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Nepal - Demonstrationer vendt mod monarkiet spredes over stadig større dele af landet

Nepal monarchy shaky as insurgency, protests spread

David Hoskins, 25. januar 2006

Demonstrationer vendt mod Kong Gyanendras illegitime regering og mod selv monarkiet spreder sig over stadig større dele af Nepal. Det forekommer som om intensititen tiltager i takt med politiets stadig voldsommere fremfærd. Maoisternes bevæbnede opstand intensiveres og deres militære kampagner målrettes i stigende omfang mod sikkerhedsstyrkernes mindre forlægninger omkring de større byer. Kongen og den traditionelle elite er hårdt trængt, og deres traditionelle forbundsfæller i Vesten støtter i stigende omfang de demokratiske initiativer.

Large protests have erupted throughout Nepal against the repressive regime of King Gyanendra. Nepal’s absolute monarch recently unleashed a fresh wave of state terror with the imposition of a nighttime curfew in the capital, Kathmandu, and other parts of the country. The curfew marked the intensification of a violent campaign by armed forces to squelch opposition to Gyanendra’s direct rule.

Nepal, located north of India in the Himalaya mountains, has a population of over 27 million people, the vast majority of whom live in great poverty.

Government forces banned public meetings, cut off all mobile phone service and threatened “strict action” against individuals who publicly campaign against upcoming elections. An alliance of seven opposition parties, forced from office in 2002 when Gyanendra dissolved the parliament, has been organizing for a boycott of planned municipal polls. The seven-party alliance has criticized the election as a gimmick designed to solidify the king’s control.

Defying the government ban on public meetings, the alliance held a protest rally in Kathmandu on Jan. 21. Several hundred opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists were arrested for participating in the mass action. The peaceful rally turned violent as police used force to unlawfully detain protesters. The demonstrators responded by building blockades of burning tires and clashing with police forces.

Armed insurgency spreads

The government crackdown betrays its fear that revolutionary forces in the country are close to taking power. In early January, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) resumed the armed struggle after having observed a four-month-long, unilateral ceasefire. The government had failed to heed the calls of human rights activists and the United Nations to reciprocate with a ceasefire of its own.

The CPN(M)’s armed wing — the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — has stepped up its military offensive. Explaining why it called off the ceasefire, rebel leaders issued a statement saying: “The royal army is surrounding our people’s liberation army, which is in defensive positions, to carry out ground as well as air attacks on us. Therefore, we are compelled to go on the offensive not only for the sake of peace and democracy but for the sake of self-defense.”

In the weeks following the end of ceasefire, the People’s Liberation Army waged a number of attacks on army barracks, police posts and government buildings. Scores of armed police and soldiers were killed in the attacks. Coordinated armed actions took place for the first time in Kathmandu, with multiple raids on police posts and government buildings.

Over a dozen police officers were killed and several government buildings destroyed in the simultaneous attacks in the capital. The People’s Liberation Army carried out additional armed actions throughout other parts of Nepal during this time.

People’s Liberation Army and alliance reach agreement

The seven-party alliance has stepped up its criticism of the monarchy at the same time that the People’s Liberation Army has intensified its strategic offensive. News reports indicate that the People’s Liberation Army boasts a fighting force in excess of 15,000 strong, with another 50,000 organized into militias in the liberated zones. Meanwhile, bourgeois opposition parties, such as the Congress Party, have removed clauses supporting a constitutional monarchy from their party constitutions.

The CPN(M) used the period of unilateral ceasefire to negotiate a 12-point agreement with the alliance parties. The agreement solidifies two of the revolutionary force’s key goals by calling for an end to the autocratic monarchy and elections to a constituent assembly. Both the revolutionaries and the seven-party alliance acknowledged past mistakes and guaranteed not to repeat errors made either in the process of armed conflict or participation in the now-dissolved parliament.

Nepal has been plagued by a succession of corrupt and tyrannical monarchs who oversaw decades of poverty and despair for the peasants and working masses. Massive street protests in 1991 forced the previous monarch, King Birendra, to allow elections to Nepal’s parliament. However, the parliamentary parties proved unable to arrest the declining living standards of the Nepali people.

Nine prime ministers assumed power over the next 10 years. Even the reformist United Marxist-Leninist Party, elected in 1994, could not bring about the necessary social changes, such as land reform, to improve the quality of life and empower Nepal’s workers and peasants.

The CPN(M) launched its people’s war in 1996. It was not difficult for the revolutionary forces to find a mass base of support in a country where only 10 percent of the people have access to electric power. More than 85 percent live in rural areas without running water or basic sanitation, and malnutrition is rampant among children.

The U.S., Britain and India have given open military support to the monarchy in the past. Now, however, they must at least give the appearance of supporting some sort of democratic change. However, this does not preclude covert support for the repressive state.

Recent developments demonstrate that Nepal’s monarchy has dug its own grave throughout years of forced impoverishment and oppression. The workers and peasants of Nepal are poised to take political power for themselves and rectify the situation. This more than anything else worries the Nepali ruling class and fuels the country’s current crisis.

© Workers World - This article appeared originally on www.workers.org and is published by engelund.dk according to a Creative Commons License.
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Opdateret d. 31.1.2006