepalese police on September 11-13 after they crossed the border from Tibet, brought down to Kathmandu and turned over to Nepal’s Department of Immigration (DOI) in Nepal. They remain in the custody of the DOI, contravening established protocols that Tibetans crossing into Nepalese territory are promptly handed over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for processing and onward transit to India. The group includes eight minors (ages 13-17).
Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The Chinese embassy’s menacing interference into the case of these 23 Tibetans represents an escalation in China’s attempts to undermine existing protocols for the protection of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. The forcible repatriation of any among this group would violate Nepal’s commitment to the UN Convention against Torture, which bans returning any person to a state where there is substantial danger of torture. We strongly urge that Nepal release these 23 Tibetans without further delay to the UNHCR.”
The appointment of a new Chinese Ambassador in Kathmandu, Yang Houlan, in June 2011, was seen by some observers and reported in the press as a signal of elevated importance for Beijing’s interests in Nepal, of which the Tibetan issue is predominant. Chinese authorities have taken advantage of political instability, the rise of the Maoists, and the need for resources to develop Nepal's infrastructure to gain an unprecedented leverage over Kathmandu's treatment of its long-standing Tibetan community. Beijing's influence over the Nepalese government, border forces, the judicial system and civil society at a time of political transition in Nepal means that Tibetans in Nepal are increasingly vulnerable, demoralized and at risk of arrest and repatriation.
Nepalese officials indicate that the case of the 23 Tibetans is now being handled at the highest levels in the Nepalese government. Nepalese Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai is currently in New York City to take part in the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.
According to local sources who have interviewed them, all of the Tibetans appear to be legitimate refugees and have given reasons for escape that are consistent with thousands of other accounts over previous decades, including to see the Dalai Lama.
Under the established ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between the Nepal government and the UNHCR, Tibetans who enter Nepalese territory from Tibet are to be given over to the care of the UNHCR and expeditiously allowed to travel onward to India.
Tibetan refugees brought to Kathmandu are provided temporary refuge at the UNHCR-funded Tibetan Refugee Transit Center. Tibetans registered as “persons of concern” by the UNHCR enter a system administered by the Central Tibetan Administration through which they are placed in age-appropriate care and schooling or monastic institutions in Tibetan settlements throughout India.
The 23 Tibetans were traveling in two different groups from Tibet and through Nepal. On September 11, twenty of the Tibetans were arrested in Bajura district, western Nepal, after crossing the Tibet-Nepal border in Humla district. On September 11, they were brought to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. On or about September 13, three Tibetans were arrested in Barabise, Sindupalchowk district, north-central Nepal. They were also brought to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu.
In total, there are 18 males and five females in the group; with two in their 40s, 13 between 18 and 28 years of age, and 8 are between the ages of 13 and 17 (minors).
In the last four years, minors have represented 15 percent of the total number of Tibetans transiting through Nepal to India. Based on interviews conducted by ICT, the UNHCR and others over the years, as well as numerous Tibetan sources, young people often leave Tibet to secure a traditional Tibetan education or to join Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries in India. Religious practice is strictly controlled in Tibet where repression has intensified since March 2008.
Forcible return (refoulement) of Tibetan refugees to Tibet is a violation of international law. While Nepal is not a party to U.N. refugee conventions, it is bound to follow international norms in this regard. Nepal is a party to the U.N. Torture Convention, which bans the forcible return of any person to a country where there is a credible fear that torture could be employed. The U.S. State Department has reported that “Tibetans repatriated from Nepal suffered torture, including electric shocks, exposure to cold, and severe beatings, and were forced to perform heavy labor.”
September 22, 2011 update:
Last night, the 23 Tibetan refugees detained for almost two weeks in Nepal for "illegally crossing" into the country were finally released and turned over to the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It would be nice to think that international outrage had some bearing on their release. But it could also be a reflection of how ineffectually various governmental departments in Nepal are being run these days.
September 17, 2011
On September 15, Nepal's new Maoist regime proposed pardoning killers of journalists. In response, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote the following letter to Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai:
Dear Prime Minister Bhattarai:
We are alarmed by recent reports regarding the planned amnesty of criminal cases pending from past political violence in Nepal and are writing to express our concern that people convicted of killing journalists could go free based on political decisions made by your government.
August 29, 2011
On Sunday, Nepal’s parliament elected Dr. Baburam Bhattarai – the Maoists’ second-in-command – as the nation’s newest prime minister. He is the fourth to hold the position since the 2008 national elections.
Bhattarai received a clear majority. He garnered 340 votes in the 594-member parliament – reduced from its original 601-seat membership because of recent deaths and certain MPs being stripped of membership on grounds of corruption – and his party clinched the deal by securing the last-minute backing of a bloc of five ethic parties from Madhes.
August 12, 2011
A Chinese NGO has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UN Industrial Development Organization to transform Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, into a mega-complex of international tourism. The problem is that the Nepal government wasn’t notified of the project. To make matters worse, it now has been revealed that Maoist Supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” is co-chairman of the controversial (and up until now little known)NGO.
Since when did the Chinese and the Maoists in Nepal get to decide what’s best for Nepal without bothering to confer with the government of Nepal?
The NGO in question is the Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation and Exchange Foundation (APECEF).
The Case of a Cabinet Member accused of murder, the Prime Minister, and counter aggression leveled at journalist Kanak Mani Dixit
June 13, 2011
Nothing has brought into focus Nepal’s permissive attitude toward corrupt officials more blatantly than Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s recent appointment of senior Maoist leader Agni Sapkota as Minister for Information and Communications. Sapkota is accused by a long list of human rights organizations as being a leading party to the murder of Arjun Bahadur Lama in 2005.
On May 24, in a letter jointly written by the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the groups urged Prime Minister Khanal to reconsider Sapkota’s appointment since criminal investigations were pending against him. They also strong objected to Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s maneuvering to withdraw human rights cases, including the case against Sapkota. The new home minister is also a senior member of the Maoist party.
