Saturday, April 22, 2006

General Strike and Protests in Nepal

The BBC reports that in Nepal, several thousand protesters began marching from the south towards the royal palace in Kathmandu. The crowd made up primarily of youth marched towards the palace in a largely celebratory mood chanting "We want Democracy" and ""Gyane Leave the Country!" (Gyane is the name of the current king). In some areas riot police sent tear gas into the peaceful crowds and attacked the youths with batons leaving behind a scene of bloody desolation. This follows on the security forces brutally attacking a group of 500 lawyers protesting for democracy on Thursday, April 13. The people of Nepal have instituted a "crippling" nationwide general strike to add additional pressure.

The protests are a response to the king's announcement earlier this week to allow parties to participate in the parliament. Most Nepalese see the king's announcement as an empty gesture, since he took control of the country in a bloody coup during which many of his own family members were brutally murdered. They wonder how these nods toward democracy, protected behind a wall of heavily armed security forces, can put Nepal on the path toward peace.

Many of the protestors symbolically wore red clothing and others waved the flag of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a reminder to the forces that control the cities of Nepal that the majority of working people in Nepal support the rebel forces which have taken control of 80% of the countryside.

In fact, it is widely acknowledged that the only reason the monarchy holds any power at all is due to massive economic and military support from the United States and by proxy, India, and likely the UK as well. In approximately 20% of the states of India there is also a growing Maoist rebellion largely in response to neoliberal economic "reforms" that have impoverished and marginalized large numbers of rural farmers.

The ruling classes of India and their counterparts in the United States see a Maoist victory in Nepal as a fundamental threat to their own legitimacy, and rightly so. A peoples army victory in Nepal which demonstrates that even a poor, rural, uneducated rabble can be galvanized into an effective force for social change through the power of Marxist ideology is a clear threat to the power of capitalists everywhere. It is why you see them partnering with the most reactionary of political partners in this instance, the monarch of Nepal, who has enacted draconian laws that run counter to the most basic of human rights (a 13-year old girl raped by a family-member was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for the "crime" of having an abortion).

We stand in solidarity with the people of Nepal who are fighting for a better tommorrow regardless of their political affiliation. We call for the end to the monarchy and immediate democratic elections. We call for the military and para-military police forces to end hostilities against their own population, and for immediate honest peace negotiations with the CPN(M).


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