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New Thunder in Nepal: Ceasefire Ends, New Fighting Begins

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New Thunder in Nepal


Ceasefire Ends, New Fighting Begins


Revolutionary Worker #1212, September 14, 2003, href="http://rwor.org">posted at rwor.org


A seven-month ceasefire in the People's War in Nepal has
ended, and across the Himalayan countryside there is now
intensifying fighting and tit-for-tat battles between the
People's Liberation Army and government forces.


In a press statement issued on August 27, Prachanda,
Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), exposed the
"cold-blooded killings of party members by the Royal Nepalese
Army during the ceasefire period," and the government's refusal
to seriously discuss the Maoists' main demands.


A ceasefire and negotiations started on January 29, 2003. By
any objective standard, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
abided by the "spirit and letter" of the ceasefire and the code
of conduct both sides had agreed to--while the royal government
repeatedly broke that agreement. Government forces continued to
arrest and murder Maoists, refused to honor its agreement to
keep RNA soldiers within five kilometers of their barracks,
declared it would never accept the end of the monarchy through
a constituent assembly and the establishment of a republic, and
demanded that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) hand over
their guns.


Then on August 17, even as a third round of talks was taking
place, the Royal Army murdered 19 Maoists in cold blood.


This crime took place in Doramba village, Ramechhap district
in eastern Nepal, 75 miles east of Kathmandu. According to a
press release by Amnesty International, 19 Maoists had been
meeting in a house when security forces arrived on the scene
and opened fire. One Maoist was shot dead and 18 others were
taken into custody. The royal army then took the 18 to
Dandakateri in Daduwa, some two hours walk away, where they
were lined up and shot dead one by one. Among those killed was
Baburam Lama, the chief of the district people's government
(created by the new revolutionary people's power).


This blatant murder and violation of the ceasefire was a
continuation of what the royal army and police had been doing
all through the ceasefire. While the government pretended to
negotiate in good faith, its army and police killed at least 50
people, arrested and disappeared hundreds, looted villages and
gang- raped women.


Many people were killed in fake encounters and many
activists, including leaders in the new revolutionary people's
government, were arrested. The Maoists also reported that the
royal army went into villages disguised as Maoists, asking
people for shelter or other assistance--and then those who
offered help were terrorized. RNA soldiers, disguised as
Maoists, also looted villages and attacked peasants, trying to
turn the people against the revolution.


In all these ways, the royal army not only continued to
break the ceasefire--but was in fact, provoking and resuming
war.


PLA Launches New Wave of Attacks


The day after Chairman Prachanda's August 27 statement,
there was an ambush on a security patrol, attacks on two
military commanders, and the seizure of four million rupees
from a bank. Several other actions by revolutionary forces were
also reported on this day--marking the beginning of a new wave
of military actions against the royal army, police and
reactionary institutions in different parts of the country.


It was not surprising that after the end of the ceasefire,
one of the first major clashes between PLA and RNA soldiers
took place in Rolpa, the heart of the People's War. According
to news reports, fighting broke out when 200 Maoists attacked
an army patrol. Fighting lasted for a couple of hours--then a
second clash in the evening reportedly lasted several more
hours.


Actions against the government were also taken in the
cities. In Kathmandu, an RNA colonel was killed and another
wounded.


In the week after the ceasefire ended, there were daily
reports of fighting between guerrillas and government forces,
attacks on police and army posts, bank robberies, seizures of
arms and ammunition, and, in the city, strikes--which shut down
shops and schools and brought traffic to a halt.


The Maoists have announced a general strike for September 18
to 20, and propaganda activities from August 28 to September
10, to be followed by a "people's mobilization" and people's
actions (janakarbahi). The nationwide general strike has been
called by the CPN (Maoist), the People's Liberation Army and
the United People's Revolutionary Council, under the slogan
"march forward on the path of struggle for complete
change."


Crackdown and Moves Toward a New State of
Emergency


In November 2001, after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., the
Nepalese government, headed by the Nepali Congress, quickly
labelled the Maoists "terrorists," imposed a nationwide state
of emergency and mobilized the royal army for the first time
against the People's War. Over 5,000 people were killed in the
following year alone, until the ceasefire was announced in late
January 2003.


Now the royal government looks like it is moving toward a
new state of emergency and another campaign of murder and
brutality against the people. And the King and his army will
have the backing of the U.S. and other foreign powers, like
Britain and India, who have already given a lot of political
and military support to try and defeat the Maoists.


The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu issued a statement against the
attacks on the royal army and other actions, saying, "terrorist
acts like these are exactly what earned the Maoists a place on
the U.S. Terrorist Watch List." As the A World to Win
News Service points out, "These words, too, are revealing. If
millions upon millions of peasants and others seeking
emancipation from more than two centuries of grinding feudalism
and imperialist exploitation and repression are labeled
`terrorists,' then this is another indication that America's
`war on terrorism' is a global offensive against the peoples of
the world."


A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been declared in many parts of the
country. In some areas security personnel have been issued
shoot-on-sight orders against curfew violators. The government
has banned all protest rallies in the Kathmandu Valley,
designated "riot-prone areas," and banned gatherings of more
than five people.


There is not much reliable news about what the royal army
and police are doing in the countryside at this point. But in
the cities, there is a huge crackdown on any and all forms of
protest--including demon- strations by mainstream political
parties that have been part of the government.


Part of the complexity of the political scene in Nepal is
that throughout the ceasefire and negotiations, the main
parliamentary parties have been locked out of the official
government and have been organizing ongoing campaigns against
the royal government.