The letter said in part: "The appointment of Sapkota, a member of the politburo of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), while he is under police investigation sends a strong signal of government indifference to such serious allegations and reinforces the culture of impunity in Nepal."
June 5, 2011
The Economist has just published a fairly balanced summary of Nepal’s political situation as it stands at the beginning of the summer of 2011. It is by no means comprehensive: The Madhesi issue is completely ignored, for example. And its description of the Maoists’ commitment to a “competitive democracy” is unwarrantedly optimistic. But the article does manage to touch upon most of the other major issues, which hang over the country like a fan of freshly whetted swords.
A gaggle of protesters in Kathmandu, Nepal’s fume-filled capital, want a Himalayan summer to follow the Arab spring. Organised via Facebook, young and dapper professionals meet outside the Magic Beans coffee house to clap, call for a constitution and condemn the wretched performance of their country’s leaders. “Our politics is a kind of a disease,” one of them grumbles.
May 13, 2011
“It is our absolute conviction that the logical end of the peace process in Nepal is not in May of this year, and certainly not when the last cantonment is closed, or the last mine is cleared, but in fact, a decade away.”
Born in Australia, Robert Piper, has spent his career moving between international development crises and trouble spots as a senior official with the United Nations Development Program. Posts have included Thailand, Cambodia, Fiji, the United States and Kosovo. For three years, he served as deputy director of the UN's emergency response division. In 2005, he worked as chief-of-staff to former US president Bill Clinton in Clinton’s role as the UN's special envoy for the 2005 tsunami recovery.
Mr. Piper now serves as the UNDP Director in Nepal as well as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.
He came to Nepal at a time when the country was facing a particularly rocky time due, in part, to the controversy over the integration of the Maoist ex-rebels into Nepal’s Army.
Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in November 2006 between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists at the end of the ten-year insurgency, the United Nations received a request for assistance, and established the political mission United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in early 2007. UNMIN’s mandate was to oversee the ensuing peace efforts, including the 2008 constituent elections and to monitor both the legitimate army and the 28 cantonments set up to house the Maoist ex-combatants until they could be reintegrated into society. UNMIN’s initial headcount of ex-combatants was just under 20,000 people.
But in 2009, UNMIN’s verification process came under fire after a secret videotape of Maoist Supremo Prachanda – recorded in Shaktikhor, one of the cantonments – caught him boasting that he had duped UNMIN by padding the camps with young people who didn’t actually qualify. The real number of the People’s Liberation Army, according to Prachanda, was actually between 7,000-8,000.
Among other things, Prachanda said, “We will reduce them [the troops of the Nepal Army] systematically, and bring the army under our leadership. …The plan is to 'democratize' the army, which means to politicize it. It'll take five to seven years to do that. …Speaking honestly, we were few before the compromise. We were at 7,000 to 8,000. If we had reported that, we would have had 4,000 left after verification. Instead, we claimed 35,000, and now we have 20,000. This is the truth. We cannot tell others, but you all and I know the truth.”
As 2009 wore on, the government became suspicious that even that low number was inaccurate, saying that many of the Maoists (once sequestered in the cantonments) had long since left without Maoists leaders duly reporting their departures. This creative accounting made it possible for the Maoist party to continue to receive governmental stipends for cantonment residents who did not exist.
On 15 September 2009 the UN Security Council decided to dismantle UNMIN on January 15, 2010. In 2010, the UN oversaw the discharging of approximately 4000 ex-combatants from the cantonments. Since then, the UN has concentrated on the rehabilitation of these dischargees.
DUNHAM: As far as I know, no one has described, in a comprehensive manner, the back-story of the Maoist ex-combatants’ release from the cantonments and the resultant UN role to support their rehabilitation. Could you shed light on that process?
April 27, 2011
“I would be the last person to launch and run a political party. I have no desire, no interest and no intention.”
Few leaders in Nepal have drawn more interest and controversy than the recently retired Chief of Army Staff General Rookmangud Katawal. He received military training in Nepal, India, Pakistan, the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1988 he became the Chief Military Personnel Officer of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. A graduate of the Indian National Defense Academy and the Indian Military Academy, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Nepal's Tribhuwan University and a Masters Degree in National Defense from Pakistan's Quaid-i-Azam University. General Katawal is also the Distinguished International Honor Graduate of the US Special Forces Course, and earned the coveted Gideon in the U.S. Ranger Course. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and Staff College, Camberley UK, the Senior Command Course, India and the National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan. In 2006, he was appointed as Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of the Nepalese Army. But the pivotal moment in his career came when he fiercely resisted group integration of Maoist rebels into the National Army after Prachanda became prime minister. Prachanda sacked him but, shortly afterwards, the President of Nepal overrode the decision and ordered General Katawal to resume his tenure as COAS. This resulted in Prime Minister Prachanda's resignation and a general collapse of the government.
DUNHAM: The last time we met was in 2009. The burning issue then was the integration of the army. Two years later it is still the pivotal issue. It’s a quagmire. In your opinion, how close are the political parties to agreeing on the terms of integration?
March 7, 2011
This week, the Carter Center published a detailed report on the numerous youth wings associated with political movements in Nepal, and the resultant clashes therein. Although eleven youth organizations are mentioned, the bulk of the 31-page report concentrates on the activities of the Maoist Young Communist League, better known as the YCL.
Youth in Nepal have historically played a critical role in the country's democratic development. However, in recent years political party youth wings have become increasingly associated with aggressive activity, notably since the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M)) Young Communist League (YCL) was re-activated in 2006. In the run up to the 2008 Constituent Assembly election, the YCL was implicated in extortion, intimidation and violent activities. Since the election, Nepal has seen the formation of a “Youth Force” by the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) as a counter-YCL group. Additionally, there have been repeated allegations of YCL, CPN-UML Youth Force, and other party or identity group youth wing involvement in actions, which negatively affect the political, economic, and security environment in districts throughout the country. Nepali politics at the local level has never been entirely peaceful and there is certainly historical precedent of youth being mobilized as “muscle,” but the rising trend since 2006 has raised the attention of district administration officials, political party members, civil society, community members, international observers, and both domestic and international media.
