Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gov't Refuses to Step Down Despite Strike Call-Off, Clashes Intesify

Report by Mukit N. Kattel.  Nepali speaking readers are encouraged to tune in to Radio Mirmire.  This report covers the developments until 1:45 pm May 9 Nepal time (2:30 am eastern time USA/Canada). 

The call off of general strike by the Maoist party the day before yesterday night created some confusion in people. Maoist leadership organized a public meeting yesterday to clarify their stance. The leadership clarified that they had dropped only the general strike component, not the whole movement. The chairman of the party said that they dropped that component to stop the people to people confrontations created by the government and to respect the demand of the government that they would consider their stepping down once the general strike was called off. The chairman said they would continue peaceful protests and warned that they would go for even higher level of movement if the government did not respond to the call off of the general strike by stepping down within two days.  He said his party would not even sit for talk unless the prime minister would step down.  After this public meeting, the confusion has been largely removed. Most civil society people, political parties, ordinary people, Nepal government and foreign diplomats have welcomed the call off. Some people and few protestors appeared to feel that the call off would not do good to the movement but most protestors look in favor of the step. From the chairperson’s speech, most people have gathered that the party would go for higher level of movement if the government would not step down. The stepping down of the current government means the stepping up of the Maoist party to the government. They think this stepping up would be helpful in many respects---they would be in upper hand position to restructure the army by integrating the peoples’ liberation army, to incorporate peoples aspirations in the forth coming constitution and to create a smoother transitioning to peoples’ democracy in the country.

Contrary to the expectations and request of most people, the government is not going to step down even though their demand of calling off of the general strike has been fulfilled. The meeting of 15 parties involved in the government yesterday has repeated their old stance (that the UPCN(M) affiliated Young Communist League should remove its para-military nature, that the properties and land confiscated during the 10-year Peoples’ War that is being used by the landless people be returned back to the old landlords, the new constitution will not be promulgated until the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) is merged with the old army, only few PLA will be merged on one by one basis rather than in bulk, and not the whole lot that were qualified by the United Nations, they cannot mention secularism, federalism, civil supremacy over the military, peoples over-riding power, peoples’ democracy, labor class rights, etc. in the preamble and other relevant sections of the constitution, etc. etc.) and have declared that  the government would not step down until the whole movement is dropped and their demand mentioned above is met. The resignation of the prime minster has thus become symbolic and an entry-point demand of the movement and has become a tussle between the regressives/status-quoists and the progressives. This situation is inviting a decisive class struggle.

Today, according to Mirmire FM radio and Sagarmatha FM radio’s live broadcast (Radio Mirmire has even stationed itself at the protest sites), peaceful protests are underway in more than a dozen places outside the capital cities and at more than a dozen places in the capital city, including the Singh Durbar area. The army has started heavily-armed patrols, the police has become more aggressive with the protesters and the youth wings of the ruling parties are attacking the protests in a hit-and-run manner. The army has not allowed the entry of even the employees into the main administrative building, the Singh Durbar. More than a dozen protestors and about the same number of policemen have been injured already. Police have heavily used tear gas to disperse the confrontations caused by the UML affiliated Youth Force attackers. The protesters have captured a few Youth Force people attacking the protests with weapons and have been submitted to the Nepali human right activists and UN High Commission for Human Rights people. Similarly, they have captured people from the intelligence bureau of the police with their identification cards who infiltrated into the protests and threw stones at the police to provoke them and have also been submitted to the human rights activists. This is the reason why the government has decided to remove the United Nations Human Rights offices from the periphery of the country and if possible, they would remove them from the country itself. It also shows that the government is well prepared to launch a heavy operation against the progressives to prevent the promulgation of a progressive constitution in the country.

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