In October 2002 (before the ceasefire), King Gyanendra
dismissed the elected prime minister and replaced him with his
own candidate. In May, street demonstrations forced the King to
appoint another prime minister--also from the pro-monarchy
party. A coalition of the five main political parties called
for a boycott of the government and a campaign of protest
against the King's unconstitutional move.


An information bulletin by the Internationalist Nepalese
Solidarity Forum describes the situation, "The parliamentary
parties [who are now protesting the King] were the partners of
the murderer and criminal monarch in imposing the state of
emergency, dissolving the parliament and providing higher
authority to the monarch in a different manner. Now there is no
constitution. There is no rule of law. There is no system of
responsibility but anarchy and the royal military dictatorship.
The King appoints the prime ministers and ministers in the
style of the 15th and 16th century absolute monarchs..."


Hundreds of opposition activists have been arrested in
Kathmandu, including senior leaders of the Nepali Congress and
the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist). Both of
these parties had been part of the government before the King
dissolved the parliament and were instrumental in carrying out
the vicious counterinsurgency campaign against the people
during the 2001-2002 State of Emergency.


The police have also attacked the National Students' Union
(NSU), the student wing of the Nepali Congress--rounding up
more than 200 of them and taking them to unknown locations.


After the ceasefire ended, leaders of the Nepali Congress
stated they didn't want to "put further pressure upon the
government in terms of security management in the valley and
want to act responsibly at the time of crisis." And the
CPN(UML) softened its stance even more--Madhav Kumar Nepal,
head of the CPN(UML), said, "Although we don't trust the king
who repeatedly betrayed us in the past, I think we have to give
him another chance and be responsive to the current
deteriorating political situation."


The five-party coalition announced it would hold its
demonstration not against the king but as a protest against the
restrictions on public assembly. But this conciliatory stance
didn't protect these opposition parties from being attacked. On
September 4, when thousands protested, defying the government's
ban on mass gatherings, they were attacked by the police.


When a reported 3,000 protesters converged at a major city
junction from several different directions, the police arrested
at least 1,000 people. The UML says 800 of its members were
arrested, while the Nepali Congress said 700 of their people
had been apprehended. Those arrested included the General
Secretary of the Nepali Congress and a senior leader of the
CPN(UML).


U.S. Intervention and Support for the King


As the People's War has advanced over the last few years,
the U.S., Britain, India and other foreign powers have
dramatically increased political and military support to the
Nepalese government in its efforts to defeat the Maoists. Now
that fierce and widespread fighting has resumed, these powers
are even more concerned that the Maoists could seize power.
They know that a Maoist victory in Nepal would have
far-reaching and strategic repercussions throughout the South
Asian region--and beyond.


The Maoists agreed to the ceasefire and negotiations from a
position of real strength. Even under the brutal State of
Emergency and a vicious "search and destroy" campaign by the
RNA, the People's Liberation Army was able to wage huge
battles--some involving thousands of guerrillas--and win
battles against the RNA. The Maoists had set up new people's
governments and extended areas of control beyond their
strongholds in Rolpa and Rukum in the West. And even the
mainstream press has had to admit that the guerrillas now
control most of the countryside--and that the government only
has power in the cities and district headquarters.


Within days after the ceasefire ended the U.S. and British
moved to directly intervene in the situation.


On August 31, the U.S. and the British ambassadors went to
the home of Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala and
asked him to unite with the monarchy and the government to
fight the Maoists. The two ambassadors argued that the Maoist
People's War is a bigger problem than the Royal intervention of
October 4, 2002.


Kantipur reported, "The ambassadors asked the
NC leader, his party, and the other parties waging a joint
agitation, that going for a confrontation with the government
now would only would strengthen the Maoists' hand... High-level
Nepali Congress sources, requesting anonymity, said that
Koirala asked the ambassadors to use their good offices to
ensure restoration of the House of Representatives which could
pave the way out of the crisis..."


The ambassadors reportedly said the King and Prime Minister
would restore the democratic system-- but only after the
Maoists have been dealt with. The ambassadors also visited the
head of the CPN(UML) to deliver a similar message.


Throughout the seven-month ceasefire, the U.S. worked to
defeat the People's War in Nepal. Right before the ceasefire
started, the U.S. began joint military exercises with the Royal
Nepalese Army--in the western region, in the heart of the
People's War. While negotiations were going on, the U.S.
continued to give military aid and training to the Royal
Nepalese Army.


Even after the Nepalese government retracted the "terrorist"
label on the Maoists--while negotiations were going on--the
U.S. pointedly added the CPN(M) to its "terrorist watch list."
In early August the U.S. increased its defence aid to Nepal
from a couple of hundred thousand to $17 million--aimed at
building the Royal Nepalese Army into a more effective
counterrevolutionary force. The RNA received 5,000 M-16 rifles
from the U.S. and a promise of 8,000 more. Development grants
for projects termed "insurgency relevant" were increased from
$24 million to $38 million. During this time the U.S. also
forced Nepal to sign a five-year "anti-terrorist" agreement--in
which the U.S. will provide arms and training to the
counterinsurgency forces. And according to the World To Win
News Service
, 200 U.S. soldiers have been in Nepal serving
as "advisors."


*****


The People's War in Nepal has continued to advance and now
with the end of the ceasefire, and the instability of the
reactionary royal government, there is an even greater threat
of further intervention by the U.S., Britain, and India.


Prachanda spoke to this danger in his August 27 statement
where he said, "We specially request all `genuine peace-loving'
international organizations and people to raise voices against
the increasing foreign interference and dictatorship of the old
feudal regime in Nepal."




This article is posted in English and Spanish on
Revolutionary Worker Online

rwor.org

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