The report is based on recent findings of Carter Center observers throughout the country, who have observed the post-election peace and constitutional drafting process since June 2009. The Center collected information on youth wings in 30 districts through interviews with political party youth wing members, district administration officials, political parties, civil society, and citizens. The Center‟s report looks into who joins political party youth wings, what they receive, and what their aspirations are after joining. It also addresses what kinds of activities political party youth wings engage in and to what degree these activities are in compliance with the peace process agreements signed by their mother parties.
February 8, 2011
Jhalanath Khanal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), whose own party had unceremoniously pulled him out of the earlier elections for Prime Minister, captured a clear majority to clinch a decisive victory on February 3. This became possible only after Maoist Supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda withdrew his own nomination for the post. Khanal was sworn into office on Sunday, February 6.
The international community was quick to support and, in some cases, hail the election of Khanal as a major step to complete the faltering peace process. The UN, for instance, issued a statement saying that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, commends Nepal’s parliament for this significant achievement and all Nepali Parties and leaders for their efforts to form a new government….this development will give a significant boost to efforts to fully implement their outstanding commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the interim constitution, notably the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants, democratization of the army and adoption of a new constitution.
January 23, 2011
There have been two very important lowering-of-the-flags ceremonies in the last week in Nepal.
On January 15, The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which was established in January 2007, folded its flags and went home. The UNMIN had been tasked to monitor the 19,000 former Maoist rebels, who fought a decade-long war to establish a communist regime.
In late 2010, the Maoists lobbied hard for a UNMIN extension – to no avail. Many of the opposing parties had come to regard the UNMIN as unrealistically sympathetic – if not hoodwinked – by Maoist doublespeak and, in one case, a video-recorded lie about the number of ex-combatants confined to the 28 cantonments. For the Maoists part, they blamed the Indian government for hastening the end of UNMIN presence in Nepal.
Some analysts predicted that the impact of the UNMIN’s departure would go well beyond the technical aspects of its work, that the crucial questions of how many Maoists would be integrated into the Nepal Army and how many would be rehabilitated for a non-military future had not even begun. Other analysts suggested that the UNMIN’s presence was merely a symbolic deterrent and had little meaningful impact on the peace process. Still others suggested that the UNMIN had diluted Maoist motivation to make hard and timely decisions on what to do with the sequestered ex-rebels. In the event, no one seemed to wither in despair when the UNMIN flag was packed away.
January 18, 2011
Espionage has always capitalized on mockery. The most recent example is China’s grim ploy to disguise their spooks as Buddhist monks – the very demographic to which Beijing has been the least tolerant and the most intent upon oppressing – a policy that has held firm since the 1950s.
Bipin Chand Agarwal, journalist for The Times of India, reported about three such Chinese suspects, arrested at the Indo-Nepali border yesterday.
January 14, 2011
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. Its approach is grounded in field research, with some 130 staff members on five continents working in over 60 crisis-affected countries.
Its international headquarters are in Brussels, with major advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is based as a legal entity) and New York, a smaller one in London, and liaison presences in Moscow and Beijing.
Yesterday, the International Crisis Group issued an Asian report called “Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism” and it is, to date, the most comprehensive analysis available of Nepal’s attempt to transform itself from a unitary state into a federal one.
The extensive briefing is divided in to three sections:
1) The history of identity politics in Nepal – from the Muluki Ain of 1854, to ethnic activism before 1990, to the “People’s War”, to current ethnic demands for federalism.
2) The politics of federalism from the standpoint of Maoist, UML and Nepali Congress politicos; the ethnic and regional activists’ focus; the less vocal but significant skepticism of former royals and the religious right; the organizational capacities of all the disparate groups.
3) The risks and opportunities of ushering in federalism.
The report is most revealing in its examination of the approaches of the major political parties, all of which contain opponents to federalism. It also looks at two key areas – the eastern hills and the central and eastern Terai – where demands for identity-based federalism are greatest.
Here are a few excerpts, although a reading of the entire document is highly recommended.
January 11, 2011
Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses (IDSA) is a non-partisan, autonomous group located in Delhi. It is funded by the Indian Ministry of Defense and rated as one of the top 50 think tanks in the world, according to The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program.
Yesterday, IDSA released its annual report on Nepal’s political situation in 2010.
January 10, 2011
The year 2010 was another disappointing year for the people of Nepal. The peace process was deadlocked, with extreme polarization within and among the political parties on various issues. Despite the extension of the Constituent Assembly (CA) for a year, the parties could not complete even the rudimentary task of drafting a new constitution. The blame for this unsettled state of affairs was conveniently heaped on the so-called external forces. The only silver lining in the dark clouds was the high-level task force headed by UCPN-Maoist leader Prachanda, which resolved around 100 out of 220 contentious issues, and the formation of the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) secretariat.
December 17, 2010
This week, for the first time in Nepal’s history, a member of the former royal family was arrested. Paras Shah, the former crown prince of Nepal, was apprehended after an incident that took place Saturday night (December 11) at the luxe wildlife resort of Tiger Tops in the Chitwan jungle. Paras had allegedly threatened a fellow guest of the lodge and fired off one round from his pistol.
The guest in question, Rubel Chaudhary, happens to be the son-in-law of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sujata Koirala. And to make the case even more sensitive, there were diplomatic concerns: Chaudhary is from Bangladesh.
December 8, 2010
Recommended reading: Today’s article in Republica written by Trailokya Raj Aryal
Earlier last week, former chief of army staff, Gen Rookmangud Katawal was heard saying at a function in Birgunj that security forces need not be democratized as they have always followed the orders of the government of the day. He further stated that democratization of the security forces, especially the Nepal Army (NA) is a ploy to weaken and politicize it. And I personally think Gen Katawal is right.
