Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Archive for April, 2010

Nepal: Young Communist League Rally Before May 1

Posted by Mike E on April 30, 2010

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Al Jazeera Report on May Day Preparations in Nepal

Posted by Mike E on April 30, 2010

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Great Footage: Revolutionary Youth and Farmers Pack Nepal’s Capital

Posted by Mike E on April 29, 2010

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Prachanda: Our Goal is a New Democratic Federal Republic of the People

Posted by redflags on April 29, 2010

Maoist supporters gather in Kathmandu for May 1

“If the puppet government will not step down and clear the way for a new national government, the future action plan of the movement will be nation-wide revolt, which will ultimately establish a people’s federal republic.”

his is an important interview given by Prachanda on the eve of major May First actions in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It focuses on long range revolutionary goals, the transitional demands of this moment, and the intentions of his party,  the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Many people are not clear about the meaning of these terms in Nepali and Maoist usage:

New Democratic: the first step of socialism rooted in revolutionary distribution of land and the severing of foreign control of culture, politics and industry.

Federal: meaning that previously oppressed nationalities and ethnic groups have radical new forms of autonomy and self-determination, within an overall “federal” framework of a liberated New Nepal.

Republic: meaning the king is overthrown and will not be back, and that his former royal army is required to submit to the changes wanted by the people and their new government.

The Interview was first published in the party’s international journal Maoist Information Bulletin (Vol. 04, No. 13) .

* * * * * * * *

Prachanda: It is quite clear that the current transitional political situation is very sensitive and delicate.

The ongoing peace process and the process of drafting a new constitution are in a critical situation. The domestic and foreign reactionary and regressive elements are continuously conspiring against the aspiration of the people’s peace and constitution.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Nepal: Calling the Anti-Gov’t General Strike

Posted by Mike E on April 29, 2010

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Jed Brandt from Nepal: Talking to the Workers

Posted by n3wday on April 28, 2010

photo: jed brandt

The following first appeared on jedbrandt.net. Jed’s other Kasama posts appear here.

by Jed Brandt

The workshops of Kathmandu’s broken-down trolley system are not far from the airport. The roar of jet engines flying low on approach contrasts with the strange silence of the idle repair barns.

Working men play cards beside the rusting hulks of street cars, partially dismantled, piles of machine parts laid along the zinc-sheet walls waiting for resurrection. Some street cars were torched during bandhs shutdowns. None have left the shop in years.

The only bustle is around the union office. Workers were fixing up the central room, while a few dozen machinists sat clustered in the building’s shade, eating lentils and rice. Electrical load-shedding blackouts have crippled the electrical system constantly for three years now, so the trolleys can’t leave their barn. Now the yards provide their sporadic electricity output to charge up battery-converted tuk-tuks – a fleet of three-wheel minivans that are now the scrappy backbone of the city’s chaotic mass transportation.

At the yard gates, and pasted across each of the workshops are Maoist posters calling for total mobilization on May First. The only words in English read “Workers of the World Unite!”

“The trolley needs constant electricity,” the shop steward told me. “They don’t fix the government. They can’t fix the load-shedding. The politicians do not change. They do not care that nothing works.”

He was excited when I mentioned I had worked for a transportation union in the United States.

“Are they Maoist” he asked. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nepal: Maoists Call Anti-Gov’t General Strike

Posted by n3wday on April 28, 2010

The following first appeared on jedbrandt.net. Jed’s other Kasama posts appear here.

“The government will fall or the people will rise. Thousands have already arrived in Kathmandu, occupying the private schools shut down by Maoist students last week. 500,000 villagers are expected to join the workers and students in the city. The Nepal Army is on alert, the People’s Liberation Army is, too. The people are coming to the seat of power. Rallies have started. All eyes are on May First.”

by Jed Brandt

Yesterday, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) called for an indefinite general strike starting May 2, should the current Prime Minister not step aside in the face of the May First mass mobilization.Sector by sector, business as usual is coming to a halt.

Wars and rumors of war

While rumors shoot around the city, the mood is uncertain. Only the Maoists have a resolution in mind, and only they are bringing the population into action. Their morale appears high, and they are busy.

The Maoists are raising money from workers, asking for ten days’ salary on a sliding scale and hitting businesses up for larger amounts. Unlike previous drives, part of the pitch for large donations is that this is their “final request.”

Families from the whole country are being urged to send at least one person to Kathmandu. The parliamentary parties allege coercion, but there have been no reports of violence against those who choose not to attend.

Most Nepali people live on farms in the countryside, and their entry to the city is causing visible consternation among the middle and upper classes. More than once I’ve been met with blank stares when I asked “What is the problem with country people coming to the city?”

The privileged have never accepted the Maoists’ 2008 national election victory. They are livid that the Maoists are bringing masses into a process they think should remain a matter of a few big men negotiating who gets what. To the elite, the very presence of Nepal’s masses in the city is a threat. Their attitude may help explain why Nepal is in the middle of a revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Arrogance of Empire: U.S. to Judge Nepali Maoists?

