Sunday, April 30, 2006

May 1 and the Fight for Equality and Self-Determination

By Freedom Road Socialist Organization

May 1, 2006 will be a historic day as millions of people, mainly Mexicanos (immigrants from Mexico), Chicanos and Central Americans, pour into the streets of United States to support the struggle for immigrant rights. Many have called this upsurge in protests a ‘new civil rights movement.’ We think that this is a very good description of the broad united front of labor, religious, community and youth organizations and the grassroots participation. Most importantly, this fight for equality and self-determination in fact represents a challenge to the monopoly capitalists that rule this country.

The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was more than a fight for civil rights; it was a Black liberation movement. It was a struggle of the African American people for full equality. For 75 years, Jim Crow in the South, the system of legal segregation backed by the death squads of the Ku Klux Klan and the systematic discrimination in housing, education and employment in the North and West denied African Americans equality with whites.

Today, the mass mobilization of Mexicanos, Chicanos and other Latinos shows the grassroots desire for full equality in the face of discriminatory immigration laws and practices. A key demand is legalization of the undocumented, which will help them to challenge exploitation and racism and aid in the reunification of their families. The Bush administration’s call for a ‘guest worker program’ to aid business would be a step in the wrong direction, as it would establish a group of second-class residents whose only right would be to work for low pay.

The Black liberation movement was also a struggle for self-determination. It is no accident that the movement began in the U.S. South, from the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott to the sit-in at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, for this is the home of the African American Nation. The African American Nation developed as slavery forged different African peoples with their own languages, cultures and religions into a single people with a common territory, economy, language and culture. After the end of the Civil War and slavery, the United States kept this new nation in chains through Jim Crow and the lynch mob. The Black liberation movement, by breaking the chains of segregation and the Klan, was a step toward both full equality for the African American people in the North and South and towards self-determination for the African American Nation.

Mexicans in the U.S. Southwest have also been forged into a Chicano Nation, as the thousands of Mexicans conquered by the United States in 1848 have grown into millions due to immigration from Mexico under conditions of legal segregation, economic exploitation, systematic suppression of their language and culture and theft of their land. Just as African Americans were denied their human rights through Jim Crow, so today are Chicanos, Mexicanos, and other Latinos denied their human rights through unjust immigration laws. These laws are chains on the Chicano Nation, not only affecting millions of undocumented, but millions more of their family members who are legal residents or U.S. citizens.

This wave of anti-immigrant legislation in the works at the national, state and local levels, and the rise of new white vigilantes such as the Minutemen is not just a tactic to try to build support for the right, the Republicans and the Bush administration, who are suffering from their debacles in Iraq, New Orleans and the attempted privatization of Social Security. Just as the right is trying to reduce the Black population of New Orleans - one of the most important cities economically and culturally of the African American Nation - so too would the anti-immigrant movement try to reduce the Mexicano and Latino population. This is a direct attack on the Chicano Nation, which is gaining strength as Mexicanos and their children who settle in the Southwest become a part of the nation.

The African American movement of the 1950s and 1960s drew support from all nationalities and helped jumpstart the struggles of Asian Americans, Chicano/Latinos, Native Americans and Native Hawai’ians. Today’s struggle for immigrant rights is also drawing support from other immigrants, especially oppressed nationality (African, Arab, and Asian) communities who share the unjust treatment by a racist society that Mexicanos, Latinos and Chicanos face.

Another similarity between the African American movement and the struggle today is the role of militant students and youth. African American college students started the direct action, which spread around the country, of sitting-in at segregated facilities and also spearheaded the drive for Black Studies on college campuses. Today’s Chicano, Mexicano and Latino youth, both immigrants and the children of immigrants, are walking out of their schools to join protests against the attempts to criminalize the undocumented and scapegoat immigrants.

African American workers were the backbone of the civil rights movement, from those who boycotted the buses in Montgomery to the garbage workers on strike in Memphis where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In today’s struggle Mexicano, Chicano and Latino workers have also been the backbone of the movement, not just swelling the ranks of demonstrators, but also as organizers of the protests. Thus it is quite natural that the immigrant rights protests will be on May 1, International Workers Day, which commemorates the struggle of American workers, many of whom were immigrants, in the 1880s for an eight-hour day.

In this spirit, we call upon workers of all nationalities to support their brother and sister Mexicano, Chicano and Latino workers, to fight for full equality for Mexicano and other Latino peoples and to uphold the right to self-determination for the Chicano Nation. This is because we share a common enemy - the capitalist class in general, and their representatives in the Bush administration and the right - that is behind the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-black,and anti-union policies of the government and the big corporations.

Long Live May 1st, International Workers Day!
Full Equality for Mexicanos and all immigrants!
Self-Determination for the African American and Chicano Nations!
Workers and Oppressed Peoples Unite!

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Monday, April 24, 2006

On the Verge of Revolution in Nepal

As of April 24, Nepal's King Gyanendra appears to be nearing his last days in power. Huge mass protests of hundreds of thousands of people are defying a shoot-to-kill curfew after 19 days of a general strike. Massive crowds are gathering on the outskirts of the capital, Katmandu, and attempting to move slowly into the city in the face of the Royal Nepal Army shooting into the crowds. Presumably the protesters are trying to get to the center of Katmandu to the Royal Palace, which was cordoned off a couple days ago with barbed wire and military troops.
The Nepali people have taken up in a mass way the demands of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - an end to the monarchy, the creation of a constituent assembly and the formation of a democratic republic. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, run by a semi-feudal monarchy that is dominated by imperialism.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has led a powerful people's war that has liberated large parts of the countryside over the past ten years. Last February, King Gyanendra seized absolute power, dissolving the country's parliament and arresting many leaders of the country's seven main legal political parties. After months of appealing to the king in vain to restore the parliament, the seven parliamentary parties finally made an alliance with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), forging a 12 point agreement. So far the alliance has held and the seven parties called a general strike a little over two weeks ago with the tacit support of the Maoists.
While hundreds of thousands of people take the streets around Katmandu, the Maoists have launched large military attacks in the countryside, including a bold attack just 60 miles from Katmandu where hundreds of rebel soliders of the CPN(M)'s People's Liberation Army simultaneously attacked an army barracks, a telecommunications tower and several government buildings in Chautara.
Last week on April 21, with hundreds of thousands of Nepalis in the streets demanding his ouster, and with his imperialist sponsors in the US and India threatened to pull the plug on him, King Gyanendra made a speech in which he offered to "restore democracy". What he meant was that Nepal would return to the parliamentary monarchy setup that Nepal has had since 1990 and that he had dissolved in February 2005 when he took total power. King Gyanendra offered this proposal to save himself from certain defeat, under sharp pressure from the US, British and Indian governments, which all immediately lauded the King's offer as a breakthrough.But for the people of Nepal, it appears to be too little to late. There were already hundreds of thousands of people in the street demanding an end to the monarchy entirely, not a return to a parliamentary monarchy.
On April 17 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) put out a statement urging the masses and the political parties to reject any such offer should one be forthcoming, and instead to follow the masses in demanding an end to the monarchy and the creation of a new government. According to the statement, "The time has come to see off from the stage of history the royal fascist elements...by dispensing a decisive last blow now." The seven parliamentary parties rejected the king's offer and have continued the mass protests. At the same time, imperialist powers are continuing to work overtime to try to broker a deal between the king and the parties to try to save the king and keep the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) out of power.
For now it seems a deal to save the king is unlikely and the future of Nepal is being written by the masses of people in the streets. It appears to only be a matter of time, and a short amount of time at that, before the protests make it to the palace and the king either gets out in time and lives out his life in exile, or he doesn't get out in time and meets a less pleasant future.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On Anti-Revisionism and Unity in the Marxist-Leninist Movement

A response to the call put forward by the Communist Party of the Philippines concerning the 5oth anniversary of the anti-revisionist movement (the contemporary ML movement) and the necessity of renewing our commitment in the struggle against revisionism.

I was just reading over the Proposal for the Unification of the International Communist Movement and the fine companion piece, On Certain Aspects of the Struggle Against Revisionism put forward by the Worker's Party of Belgium and I have some thoughts. I was thinking about how Marxist-Leninists relate to each other, deal with questions of line, hold to principle while building unity in struggle, and so on. In addition to the call put forward by the CPP and two documents mentioned above, I would like to recall for the puposes of this article the document put forward by Mao Zedong in 1957, A Dialectical Approach to Inner-Party Unity.

The paper put forward by Com. Martens contians several points necessary to recognize and which ground possible discussion of this issue. Some of the main arguements really get to the heart of the line struggles that have always been at the center of the anti-revisionist movement.

First there is the question of actually-existing socialism. The line in the ML movement after the 20th Congress of the CPSU, when the Soviet Union, under Krushechov slandered the greatest Marxist-Leninist of the time, Josef Stalin, in order to subvert Leninism and begin to liberalize the economy, the party, the state, and society. As Mao Zedong said at the time, " In the Soviet Union, those who once extolled Stalin to the skies have now in one swoop consigned him to purgatory. Here in China some people are following their example. It is the opinion of the Central Committee that Stalin's mistakes amounted to only 30 per cent of the whole and his achievements to 70 per cent, and that all things considered Stalin was nonetheless a great Marxist" (On the Ten Major Relationships - for a more general treatment of the question of revisionism see my article, Socialism or Barbarism? Review of "Another View of Stalin"). Nonetheless, the Chinese tailed behind the USSR in their criticisms of the Stalin era and made many judgements without a thorough investigation. This lead to some "left" errors.

However, the line in the ML movement (in China this line was advanced by Lin Biao), was that the CPSU was thoroughly revisionist and that the USSR had suffered a coup, was now a bourgeious state, and was no longer socialist but "social-imperialist" and "social-fascist." But can a change in the socio-economic structure of society change overnight, following a political/ideological shift? Marxists do not think so. Such a theory in fact goes against Marxism-Leninism. And this brings us to one of the interesting points that Com. Martens discusses. Krushechov brought revisionism into power in the CPSU, Brezshnev advanced it, and Gorbachov consolidated it with his "restructuring." Socialism didn't "collapse" or "fail" in the USSR. In fact, the struggle against revisionism takes place in the context of what Mao Zedong called the struggle between two lines and two roads, the "two line struggle" between those who would fight for communism and those who would fight for capitalism within the socialist state.

As Lenin had made clear in his Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, "Theoretically, there can be no doubt that between capitalism and communism there lies a definite tranition period which must combine the features and properties of both these forms of social economy. This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism -- or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble."

So the bourgeois forces, taking root wherever they can, will fight for liberalization, for the legalization of their old parties, for space to speak their views and to subvert the proletarian state, and the CP fights for our class, to build instituions which serve our class, and to form a true democracy for our class - all without letting the bourgeoisie regain the political and economic reigns of society. The question of actually existing socialism is not principally a question of superstructure - that is, who has the political power (though it factors in, of course), the question of capitalist restoration concerns the relations of production first and formost - it is principally a question of the base. It always is. Such are the ABCs of Marxism.

But within the ML movement today there is a disagreement regarding actually existing socialism. I agree with the line of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, an important ML group which came out of the New Communist Movement during the '70s, on this issue: there are actually existing socialist countries and there is a sharp contradiction (though it is not the fundamental contradiction) between them and the imperialist powers. Other groups, such as the parties around RIM (such as the Revolutionary Communist Party USA), and the "Left Refoundationist" split group from FRSO (which still calls itself FRSO) argue that there are no actually existing socialist countries. Again, in my opinion, this is a fundamentally anti-Marxist position. Revisionism is real. It eats away at socialist countries from the inside, but it doesn't happen overnight, and I would't say that it isn't present in some socialist countries today. It is a disease, and it can be fatal, but it isn't necessarily incurable.

