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"the world's first communist monarchy". Barely reported the US is providing another $21 million in military assistance to help Nepal fight a Maoist insurgency (read: faction of communist united front representing agrarian poor excluded from government in 1996 -> peasant uprising) that had the capital under a blockade, lifting it for one month yesterday. Washington is calling on international support to help crush the rebellion, which has been forthcoming from India and the UK, among others, for some time. So far as conflict resolution goes, the Maoist demands are:
the monarchy must be abolished; there must be an election for a constituent assembly which should write a new constitution; and, in order to have these elections, the present government must resign and an all-party interim government should administer the elections. The government rejected these demands and insisted the Maoists must first renounce violence. The Maoists accused the government of not being serious about the talks, broke the ceasefire and resumed their attacks.
On 04 October 2002, Nepal's King Gyanendra dismissed the country's elected government saying it failed to deal with the Maoist rebellion and put off general elections that were scheduled for November.
The LA Times truncates these details down to "fighting since 1996 to replace Nepal's monarchy with a communist state", which is funny because it was the elected communist state that set off the insurgency. Ahh context! And I want a pony for christmas.
Until 2001 the conflict was fought mostly between Maoists and police forces, the military has since been brought in. Beginning in 2002 the rebels began striking US targets: US embassies, Coca-Cola plants, etc. In 2003 the State Department declared the insurgency a terrorist organization, from what I've read thus far there's little reason to say the same of the government, which has been relatively moderate in it's armed response. Further reading would involve finding out why the Maoists, representing, apparently, some 20% of the population, were excluded from the government in the first place.
Update: I was talking with a friend of mine tonight about this who spent some time in Nepal last April. She described a mass protest against the regime that was cordoned off in a stadium to keep it away from the prying eyes of tourists - free speech zones everywhere! Which reminded me that the first I'd heard of Nepal's insurgency was when she and her travelling companion sent me their travel log back that week, the relevant passage being this:
Maoist rebels are fighting to end the
Monarch's rule, but the King is holding on to his
power with the help of the army. There are soldiers with
very advanced weapons wandering about everywhere; to
keep the tourists safe and to instill fear into the
Nepalese people so they don't join the protests.
There are non-violent political parties who, along with
the Maoists, want to end the Monarchy but the King has
outlawed peaceful demonstrations. I can honestly say
that the average tourist wouldn't even know there was
tension unless s/he read the morning paper; however,
once you get clued into the situation the danger and
anger is palpable.
Things to read more thoroughly:
- Those "very advanced weapons" are in large part of American make and model, there are also, apparently, American "advisors" in country. FPF's Conn Hallinan argues the Bush administration is setting Nepal up for a bloody counter-insurgency campaign in a conflict that has no military solution: Nepal & the Bush Administration: Into Thin Air. It also makes the claim that "most of the civilian deaths are attributed to government forces".
- ICG - Nepal reported last February that the Government is creating and arming village level militias, e.g. untrained paramilitaries. The success of that strategy can be observed in Columbia. ICG had people on the ground during a Maoist attack on the pilot village, which ought to be interesting. Their backgrounds on the peace process criticize the government rather extensively, with many shoulds and should nots for both sides, including that Maoists "demonstrate the seriousness of their new commitment to ... open markets". Whatever that means in practice - are agrarian revolutionaries supposed to support competition with Western ag subsidies? Bless George Soros and his little shrivelled up p'or ole soul. Details of this report appear to correspond to those from FPF.
- For raising hellfire against Maoist infractions of human rights HRW and AIs' headlines suggest no shortage of material. For more in that vein, on Maoist policy, see this travel log in Zmag.
- maoism.org is for sale, by the way, and according to nationmaster.com the Maoists control most of the country at this point, a detail I don't recall reading elsewhere. Kinda makes the the US Ambassador sound like a dumb chump, 'lay down your arms before you control all of it'.
- World Press Review reports on efforts to account for the dead and wounded: "So far, almost 10,000 people have lost their lives—more than 1,000 in the two months after the cease-fire ended on Aug. 27. INSEC said government forces killed 775 people while the rebels have been responsible for 317 deaths."
- The Swiss website RA Online, a site that promotes Nepalese (and Swiss and Bhutanese) tourism has, curiously, a number of reports on Maoist tactics. They have a subtitle reading "30% of the Maoist fighters are women. The average age is 19 years old. The rebels now control 40% of Nepal". They have maps tracking the spread of the insurgency. If you can't trust online tourist sites what can you trust?
Update 8/31: 12 Nepalese workers taken hostage and murded in Iraq, the "Ansar al-Sunna Army" had no demands, no deadlines:
A video purporting to show the methodical, grisly killings of 12 Nepalese workers kidnapped in Iraq was posted Tuesday on a website linked to an insurgent group operating in Iraq.
If true, the slayings would mark the largest number of foreign hostages killed at one time by insurgents in Iraq who have seized more than 100 hostages in recent months in their drive to destabilize the U.S.-installed government in Baghdad and force coalition troops and foreign workers to withdraw.
:: posted by buermann @ 2004-08-24 10:35:33 CST |