December 6, 2010
Yesterday, one of the signatories of a joint Statement in Public Interest forwarded me a copy. The document appeals to the stakeholders of the ongoing peace process to ensure its successful conclusion by handing over the responsibility of supervision of the Maoist cantonments to the Special Committee. It will be remembered that the UNMIN is scheduled to leave Nepal on January 15, 2010.
Here is the document in full:
November 21, 2010
The interim constitution promulgated in 2007 provies for freedom of religion; however, it specifically prohibits proselytizing. The Constituent Assembly recently extended to May 2011, the deadline for drafting the new constitution.
November 5, 2010
The caretaker government runs out of money in less than two weeks and the passing of a new budget seems remote. As it stands, after November 16, there will be no money to run the administration, disburse old-age pensions, feed inmates in jail, or even collect taxes.
Remittances from the millions of Nepalis working in the Middle East, Malaysia and other countries – upon which a large percentage of Nepalis count on to survive – has declined alarmingly due to the ongoing global recession.
In the last fiscal year, Nepal’s economic growth – already sluggish compared to South Asian neighbors – fell from 4% to 3.5%.
Nepal’s political paralysis has reached the point that longtime donor nations are rethinking their willingness to offer further aid. Foreign institutions cite Nepal’s lack of credibility as their main concern. Donors have experienced a chronic lack of results in their development projects plagued by unwarranted political meddling and crippled by frequent and disruptive transfers of project chiefs.
The warning signs are planted in every direction and yet the political partiescontinue to ignore the absolute necessity of connecting political transformation with economic development.
October 27, 2010
Despite the fact that Nepal held relatively peaceful elections in 2008 – its voters were determined to establish a viable democracy – political instability, lawlessness, nepotism and lack of accountability continue to prevail in the society. Corruption is one of the main villains. Up until now, the country has failed to make an anti-corruption agenda a political and social priority.
Transparency International, which has been publishing an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) since 1995, just released its 2010 findings and the news is not good for Nepal. Since last year, Nepal slipped in the international standings.
October 25, 2010
The Maoists’ vision of the perfect Nepal seems inextricably linked to its infatuation with Chinese patronage. Numerous ever-more-bold pro-Beijing dalliances have made headlines in the first half of autumn.
Members of the Maoist junket included two former deputy chiefs of the PLA, Barsha Man Pun Ananta and Janardan Sharma Prabhakar. Both are sitting Maoist MPs, while Sharma is also the former Maoist peace and reconstruction minister. Along for the ride were Onsari Ghartimagar, a Maoist lawmaker (and Ananta’s wife), as well as PLA spokesman Chandra Prakash Khanal Baldev. Rounding out the group of ex-guerillas were
October 7, 2010
The Maoists continue to do the bidding of Beijing. Yesterday, they stepped up their anti-Indian campaign by attempting to foil Rakesh Sood -- Indian Ambassador to Nepal -- from visiting the Mt. Everest region, where he was scheduled to inaugurate various Indian-assisted projects previously green-lighted under bilateral cooperation.
A group of 30-35 Maoists associated with a regional group called the Sherpa Rastriya Mukti Morcha-Nepal tried to block the road when Sood touched down at the Solukhumbu Airport. They waved black flags at the ambassador, a particularly menacing and insulting warning sometimes used in Nepali demonstrations. The group was led by former Maoist minister for culture Gopal Kirati, who had earlier spearheaded the attack on Indian priests at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu – a protest that seriously backfired on Maoist Supremo Prachanda, who was prime minister at the time.
There can be little doubt that the protest was mounted on behalf of China. Northern Nepal remains an extremely sensitive spot for Beijing, ever since China annexed Tibet in the 1950s.
October 5, 2010
This is what happened on Sunday, when Nepal’s northern neighbor pressured the struggling government to disrupt the peaceful election held by Tibetan refugees. The election was held to elect a new prime minister for the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
Armed police in riot gear stormed three elections centers in Kathmandu – shortly before voting was completed -- and confiscated the ballot boxes, despite the fact that – according to human rights organizations in Kathmandu – tacit permission had been given by Nepali authorities.
This was the first time Nepal had interfered with the Tibetans low-profile election process.
5316 Tibetans were registered to vote in the Boudhanath stupa area of Kathmandu, 980 in Jawalakhel, and 2336 in Swayambhunath at the nunnery. 15 ballot boxes were seized in Boudhanath. Five boxes were seized in Swayambhu. In Jawalakel, the voting process had already been completed and the boxes had been removed.
Bhim Rawal, the current Minister of of Home Affairs, just returned from New York, where he led Nepal’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. Rawal is a leader within the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) also known as the UML.
For this writer, the problem does not so much hinge on what any given political party in Nepal feels about the 20,000 Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal – who are not allowed to own property, and who have no hope of gaining Nepali citizenship. The real problem – at least for me – is the process that took place here:
China doesn’t like something. China phones the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry immediately calls in the armed police. The armed police hit the streets in riot gear and carry out their orders.
Where’s the affirmation of the basic human rights due every human being in Nepal in such a backroom operation?
The irony here is that, while Nepal’s government can’t conduct a successful election for its own prime ministry (nine failures in the last two months!) the Tibetans, who conducted a quiet and orderly election (with no funds or bureaucratic might), will certainly result in the naming of a new Tibetan prime minister – with or without the ballot boxes absconded by the Nepali government at the behest of Beijing. The contrast is as blatant as it is shameful.
To see the video of the police taking away the ballot boxes CLICK HERE
September 19, 2010
Peace & Birds of Passage
By Kanak Mani Dixit
The simmering rift regarding the Nepal peace process has suddenly erupted in the form of a war of words between the United Nations Secretary-General and the Government of Nepal, though the former may not even know what is being written in his name. At the level where this rupture matters, in Kathmandu, it has to do with how the political parties in the present (caretaker) coalition perceive the peace process, and how the Western diplomats who define the international response understand it.
