United People's Front
Peoples' War Group (PWG) Nepal
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), is a Maoist group heavily modelled on Peru's Sendero Luminoso, better known as the Shining Path. The CPN's goals are to end the Nepalese monarchy and replace it with a Maoist people's republic, as well as an end to "Indian imperialism," capitalist exploitation, the caste system, and ethnic, religious, and linguistic exploitation. Thomas A. Marks describes their means as consisting of five elements: mass line (an alternative socialist society), united front (uniting with other anti-government groups who do not necessarily share the same goals as the CPN), military (armed action), political warfare (nonviolent methods such as legal political activity or negotiations in lieu of military action), and international action (finding alies and support in the international community). The CPN got the inspiration for its tactics from the afore mentioned Shining Path of Peru, as well as Indian Maoists known as "Naxalites." The common trait shared by these two groups is their penchant for brutality, taking Mao's call for the "elimination of class enemies" to its violent extreme. The irony that the CPN faces, a similar one shared with many other leftist groups, is that their leadership, Parchanda and Bhattarai, are both well educated Brahmins. The followers of the CPN however, are largely drawn from Nepal's lower classes. The CPN also draws heavy support from the Magartribe, as evidenced by the fact that there has Magar dominance of guerrilla units in areas where Magars are a considerable minority.
The CPN generally uses a combination of mass line and united front to gain local support but will use terror in areas where support comes more slowly. Such incidents have increased as the CPN has moved out of its traditional areas of support. In some areas, especially in the Mid-West where the CPN has firm control of the area and government control is considerably limited, the CPN acts as the defacto government. The CPN was originally centered in the border area of Rolpa and Rukkum districts in the Mid-West. Since the CPN lacks the drug income that has helped to finance FARC and the Shining Path, the CPN relies on bank-robbing, kidnapping-for-ransom, and extortion to get added funds, which have in fact not been able to allow for rapid expansion of the CPN. While nonviolent means were important in base areas, terror was widely used when expanding into disputed areas, ultimately culminating with the November 2001 general offensive. Generally, the tactics used in taking over a village include incapacitating the village leader and leaving an absence of power that could only be filled by the CNP. The police, poorly armed and considerably spread-out, are generally powerless to do anything. Thomas A. Marks describes one interesting tactic used to deal with the local police force includes begining with a small attack to draw the attention of the local police forces and thus spread out their numbers. Once this has occurred, small guerrilla units attack the smaller, more isolated police forces, which in turn forces the police to consolidate their forces, ultimately leaving larger swaths of the local population at the mercy of the insurgents. Other tactics inluded cutting roads, bridges, or power to a region to isolate it and then begin the socialist process.
Most of these Maoists are young people from peasant families of dalits, low-caste Hindus, and make up twenty per cent of Nepal's population. Several leaders of these Nepalese Maoists come from lower middle class families. Many of them are educated and were influenced by leftist ideas while studying in India and other countries. Although the movement was initially inspired by the revolutionary notions of the late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, many analysts today say the rebels are building on popular discontent in the country.
Nepal's transformation has yet to reach many of its citizens in inaccessible mountain villages. Although its per capita income is $244, 42% of the population earns less than $100 per year. Poverty reduction is Nepal's overriding development challenge. Many of its social indicators are among the lowest worldwide. Nearly 40% of its population lack access to basic healthcare and education. Eighty percent of its citizens rely on subsistence agriculture, but only 20% of Nepal's rugged terrain is arable.
The growth of the Maoist movement in Nepal should be seen as a failure of mainstream politics to meet the needs and aspirations of the country's rural poor, including land reform. The rebels want re-distribution of land, with sixty percent of crops going to farmers and forty percent to landlords. The Maoists contend that the multi-party democracy, which was established in 1990, has failed to improve the living conditions of people in villages. They accuse corrupt politicians and rich landlords of oppressing and exploiting the low-caste poor.
It is basically a revolt of people out in the countryside who are beginning to realize that in an essentially feudal way of life, change is not only overdue but inevitable. In the rural areas controlled by the Maoists, rebels are getting some support because they are helping peasants retake their land from the powerful landlords. In many cases, these landowners have forced illiterate people to sign land-transfer documents for non-payment of long-standing debts.
Population pressure on natural resources is increasing. Over-population is already straining the "carrying capacity" of the middle hill areas, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, resulting in the depletion of forest cover for crops, fuel, and fodder and contributing to erosion and flooding.
Discrimination against lower castes is especially common in the rural areas in the western part of the country, even though the Government has outlawed the public shunning of "untouchables," and makes an effort to protect the rights of the disadvantaged castes. Economic, social and educational advancement tend to be a function of historical patterns, geographic location, and caste. Better education and higher levels of prosperity, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, slowly are reducing caste distinctions and increasing opportunities for lower socioeconomic groups. Better educated, urban-oriented castes (Brahmin, Chhetri, and certain elements of the Newar community traditionally dominant in the Kathmandu Valley) continue to dominate politics and senior administrative and military positions, and to control a disproportionate share of natural resources in their territories.
Children and adolescents have been the most impacted. A majority of the children involved in the Maoist-run organization were forced or lured to act as soldiers. Children have been used as human shields, as porters to carry the Maoist's dead comrades, as housekeepers and cooks, and as sex slaves. Overall, as a result of the conflict, many young children and pre-adolescents have been left alone, either abandoned by their families for their own safety or orphaned by killings. Often these children have found themselves totally isolated as community protection systems, both formal and informal, have broken down. The physical and psychosocial welfare of children in the conflict areas has declined. Nepal has an immediate need to address these issues related to children and youth as a result of the Maoist conflict.
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