Revolution in South Asia

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Archive for April 26th, 2010

“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 »

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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 »

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

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 »

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

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 »

Updated w/hi rez: Jed Brandt’s High Noon in Nepal

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

Jed Brandt’s recent report from Kathmandu is now available in a printable/readable pamphlet. Share it. It first appeared in web form on Kasama and Jed’s own blog.

Pamphlet:

May First: High Noon in Nepal (b-&-w)

May First: High Noon in Nepal (color)

Excerpt:

APRIL 21 — There are moments when Kathmandu does not feel like a city on the edge of revolution. People go about all the normal business of life. Venders sell vegetables, nail-clippers and bootleg Bollywood from the dirt, cramping the already crowded streets. Uniformed kids tumble out of schools with neat ties in the hot weather. Municipal police loiter at the intersections while traffic ignores them, their armed counter-parts patrol in platoons through the city with wood-stocked rifles and dust-masks as they have for years. New slogans are painted over the old, almost all in Maoist red. Daily blackouts and dry-season water shortages are the normal daily of Nepal’s primitive infrastructure, not the sign of crisis. Revolutions don’t happen outside of life, like an asteroid from space – but from right up the middle, out of the people themselves.

Passing through Kathmandu’s Trichandra college campus after meeting with students in a nearby media program, I walked into the aftermath of bloody attack. Thugs allied with the Congress party student group had cut up leaders of a rival student group with khukuri knives leaving one in critical condition. Hundreds of technical students were clustered in the street when I arrived by chance. The conflict most often described through the positioning of political leaders is breaking out everywhere.

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. The southern Terai is in chaos, with several power centers competing and basic security has broken down with banditry, extortion and kidnapping are now endemic. Government ministers cannot appear anywhere without Maoist pickets waving black flags and throwing rocks. Read the rest of this entry »

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

India: Important Interview with Azad on the Ceasefire Proposition, Armed Struggle, and the Crimes of the Indian Government

Posted by n3wday on April 26, 2010

This article was sent out on the Maoist Revolution e-list.

Important Interview of Communist Party of India (Maoist) Spokesperson  

Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:07 am (PDT)

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Azad, spokesperson of the Communist Party of India(Maoist), answered in writing questions about the party’s proposal for a mutual ceasefire and talks with the Union government, how the party views the necessity of meeting the violence of the State with the revolutionary counter-violence of the masses, the issue of the role of schools in combat zones, and the building of a united front of all revolutionary and democratic forces against the Indian state.

Edited text of 12,262-word response by Azad, Spokesperson, Central Committee, CPI (Maoist)

1. In recent weeks one has seen statements by the Government of India and leaders of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) saying they are in favor of dialogue and talks but each side seems to lack seriousness. There has also been an element of drama or more precisely, theatre, with Kishenji and P. Chidambaram exchanging statements through the media. Our first question is whether Kishenji’s statements can be treated as authoritative pronouncements of the CPI (Maoist) central leadership in pursuance of a national strategy? Or are these tactical announcements by him keeping only the specifics of the Bengal situation in mind.

Azad: It is true our Party leadership has been issuing statements from time to time in response to the government’s dubious offer of talks. But to generalize that there is lack of seriousness on both sides does not correspond to reality. To an observer, exchanging statements through the media does sound a bit theatrical. And it is precisely such theatrical and sensational things the media relishes while more serious things are swept aside.

Now the stark fact is lack of seriousness has been the hallmark of the government, particularly of the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. It is Mr. Chidambaram who has been enacting a drama in the past four months, particularly ever since his amusing 72-hour-abjure-violence diktat to the CPI (Maoist) in the course of his interview with Tehelka Magazine some time last November.

As regards Kishenji’s statements, they should be seen with a positive attitude, not with cynicism. Though our central committee has not discussed our specific strategy with regard to talks with the government at the current juncture, as a Polit Bureau member, comrade Kishenji had taken initiative and made a concrete proposal for a ceasefire. Whether comrade Kishenji’s statements are the official pronouncements of our Central Committee is not the point of debate here. What is important is the attitude of the government to such an offer in the first place. Our central committee has no objection to his proposal for a ceasefire. But as far as the issue of talks is concerned, our Party will pursue the guidelines given by our Unity Congress-9th Congress held in early 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in India Background, India News, Maoist Theory | 3 Comments »