Posted by n3wday on April 28, 2010

The following is a transcript of the press conference yesterday in Kathmandu by Robert O. Blake, Jr. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. It is from the U.S. State Department website.

We hope it is not necessary to say that the views represented here are not ours. Rather they represent the arrogance of an empire that thinks it can dictate how the Nepali people should run their society — and even conduct themselves in street protests.

We present it here as evidence of both the seriousness with which U.S. ruling circles are taking the impending May Day demonstrations. Also interesting is the suggestion that the Maoists closed the private schools in order that they might be used to house demonstrators coming into Kathmandu from the countryside.

We demand: “Take the Maoists off the terrorist list!”

“We … say that the Maoists will be judged not by their words, but by their actions, and how they implement the pledges they have made. That will be the standard by which the United States and other members of the international community will judge the Maoist actions.”

********

“I think investment is constrained now by several things. First of all, by the absence of a peace process and by the instability that exists here in Nepal, but secondly by some of the electricity shortages, and some of the labor problems that exist in part because of these mentioned general strikes.”

Kathmandu, Nepal

April 26, 2010 Read the rest of this entry »

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BBC Report: Nepal’s May Day Cracks into World Media Coverage

Posted by Mike E on April 28, 2010

Maoist rally in capital, April 6

The following is BBC coverage of the growing confrontation in Nepal. If and when these events start to be “handled” and broadcast by the official world media (and as anti-revolutionary narratives start to shape perceptions) our tasks and situation will change — in good ways and bad. There will inevitably be more developed questions and backward views on Nepal among the people, and there will be more interest (among many) to hear a communist analysis of the movement and its goals.

Maoists converge on Nepalese capital

Maoist supporters take part in martial arts training in Kathmandu
The Maoists say they have no alternative but to stage the protest

Thousands of Maoists have converged on the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, ahead of a planned May Day rally on Saturday.

Members of the Maoist youth wing as well as ordinary supporters are camping in hundreds of private schools that they shut down last week.

Maoist leaders insist that Saturday’s demonstration will be against the government and will be non-violent.

However, tension is mounting in the capital where the security forces have been put on high-alert.

On Monday Maoist leader Prachanda urged the public to support the nationwide street protest aimed at toppling the current government.

He said Saturday’s protest – to be followed by a general strike – would be a massive but peaceful show of popular will.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jed Brandt from Nepal: Talking to the Workers

Posted by Mike E on April 28, 2010

photo: jed brandt

photo: jed brandt

The following first appeared on jedbrandt.net. Jed’s other Kasama posts appear here.

by Jed Brandt

The workshops of Kathmandu’s broken-down trolley system are not far from the airport. The roar of jet engines flying low on approach contrasts with the strange silence of the idle repair barns.

Working men play cards beside the rusting hulks of street cars, partially dismantled, piles of machine parts laid along the zinc-sheet walls waiting for resurrection. Some street cars were torched during bandhs shutdowns. None have left the shop in years.

The only bustle is around the union office. Workers were fixing up the central room, while a few dozen machinists sat clustered in the building’s shade, eating lentils and rice. Electrical load-shedding blackouts have crippled the electrical system constantly for three years now, so the trolleys can’t leave their barn. Now the yards provide their sporadic electricity output to charge up battery-converted tuk-tuks – a fleet of three-wheel minivans that are now the scrappy backbone of the city’s chaotic mass transportation.

At the yard gates, and pasted across each of the workshops are Maoist posters calling for total mobilization on May First. The only words in English read “Workers of the World Unite!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Nepal News | Leave a Comment »

Nepal: Maoists Call Anti-Gov’t General Strike

Posted by Mike E on April 28, 2010

The following first appeared on jedbrandt.net. Jed’s other Kasama posts appear here.

“The government will fall or the people will rise. Thousands have already arrived in Kathmandu, occupying the private schools shut down by Maoist students last week. 500,000 villagers are expected to join the workers and students in the city. The Nepal Army is on alert, the People’s Liberation Army is, too. The people are coming to the seat of power. Rallies have started. All eyes are on May First.”

by Jed Brandt

Yesterday, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) called for an indefinite general strike starting May 2, should the current Prime Minister not step aside in the face of the May First mass mobilization.Sector by sector, business as usual is coming to a halt.

Wars and rumors of war

While rumors shoot around the city, the mood is uncertain. Only the Maoists have a resolution in mind, and only they are bringing the population into action. Their morale appears high, and they are busy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Nepal News | 2 Comments »

“Beneath Everest”: Stale Sandwich Theory

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

from the FIRE Collective

We Need No Condescending Saviors: A Review of “Beneath Everest”

by Eric Ribellarsi

Beneath Everest is a new documentary film depicting the revolution in Nepal. While containing some interesting footage and criticisms of the Nepalese monarchy, this film is an obnoxious, arrogant attack from a western liberal perspective on the oppressed of Nepal and their revolution.

