Nepal Maoists

By UrbanAnthropod, May 6, 2010 7:14 pm

May Day

May Day demonstration poster

When strolling through the Kathmandu Valley, I saw this poster many times. I asked the guide “What’s happening on May 1st?” to get a small chuckle. Fastforward to April 28th (3 days after leaving Kathmandu) and I got the answer.

In brief

Many Americans are content in their little bubble and have no idea what any of this means or where it came from. Since the 90’s, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) waged a ‘People’s War’ (Nepalese Civil War) against the monarchy. The Maoists acted as a militant group and openly conflicted with the government. The Royal Nepali Army was not used to neutralize the insurgents, as it was seen as an internal issue to be dealt with by police. Eventually, Maoists targeted the military and the Nepali Army was called to confront the insurgency. During this time, the government proceeded to ban anti-government statements that were critical of the monarchy and lead to imprisonment of journalists.

The situation in Nepal was confounded in 2001 when the the crown prince apparently massacred the royal family before committing suicide. The word on the street is that this was a fanciful story that was invented by the media.A running theory is that the massacre was orchestrated in some way by the Maoists. The next heir to the throne ascended and assumed complete executive power to neutralize the Maoists. This resulted in years of a continuous stalemate.

A peace accord and ceasefire was brokered and the Communist Party-Maoists were removed from international listings as a terrorist organization in 2006. The peace talks set up the foundations for the upcoming Republic of Nepal. Ultimately, the monarchy was dissolved and the Maoists formed a coalition government. After over 10 years of rebellion, 13,000 deaths, internal displacement of citizens and loss of significant tourism revenue, the Republic of Nepal was formed.

Of course, political tensions between the various parties was great. Last year, the Maoists left the government when the President refused to dismiss a military official and lost control of the coalition government, resulting in the current problems. The draft of the constitution was never completed to anyone’s satisfaction, adding fuel to the recent upheaval in Nepal.

Glad I’m not there

A few days ago, I had emailed our guide to get a postal address for mailing prints of the villagers we saw in the valley. I mentioned that the general strike would mean a great delay in his response, but he was surprisingly quick to reply. At that point everything was peaceful, though Kathmandu was shut down. The general strike has caused disruption with transportation and food services, leaving tourists stranded and hungry. So far, tourists have not been targeted, but they seem to be stuck in hotel rooms. With a blockade of roads, fuel and food shortages are being noted. The upside? The lack of transportation has seemingly enhanced the air quality.

While the safety ropes have been fastened on the south side (Nepal) of Everest for the climbing season, tourists are leaving or being evacuated elsewhere in the country. Tourism just sounds like a bad idea at the moment. Hard for me to imagine, just being there so recently.

How will it end?

Where did my hammer go?

Things finally got violent. The peace rallies and police have begun clashing. The Maoists have been using fear tactics in ensuring the closure of shops during the general strike. They’ve also been using children in rallies. This is a controversial sticking point since the insurgency recruited children into the rebel armies during the Civil War.

I’m not an expert. I may not even have place to have an opinion on the subject. All I know is that I met some beautiful people. The type of people that reminded me of what it meant to be human. I saw some of their daily life. But you can only see so much as an outside observer. My cursory view into their world left me feeling good about the state of the world. So to see this continued battle for a legitimate government after such an embattled recent history is disheartening. So I just wish for everything to come out O.K. from my naive observer position half a world away.


The strike has ended as of May 7. Let’s hope this is over for now. The deadline for the constitution is May 28. It won’t happen by then. Let’s hope for the best and all parties move forward.

Related posts:

  1. Taming Thamel
  2. Prepping for India and Nepal, Part 2
  3. Prepping for India and Nepal, Part 1
  4. Transit through India
  5. Prepping for India and Nepal, Part 3

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