Many outside observers are taken aback by the willingness of Madhav Kumar Nepal to build a distance with the UN, which has been a partner in the country’s development throughout its modern era starting in 1950. But this was the result of exasperation, given the inability of UN officials and the Security Council’s Permanent Five led by the United Kingdom to understand the urgency of returning Nepal to a democratic peace by challenging the Maoists to stand by their commitments of three years ago.
September 17, 2010
On September 15, the UN Security Council dediced to dismantle the United Nations Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) four months from now, on January 15, 2010.
UNMIN came to Nepal in early 2007 after the decade of armed struggle ended between Maoist rebels and government forces. UNMIN’s mandate was to oversee the ensuing peace efforts – including the 2008 constituent elections -- and to monitor both the legitimate army and the 28 cantonments set up to house the Maoist ex-combatants until they could be reintegrated into society.
But UNMIN’s presence has been plagued with questions of its neutrality, as well as its ability to correctly cipher Maoist irregularities.
The Headcount Controversy
Early on, UNMIN conducted a headcount of the rebels to weed out child soldiers and new people recruited after the peace agreement was in place. Their count was just under 20,000 combatants.
In 2009, however, the UNMIN verification became a source of embarrassment after a secret videotape of Maoist Supremo Prachanda – recorded in one of the cantonments – caught him boasting that he had duped UNMIN by padding the camps with young people who didn’t actually qualify. The real number of the People’s Liberation Army, according to Prachanda, was actually between 7,000-8,000.
September 14, 2010
There is no political party in Nepal that does not
understand the necessity and the
attractiveness of currying favor with the Chinese. The benefit of being chums
with their northern neighbors is all too obvious from the recently intensified
injections of Beijing aid.
But no party is more bent on becoming China’s poodle than the
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- UCPN(M).
The biggest show in Nepal right now is the massive 21-member delegation from Beijing, led by He Yong, China’s Vice Premier and Secretary of the Secretariat of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. It is the senior-most delegation to visit Nepal in nine years.
September 10, 2010
Flogging a dead horse: Public sentiment toward the Constituent Assembly has been reduced to widespread hopelessness and disgust.
On September 7, Maoist Supremo Prachanda lost his bid for the prime ministry for the seventh time in two months. The latest fiasco came on the heels of a leaked audiotape, which purportedly captures Maoist Krishna Bahadur Mahara discussing with an unidentified Chinese official the possibility of acquiring nearly $7,000,000 US for the purpose of bribing Madhesi lawmakers to vote for Prachanda in the election.
August 14, 2010
“Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.”
Henri Queuille, 20th century French politician
Today, there are plenty of Nepalis who would agree, even though, by nature, Nepalis are not a cynical people. Quite the opposite: Nepalis are remarkably resilient to the more discouraging vagaries of politics. One of their favorite sayings is, “Miracles happen.” Even during the Maoist insurgency, which erupted in 1996 and proliferated for 10 years in the hinterlands – even after 13,000-plus Nepalis perished from the Maoist/governmental forces struggle and multiple thousands were displaced – the people of Nepal held on.
Likewise, in the Kathmandu Valley, when the king assumed absolute power and dissolved the cabinet and parliament, a large contingent kept their fingers crossed and, at least at the beginning, gave the king the benefit of the doubt. Historically, Nepalis have hoped for the best.
How did Nepal go from “Anything is possible” to widespread pessimism? Remembering the Rapid and Dramatic Changes
July 7, 2010
For those politicos who love to demonize India’s interference in Nepali internal affairs, they might first want to take a look at their new best friends from Beijing.
On Sunday, the three leading political parties – the Maoists, UML and Nepali Congress -- warned their respective Constituent Assembly members against taking part in any ceremonies connected to organized celebrations of the Dalai 75th birthday, celebrated on July 6. The whip orders indicated that to ignore their warnings would result in serious repercussions. Earlier on Sunday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forbade CA members to participate in the birthday event, fearing an adverse reaction from China. The various parties were quick to fall in line, illustrating the extent to which Chinese influence has seeped into all aspects of Nepali politics. Until 2005, the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Government-in-Exile had offices in Kathmandu.
But that’s ancient history. Today – if there is anything that unifies the various political groups in Nepal – it is their eagerness to bend over backwards to please Beijing.
Can outlawing photographs of the Dalai Lama in Nepal be far behind?
June 9, 2010
It was bound to happen. Sooner or later, one of the numerous underground organizations in Nepal would try its luck with a car bomb. By Iraqi-Afghani standards, the detonation’s impact was minimal. Four people were injured, no one was killed and peripheral damage was light. But the desired results—capturing headlines – worked like a dream.
A previously unknown outfit calling itself Swatantra Nepal Dal (Free Nepal Party) -- based in Sindhuli district in southeast Nepal -- claimed responsibility an hour after the blast. In the statement emailed to the media, it said that it was launching punitive action against Nepal’s major parties, their respective leaders and “their lackey lawmakers” for their failure to promulgate the long-awaited new constitution by the May 28 deadline. Swatantra Nepal Dal also promised that more attacks could be expected.
June 2, 2010
India’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) just published a report generated by its Fellow's Seminar forum, in which research papers are presented and critiqued by IDSA members as well as guest analysts, scholars, journalists, and policy makers. The paper is called “Madhesi Movement in Nepal: Implications for India”, a summary of an analysis written by Nihar Nayak, who worked as Research Associate at the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi, prior to joining the IDSA team. It’s an interesting look into what a leading Indian think-tank is concluding about Nepal’s current situation.
(NOTE: Although IDSA describes itself as an autonomous institution, the Indian Ministry of Defense funds it.)
Madhesi Movement in Nepal: Implications for India
May 28, 2010
Dr. Nihar Nayak began by offering some basic facts about the Madhesi movement. Although there exist a number of versions about what the word ‘Madhes’ stands for, the most popular or accepted version is that it refers to ‘Madhya-desh’, a region between the hills and the plains. Also known as ‘Terai’, Madhes region consists of twenty districts, all of which share their borders with India. Many Madhesis are of Indian origin and thus have strong socio-cultural ethnic linkages across the border. In the paper, Dr. Nayak flagged three questions: Is the Madhes issue likely to bring in deep-rooted conflict in Nepal? Can external forces take advantage of the situation to India’s detriment? How will Madhesi politics determine the future of Nepal politics and India-Nepal relations in the future?