The film’s central thesis is the “Sandwich Theory,” or the claim the people are caught between two oppressors. Yet the film’s own footage frequently disproves this claim. Beneath Everest primarily condemns the Maoists for violence, even while admitting most of the violence came via the monarchy. The opening and closing scene of the movie (as well as the film’s trailer) feature a young boy, probably about five years old, saying “why did you kill my father and my brother?” No context is given to this central character until halfway into the movie when we learn the boy’s family were members of the Village Defense Committees, Nepal’s monarchist paramilitary organizations, which were responsible for burning villages and raping women in witch-hunts for Maoists, though this connection is never explored by Beneath Everest. We are just asked again “why did you kill my father and my brother?”

Shortly after this opening scene, we see an interview with Kapil Shrestha (identified only as “professor of political science,” yet having more interview time than any person actually involved in the revolution). Shrestha tells the viewer, “Until very recently, Nepal was known as a very peaceful, beautiful country populated by smiling faces. But this is no longer so.” This excerpt is followed by the film’s “exploration” of Maoist violence.

Is this really so? Was a country that had 42% of its population living below the poverty level and unable to even eat at the start of the people’s war simply “populated by smiling faces?” Was it more “peaceful” when many women were held as private property? Nepal has been gripped in violence long before the start of the people’s war; a systemic violence that starved millions of Nepal’s people to death and forced its women to travel to India to work as prostitutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Maoist Theory, Nepal Background, Nepal News | Leave a Comment »

Kasama Project: Internationalist Leaflet for May First

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

May First — International Workers Day — is a moment for us all to strengthen the revolutionary solidarity and common struggle of the oppressed people of the world. It is particularly telling this year that great outrages have been carried out against immigrant people in these days just before May First. And that in South Asia, May First has become the focus of a major test of strength, as a great crisis grips the old order in Nepal.

Here are copies of the Kasama Project’s leaflet for this May First 2010 — helping more people know about the revolutionary crisis and communist efforts in Nepal — and deepen the connections and internationalist understanding between the working people worldwide.

The leaflet is designed to be two-sided (one side Spanish, the other side English). And it is available in both color and black-and-white.

(Props to the design and translation team.)

May First leaflet  Color (English) (Spanish)

May First Leaflet Black-and-White (English) (Spanish) Read the rest of this entry »

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Nepal Report: Revolutionary students shut down 8,000 private schools indefinitely

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

The following is a report from Nepal, first posted on jedbrandt.net. Jed Brandt’s previous reports, photos and writings are also available here on Kasama.

by Jed Brandt

KATHMANDU April 25 — Revolutionary students allied with the Maoists today shut down 8,000 private school across Nepal demanding fee hikes be immediately withdrawn. Business offices were padlocked at major schools last week. When negotiations between the student union and school owners broke down, several buses were torched. As of today, an indefinite closure was ordered as Nepal approaches the Maoist decisive May First mobilization.

Re-structuring Nepal’s two-tier educational system has been a key demand of the Maoists since they launched the People’s War in 1996. With public school lacking books, salaries for teachers and even buildings throughout much of the countryside, much of Nepal’s education is pay-as-you-go. Tuition for Kathmandu Valley is about the same amount most wage-earners bring home, excluding the working classes from serious education. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is a Bandh in South Asia?

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

Bandh in Nepal over the unsolved murder of a young communist  activist

As the revolutionary movements of South Asia grab more and more attention — the word bandh is appearing. There are currently a number of major bandhs going on in Nepal — led by Maoist forces — including a new bandh of students shutting down thousands of schools in support of the revolutionary movement.

Jed Brandt has written from Nepal:

“April 25 — Revolutionary students allied with the Maoists today shut down 8,000 private school across Nepal demanding fee hikes be immediately withdrawn. Business offices were padlocked at major schools last week. When negotiations between the student union and school owners broke down, several buses were torched. As of today, an indefinite closure was ordered as Nepal approaches the Maoist decisive May First mobilization.”

And also recently:

“Indefinite bandhs are paralyzing large parts of the country after the arrest of Young Communist League (YCL) cadre in the isolated far west and Maoist student leaders in Pokhora, the central gateway to the Annapurna mountain range.”

Bandh is the word used in South Asia for political shutdowns (of whole areas, neighborhoods, factories or sometimes schools).

But what exactly is a bandh?

Sometimes it is translated “general strike” — which has led to some confusing debates among forces who have very particular ideas about “general strikes” (and how they should be conducted). Other times, it has been seen through the prism of north American experience (with particular kinds of  formalized strikes of trade unions and workers).

One place we can (perhaps start) is simply to share the entry in Wikipedia and have some discussion here:

Bandh (Hindi: बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning ‘closed’, is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries in South Asia like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a major political party or a large chunk of a community declares a general strike, usually lasting one day. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Nepal Background, Nepal News | 3 Comments »