[Marxism] New York Newsday's hatchet job on the CP of Nepal (Maoist)
lancemurdoch at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 14:06:31 MDT 2005
Sunday's New York Newsday had a 16 page special pullout the front of
which says "NEPAL - A Country On The BRINK" the bottom of which says
"4-Day series begins | Stories by Matthew McAllester and photos by
Moises Saman". The cover is a picture, the caption of which says
"Female villagers carry rocks as a part of a road-building project in
the Maoist-controlled part of Nepal. The workers are being forced to
help build a stretch of the 56 1/2 mile Martyrs Road". This kind of
gives you an idea of what's inside. I love the use of the word force,
I suppose the king's dictatorship and taxes, the landlord's rents and
whatnot are the "law" whereas the CPN(M) getting the villagers
together to build a road is rather nefarious. The picture is a
picture of villagers carrying rocks that probably weigh 3.5 kilograms
(around 8 pounds). Most of the picture is blurry (as are most of the
pictures inside - they are all either blurry, dark, or long shots or a
combination of all three) but we can see a bucnh of Nepali peasants
carrying these 3.5 kg stones. In front is a pre-teen girl carrying a
stone wearing a green scarf and with her eyes closed.
I have the actual paper, where the photos are larger and more
striking, but the text is on the web as well. The story begins inside
" A nation's long road into CHAOS - The little girl in the green shawl
leaned forward slightly, just enough so the large stone balanced on
her head would not crush her feet when it fell onto the Martyrs Road.
She tipped it onto the ground, coughed into the damp mountain air,
turned in silence and began to walk in her flip-flops back down the
500-yard stretch of steep, curving track that is the largest
infrastructure project ever initiated by Nepal's Maoist rebels.
At the end of her walk, a pile of rocks awaited her and the other
recruits from her village who, like thousands before them, had been
forced to work on this road for seven hours a day for eight days, for
no money, a two-day walk from their homes. The Martyrs Road, named in
honor of Maoist fighters killed in battle, is not even routed through
"Ten," the girl said, when asked how old she was. Gayatri Oli was her
name, she said.
Nearly everyone interviewed -- old women, young men, mothers,
grandfathers, boys and girls -- knew they were being watched and
listened to by other workers or members of the Communist Party of
Nepal (Maoist), who were making them work on the 5 1/2-mile stretch of
a road that Maoist planners say will reach the full 56 1/2 miles to
the so-called Maoist capital of Thawang within the next three years.
They were only too happy to help the region's development, they said,
repeating a party mantra.
Only one man broke the ideological harmony. "It's this way," he said,
gazing across the valley and past the low clouds toward his village,
which he had been forced to leave for over a week. "No one speaks the
truth here. The truth lies inside and everyone says what they're
taught to say." He walked off, heading for the pile of rocks, and
refused to make eye contact again.
I didn't even read the whole article, I just looked at the pictures
and captions, read the beginning and end, and then skipped through
passages. At least it wasn't like one of Time Magazine's articles on
the Nepal insurgency. The Time article was hysterical in the
dictionary and slang meaning of the word hysterical - it "
exhibit[ed] overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess" as
well as being hysterically funny. Here's excerpts of Time Magazine's
May 6, 2002 article by Alex Perry that is so over the top it's funny.
The story has a picture of a burning car that says "During April's
5-day general strike, Maoist supporters in Kathmandu attacked and set
fire to this mini-bus"
The beginning and ending of that story, which is so over-the-top I
found it funny is:
Nepal: Return to Year Zero
Nepal's Maoist rebels are murdering, beating, bombing and looting—all
in the name of 'protecting the people'
Monday, May. 06, 2002
Even with knives as sharp as razors, it takes time to skin a man.
After 35 minutes, flesh was hanging from Ram Mani Jnawali's shoulders
and cuts crisscrossed his legs, ribs, arms, hands, ears and chin. His
legs were shattered at the shins, broken stumps marking where the
bones had been smashed across the steps of his house. But he was still
breathing. And yet his teenage tormentors kept questioning him. "Why
don't you leave the Congress party?" screamed one interrogator. "How
much do you earn? Where are your daughters?" But the 54-year-old,
whose only offense was that he belonged to the ruling Nepali Congress
Party, was beyond speech. Eventually his torturers—a crowd of 60 girls
and boys in Maoist uniforms and rebel-red bandannas—grew tired.
Selecting a sharpened kukri (a small machete), one of them stepped
forward and sliced halfway through Jnawali's neck in a single blow.
And that's how his wife and son found him, cut to pieces, head partly
severed, when they dared to venture out into the yard the next
morning. No one knew whether he had died of shock or bled to death,
but the pool of blood around his body suggested the end had been slow.
[...that's the first paragraph, I'll end with the last paragraph,
since the whole article is of the same tone...]
