Nepal monarchy shaky as insurgency, protests spread
Published Jan 25, 2006 1:24 AM
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.
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.
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—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 PLA 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
Over a dozen police officers were killed and several government
buildings destroyed in the simultaneous attacks in the capital. The PLA carried
out additional armed actions throughout other parts of Nepal during this
PLA and alliance reach agreement
alliance has stepped up its criticism of the monarchy at the same time that the
PLA has intensified its strategic offensive. News reports indicate that the PLA
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
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
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.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE