Thanks to Mohan Baidya’s conspiracies, Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and PM Baburam Bhattarai have received praises for the “peace process” that has limped forward since April 10. With the YCL and its hidden weapons still intact, confiscated property not yet returned, and many a tongue still spouting half-truths (e.g. Dahal didn’t take a “bold step”; he had no choice), we have our doubts. Everyone knows that most belonging to the “PLA” in the cantonments weren’t real soldiers. Even with the present “integration”, Dahal and Bhattarai could be holding back YCL for state-capture. Still, for both to become statesmen from those held responsible by the relatives of 16,000 killed during the 10-year Maoist war, they should publicly renounce violence. While the main responsibility lies with them, journalists can help by ceasing Maoist-worship.
Well-meaning intellectuals have supported dictators worldwide. Joseph Stalin, while killing millions of his own country-people, could dupe Western writers like HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw into praising the Soviet dictator for industrializing a backward country. Adolf Hitler, with intellectuals blindly backing his campaign for a great Germany, sent six millions Jews to the gas chamber. Mao Tse-tung used the American Edgar Snow, who worked for the Saturday Evening Post and the New York Herald Tribune. Snow wrote three books—Mao Tse-tung Autobiography, Red Star Over China, and Impressions of Mao Tse-tung—which made the killer of 80 million Chinese a deity. In our country, learned sycophants backed Mahendra Shah’s dictatorship from the 1960s, told Birendra what he wanted to hear till 2001, and hailed Gyanendra’s adventurism of 2005. Now their counterparts write what the Maoists want to read.
Many newspapers, both English and Nepali, criticized those who rightly opposed UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s late April Nepal visit to Lumbini. Why did they want to give Dahal the opportunity to project himself as Buddha while he’s still a Janga Bahadur?
One columnist heaped praises on Dahal’s sagacity. “But ultimately, you will have to… make compromises to enable the integration process. The sooner you do it, the better… It will also allow you to occupy the moral high ground and shut critics up.” So, Dahal who hasn’t yet abandoned violence can attain a high level of morality by completing the integration process he himself stalled for the last six years! Another said, “The characters of most of today’s top politicians (save the Maoists) are flawed.” Really? Even after the revelation that the Maoists looted Rs 3 billion for cadres that didn’t exist? Yet another argued that those who advocate former rebels’ violence-renunciation are not “reconciled to the fact that the Maoists are an integral and legitimate part of the current system. They are constantly fixated on the past… They desire that entire Nepali society be held hostage to their whims” and so are “extremists” like the Mohan Baidya faction!
A write-up in the Republica (April 9) pontificated similarly, “It is sanctimonious of some sections in the society to continue to portray Bhattarai and Dahal as cold-blooded ‘killers’ in perpetuity. Even if
[they] were trying to wash their blood-soaked hands with Ban ki-Moon’s aura, I do not see why they should not have been allowed to do so.” Killers can become saints, but only after repentance.
These columnists, who probably haven’t lost their family members to former rebels, think that their membership in the Maoist-appeasing majority makes them the conscience of the nation. They confuse the functioning of a democracy, which relies on the majority, and the dictates of morality, which depends on eternal, God-given principles. Thus violence and murder can never be right, even if 30 million Nepalis shout, approving of both.
PAST HAUNTS PRESENT
We “fixate” on the past precisely because it still haunts the Maoists. Leaders with seared consciences can’t rule/live properly. Dahal has the most elaborate security around him, yet why did he often complain of plots against his life, a danger which no other Nepali politician has suggested against himself/herself? Why have most “proletarian” Maoist marriages broken up?
The party’s past has forced the US to retain the UCPN (Maoist) on its terrorist list. If it wants itself off, it should fulfill the US government’s demands: the renunciation of violence both by the party and the YCL, truth about the killing of two US embassy (Kathmandu) staffers, handing over plotters against Ram Hari Shrestha and the conspirators against Madi bus victims to civilian authorities, and clarification on the 14 disappeared by the Maoists in Bardiya (Republica, January 20, 2010). US’ allies have similar conditions for aid, as the German Parliamentary State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Gundrun Kopp, confirmed recently (Nepali Times, #596).
Pro-Maoist journalists have stressed that Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Lumbini would have brought prosperity to the area. In the present circumstances, the visit would have mainly enriched the Maoists, already the wealthiest party. The highest regard any leader can have towards people begins with the utmost respect for human life. Prosperity comes second. Dahal, Bhattarai, and Baidya have failed in this. With their bloody past but unrepentant present, they simply can’t convince the majority of Nepalis that they’ll deliver their utopian prosperity.
Bloodshed still dominates their minds. Thus, on March 4, Bhattarai threatened that 50,000 more could die if the Maoists didn’t get the constitution of their liking. Earlier (January 19), to please Baidya, Dahal claimed that advocating peace and constitution was a mistake; and his cadres should prepare for a “people’s revolt”. Triple-tongue and the nation’s prosperity don’t go together. No Maoist-led government has yet given us even the 7 percent annual economic growth of the 1990s. Rather, Bhattarai, who promised leapfrogging to double digit growth as the Finance Minister, now leads the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history. Pro-Maoist writers don’t mention these.
VOW OF SILENCE
Journalists who go on praising Dahal and Bhattarai should break their silence on the following questions. Why did Bhattarai threaten the derailment of peace if other parties probe into to the Rs 3 billion that the Maoists have siphoned off for their ghost cadres? On what basis could Bhattarai dole out Rs 20 million for Prakash Dahal’s Everest bid? Although he has sacked Labour Minister Sarita Giri, why can’t he do the same with five other ministers which the media has exposed as corrupt? We know the answer. With the blood of 16,000 innocent Nepalis on his hands, Bhattarai has no moral authority to chasten his juniors simply making fast bucks.
PROTEST AGAINST VIOLENCE
Journalists who apply one set of lenient morality to the Maoists and another stricter one on the society can’t campaign for “rule of law”. They rightly plead that the killers of journalist Yadav Paudel should face justice. Yet, they fail to protest against the convicted Maoist murderer Balkrishna Dhungel or the murder-suspects Agni Sapkota, Suryaman Dong walking in and out of the parliament. They keep silent when this government offers to free 349 (mostly Maoist) criminals. If these columnists really care for Lumbini and the country, they should ask the Maoist leadership to publicly say “sorry,” renounce violence, dismantle the YCL, and forgo state-capture for good.