Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lal Salaam Interviews Student Leader Gopal Neupane

Lal Salaam: Tell us about your student organization

Neupane: Our student organization [All Nepal National Independent Students – Revolutionary - ed.]  has people from all over Nepal.  First of all there is central committee, then state committee, then district committee, high school, University committee, campuses and college.  Now we are working especially in the student movement gathering nationalist, patriotic, leftist and revolutionary students in Nepal.  We are the first, largest student organization here in Nepal.  Last time 3 students in elections were elected here in Nepal and we get the largest…

This is our organizing  structure here in Nepal, from high schooIt is not necessary that all our organizing members are party members, but leaders automatically are party members.  I am part of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

We are fighting for free education, scientific education and education for all.  One example, 20% of children have never gone to school… never!  They never even entered the school area, school compound.  Remaining students enter high school and from class 1 to class 12, only 6% of students pass… only 6% regularly graduate.  This is a very dangerous situation here in Nepal.  This is why… because the education is privatized.  They cannot to send the children to the schools, they cannot afford to pay the fees… this is the main cause why the students don’t go to high school now.  What we say is that our students organize strongly, high school education is a fundamental right for children, in the interim Constitution they wrote that the school education is a fundamental right.  But they only wrote, this is not in practice.  We condemn, we argue and we are pressuring the state and the government to please provide the education for all people, for all children, this is a fundamental right.

In 2006 we completed our 17th National Conference.  Now we are going to organize the 18th National Conference, and every National conference we elect a new body, a new leadership.  This time we postponed the 18th National Conference because the National politics is very hard in this situation, our party leaders requested to us please postpone this National Conference, because if it is not postponed this time, we are all in our ceremonies, and this is the time, November 20 when the National Conference.  So I invite you to the 18th National Conference, I will send letter to your organizers.  I think this will be held after 4, 5 or 6 months, because our leaders told us at the time our party are going to organize our Party Congress, 5th Party Congress.  That’s why we postpone our 18th National Conference.  If this will be held in the next 2 or 3 months.

LS: Can you talk about the situation right now with the University?  I know they increased 10 fold the tuition fees and there was a big protest.   Also if you can talk about the relationship between the student movement and the peoples movement?

Neupane: Here in Nepal there are 5 major Universities, Tribhuvan U which is the largest University in Nepal. It’s the cheapest one and all funded by the Government.  Next one is Kathmandu University, but this is not exactly private University, but they are functioning like a private university.   Purbanchal U which is in the eastern part of Nepal, Pokara University which is in the western part of Nepal.  Culture University is another, these are the main Universities in Nepal.  These cover 10% of students, they are very expensive.  The only cheap one is Tribhuvan U, so our organizations strongly argue that the University which occupies 90% of students must be cheapest, because its for the poor people.

We strongly condemn the executive members of the university, we don’t agree with the hike of  the fees, so we are regularly in protest in the University. This is the reality here in Nepal.  The executive members want to dissolve the University, because they want to privatize.  The executive members, like the vice-chancellor, the comptroller, they are coming from the Nepali Congress and UML and they want education only for the bourgeoisie, not for the poor people.  They want to dissolve the University, hike prices, increase  fees, then poor people are excluded from the University.  So there is regular protests in the University.

So we protest this and our demand is EDUCATION FOR ALL.  Before the drafting of the interim constitution, we protested and it was written, only written, not in practice, the fundamental right of education.  But it is not applied… we are now pressuring the government, the state, to provide the fundamental right of education for all.  Education for all means Education for all, it means free, scientific education. Without scientific education, the education is not applicable, so we are regularly pressuring the government. 

Now, behind this, in Nepal, the education system, nearly 24% of children never went to high school, they never see the school periphery or never entered the school grounds, the classroom, it means they are out of education.  Our first duty is that those marginal people, those economically marginal children, first they have to enter the high school, it means they enter in the education.  That is our first duty in our organization.  

