imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Critique of Harpers Magazine Hitpiece on Nepal Maoists

by Toni Sweep Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 4:40 AM
sweepofhistory@yahoo.com

Refuting the lies of "It's Not Easy Here in Katmandu: Caught between the Maoist Rebels and the king"

Thursday, April 28, 2005

YO! BACK THAT $!*# UP...

...or refutation of the week

"It's Not Easy Here in Katmandu: Caught between the Maoist Rebels and the king's army" by Eliza Griswold (Harpers, May 2005)

INTRO

For quite some time now, there have been these seemingly liberal, humanitarian articles that slander genuine revolutionary movements. It's often done under the guise of reporting on "the people caught in the middle." The basic thrust is that some group starts a revolution--"the terrorists"--and then the state comes down on that group getting more and more brutal as the revolutionary forces grow stronger, and in turn the revolution grows more and more brutal in response, “eating its children” as it were. Soon villagers alternately feel the terror of the revolutionaries and the state army. More or less that's the thesis.

So with that as a preface let's jump in.

IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING...or the Shangri-Hell of feudalism

The article starts with an anecdote about how in the 13th century the Malla family came from India and founded the Nepal kingdom:

"Every day...the Malla king is said to have climbed to the top of his nine-story pagoda and peered down into his happy valley of serfs. If smoke wasn't rising from each chimney, the kindhearted king dispatched a scout to see what was wrong. That, people say, is how peaceful the Katmandu valley should be when held in the palm of a benevolent monarch." (p. 64, emphasis added)

Griswold's preparation for this article would have been better spent investigating the brutal feudal history of Nepal than consulting fairly tales. To speak of "his happy serfs" and a "kindhearted king" smacks of such chauvinism that it's a bit jarring. This decription is incredibly offensive. The peoples of Nepal have suffered immensely for centuries under these feudal kings. To quote Griswold herself:

"Until two years ago, bonded labor was legal in Nepal. In some cases, families have worked generations to pay off a debt of three dollars." (p. 71)

She also points out how slavery wasn't even abolished until 1924!

One only has to look at the horrific caste system or the treatment of women or the exploitation of peasants. The list goes on and on. But I think a Nepali proverb bluntly captures some of this horror: "To be born as a daughter is having ill fate."

One thing we can thank Griswold for is putting it right out there. Her solution to the ongoing the civil war? The good ole days of a benevolent monarch. As she puts it later "some form of constitutional monarchy is likely to be crucial to a stable Nepal." (p.67) Eliza, helping us build that bridge to the 13th century.

I love how these people talk about how a Maoist revolution "seems anachronistic" and yet a king in the 21st century? Oh, that makes perfect sense.

As Griswold make perfectly clear, she envisions a future that's Maoists-free:

"Given that the Maoists hold power in seventy-three of seventy-five of Nepal's political districts, rejecting them isn't an option just yet." (p. 67, emphasis added)

It might seem contradictory to write a “caught in the middle” piece while upholding the king but two things should be pointed out. First, when these types of articles speak of peace they speak of the "peace" that existed before people righteously rose up in rebellion against their oppression. So the "peace" they speak of is really looking back to when the state had a monopoly on force and the people couldn't do anything about it except live under the boot of the state. Second, Griswold at the very least implies that the king may not totally be in control:

“backed militarily by both America and India…the army answers to no one but the king, if, indeed, the king doesn’t answer to the army. (p. 66)

And later she quotes Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch who says that the royal coup was “less about the king’s power grab than the army’s…” (p. 67)

As a bit of a sidenote, Bouckaert just baldy states that “No one wants to abandon Nepal to the Maoists…” (p.67) Also Bouckaert’s objection to what the U.S. is doing in Nepal is largely based on the idea that it’s undermining the U.S.’s ability to carry out its War on Terrorism:

“What’s happening in Nepal has a direct relationship to the rest of the War on Terror. The United States’ actions have undermined its ability to raise any kind of objections.” (p. 67)

So much for the nonpartisanship of the NGOs!

