Nepal Capital Paralysed by Rebel Strike

Yoshie Furuhashi yoshie at union.org.za
Mon Dec 30 00:59:31 MST 2002


*****   29 Dec 2002 11:54
Nepal capital paralysed by rebel strike

(Recasts with quotes from government official)

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU, Dec 29 (Reuters) - A general strike called by
Maoist rebels paralysed Nepal's capital Kathmandu on Sunday
but was generally peaceful.

Most shops were closed and streets were deserted during the
day, the first of a two-day strike called by the Maoists as
part of a campaign to topple the constitutional monarchy.

"There was no untoward incident and normal life remained
peaceful," Home (Interior) Ministry spokesman Gopendra
Bahadur Pandey told Reuters. "Strict security measures had
been in place."

Witnesses said few vehicles plied the streets while shops
in the main business district remained shuttered.

"It is a complete closure," Keshab Prasad Poudel, a
resident, told Reuters....

<http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP71433>   *****

*****   December 29, 2002

Insurgents Create Growing Instability in Nepal

By DAVID ROHDE

BHIMSEN NAGAR, Nepal — His former neighbors describe him as
"kindhearted" and "generous." His junior high teacher
changed his name to "Lotus Flower" because he was so gentle
and handsome. His father still shows off pictures of him as
a grown man tenderly placing his hand on his mother's
forehead as she lay dying of leukemia.

"It was his habit to make people smile," said his father,
Mukti Ram Dahal, in a rare interview with a foreign
journalist. "He used to do it with everybody."

But to the rest of Nepal and to the outside world, the man
now known by the nom de guerre Prachanda, or "the fierce
one," is the leader of a violent Maoist insurgency that has
claimed more than 7,000 lives since 1996 in this mountain
kingdom that sits as a buffer between India and China.

The United States has grown so concerned that it is
providing $17 million in military equipment and sending
American soldiers to train Nepal's army, a move that has
Chinese officials worried about American meddling in their
backyard.

A post-Mao, quasi-capitalist Beijing disowns the rebels and
accuses them of "usurping the name of the leader of the
Chinese people." Indian officials, meanwhile, fear a rising
tide of refugees and what a Maoist victory could do to
re-energize sputtering insurgencies in their own country.

The insurgents, who call themselves the Communist Party of
Nepal (Maoist), modeled after Peru's own Maoist Shining
Path guerrillas, have seized control of 40 percent of Nepal
and paralyzed its economy and political system. ...

Prachanda and other Maoist leaders took their hard-line
Communist faction underground in 1996, after winning only 9
of the 205 seats in Parliament in earlier elections.
Government officials initially scoffed at the group. But
within months, Prachanda and other leaders had created a
highly organized insurgency.

They overran isolated police posts to obtain weapons. They
robbed banks to obtain money. They banned drinking,
gambling, trafficking in women and domestic violence. They
staged plays that depicted caste and ethnic discrimination
to recruit cadres. They soon became active in more than
half of the country's 75 districts, forming shadow
"people's governments" in 22 of them.

At first, civilian government officials countered the
insurgents with brutal police sweeps. The corruption,
ineffectiveness and harsh methods of successive governments
also aided the insurgents' cause....

[The full article is available at
<http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/29/international/asia/29NEPA.html>.]
  *****

Reuters, "Nepal Ready to Give Details About Jailed Rebels,"
December 30, 2002, Filed at 0:21 a.m. ET,
<http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/international/international-nepal.html>.

"A Communication from the Revolutionaries in Nepal on the
Current (September 2002) Situation in the Civil War,"
<http://www.monthlyreview.org/0902bhattarai.htm>.

---
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