Friday, October 28, 2005

The Demonstration That Wasn't

Cops on the west edge of Ratna Park looking for something to do.

Live from Ratna Park

A big pain in the ass, that's all it was.

Around 2pm everyone gathered for yet another bought-and-paid-for demonstration. This time, it was the 7-parties teaming up with Kantipur. No big difference in the two, so it wasn't much of a shocker when they both decided to join forces.

Blogdai's once favorite newspaper, The Kathmandu Post has been going berserk lately spouting off against the shutting of Kantipur FM like it was comparable to Rwandan genocide. Only Kunda Dixit-- like him or not-- managed to keep his head and report things in a somewhat balanced manner in his Nepali Times. Memo to Kathmandu Post: Objectivity breeds credibility. You currently have neither.

Anyway, back to our big gathering: 85 arrested, no violence. The police arrived early and had the entire Ratna Park area blanketed ahead of time. Most of the demonstrators either failed to show up or scattered early. Couldn't count more than 500 people around the area, although there must have been a few more. Over all, by Kathmandu standards, a poor effort.

Blogdai surveyed a few Kathmanduites in and around the demonstration for their opinions and reactions:

" Why do they waste our time like this?" "How can we run a business when there is a strike all the time?"

"I don't like the King, the politicians or the police. You want to see a big fight? Put all the demonstrators in a big field with the local shop owners and then you will have a war!"

"The King must make a democracy now and politicians must shut up!"

"We don't pay attention to this; it is all for the rich (men) ."

The alliance started their morning by sending little groups of students to disrupt things all over town. There were early disruptions in Baneshwor, Lalitpur and Saat Guumti.

Analysis: A supposedly democratic alliance that supposedly represents the people is using fear and intimidation to heap attention upon themselves. The economy was disrupted and people were frightened. No wonder these guys are talking to the Maoists; they use the same tactics.

The people of Nepal are suffering, to be sure. But it is not for the reasons we hear out of the western media drumbeat. Nepalis feel suffering tangibly and most immediately from two sources: The Maoists and the protesters. Ideological pontificating about royal repression, press freedom, and lack of democracy falls on deaf ears to the average nepali--rural or urban--who is just trying to survive.


Extra: To our Readers in Nepal: The very excellent is, as you all know, currently blocked in Nepal. Blogdai has been in contact with Founder, Chief Editor and all-around journalist extrordinaire Dharma Adhikari who tells me that will soon be back; bigger and better than ever. He will offer professional coverage on world events as well as his unmatched coverage of Nepal issues. He's the best in the business so it will be worth the wait. Until then, blogdai will continue to relay his messages to all of our readers here, so keep watching! Jai Nepal

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Word On the Streets

Live from Nepal.

Real people with real voices. Life goes on here in the valley. Not one person on the street gives a whiff of priority to the state of democracy in Nepal. Everyone, repeat, everyone wants PEACE first and foremost and by any means necessary.

It's not some easily grasped concept that makes Westerners feel good, that's for sure. It's not some sort of self-esteem exercise that ignores research, like the vehement "democracy at all costs" movement either.

Truth is, the Maoists are costing this country a bundle in lost business and increased expenses; the political parties are seen as obstacles at worst, irrelevant at best; and the King is frustrating everyone with his lack of decision-making. THAT'S the word on the street.

Some other news I tend to believe because it comes from a real Nepali and not an expatriot:

1. Kantipur FM was shut down because it encouraged, if not outright supported, Maoists in the field. Quit whining about a supressed media because everyone here feels the media represents the monied elite.

2. The King will make a major reshuffle of his cabinet in the next few days. Word is he will select members from the 7-party alliance to fill a few vacancies.

3. Nepalis take the idiotic babbling utterances of James Moriarty and Keith Bloomfield VERY seriously. They are scared to death that Americans feel Maoists are ready for a takeover.

4. Maoists are in deep, long-term, trouble.

Ideological maoists are now in their 30's and 40's and are deserting and fleeing to india. This is the age of men in Nepal where there is tremendous pressure to settle down and raise a family, or at least make something substantive of oneself. Nepalis, men and women, flee to India at the rate of around 500 persons per day to either desert the Maoists or escape conscription.

Upcoming young Maoist recruits have neither the zeal nor the ability of their predecessors; most were forcibly conscripted.

Current active maoists fighting forces number about 10,000. They are unorganized and operate with little or no coordination with each other.

There will be no more large-scale Maoist attacks.

So, blogdai will now tend to respond less to high-minded ideological arguments and pseudo-erudite pontifications from those with out-of-Nepal perspectives.

We are in Nepal to give a voice to average Nepalis, we are listening, and we are getting dirty.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tulsi Giri Out!

The old relic is at it again. After last week's calling of the Nepali constitution a virtual barrier to getting things done and showing exaspiration at not being able to harass Kantipur publications, Dr. Tulsi Giri unilaterally steps in Yak shit once again by publicly refusing to allow international monitors for next year's municipal elections.

Giri is corrupt, out of touch and out of his element. He seems to feel that it is ok to bypass Ramesh Nath Pandey's declaration to the UN that international election monitors would be allowed.

Pandey is right; Giri is wrong. For the King's takeover to have any legitimacy, it must be open to all observers and demonstrate a true commitment to installing an actual functioning democracy. Shutting off the election process to the UN smacks of despotism and resembles something the Nepali Congress Party would use as a means of clinging to power.

King G. has to realize that his cabinet needs cleaning. Giri is an old Panchayat-era loose cannon. He must not be allowed to continue in an official capacity.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Back In Manjushree's Valley

AFter a small hiatus, blogdai is back in Kathmandu.

So, look for the following stories over the next few weeks:

---We will track down and find an actual "Field Office" for the International Crisis Group, if there is such a thing.

---Will get some photos and interviews on the "Anatomy of a Street Protest" to see who's paying for what and who belongs to those faces we see in the crowds over and over again.

---We will get to the bottom of that mystery reporter from "one of the largest media houses in Kathmandu" who breathlessly reported on conditions right after the takeover. Blogdai smells a big phony here and has good info on how to proceed. Stay tuned.

---Actual interviews from the Nepali in the street. What are their feelings for once? No spoiled expatriots soiling the discussion.

So, lots to do. See you in a week or so. Remember, don't click on any links from off-topic postings on this blog; it took blogdai a week to get rid of the blog spam.

Let's start this show,