HAVING PRINCIPLES, STRUGGLING FOR EQUALITY... or the “terror” of the Maoists

Griswold describes the two Nepals as Katmandu--which I think she's confused for a Starbucks, "high-speed internet and 'Hima-lattes'”--and the countryside beyond, held by the Maoists, where there are no hospitals or roads. We’ll ignore this ridiculous image of Katmandu (need Griswold be reminded that Nepal is the second-poorest country in the world?) and move on to the countryside where the Maoists have actually started to build roads and even hospitals where their power is more stable. Later on Griswold admits that the Maoists were building roads and bridges even before they initiated people's war. Of course, Griswold bends the truth some in that process of letting that be known:

"The Maoists stepped into a vacuum, building bridges and roads and establishing infrastructure where the state never had. Then, of course, they called for violent revolution.

"In response, the government waged several disastrous campaigns, most notable Operation Romeo in 1995, which...resulted in 'rapes, executions, and "disappearances."' (p. 66)

Just to be clear this Operation was launched before the initiation of the Maoist people's war, which was in 1996. And as for the rapes, executions and "disappearances" this was exactly the intent of this murderous campaign! This was not some campaign spiraling out of control.

On the other side are the Maoists who seemingly help people but really just use them for their violent ends. In reality, the areas in which the Operation were carried out were in the western strongholds of the Maoists (i.e., Rolpa, Rukum) and the oppressed nationalities who live there have been among the poorest and most exploited for centuries. This is one of the reasons that this region has been such a strong base of support for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), going back to before the initiation of the people's war.

If brutal repression came down on these areas before the Maoists had an army, before they had weapons, why did masses of people protect the Party during this Operation? The CPN(M) has not received any foreign aid. The only force it has relied on since the beginning is the masses of people. The transformation over nine years has been that from unsophisticated rebels to a force on the verge of winning nationwide power.

There are no "masses" interviewed in the article who support the people’s war. (In these "caught in the middle" articles if you actually support the revolutionary group you're no longer part of the masses you're part of the "rebels.") This isn’t odd since the unfamiliar reader might be taken in by one interviewee who claims that 90 percent of the country hates the Maoists. This is beyond ridiculous. Even people who have no sympathy for the Maoists whatsoever admit that the Maoists have millions and millions of supporters.

The only people who support the people's war interviewed are two full-time Maoists, who we're to assume are Party members, though it’s unclear if they actually are, and Griswold is rather dismissive of what they have to say. For one, she snidely dismisses that the Maoists charge tuition for schools that they’ve set up. When Katmnadu does this its called taxes, when the Maoists do this in areas they control and administer it’s called extortion!

Even a young woman attempting to join the Royal Nepal Army said that "The Maoists have high principles so they attract everyone who is interested in struggling for equality." (p. 65)

WHAT THE HELL IS THE US DOING IN NEPAL ANYWAY?... or last time I checked my "redeemable anywhere in the U.S." coupons weren't any good in Nepal

Griswold's article attempts to make the case that historically the U.S. has played a positive role in Nepal and that the U.S. really just wants to bring freedom and democracy. Griswold inform us that it was because of the pressure of the political parties and the U.S. that King Birendra "relinquished his grip on power."

We find out that in relation to the king's February coup that "Despite the world's disapproval, including the United States, there is little anyone can do." (p. 64)

Let's get real, even Bouckaert says that “It’s very clear that when the U.S. demands something from the government, the government complies.” (p. 67)

She quotes a general as saying “Peace...will be forged only through more military spending, particularly by the United States. (p. 65)

However, the most alarming part of this article is an unchallenged quote from U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty. On this point, it seems Griswold's journalism is one of two things: 1) some of the worst journalism I've ever seen (and by the way that's the best case scenario), or 2) this article is actually trying to create some ideological justification for the possibility of US intervention in Nepal. Peep this bold-faced lie from Moriarty:

"It's not Islamic fundamentalism, obviously, but it is a very fervent brand of Maoism that could cause great trouble in this area. They've said they're going to invade the United States." (p.67, emphasis added)