This is one of the main debates within the anti-revisionist movement. Whereas many "Maoist" or MLM groups have taken up this position against actually existing socialism in the name of anti-revisionism, I would hold that it is in fact a form of "left" revisionism, or at least it can be. Notice how the ideological formulation of the "Maoist" movement (MLM) deletes both Stalin and Engels from the standard list of principal theoreticians of the Marxist-Leninist movement (the CPP is not guilty of this), again in the interest of "correcting" or "going beyond" Stalin. This is a dangerous error for the anti-revisionist movement. I, personally, having studied the Stalin era thoroughly, and having analyzed the Chinese experience in detail, don't see much of a reason to place Mao over Stalin. They are in fact incomparable.

But, regardless of this, the proposal put forward by the Worker's Party of Belgium, is, I think, a solid one. Historically, Com. Martens discusses, the ML movement has been divided into four basic camps: the pro-USSR, the pro-Chinese, the pro-Albanian, and the pro-Cuban (also there are "independents"). After 1991, it is important to note, the pro-USSR camp has more or less disintegrated whereas the pro-Chinese camp has grown, largely, into todays Marxist-Leninist-Maoist groupings. The proposal put forward by the Belgian comrades, as I understand it, is that we can put aside these old debates (not debates on matters of principle, but debates such as the old "who is better?" question that you have in the Stalin-Mao-Hoxha question) in the interest of uniting around the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism. This means taking a very critical anti-revisionist position in the interest of unity-struggle-unity, and being on guard against both "Right" revisionism (or "red" liberalism - Right opportunism) as well as "Left" revisionism (or "Left" dogmatism). While these to trends of revisionism appear to be opposed they are actually comrades in arms in the dismantling of the ML movement. Some parties in the ML movement have gone a long way down both of these revisionist roads and it is not good to see. Where some are questioning "Stalinian Marxism" as the fundamental error of socialism in the 20th century, others are talking about the sort of multi-party democracy that Lenin himself always spoke against as an "advance" in the theory and practice of MLM.

All of that being said, I would like to make a proposal of my own. In light of the call from the CPP, and in the interest of unity, I propose that we discuss this question of uniting the internatinal communist movement around a Marxist-Leninist general line. We will need some common ground for discussion, so I would also suggest that we base this dicussion first on our own unity as communists, then we can discuss the documents mentioned above. All of this in the hopes of coming to a new unity. I will take this discussion very seriously, and I hope any who want to participate will do so as well. This is a pressing matter and deserves the attention of all people who would fight for the emancipation of the people of the world.
A final word.
While I don't agree entirely with the line of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), I have immense respect for them. I think they are a very good party and I give them my full support in their just struggle. The whole world watches with bated breath as the stand on the edge of securing the power of the state in their country and founding the first new socialist country in the 21st century. That being said I will end this little article of mine with a quote from Chairman Prachanda, from his recent interview in the Hindu:
Traditionally, in the international communist movement there are two types of revisionism - right revisionism of class collaboration, and the other, dogmato-revisionism, of turning certain ideas into a dogma and getting stuck to them. This is more among the Maoists. Those who call themselves Maoists are more prone to dogmato-revisionism, and we have to fight against this too.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Solidaire Interiew with Tom Burke On the Immigrant's Struggle in the USA

"May Day will see a unified national day of action for immigrants rights across the U.S. and more unions are planning to take part in this. Victories for immigrant workers are victories for Black and white workers. Bosses keep wages low, not immigrant workers."

Tom Burke (*) from Chicago answers the questions of Solidaire 14-04-2006

What are the exact reasons of the immigrants' movement in the USA?

Tom Burke: Millions of Mexican immigrants, joined by many other nationalities, are marching through the streets of every major U.S. city to protest the Sensenbrenner bill. This bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives makes being an "illegal" immigrant a felony crime with a prison term. Anyone aiding an "illegal" immigrant also faces jail time. A spontaneous movement of millions of workers in direct opposition to criminalization is shaking the whole U.S., even the White House. For decades, Mexican workers have faced racist abuse and super low wages.

What is the degree of mobilizations in different parts of the USA?

Tom Burke: Anywhere there is Mexican or Latino immigrants there are large marches. It started on March 10th, 2006, when 300,000 or more filled the Chicago Loop, stopping buses, subways, and even trains. Factories and restaurants shut down, students walked out of schools, babies in strollers and grandmas in wheelchairs clogged the streets. In Los Angeles over 500,000 filled the streets two weeks later and 30,000 marched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the home state of Republican Congressman Sensenbrenner.
On April 10th, cities where immigrants were unknown twenty years ago held large rallies—40,000 in Minneapolis, 20,000 in Indianapolis, 20,000 in Salt Lake City and 50,000 in Atlanta. In the historically Mexican states of the Southwest, the movement is large and strong with 500,000 marching in Dallas, Texas, 50,000 in Denver, Colorado, 50,000 in San Diego, and 35,000 in San Jose, California. Immigrants in the U.S. have been hiding in plain sight for twenty years, but now with the huge marches and rallies there is a new understanding of how much power these workers have.

What are the political, trade-unionist, social forces behind it?

Tom Burke: The political activists and trade unions are running to keep up with the movement of the people. For example, in Chicago, a Mexican immigrant school custodian and trade unionist, Artemio Arreola was one of the leaders of a small coalition that was surprised by the hundreds of thousands who thundered through the streets. He and others like him are organizing people from their villages, cities, and states in Mexico for over a decade now. The huge numbers of protesters is spontaneous, but working class and professional organizers provided the leadership and put out the message to oppose criminalization. Latino radio announcers broadcast the message far and wide. May Day will see a unified national day of action for immigrants rights across the U.S. and more unions are planning to take part in this. The grassroots activists are aware that their leadership will be challenged every step of the way by the forces tied to the rich and powerful, especially from the Democratic Party.

What are the demands of the movement?

Tom Burke: The demands are: to stop the criminalization of immigrants; to create an amnesty that leads to legalization of immigrants without papers; for equal rights for immigrants; for equality and justice for all.

What is the role of communists in the movement?

Tom Burke: The role of communists in the immigrants’ rights movement is small, but important. Many of the leaders were revolutionaries in their youth and some are influenced by Marxism today. There is a pressing need for unity in action, while maintaining principled political positions that advance the cause of the working class. Victories for immigrant workers are victories for Black and white workers. Bosses keep wages low, not immigrant workers. Capitalism is the problem. The profit system is the enemy.

What are the contradictions in the bourgeoisie, in the trade-union organizations?

Tom Burke: There are sections of the capitalist class that oppose immigration and want to deport everyone. There are other capitalists that pay low wages and few or no benefits to immigrants. Lower wages means higher profits. The Republican Party is now split on the issue and a tremendous backtracking is happening. The Democratic Party has done little because it is easier to look the other way while immigrant workers are abused.
Some unions are very supportive of the movement, like the largest U.S. union—the Service Employees International Union. SEIU puts a good amount of effort and money into organizing amongst immigrants because that is who works in their industries. The same with UNITE/HERE that organizes factories and hotels and restaurants. At first these unions were hesitant and cautious, but now seeing the power of the movement they are coming out to provide support and help lead. For other unions, it is a question of local leadership, so carpenters unions in some cities are out in front leading, welcoming immigrants as union brothers. In other cities the union leaders are sitting on their hands, hoping the immigrants do not organize into unions. These leaders run the unions like a business and are racist against Black and Latino workers. There are fewer and fewer of these unions as they are failing. The unions that want to fight for good contracts for the workers and oppose discrimination are the ones that are growing and leading a new movement for social justice.

Tom Burke is Organizational Secretary, Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Also from Solidaire on immigrant struggle in the US:

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Maoist People's War in Nepal Leaps Forward! (Two Articles)

People's Army marches through provincial city centre

27 March 2006. A World To Win News Service. The Nepal Maoist weekly Janadesh reports that Nepal's People's Liberation Army staged a march through the city centre of Gularia, the district headquarters of Bardiya in western Nepal 21 March. Gularia is a medium-sized city, by Nepali standards, situated around 50 kilometres west of Nepalgunj, the Nepali city that serves as India's business gateway to western Nepal. Gularia itself is less than five kilometres from the Indo-Nepal boarder. The Indian state has already set up its armed forces across the border areas to control the Maoist revolutionaries.

This is the first time that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out this kind of action, a full-force, deliberately staged march through the city by a PLA "Urban Team" beginning at 10:30 in the morning, local time, and not the kind of brief and incidental crossing of an urban area that has sporadically occurred before in the course of a battle with the enemy ever since the People's War was initiated in 1996. It caused widespread surprise in Nepal, although the news was blacked out by the reactionary state propaganda machinery and other bourgeois media.

The 21 March Janadesh quoted a PLA source who called it a dress rehearsal for armed insurrection to capture the city centres. The spokesperson also said that it was a last warning to the royal state. Janadesh reported that a great new enthusiasm erupted among the city dwellers after the PLA completed its passage through the city.

There are army barracks and police centres in Gularia. The royal regime's security forces attempted to disrupt the march, resulting in the death of three policemen. After PLA soldiers detonated a land mine, the Royal Nepalese Army was confined within the barracks. The PLA march proceeded through town as per plan. Although an RNA helicopter attacked the march, there were no PLA casualties. It is not known yet whether the helicopter came from Nepalgunj or another regional or district headquarters.

In a separate action, the People's Revolutionary Government confiscated a vehicle of the old state centred in the Rolpa district headquarters. The Revolutionary Government, like the PLA, is led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

In other news, King Gyanendra Shah has left Kathmandu, and has been living in Pokhara tightly encircled by his Royal Army. While he temporarily returned to the capital a few days ago to speak with a visiting Chinese representative, he arrived at the Royal Palace in a helicopter after the sky had been cleared of all aircraft for 22 minutes. This contrasted with his attempts to portray his situation as one of unconcern when almost four months ago, during the unilateral ceasefire implemented by the CPN (Maoist), Gyanendra had invited the media to cover him as he took a day-long walk in Lalitpur, in the capital Kathmandu. Gyanendra has been worried about Kathmandu residents since they pelted his hooligan son, Paras Shah, with stones in the Baneshwor district, halfway between the airport and the Royal Palace, as the son was going to welcome home Gyanendra from a month-long trip abroad.
* * *
Advance of people’s war sets stage for huge general strike
10 April 2006. A World to Win News Service. In Nepal, 6 April commemorates both the beginning of the 1980 upheaval against the feudal monarchy and the 1990 mass struggle that forced the monarchy to accept a parliamentary democracy until the current king dissolved parliament 14 months ago. On that date this year, the seven-party alliance of parliamentary forces opposed to the king called a four-day bandh, a national strike and shutdown, supported by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which suspended armed operations in and around the capital at their request. It is the vigorous expansion of the people's war led by the CPN(M) that has set the stage for the parliamentarians to move into the streets.

Despite a ban on demonstrations and a daytime curfew in Kathmandu and other cities, thousands of demonstrators built flaming barricades with tyres and threw rocks to fend off heavily armed police. Urban streets remained a battleground even after the four-day time period ended. At least four people were reported killed by security forces. At the same time, in four corners of the country, the Maoist-led People's Liberation Army attacked government military bases and other facilities. In a first for this war, during the course of one of those battles the revolutionary forces shot down a Royal Nepal Army helicopter.