May 29, 2010
Pushing the midnight deadline, the Nepali ruling parties voted in the 8th Amendment, allowing the current “law makers” to continue for another year as a caretaker government. Of the 585 votes cast, 580 were in favor of the bill.
There’s one snag. And it’s a big one. Two years ago it was decreed that the Constituent Assembly – also serving as Nepal’s parliament – would automatically be dissolved on May 28, 2010 if it failed to promulgate a new constitution. By midnight of May 29, the legislation had come nowhere near penning a new constitution. The CA resoundingly failed the very people – the people of Nepal – who had voted it into existence.
It is true that there was a clause that allowed for an extension, but that was only permissible if the government declared a state of emergency, which, in turn, would be justifiable only if there was war or natural calamity. There is plenty of calamity in Nepal, but not of the natural or military varieties.
So how can the extension be regarded as legitimate?
At this juncture, the 601 members of the Constituent Assembly are far more interested in holding onto their jobs than they are championing adherence to the law.
Here’s the eleventh-hour deal: The Maoists and Terai-centri Nepal Sadbhawana Party- Anandidevi (NSP-A) withdrew their objections after the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML agreed to include in the agreement that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal would pave the way within the next five days for the formation of a national consensus government. As per the deal, the parties will unveil a timeline for completing the writing of the constitution and take the peace process to a logical conclusion. Once the agreement is reached, Prime Minister Nepal will present it before the Legislature-Parliament and then resign.
May 16, 2010
Peter Lee, an American journalist -- who writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy -- has written a well-documented piece in yesterday’s Asia Times. Personal disclosure: Impartiality cannot be claimed since Mr. Lee interviewed me and quoted me for the article.
May 14, 2010
C. P. Gajurel “Gaurav”, Secretary of UCPN-Maoist, published an article this week in the new issue of Nepal’s Maoist English language journal Red Star. Gajurel addresses an issue much debated within the party: Is the international situation favorable for the Maoists to take over Nepal?
Born in 1948, Mr. Gajurel made headlines during the 10-year insurrection when, in 2003, Indian authorities apprehended him in Chennai. Although wanted for homicide, armed robbery and complicity in terrorism, India charged Gajurel with possession of false papers and “conspiracy against India”. After the CPN(M) and the government of Nepal signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, India dropped charges against him. He was released on November 28 2006 and returned to Nepal on December 1. Since then, Gajurel has acted, periodically, as a spokesman for his party.
Although there are no startling revelations in the Red Star article, it does serve to fine-tune one’s understanding of the inter-party effort to define itself at this point in time. There are three blaringly off-target remarks, however:
1. Mr. Gajurel asserts that, “that during the middle of the 20th century more than half of the globe and the people inhabited in it were liberated from capitalism and were enjoying socialism.” I doubt that the millions of Chinese who starved to death during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and the additional millions who were imprisoned and repressed during the Cultural Revolution would agree.
2. Mr. Gajurel claims that, currently, Beijing knows “that only the Maoist party in power can curb the ‘free Tibet movement’ in Nepal”. I see no evidence to substantiate this. It seems far more likely that any government – from UML, to Nepali Congress, to monarchists – would and will vociferously support Bejing’s One China Policy.
3. Mr. Gajurel's assessment of the economic situations in Europe and the United States: He states that Western economies are so vulnerable that "such crisis will definitely be overcome by revolution." I would suggest that this is wishful thinking.
“International situation: Favourable or Unfavourable?
by C. P. Gajurel ‘Gaurav’ – Secretary of UCPN-Maoist
Communist Movement is an internationalist movement. Goal of all communists, provided they are truly communists, is communism. We should not be confused about vulgar distortions of communism whether it is ‘National communism’ or ‘Euro communism’. Internationalist nature of communists is characterized by the principle ‘either we all reach or none of us’. This is the basis of proletarian internationalism.
International situation is not same as proletarian internationalism.
Apart from the domestic situation, which is decisive, Communist movement is definitely influenced by international situation of the given time. Development of communist movement of a single country definitely depends upon the favourable or unfavourable international situation. Success or failure of revolution of individual country also largely depends on favourable or unfavourable international situation. In many cases, the question of ‘unfavourable international situation’ is being (mis)used by rightists or revisionists to justify their degeneration from a communist or revolutionary to a revisionist or a bourgeois politician. None of the revisionists of the world declare themselves as revisionists; rather they try to show that they are revolutionaries and are still communists. Capitalist class is an exploiter and oppressor class. So it is quite natural that the politicians openly representing the class interest of this class will not be able to garner support from the broad masses.
So in order to garner support of the broad masses, the revisionists, who represent the class interest of the bourgeoisie, disguise themselves as “communists”. They always distort the revolutionary line and situation in service of the bourgeoisie. They are the people who sabotage the revolution from within. Words like “Communism”, “revolution” are the masks of revisionists under which they cover their ugly bourgeois face. Revisionists of this era always prolong or delay or stop the revolution in the pretext of “unfavourable” international situation. They have regular and long time idea which states that no revolution can take place when there is “unfavourable international situation” and for them “unfavourable international situation” is permanent.
Thus the conclusion of this statement is that revolution cannot take place at this era. Therefore, while making assessment of the international situation, we should not be the victim of permanently “no favourable situation therefore no revolution”.
We should be realistic in making assessment of the international situation. We should adopt Maoist approach while making assessment of the international situation. Definitely there are some serious unfavourable factors which we cannot ignore. Side by side there are some favourable factors which we have to take into account. Let us try to make a brief summation of bright side as well as the dark side of the present international situation in making revolution.
Absence of international organization
We have no strong international organization or strong international centre of communist parties at this moment. The Third International which was initiated and led by Lenin himself was disbanded during the time of 2nd world war at the behest of capitalist and imperialist countries in order to pave the way for ‘Anti-fascist united front’ against fascist imperialist Germany.
