Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Week With The Peoples Army.


Heres just something short I have done up on my time in the camps for The Red Star.

Nothing too new from the earlier short piece with pictures i dont think- but might be of interest.

Just so you know, I did do several interviews in the camps- but they are not real great. There were limitations due to the language barrier ect- and often the best stuff i got in more informal discussions, so i dont think there are any of the interviews worth putting up here in that sense- but i hope that the other post and this one can get across the spirit of the camps. They are amazing places- a highlight of my trip so far- and i learnt allot about so many things while i was there. If nothing else the camps really taught me allot about humanity. While thigns werent perfect it was amazing to see that community of people and how they intereacted- i think im just ranting but it was like taking a step into the socialist future, respect and "oneness" guided life and relations.

Socialism is a drug that once you get in your bones you never forget it...

Sorry for the tangent- heres the article:

Chitwan is famous around the world for its national park. Within the midst of the jungle there are rare and exciting animals. Rhinos and elephants and tigers, and all a manner of things that every year thousands of westerners flock to see- for they cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

And as a very western foreigner I too descended out of the hills and comfort of Kathmandu and into the jungle, but not in search of any of this. The jungles of Chitwan hold something much more important than endangered animals, and something just as rare. It is a force that has been unleashed and fed by the huge discontent in the country and turned upon the peoples oppressors with a fury and enthusiasm that has been a major factor in bringing about and continuing the enormous process of change that is ongoing in Nepal.

In the jungles of Chitwan waits the JanaMukti Sena- the peoples liberation army.

The mainstream media and a wide range of non-governmental organisations talk of this army is one of child soldiers and human rights abusers. A dictatorial leadership that has played on the insecurities of the poor an uneducated peasantry, and forced them into their army. At any rate the PLA proved themselves to be a formidable fighting force, as during the war they had repeatedly beaten back the Royal Nepalese Army, despite it being funded, armed and trained by international superpowers such as the USA, UK and India.

So in the face of this I really did not know what to expect, however despite all the reports and propaganda, I didn't meet child soldiers starving and home sick- and I didn't meet indoctrinated and brainwashed drones determined only to follow their party. This was a peoples army, and all that was to be found were people.

This is an army of people. The people of Nepal have had enough of the grinding poverty in their society. They have had enough of the parasitic monarchy that lives in phenomenal wealth while the people starve. They have had enough of hollow democracy that talks but never provides. They have had enough husbands, sons and fathers being sent overseas for work, of daughters, mothers and wives being left along to work at home or sold into the sex trade. They have had enough of the indignity and defeat that had been forced upon them, and when a clear path to fight against it was given, they enthusiastically took up the challenge.

The idea that these amazing people are ignorant and being exploited is insulting to the sacrifices they have made. The whole camp is now like a school, people who either left school early to fight or never had the opportunity to study in the first place are now deep into their books, studying at all levels and in all subjects. They understand why they fought and what they set out to achieve and their thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. I could barely get questions in for interviews, as the people their were always asking about my experiences, my country and its foreign policy and ideas for development here in Nepal.

There is nothing to prove that the People's Liberation Army is blindly and dogmatically politicised. The PLA is a political peoples army, but their political dreams are for development, democracy and equality. All that I talked too said that their dreams were that Nepal would be developed and that their children could study and then work in Nepal, without the crushing poverty, and without the oppression and discrimination against ethnic minorities, women, and people of low caste.

But while this is an army of the people- from the people and for the people there was clearly a massive effort to do away with the many problems that can plague Nepali society. People of all castes stood on equal standing. There were inter caste marriages that would never have been possible before the peoples war. While there was officers, there was little distinction between them and the rank and file. Everyone ate and cleaned in common. Importantly women, who were often forced into a cruel existence previously, enjoyed a much higher participation and involvement in the society. Men could often be seen caring for the children and cleaning the home while the women used their time to study or go off axe in hand to chop wood.

A week with the PLA was a painfully short time, and I only met a fraction of the people and heard a fraction of the stories available but it is clear to anyone that sees the amazing people of the JanaMukti Sena's almost 30,000 members that they are some of the best sons and daughters of this country- and if their hard work and sacrifices are allowed to go to developing this nation, then the future of Nepal will one that is radically different.


noni said...

good information....

Anonymous said...

Comrade Nice picture and your trip to plA Nepal. I wish you all the best.