LS: I also want to ask you something about women, as far as I understand in recent years have been very empowered by the popular movement.  191 or more women are part of the CA, so what is your position about women and education and how things have changed in recent years regarding empowerment of women and the educational system, and what are your demands about that?

Neupane: First of all, our party is the first party that has participating a maximum number of women in the people’s war.  And until the changes in the political situation in Nepal, our party included many women leaders and many women members of the CA.  Just for example, only our party included a high percentage of women in Parliament also, and in our movement around 42%-45% in every organization in our party.  This means in Nepal women are much more deprived from the State, it means we are in feudalism, of course this means women are deprived, there is no questions… this is the conditions in our country, the conditions we have faced up to now, and we raised the questions in this interim constitution, and we are able to draft the equal rights of women just for their property, their parents property and others, we are able to draft in the interim constitution.

LS: What is the relationship between the student movement and the mass popular movement?
Neupane: In Nepal every movement is led by students because students are the youth.  In people’s war or mass movement, in every movement the student leaders are in the lead of every movement.  If you see in our party, most of our leaders have come from a student background, every movement is directly lead by the students here in Nepal.

The student movement here in Nepal is different from other countries, what I saw in Europe and other countries, in East Asia also, I visited many times, what I found there, there is no strong student movement because they are in capitalism.  The trade union movement is very strong but in Nepal we have a semi-feudal state so there is not so strong a trade union movement.  Students are coming from the rural area and they they see the people. What we have to do to change the nation, to change society, and everywhere students lead the movement, students are leaders of the nation, of Nepal.
This is a little different in comparison to other countries, not only in our party but in other parties, these parties’ student leaders are leaders of the party.  Nepali Congress' former leader is former president of Nepali Students Union, for just one example.

The bourgeoisie parties, they always deprived the student movement, because students are young blooded, they always want change.   The bourgeoisie parties, they do not give rights to the young people, because they do not want change, they want the existing system.  Students want change, change by Maoists, not by NCP or UML.  This means all of the youth and all of the students are in our organizations right now and openly they say if changes happens in Nepal, that it will only be made by the Maoists. In the student movements that change is only by the All Nepal National Independent Students – Revolutionary, our organization.  From very beginning up to now we lead the mass movement and we lead the student movement.

LS: One last question, what message can you give from your position as a leader in the student movement, a leader in the peoples movement to the people in Canada? To peoples' organizations, revolutionary organizations, progressive people in Canada and the United States?

Neupane:  This is the unilateral imperialism era.  Everywhere US imperialism has hegemony.  In Nepal there is no US Army camp, this is the first good thing for Nepalese people because there is no Yankee camp, just a Yankee ambassador, but I know in other countries, people don’t know how many army camps there are in their own country. 

First of all we have to fight against US imperialism, overthrow US imperialism and establish a liberated society.  That means for every people there is a duty to liberate ourselves from imperialism.  For this moment we need to strengthen our movement, we need to join hand to hand. If we are joined hand to hand, surely we can become very strong and nobody will defeat us.  This is our only weapon to defeat imperialism, this is an era of fighting US imperialism this is the duty for all the young people, the students of this world, this is our first duty, against imperialism who suppressed us, very far from education, very far from health rights, employment rights… for example, the economic crisis right now, economic crisis in the world, due to imperialism, they only use their economy and the business only for weapons, and they sell very expensive to the world, especially American… no country will be in peace, and if there is no country will buy American weapons.  That means we have to fight imperialism.  From Nepal to Latin America we have to strengthen our hand to fight imperialism and everybody has to liberate from this era, and everybody raise their voice for humanity, for their education, for their health, and for their own right of this nation.

LS:  Thanks a lot comrade Gopaul.  People will really appreciate and reflect on your words today.
Neupane: Red salute to all young people in Canada, and solidarity from Nepal to Canada, and at last we must be liberated and we must defeat imperialism.  Thank you, Red Salute!

LS: Lal Saalam!

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