A short drive away in one village that I visited, a 50-year-old man
approached me in tears. He and his son had been beaten a few days
before, he said, pointing to the house about 50 meters from his own
where the Maoists lived. They were sure to torture them again, he
said, adding that the rebels were also demanding that a neighbor give
up his 13-year-old daughter to them. Incoherent and distraught, the
man pleaded with me to take him and his son away to the city. When a
Maoist leader came to investigate, we decided to leave rather than
draw suspicion to him. As I climbed into my car, the man held onto my
arm, eyes wide with fear, and hissed in my ear, "Terror. Terror,"
before running back to his house.
Getting back to the Newsday piece (one of a series), I do not want to
read the whole thing since what I read and skimmed gave me a flavor of
the tone, but I came across this paragraph which was so inane it
brought a smile to my face:
"The conundrum for the United States, Britain and India -- Nepal's
main allies -- is this: Supporting the increasingly autocratic King
Gyanendra is hard to justify, especially in the era of President
George W. Bush's stated aim of spreading democracy. Weakening the king
would strengthen the Maoists, whose victory could usher in a reign of
worse terror. So to Western and regional powers, diplomats say, the
democratic parties represent the best of three bad options."
Aside from the bit about Bush's obvious love for democracy, I found it
funny that the democratic parties were presented as the salvation.
What is not mentioned is who those political parties are - the CPN
(UML) got 30.7% of the vote and had 68 representatives from the 1999
vote, the CPN (ML) got 6.4% of the vote, and one must remember that a
good chunk of the communists went into the hills and began the
people's war in 1996. In other words, half of the major parties which
under the circumstances are being referred to by the US corporate
press as democratic parties, are communist parties. And if the king
didn't dissolve the parliament and impose dictatorship, if the
communists who went into the hills to start people's war went the
electoral route, who know what percentage of the vote would be
communist? And would Newsday still refer to them as the "democratic
I met Matthew McAllester at WBAI once. He seemed like the type of
yuppie Newsday reporters that I've met before. He self-aggrandizes
quite a bit in the series. He says several times that what is
happening in Nepal "is important" to the US, has multiple pictures of
himself on rope bridges, and among peasants like a modern-day Dr.
Livingstone among the savages. In fact one large subtext in pictures
and words are about how these peasants in Nepal are aliens to us
middle class Americans and that you can see it in their dress, their
slanted-eyes, their poverty, their filthy dwellings and whatnot.
He also talks about how we don't like sending rifles to the king...and
we didn't send many rifles anyhow, did we? He asks...he's too
autocratic...but the alternative is the country falling into the hands
of the Maoists...like the Khmer Rouge...and how all of this is
weighing on the consciences of the typical liberal New York Newsday
reader. Putting aside the New York Times, which is a national paper,
I'd say Newsday is the most liberal of the New York papers. The Post
is aimed at white skilled workers in Queens and the like, the New York
Daily News is aimed at the working class, and sometimes has a working
class progressive slant but the Daily News also goes the other way on
certain issues, and I haven't followed the history of that.
As far as another view of what's going on in Nepal, more of the Nepali
and peasant's point of view than that of a white American (although
I'm not sure if McAllester has US citizenship - white Westerner
anyhow), the US RCP is the local group to me that seems to have the
most info on what's going on in Nepal, and is a conduit for media that
comes out of India or Nepal, and most of what I know is from or via
them. Although there are other sources - Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has
corresponded with the Monthly Review and much of that is online (
http://www.monthlyreview.org ). I used Bittorrent to download two
movies - Jhalak (Glimpse) which is a great ten minute documentary
showing repression by the King and his security forces in Kathmandu
against what McAllester called the "democratic parties". It was
filmed in April 2004 and is low-budget, on the scene footage of
everything. It shows the elected officials and elected party leaders
jailed by the king, massive marches of people seeking a restoration of
parliament, police firing tear gas into the hospital as well as of
course the street, water cannons, the police beating reporters and
senior leaders of the elected political parties with sticks. Also, I
guess what I would call a far-right paramilitary with government
connections went into the hospital and began beating people. Then the
police went into the student union and trashed it after smacking
whoever happened to be in there upside the head of course.
The movie after that is the longer one - it is Eight Glorious Years of
Nepalese People's War (proper version). It shows CPN(M) speeches,
CPN(M) songs, Nepali villagers dancing and singing about communism and
that sort of thing. One part I recall is when they CPN(M) went to
Kathmandu and had a mass meeting in 2003 - the rally was massive -
multitudes came out to see the CPN(M), which gives one indication of
what their level of support in Kathmandu is. And I though Dr. Baburam
Bhattarai gave a good speech. If you don't want to do a massive
download and just want to see the crowd size, go to:
and click "Mass Meeting Kathmandu, small bandwidth"
I downloaded the entire movie via Bittorrent from:
although these exist as well:
I'm not sure, if in bittorrent terminology, if there are any "seeds".
I myself erased the RAR files it came in after making them into avi's.
But if that is dead you can go to the CPNM web site. Although if
someone wants my AVI's, e-mail me and we'll see if we can work out the
transfer of over 1 gig.
So that's the view of what's going on in Nepal from the liberal Long
Island yuppie newspaper, and from the CPN-M and its Indian
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