Monday, May 26, 2008

Political violence: A crime that pays?

The Maoist comrades did it again. The only difference this time around is that the man they killed belonged to their own party. By killing Ramhari Shrestha in cold blood, and that too under Ian Martin’s nose, the Maoists have made it crystal clear that, they can kill people anywhere they like.

Given the secretive nature of modus operandi of the Maoist cadres involved and the Maoist party’s reluctance to hand over the perpetrators to the law enforcement agencies, the motive behind the killing might never be fully revealed. However, from media reports it is quite clear that there was a financial motive behind the killing of Shrestha. If so, what are our revolutionaries up to? Interested in jumping to a petit-bourgeois class while proletariats that voted for them en masse are waiting for their masters to alter Nepali society, by overthrowing feudal structures?

While the Maoists’ “cold-blooded killing machine” periodically exterminates educators, journalists, and businessmen, the perpetrators of the crimes never get apprehended and punished. It has become a kind of policy of the CPN (Maoist) to seek forgiveness for the crimes committed by its ill-trained and irrational cadres and get away with it. Equally astonishing is the helplessness exhibited by the state.

Be it the murder of educator Mukti Nath Adhikari, journalists duo Dikendra Thapa and Jitendra Sah, or physical assault on noted physician Dr Gyanendra Giri, has any of the Maoist cadre involved in the crime been apprehended and punished? Living in a land, where the murderers of educators and journalists walk free must be, utterly unsatisfying and psychologically taxing.

Why are the Maoists still intimidating and killing people? Will they ever stop? The people are struggling to find answers to these questions. And, the answers you get now from the top-rung Maoist politicians may not match experiences that you might encounter in the future.

If you ask the Maoists about their revolution, the chances of telling us that the revolution will get over only after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat is almost hundred percent. So, in the context of perpetual revolution, will the means adopted so far be abandoned? In a country like ours, where the end justifies the means, is it even necessary to abandon the radical violence and murderous path that the Maoists have been walking so far?

Mao, the great hero and icon of the Maoist ideologues in Nepal, shortly after taking control of Mainland China in 1949, ordered the killing of millions of his political enemies, including Christians. Tens of thousands were killed during the ‘Cultural Revolution’ and approximately fourteen to twenty million died from starvation during the “Great Leap Forward.”

Likewise, Josef Stalin is believed to have killed approximately thirteen million people in various purges.

Parade Magazine, in its “The world’s 10 worst dictators” list compiled in 2005, has Kim Jong Il as the worst dictator alive. While Kim, who has developed an extreme personality cult, ranked first, Chinese president Hu Jintao and former Cuban president Fiedel Castro ranked third and ninth worst dictators. The communist dictators by no means are the crusader of personal and political freedom.

Although there is no universal consensus, it is believed that more than one million people have been killed after the junior Kim took over North Korea in 1994. There are no exact numbers, but conservative estimates suggest that an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand North Koreans are performing forced labor in prison camps created to punish alleged political dissidents.

In China, the communist party still controls all media. Thousands of “Internet security agents” are employed by the state to monitor internet use. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese are serving “re-education” sentences in labor camps across China. The recipients of such “re-education” through labor sentence, according to Human Rights Watch, have no right to a hearing, no right to counselling, and no right to any kind of judicial determination of their case. The number of executions carried out in China every year is more than all other nations combined.

Fiedel Castro executed and imprisoned thousands of Christians in his early years. Even though he allowed gospel crusades to be televised on the national television network after the worldwide collapse of communism between 1989 and 1991, the political dissidents and Christians jailed prior to 1991 are yet to receive amnesty.

If we look at one-party communist states that are revered by the Nepali Maoists, radical violence and extermination of the political opponents is the most common and successful method of political and social control. It is a method adopted by the communist dictators to preempt dissident activities that could pose a threat to the survival of their regime. By asking the Maoists to renounce radical violence and killings, Nepali people are asking the Maoists to toss away the most trusted method of political and social control. When would the Maoists give up the most trusted and tested method of political and social control? Politically, it does not make any sense.

In the last week’s BBC Nepali Sewa’s “Sajha Sawal,” Gagan Thapa argued about the ethical and psychological issues associated with the housing of YCL cadres in camps. From an ethical point of view, his arguments were strong and valid. However, what upcoming charismatic leaders like Thapa should understand is that, the YCL is created with a political purpose to weaken the political opponents and administer social control. And, as long as that motive is served, the Maoists would never dismantle the YCL.

CPN (Maoist) leader Ram Bahadur Thapa while addressing an interaction program at Reporter’s club on May 24, without mincing words made is ample clear that his party was bent on expanding the YCL as they want to win all 240 seats in the next election. Instead of arguing on psychological issues associated with the housing of youth in camps, it is time to develop a strategy that would make the existence of the YCL politically unprofitable for the Maoists. Only then, they would be forced to downsize or dissolve the YCL altogether. Till then it shall stay put. The youth leaders like Gagan Thapa should gear his energy towards oiling the youth machine for counter mobilization. Counter mobilization is the best bet and the only game in town.

The Maoists should be allowed to form the government but only after amending the existing constitution. It is true that, given the horse-trading culture of legislatures we have, replacing the two-thirds majority required for forming or changing a government with a simple majority will lead to the frequent change of the government. But it is only through the replacement of the two-thirds majority required for forming or changing a government with a simple majority, the democratic forces in Nepal can stop the Maoists from seizing the state’s instrument of force and coercion and their immediate use to destroy or control all independent sources of power, such as the social and religious institutions, the professions, private businesses, schools and of course, the family.

It may not be ethically correct to ask for it now, especially not when you are a loser. But when you have ideologues like Ram Bahadur Thapa who want to strengthen the YCL to win all 240 seats in the upcoming elections, you got to do what you got to do to survive politically and save the nation from becoming a one-party communist state.

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