A day among the Maoists

On our first stay in Nepal in 2001, the Royal family was assassinated, in still confused circumstances. The country, which knew an increasing political instability then, sank in a true Civil war opposing the new government to the Maoist rebels. Six years passed before we came back to this country, very dear to us. Many things changed: these troubled years can be seen in the Nepalese's faces, formerly smiling, and the Maoists are omnipresent, as well as in the political scene than in the daily life of the country.
The partisans whom we had met at the time of our first trip carried out a clandestine war then. Entrenched in the mountains, the latter financed their combat by holding to ransom the villagers of the rural zones. Today, the situation is very different : some of the Maoist leaders are elected ministers at the Parliament and, from now on, their sympathizers can parade in the streets in all legality.
  Maoist rebels in Kathmandu Katmandhu streets, riot Nepal
Seeking to move away from the city's tumult, we leave Kathmandu to find the Nepalese countryside where the Maoist revolution was born. It is indeed in these rural areas, where poverty is extreme, that the revolutionary propaganda took shape and grew. After a few hours on a loaded bus through a winding road, we had our first encounter with the Maoist partisans of the area.
Political meeting for the maoist party, Northern Nepal  

Maoist sympathisers on bus top, rural Nepal

Tens of young men are indeed going to a political meeting. With great commotion, they invade the crammed bus : revolutionary songs and propaganda speeches will accompany the last three hours of our journey. Located far north from Katmandhu, the area that we now reach indeed represents an important recruitment stronghold for the ex-rebels of the communist guerrilla.
Maoist partisans on bus top, rural Nepal
If the villagers have always known very difficult living conditions, they considerably worsened with the arrival on the throne of King Gyanendra, brother of the assassinated former sovereign. Peasants for a large majority, many sympathizers of the rebel Communist party openly criticize the government's policy which, according to them, made no improvements in the living conditions of the Nepalese people.

Pro communist maoist village, Dhunche area, northern Nepal

A majority of these partisans feel abandoned by capital city whose actions, however defended by the elected officials, do not improve, if anything, the situation of the villages in rural areas. The unemployment rate is constantly rising, the road, medical or school infrastructures are in very bad condition, and disillusion is spreading within the population.
A growing part of the villagers thus turned to the Maoist party which, by its propaganda speeches, stigmatizes the frustrations of the people who gave-up on the political power. As a result of many years of fighting, the Nepalese Parliament invites today these ex-rebels to join the temporary government, thus consolidating the peace agreement of 2006 which ended the civil war.
Here, the leader of this red rebellion, Prachanda, is often regarded as the man who will save Nepal by abolishing royalty and establishing a republican democracy. This man, who grew in a village of peasants in the countryside, finds his effigy everywhere in the area. His partisans, who see in him the solution for a better future, show their color today and hold up with pride the hammer and sickle of the Communist flag.
  Prachanda poster and maoist political leader, nepalese village   Pride, youth, maoist flag, Trisuli, Nepal
However, if this charismatic leader speaks words of "brighter tomorrow", the November 2007 elections, which will define the future of Nepalese monarchy, are not on the way to success. Many Nepalese indeed wish to continue the civil war and to seize the power at any cost.

Long live people war in maoist nepal

In addition, the actions of the Maoists remain very controversial today : while some see in this revolutionary party a reason to hope for a better life, others fear its army which gained power on the country with acts of terror. Enrolment by force, rackets and attacks are still practices that are common in this party, however trying to be politically correct…
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