“But today, we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We are the inheritors of the true builders of our nation. The dispossessed, we are millions, and we thereby call upon our brothers and sisters to join this struggle as the only path, so that we will not die of hunger due to the insatiable ambition of a … dictatorship led by a clique of traitors who represent the most conservative and sell-out groups…For hundreds of years we have been asking for and believing in promises that were never kept. We were always told to be patient and to wait for better times. They told us to be prudent, that the future would be different. But we see now that this isn’t true. Everything is the same or worse now than when our grandparents and parents lived. Our people are still dying from hunger and curable diseases, and live with ignorance, illiteracy and lack of culture. And we realize that if we don’t fight, our children can expect the same. And it is not fair. Necessity brought us together, and we said “Enough!” We no longer have the time or the will to wait for others to solve our problems.”
How honestly these words represent the Nepalese people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, for self-determination. But the people who uttered these words lived very far from Nepal, and perhaps the majority of them knew nothing about the Nepalese people and their struggle. These were the words of the Zapatistas declaring war against the Mexican state from Lacandona Jungle (December 31 1993). They expressed the sentiments of not only the Mexican Indians but of everyone who are waging the “struggle that is necessary to meet the demands that never have been met by [the] State [in their region]: work, land, shelter, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace”.
On April 9, the 4-day general strike in Nepal was supposed to end, but it continued. An activist said, “The Nepali people want the king to abdicate and he needs to go. There is no other option, otherwise the country will continue to see riots and demonstrations.”
Guardian further reports, “On the border with India, hundreds of demonstrators stormed government buildings to declare Nepal’s Chitwan district the kingdom’s “first republic”. Troops later drove them out. It has also been reported that students in smaller towns have taken to the streets with the slogan “death to Gyanendra”.”
The New York Times quotes the editor of the Nepali Times who wrote, “As we write this on Sunday noon, public anger is boiling over…This is a surprising uprising: even without the parties, neighborhoods have got together to set up road barricades, stoning police and pouring out into the streets to defy curfews. Each day that passes, the pro-democracy chariot is picking up momentum.”
This saying strangely connects once again the struggles on the two corners of the globe with each other. Well-known Marxist Harry Cleaver noted in 1994 in his Introduction to ‘Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution’, “Today, the social equivalent of an earthquake is rumbling through Mexican society. Every day brings reports of people moving to action. Campesinos [villagers] and Indigenous peoples completely independent of the EZLN [Zapatista Army of National Liberation] are taking up its battle cries and occupying municipal government buildings, blockading banks, seizing lands and demanding “Libertad.” Students and workers are being inspired not just to “support the campesinos” but to launch their own strikes throughout the Mexican social factory.”
A prominent pro-democracy and peace activist, Mathura P Shrestha (a retired professor and former Secretary of Health, aged 72), arrested for endangering the security and sovereignty of the country poses Lokatantra (full democracy) against formal democracy in his interview to Lucia de Vries, “Lokatantra is the rule of the people. Nepal was democratic until four hundred years ago. People didn’t vote but they talked until a consensus was reached. Only the powerful voted… What I am researching now is how the dictatorship of the proletariat can be transformed into the rule of the proletariat. If a constituent assembly is properly elected we can establish the rule of the people. I do not think ceremonial monarchy goes together with lokatantra…”
But the US State Department still chants, “The United States calls upon the King to restore democracy immediately and to begin a dialogue with Nepal’s constitutional political parties. It is time the King recognizes that this is the best way to deal with the Maoist insurgency and to return peace and prosperity to Nepal.” It refuses to acknowledge that insurgency is general, just backed by the Maoists and democrats. India too refuses to listen to the unrest in Nepal and demonstrations of solidarity in its own streets.
But, again stealing words from Cleaver, “[L]earning to listen is not always easy, even today. To clear the way, we have to learn to cut through the “noise” of official discourse, to recognize and avoid debates over how to “solve” the crisis within the old frameworks. We have to learn to decode the official jargon, to cut through the euphemisms that cloak the “business as usual”.”
On April 8, “the rallies occurred on the 16th anniversary of Nepal’s first pro-democracy movement, when the present king’s brother and predecessor, Birendra, accepted demands for parliamentary elections. Political activists say the king needs to “understand the public”. (Guardian) Officially three people died in Nepal in police firings, and Nepalese Home Minister vows, “We will get stricter now to preserve law and order and keep the situation normal”(BBC), as the general strike becomes indefinite.
The Nepalese Royalty’s pig-headedness has proved at least to the Nepalese people, what Baburam Bhattarai said in his reply to the International Crisis Group in 2003, “Laat ko bhoot baat le mandaina” (the devil of force won’t listen to persuasion).
And, today the Nepali says in her own way: YA BASTA! Enough is enough!!! A protester told Reuters news agency, “We are not afraid of bullets, we have to get democracy at any cost and we will get it.” (BBC)
[For latest news and views on Nepal, visit International Nepal Solidarity Network‘s website]