Helicopters terrorize liberation struggles all over the world. The RNA has been using copters to drop bombs and as firing platforms against both PLA soldiers and ordinary people. In January this year, an aerial attack killed CPN(M) Central Committee member Comrade Sunil during a party meeting, in violation of the ceasefire agreement at that time. Recently another helicopter attack killed several people attending a Maoist-led mass meeting in Thokarpa (Sindhupalchok district), before the eyes of national and international journalists. The same MI-17 aircraft flew to Malwanga, the district headquarters of Saralahi, in eastern Nepal, on the morning of 6 April as PLA forces attacked a military base. PLA ground fire brought it down in flames, killing ten Royal Army officers. In a statement hailing this event, CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda said the copter had been shot down using "a combination of modern and home-made technology."

The PLA took over this district capital in the eastern Terai (plains) region of Nepal. All the government offices of the old state were destroyed and some of the officers including the security forces were taken into custody. Some 125 prisoners were released from the prison. Most of them were political prisoners.

Meanwhile, the tempo of the struggle accelerated in Kathmandu and other cities. On the first day of the bandh, despite preventive raids against the homes of opposition leaders and the previous arrest of opposition activists, demonstrators had taken over small cities surrounding the capital, such as Patan, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur. Some thousand people were arrested across the country that day. Demonstrators chanted that the king should leave the country immediately.

On the second day of demonstrations, the masses were able to rescue some of the parliamentary party leaders held in police custody. Police had arrested a leader of the Congress Party, but demonstrators in Patan snatched him away from them. Patan, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur remained under the control of the demonstrators. The regime carried out aerial attacks on crowds. One demonstrator was killed and several others also shot in the city of Pokhara.

During the third day of the general strike, PLA assaulted a Royal Army based in Kapilbastu district in the central Terai region. About a dozen army barracks were destroyed, along with fortifications and vehicles. Some two dozen Royal Army personnel killed, and a large quantity of weapons seized. A statement by the CPN(M) regional bureau called this battle a rehearsal for seizing the capital and central state power.

On the fourth day, thousands of demonstrators defied a 7 am – 8pm curfew and continued to demonstrate. Most transportation ceased and businesses remained closed. The upheaval continued unabated on 10 April, even after the end of the four days for which the bandh had originally been called.

CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda issued a statement supporting this general strike. He explained that the seven parties had called it in accord with the second memo of understanding between the CPN(M) and the seven-party alliance. He particularly hailed the broad participation of the masses of people despite the medieval suppression the feudal autocratic regime had attempted to impose. He continued, "The Nepalese people of all classes, nationalities, regions and genders have risen up today to get free from the autocratic feudal monarchy. The entire country has come to demand the fulfilment of the desire for peace and democracy through election of a constituent assembly against the autocracy. At this decisive and sensitive historical moment, our party has been advancing and will advance, with a suitable adjustments and understandings with the political parties and civil society, deeply committed to the immediate historic necessity of establishing a democratic republic through the election of a constituent assembly. In this regard, our party strongly supports the decision of the seven parliamentarian parties to continue the general political strikes until the downfall of the autocratic monarchy and also announces its own programme."

This programme of struggle adopted by the CPN(M), adjusted to the general political strike of the parliamentarian parties, includes staging demonstrations defying curfews and bans; destroying idols, statues and other symbols of feudal kings and emperors; removing all signboards that say "His Majesty's Government"; promoting and supporting the campaign for the announcement of the people's republic of Nepal that is being carried out now at the local level; mobilising the masses to refuse to pay taxes to the royal regime and taking action against tax brokers that help the feudal elements; and keeping all highways under control of the PLA.

Referring to attempts by the US and other powers to get the parliamentary parties to break away from the Maoists and compromise with the king, Comrade Prachanda declared, "The demise of the feudal autocratic monarchy and the establishment of the democratic republic are nearing. Our party again strongly appeals to all the pro-people forces and broad masses of people in and outside of the country to lead the struggle to success, and to remain alert against all kinds of pernicious conspiracies and compromises against the people at this last moment."

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