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imperialism & war

Social Tensions and US Covert Intervention in Nepal

I am an activist from Portland who has been travelling in South Asia for a few months. I am now in the capital of Nepal, Katmandu, and there is a now a troubling presence of military and police forces, which are armed and in riot gear, around some of the major thoroughfares. About a week ago, Nepalese students protesting bus fare hikes were shot at by police; five were murdered and publicly left to die.
After the police attack on the students there was a bus strike, which debilitated the transport service of Nepal for a couple days. The military forced out the bus strike and there are now constant military and police checkpoints on all the roads in the country. The royal government controls the cities, but the Maoist insurgency has a great amount of support in the countryside. One can easily see their graffiti in many parts of the country. The royal government has also been conducting an important propaganda campaign sending around trucks with Nepalese flags and rousing music; afterwards, the speakers berate the listeners with patriotic messages and finish their speeches with songs. Due to the social pressures at the moment, the royal government of Nepal is deciding on whether to reopen the negotiation process with the Maoist guerillas, which the royal Nepalese state has repeatedly broken off before. However, the new power broker of South Asia, the United States Government, is threatening the royal Nepalese government over "negotiating with terrorists." The US foreign service has recently labeled the "Maoists" as terrorists. The royal Nepalese government has had some rough dealings with the US state apparatus as of late. The current monarch who claims to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu has had to expel Mormon missionaries from Nepali territory due to their aggressive proselytizing. The Mormons have also been giving the most reliable intelligence information to US embassy officials concerning the Maoist insurgency in the countryside. The US state wants a further opening of Nepalese markets to IMF and WTO guidelines and demands a liquidation of the "terrorist threat." Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Half the children are able to attend schools. One often sees seven to ten year old boys as shoe hands, dishwashers, porters and street cleaners in the cities. There are many abandoned street children and families that live on and from the streets. My first day in the city, I was literally attacked by them demanding that I give them some candy or some money. Some Nepalese families sell their daughters to prostitution rings in India for some extra cash. Disease kills many children before the age of five and life expectancy is still in the fifties for most Nepalese. Malaria, Cholera and Dyssentary kill many adults each year. (In the northeast of the country there was a serious famine that killed many children and the elderly). There is also a problem of political exiles and refugees from Tibet, Bhutan and Burma. Some of them are still forced to live in refugee concentration camps along the borders; the Bhutanese exiles are a good example of this. Most Nepalese are peasants, yet very few own their own lands. They must pay a tax to certain "land brokers." Nepal is also a diverse country of many ethnic groups, yet it is ruled by a royal family that traces its blood to a royal caste of Kshatriyas from Rajastan, India. The country still functions on a strict Medieval Hindu hierarchy of "varna" caste color, and "jati" social place; bloody animal sacrifices are routinely performed, and human sacrifices were only recently done away with. The Royal family had a recent tragedy where the crown prince machine gunned most of his family and then killed himself. The US Euro corporate media stated that it was due to a problem of a forced marriage, but strangely, the uncle promptly declared himself King of Nepal. The spendthrift uncle was known for his like of fast cars, fighting and women. He has already killed a few unfortunates who got in his way of taste. Most Nepalese believe that he orchestrated the Royal Family Massacre. Adding to this, the instability of various governments under the monarchy; one group often annulling the rights of the other faction, and then later, the government falling apart completely. Due to this gross scenario of injustice, some Nepalese people see the Maoist insurgency as a somewhat positive change. One can only hope that the corrupt system, currently placed in Nepal, will resist US state pressures and will forge some type of negotiation. The region's history often shows a harsher reality.
other viewpoint 28.Sep.2004 05:45

anonymous American married to a Nepalese

I certainly have nothing positive to say about the current monarchy ruling Nepal. But you must consider that the alternative is not better. After working in the Arabian Gulf 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, for three years and making $240.00 U.S. dollars per month , my Nepalese husband amazingly saved some money. He came back home to Nepal only to have it forcibly taken from the Maoists. What suffering and terrorism they have caused. Have they ever heard of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.?