It seems that the intention of Stalin, who was the main leader of the Third International after the demise of Lenin, was not to dissolve the Communist International permanently. Stalin formed COMINFORM (Communist Information Centre) under his leadership after the end of the 2nd WW. But it was far from being developed to an international centre like COMINTERN. Gradually, the Cominform became passive and virtually it became defunct.
Now, we have international embryonic centre of communist parties and organisations, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). But its strength is limited.
Absence of socialist block
It is true that there was no international centre like Comintern during the time the Chinese revolution that became victorious in the year 1949. But there was socialist Russia and international socialist block which pro-vided very significant support to the Chinese revolution. We have no such international socialist block to day. This is darkest part of the present international situation. It seems that had there been international socialist base, the New Democratic Revolution would have been succeeded long before and the Nepalese society would have been grappling for socialism by now.
Dearth of international working class movement
It is also true that there was neither Communist International nor Socialist block during the time of Socialist revolution in Russia in 1919. But there was very strong working class movement in Europe and socialist revolution in Germany was very close to success. The strength of the working class movement was a very strong support to the Russian revolution. But we have no such strong working class movement in any continent at present.
Hostility among imperialist countries not in climax
There is one common international factor in Russian and Chinese revolution that the Russian revolution succeeded during the time of 1st WW and the Chinese revolution succeeded during the 2nd WW. It does not mean that WW is essential part of the success of every revolution. It is worth to be considered that during the time of WW, the imperialist powers were cutting each others’ throat. One imperialist country was enemy for another imperialist country. The hostility among the imperialist countries was so ferocious that one’s existence depended on elimination of the other. They had little time to fight against communist forces during the time of WW. There is no doubt that contradiction among various imperialist forces exists today, but it has not reached to the level of hostility of eliminating each other.
Situation—provided or can be created?
When we talk about the favourable international situation, there are some aspects to be considered. Firstly, the international situation is favourable in the given time and the revolutionaries can have the opportunity to utilize the favourable situation as outside support of the revolution. If this situation exists it is well and good. All the revolutionary parties will wish such a situation to prevail. Such situation is always welcomed. But our wish does not determine everything including the favourable international situation.
Secondly, the duty of the revolutionaries is to create such a situation which helps the revolution to grow and to succeed. Revolutionaries do not wait for a good fortune to arrive. Such a situation may or may not be completely favourable. If we cannot create completely favourable situation, we should try to create relatively favourable situation. If we cannot even achieve relatively favourable situation, we should try to create such a situation which is not harmful to the revolution. What often happens is that at the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution it is difficult for the communist revolutionaries to get a readymade favourable international situation.
Third, favourable or unfavourable situation is not a static phenomenon. It goes on changing depending on the changed situation. In many cases the revolution itself causes the international situation to be changed and the situation goes the other way round. The revolution is itself a force which brings change in the international situation and unfavourable situation turns to be relatively favourable or at least not harmful to the revolution. It is evident from the event of Nepalese revolution. When we initiated the historic People’s War (in February 13, 1996), the international situation was not at all favourable for the revolution. Eleven long years of PW has caused change in the national as well as the international situation. It is obvious that the international situation is less unfavourable for the revolution today than it was during the initiation of the PW. We will mention about some of the emerging relatively favourable factors at the international level.
Emergence of anti-imperialist forces
Mao while making assessment of the international situation arrived at a conclusion that Asia, Africa and Latin America are the ‘storm centers’ of the world revolution. Still it holds good to some extent. There was revolutionary wave in the Latin American countries during the time of Cuban revolution and consequently during the 60s and 70s. After the bloody coup in Chile in 1972, communist movement in Latin America had to face a big setback. Nevertheless, anti-imperialist struggle continued in most of the Latin American countries at different level. Since last six or seven years, there is a kind of anti- US imperialist wave in most of the countries in Latin America. Parties upholding the principle of ‘Bolivarian socialism’ are winning the presidential and parliamentary elections. Some of the governments like that in Venezuela have infuriated the U S administration by nationalizing the big oil companies owned by the US big capitalists. The other ‘socialist governments’ also follow the same line. The Hugo Chavez government further infuriated the US government when it (Chavez government) signed a large arm deal quite recently with Russia. The recent developments in Latin America should be considered as favourable factor at the international level. These developments in Latin America should be considered very significant especially in a situation when there is no socialist block to support the revolution.
Severe economic crisis
Severe crisis that engulfed the imperialist world has shaken the imperialist system itself. It is one of the severest economic crises shaking the imperialist system that has recurred after 70 years. The crisis has not been overcome. The economists assume that the counter shock of this economic quake is more dangerous which is yet to come. The imperialist system has been so weakened that it is struggling for its survival. The revolutionary movements in Europe and US appeared to be in hibernation since long years. The ruling class is afraid of revolutionary upsurge in its citadel. It seems that the imperialist system will not be able to withstand another crisis, which it is assumed may recur within some years, because there is no substantial recovery. Such crisis will definitely be overcome by revolution.
Attraction to Socialism
History of communist movement has proven that socialism or communist movement cannot be destroyed by outside intervention of the imperialist power; rather it is destroyed from within. Capitalist roaders within communist parties are real destroyers of communist movement and socialism that has been achieved through hard revolution. We know that during the middle of the 20th century more than half of the globe and the people inhabited in it were liberated from capitalism and were enjoying socialism.
The world was divided into two competing blocks—imperialism and socialism and there was balance of power. Socialism was rising power where as imperialism was declining power. Socialism was heading towards global victory and Marx’s dream of communism looked like to be fulfilled. But destruction of socialism started right from within. Restoration of capitalism started from the first socialist country of the world, Russia in 1956 under the leadership of Khruschev, then leader of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU). It spread like wild fire.
Later Russia degenerated to a social imperialist country. So the real socialism was destroyed. During ’90s, “anti-socialism” wave backed by US imperialism washed away the pro-Soviet Union block which they used to call “socialism”.