And what does Eliza do with this lie? Does she point out that the CPN(M) has never, ever said anything even remotely like this? No, she runs with this as somehow some kind of justification, a defensive measure if you will, for the U.S. giving military aid to Nepal. Peep the next paragraph:

"The Maoists have, it is true, raised the volume on their anti-U.S. rhetoric, and before February's palace coup, the United States had responded to that threat with million in military aid to Nepal and an order for 20,000 M-16 assault rifles to be placed in the hands of the Royal Nepalese Army." (p.67, emphasis added).

Shameful.

I BELIEVE THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE…or the U.S. gets all Whitney Houston on ya

Lastly, there’s the slander about the abductions carried out by the Maoists, because as we all know the U.S. is deeply concerned about the children of Nepal. This is one of the more malicious lies. It's said that people are "disappeared" by the state on the one side and "abducted" by the Maoists on the other. To be clear, there's a stark world of difference between the state and the Maoists. "Disappeared" is just a euphamism that ranges from for rape and murder to imprisonment and torture. This has nothing in common with the "abductions" by the Maoists.

I’ll just quote a snippet from an article that ran in the AFP a while back about these "abductions:"

"Nepalese students, recounting their abduction by Maoist rebels, say the militants treated them well and wanted to hear their views--even if they were critical of rebel actions.

"Ramila Acharya, 15, said she was terrified when armed rebels, who have been waging an increasingly deadly war to topple the constitutional monarchy, barged into their school in Chaimale and told them they were taking them away to teach the students 'what a "people's republic" meant.'

"'I felt like crying and was very upset,' she told AFP, providing a rare account of being kidnapped by the Maoists, whose 'people's war' to install a communist republic had left some 9,500 dead since 1996.

"'But the rebels treated us nicely. They gave us shelter and food to eat,' even if they did make 'us chant slogans like "Long live the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist!' she said.

CONCLUSION

Eliza Griswold’s article is bad. Yep, I think that just about covers it. Though seriously, I would encourage people to write the editors. Short pieces are more likely to be printed.

letters@harpers.org

or

Harper’s Magazine

666 Broadway

New York, NY 10012

-Out-

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
sickening sceptical Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 5:06 AM
They look like logical points to me oops Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 5:24 AM
Maoism Meyer London Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 8:30 AM
As Burningman at NYC-IMC anti-SPAM Tuesday, May. 03, 2005 at 9:15 AM
as requested the burningman Monday, Jun. 27, 2005 at 8:11 PM
Cultural Evolution Just me Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2005 at 3:16 AM

Local News

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 12:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 12:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 4:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J10 11:58PM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M30 10:20PM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 12:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Sorry President Trump,Ted Cruz Texas Judicial System,is Worse Than Many Shithole Countries J19 4:49PM

The Shortwave Report 07/20/18 Listen Globally! J19 4:33PM

3 Essential Videos J19 3:53AM

The System Question as a Survival Question J18 8:54PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J18 2:41PM

Nation's Largest Voting Machine Co., ESS, Admits Lying Re Having Installed Remote Control J18 11:55AM

Du pain et des jeux J18 9:53AM

Fbi joins with Facebook to remove this report J18 7:08AM

Paraphysique de martyrologie J17 8:00AM

Asian Countries:Cambodia, Vietnam, N. Korea do not permit unlawful immigration J16 8:06PM

Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator J16 11:24AM

Democratic Socialists of America J14 4:57PM

Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's J14 4:18PM

Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento J14 12:54AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup J13 4:14PM

FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution? J13 3:52PM

Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians J13 2:59PM

The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally! J12 4:36PM

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure J12 3:38AM

Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud J12 1:50AM

Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner.. J11 6:48PM

June 2018 Honduras coup update J11 3:35PM

Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support J11 1:40PM

New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients J11 10:14AM

Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation J11 1:31AM

Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why J09 8:54PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 1:27PM

Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme ) J09 12:44PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy