Thursday, November 23, 2006


"We have a political agreement to change the socio-economic conditions in a peaceful way -- a peaceful transformation is possible now and armed conflict is going to be over."
~ Prachanda, Reuters.

This week the people of Nepal have been celebrating its peace accord between the government and Maoist rebels, and with good reason. The peace deal will end ten years of warfare that has seen the deaths of some 13,000 people. Of interest is the fact that the Maoists will take seats in the parliament are calling for integration into the army.

The establishment of a truth commission is something that is called for in the peace agreement, but so far human rights activists have called the agreement "weak" on settling human rights questions, from the Washington Post:

Mandira Sharma, a leading human rights advocate from Nepal, said the country was "moving in the right direction" by consolidating a cease-fire agreement with the new accord and committing to dialogue. But from a human rights perspective, she said, the agreement "is weak."

"It mentions a truth commission but does not give a time frame," said Sharma, who is currently touring the United States. "The approach and mind-set is to move forward. The government thinks if we start delving into all the extrajudicial killings and disappearances, that will hamper the peace process."

A truth commission is essential to create an atmosphere in which the people can feel at ease, but I find it ironic that it's the government that is fearful of such a commission "hamper[ing] the peace process." Although there have been accusations against the Maoists, such as the forced recruitment of children-soldiers, it appears that the government has been far more aggressive in committing human rights abuses in an environment of impunity, and has been supported in the commission of abuses by the usual suspects and their defense industries, from Amnesty International:

Amnesty International today revealed how irresponsible military aid and arms supplies to Nepal from countries including the United States, India and the United Kingdom, have facilitated the killing, torture and abduction or " disappearance="" thousands="" of="" civilians="">

[ . . . ]

The report, Nepal: Military assistance contributing to grave human rights violations, focuses particular attention on military aid, arms transfers and training provided to Nepal's armed forces by governments during the 9-year armed conflict between Nepalese security forces and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). It also examines the supply of arms from private companies and the role governments play in providing export licenses for such sales.

Despite overwhelming evidence that such military assistance has been used for the killing and abduction of civilians by both sides in the conflict, it has only recently been suspended and in some cases still continues.

[ . . . ]

The reports main findings include:

* The export of 25,000 5.56mm infantry rifles (INSAS) to Nepal from India, despite evidence of their use in grave human rights violations such as the murder of 19 unarmed Maoist suspects by Nepalese security forces in August 2003;

* The supply by India of Lancer helicopter gunships, produced under license from the French company Eurocopter, which have been used by the Royal Nepalese Army to attack mass meetings called by the Maoists in villages often resulting in the killing of civilians;

* The transfer of 20,000 M16 automatic assault rifles to Nepalese security forces by the US along with over US$29 million in military funding since 2001;

* Provision by the UK of Islander Short Take Off and Landing aircraft for logistic purposes without a system of end use monitoring to ensure that these planes are not later fitted with armaments;

* The granting in 2001 of UK export licences for various shipments of small arms, including 6,780 assault rifles, in contravention of the terms of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports (1998);

* Inconsistent application of the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports with the sale by Belgium of 5,000 Minimi Light Machine Guns to Nepal in 2002, despite an earlier German refusal to supply similar weapons on human rights grounds;

* Training provided to Nepalese security forces by the US, UK and India with unclear or non-existent vetting procedures to screen out those reasonably suspected of gross human rights violations;

* The supply of military communications equipment to Nepal from South Africa in 2003;

* A failure by the United Nations to independently vet members of the Royal Nepalese Army sent to take part in UN peacekeeping missions despite reports that soldiers who were suspected of involvement in extrajudicial executions have subsequently been deployed on UN duties.

More on Nepalese security forces and impunity, again at Amnesty International.

According to the World Policy Institute, the US provided "more than $8.3 million in weapons and services" (like training), with $6.6 million of that going to the Nepalese government in 2003. In early 2005, when the king declared "emergency rule," he instituted a series of steps typical of the extreme right-wing everywhere: dismissal of the government, cutting of communications to the outside (including cell phones), silencing the press, and turning security forces loose on the population like attack dogs. Although Washington made a show of condemning the king's coup, business--meaning arms sales, military training, and human rights abuses--continued as usual.

Check a couple of general articles on the Nepal peace agreement, one from the NYTimes and one from the Washington Post. Both of these engage in a lot of hand-wringing over the Maoist rebels and whether or not they will stick with the agreement, or that the rebels must prove their trustworthiness. In neither article is there any mention of the government's severe human rights abuses, nor is there any worry about the government's trustworthiness. Why is that?

In a report from mid-November, from Yahoo, the US State Department is oozing with hypocrisy over the peace deal:

"We want to see the peace process work. We pledge our full support," Boucher told reporters.

"We have certain laws about not supporting terrorist groups and until they (the rebels) are fully converted to a political party we are going to have to apply those laws," he added.

"We will be fully prepared to deal with them as a political party when they start behaving like a political party. Political parties don't run militia, political parties don't walk around with guns," he told reporters.

Very funny. Does that mean that when the Democrats and Republicans start behaving like political parties, instead of being state-sponsors of terror, the State Department will be fully prepared to deal with them?

No one told Boucher that US laws don't apply anywhere but inside the US. But, nobody told this guy that according to US law, the US itself engages in international terrorism, by involving itself in violent acts that are intended to intimidate or coerce civilian populations, with said violent acts occuring primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the US. For more on that, see the US Code, Title 18.

Note that in the first line of the Yahoo article, there is a clear statement that the CPN-M (Nepalese Maoists) is on the US list of FTOs, but that statement is a lie. The CPN-M is not on the US list of FTOs. It is on the "Terrorist Exclusion List", which has to do with immigration restrictions. The FTO list, otherwise known as The List, is a totally different thing.

In order to get on The List, you have to meet certain criteria, such as indicating "capability and/or willingness to engage in terrorist methods that threaten the U.S. national security interests," including "attacks on U.S. nationals, and American national defense, military, diplomatic, and economic interests."

An example of this can be found in Colombia, in an article titled (ironically, for Kurds), "Good Terrorists, Bad Terrorists: How Washington Decides Who's Who," where it's clear that the far-right fascist terrorists of the AUC were included on the lesser, secondary Exclusion List, and not on The List. No doubt this decision was made because the AUC is supported by the Colombian elites who are thoroughly aligned with US interests, including corporate interests. The concluding line of the article is perfect: "Meanwhile, the double standard used to create the State Department's lists once again illustrates that terrorism serving U.S. interests is not, in Washington's eyes, really terrorism."

This is exactly what has happened in the case of the PKK. The PKK has never targeted Americans or American interests, yet it is on The List. Likewise, CPN-M has never targeted Americans or American interests either, but it's on the Exclusion List.

Why would Yahoo lie like that? Why would the NYTimes and Washington Post lie by omission like that?

Nepali Maoist rebel leader Prachanda speaks during an exclusive interview with Reuters at Chundevi village in Bhaktapur November 16, 2006.

REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

Finally, AFP has a very interesting article, carried by Yahoo, about Prachanda, the leader of CPN-M. It's certainly good to see something about him and background. It's great if CPN-M has managed to do away with feudalistic practices, since these practices only serve to bolster an oppressive status quo and its leadership. This is very similar to PKK's goals.

Another similarity with PKK is the tempering of demands by Prachanda's group:

"We are 21st-century communists. We are not dogmatic. We are trying to develop our line, policy and programme for the changed situation," Prachanda told AFP in a recent interview.

"We have seen revolution and counter-revolution in the 20th century, and Stalin's experiment failed. We do not want to repeat the same phenomenon."

Man . . . that sounds so familiar.

More with Prachanda:

INTERVIEW - Nepal rebel heralds peace, keeps armed option open.

Nepal rebel chief will not join interim govt.

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