It seems that the anti-socialism wind has taken rest in western countries and socialism is being remembered. The reason is—the capitalist and imperialist countries provided some basic facilities to the masses to persuade them in order to prevent socialist revolution to take place in their country. When socialism has been destroyed capitalists have no compulsion to compete with socialism. So they are with-drawing step by step all the basic facilities they were providing in the name of “social security”. The poor do not get unemployment allowance, if they get at all, it is quite meager. The poor are unable to get treatment. So attraction to socialism is increasing, at least the trend of hate socialism seems to have stopped even in the western countries where “socialism” was destroyed by big mass actions. We should take it as a positive trend.
Inter imperialist contradictions still exist
At present there is no WW. But there are still wars going on as regional war and proxy war. These wars are producing new anti-imperialist forces and huge number of masses fighting against the aggressors. Inter imperialist rivalry for the loot of oppressed countries still exists and will continue to be so till there is imperialism. Lenin said “imperialism is war” which is always true. There is good opportunity for the communists to take advantage of these contradictions.
Growing strength of Maoist forces
After demise of Mao there was serious setback at the ICM. The initiation of PW in the ’80s in Peru and its subsequent development from strategic defence to strategic equilibrium created great enthusiasm among the communist revolutionaries at the global level. But unfortunately the Peruvian revolution suffered a big set back after the capture of its supreme leader Gonzalo and hosts of the senior leaders of the party during 1992-94.
Before this event could have caused big damage to the ICM, the PW initiated in Nepal under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) developed in leaps and bonds. Within a span of 10 years the Nepalese revolution reached to the level of strategic offence which created tremendous enthusiasm throughout the world. In the last few years the PW in India is developing at the fast pace.
The central government of India very often states that ‘the Naxal movement (which is often said about Maoists in India) is major threat to the Indian state’. According to the information, the Maoist party of India has established proposed base area in Dandakaranya, whose total area is almost equal to Nepal. The growing strength of the Indian Maoist is positive development for the revolution in Nepal.
Nepal shares about 1800 km border with southern neighbor India and about 1000 km that with the northern neighbor China. Nepal lies in between these two giant states. In the past there was hostile relation in between China and India associated with Indo- China war in 1962. But such a hostile situation does not exist now. Similarly, USA and China had also hostile relation in the past. Apparently we do not see such hostility in between these two powers of the world. Presently China has good economic ties and has good trade relation with USA and India. But USA by virtue of being most powerful imperialist country and sole super power does not like “socialist” China as a prosperous and powerful country. Though US is a sole super power till the date, but it is a declining state. It has not come out of the economic crisis that it faced during couple of years. It is becoming increasingly difficult for US to compete with China economically. So far the relation between China and India is concerned, it is not so healthy. Even the old border issue between the two states has not been resolved amicably, especially in Arunanchal Pradesh state. Chinas good relation with Pakistan is also a factor causing unfriendly relation between the two neighbors. In short, there is under current contention going between China and US; China and India.
Under the given circumstances, US likes to control China in different ways. Tibet and Dalai Lama is one of the factors that US and also India are using to control China. Apparently, there is good trade relation between India and China. But still India boards Dalai Lama’s “Government in Exile” in Dharmasala, a town in Himachal Pradesh state of India. Dalai Lama is still fighting for “free Tibet” with the support of USA, India and many imperialist countries. Taking advantage of bordering state with Tibet and unstable and economically poor country, which has dependency with India and US, they are trying to use Nepal as a base to conduct “free Tibet movement”. Using Buddhist religion as a cover they are concentrating their anti- China forces in Himalayan region and also in Kathmandu. There is growing risk that Nepal may be used as battle ground for the “free Tibet movement”.
Present Chinese leadership has more than enough knowledge about the situation stated above. They know that most of the political parties are loyal to the foreign powers and these parties in power will be instrumental in facilitating the anti-China movement from Nepal. They also have sufficient knowledge that only the Maoist party in power can curb the “free Tibet movement” from Nepal. This is very significant factor which can be used as a favourable factor for Nepalese revolution and New Nepal.
What we have explained above clearly shows that present day international situation in not clearly favourable for any revolution led by genuine communist party in the world today.
To get readymade favourable international situation is well and good and definitely we all will be happy to get it. But to find such a situation is very difficult. Our responsibility is not fulfilled only by making such analysis and statement that the international situation is not favourable so there cannot be a revolution in Nepal and any part of the world. Now we can see that this unfavourable international situation has become a pretext for the reformist and degenerated “communist” parties to justify their degeneration into reformism and revisionism. What MLM teaches us that if situation is not favourable we should not sit idle, we should be active in changing the situation to make it favourable. Another important point is that the force of revolution can change the situation from unfavourable to favourable.
In our case when we initiated the great PW in Nepal, the international situation for us was unfavourable. It is favourable many times as compared to the situation during 1996. The development of the PW has created the situation more favourable or less unfavourable. We can conclude that present international situation is not very much favourable for the revolution, but it is not so unfavourable as well. If the initiative of the Maoist party increases tremendously this situation will further become less unfavourable and favourable to some extent.
Therefore for the genuine communist revolutionaries present international situation is not such a big obstacle and revolutionary movement can grow and revolution can succeed. Let us hope the Nepalese revolution may be victorious in near future!
May 8, 2010We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore
It is not the first time that Maoist leadership has miscalculated the pulse of the Nepali people. The most recent example is their scuttled “indefinite strike”, a six-day old travesty aimed at forcing Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to quit.
Instead, it produced a spontaneous uproar by Nepalis representing all walks of life, who, deprived of vital supplies and freedom of movement, rejected the virtual siege that the Maoists had forced upon them. For those requiring medical treatment, difficulties were compounded by lack of transportation, absent heath care workers and dire shortages of essential drugs and medicines. Nearly 8 million school children were banned from attending classes. Everywhere, stocks of food were running low. All highways were empty.