No Mickey Maoist revolution
Freedom of the press requires more than legal fees to protect it in places like Nepal. The Maoist rebels control most of the countryside around the city.Among the 12,000 or so people theyve killed are a handful of journalists they didn’t approve of. They have issued a list of a dozen or so others they intend to kill. Their letters to the editor are lethal.The Kathmandu Post regularly publishes front page editorials saying it will take more than threats to make them turn and run. These people are tough, especially considering that, so far, everything the Maoists have threatened, theyve delivered.In 1996, the Maoists began pole-axing police in rural areas, stealing weapons and wreaking general havoc until they ran out of bullets. The more rural police they could pound and rob, the more they could further their cause whatever it is. The Maoists dont seem to know exactly what theyre after, beyond the sort of dictatorial national and world domination so common to evil villains in James Bond movies. What they have is small, disconnected fiefdoms scattered throughout the countryside, and 12,000 people dead in their wake.A couple years ago they decided they didnt like a journalist who had developed the annoying habit of telling the truth about their atrocities, so they killed him.Their death-to-journalists list has grown to include just about any journalists who had developed that same annoying habit. And the Maoists dont leave you short of story ideas.Theres the story about a policeman who was found dead in the streets of a village with his hands cut off, followed by a story about their practice of forcing their victims, at gunpoint, to dig shallow graves. They cut their legs off at the knees and their victim topples into the fresh grave, where they are buried alive.A village mayor was tied to a tree, tortured and beheaded during a funeral he had been performing for the previous days Maoist victim.The mayor, a grandfather, was then stomped in front of his grandsons. They came back the next day for the boys. One escaped.Find the cost of freedomThe Kathmandu Posts editor, Shayam Bahadur, rolled out of bed early to spend a couple hours explaining what its like to have two of his reporters on the Maoist death list. Its mid-morning and the newsroom is deserted and spotless, a little unnerving the day after the Maoists death list was issued.On this day, the Kathmandu Posts front page carries a story about Maoists smashing peoples hands.As soon as we sit down and exchange pleasantries, Bahadur looked me straight in the eye and made a remarkable statement: We will not submit to the voice of the gun, neither from the Maoists nor the army.The voice of the gun has already been heard among the nations journalists. At least six have been killed. Bahadur has written three front-page editorials about the Maoist threat, insisting the free presss voice will not be stilled.We must say something, and say it loudly, he said. People must remain convinced that the press is still with them.Bahadurs not very many years old, but he has the look of a man who hasnt been young in a long, long time. Hes a Fulbright Scholar, educated at New York University.The dean of his journalism school called to check on him after hearing about the Maoists death-to-journalists list, happy his former students name was not on it, and wondering if it might soon be. This list is not the sort of recognition journalists generally are looking for.The Kathmandu Posts two on that death list are both stationed in Nepals midwestern hills. He said one is nervous; the other was steadfastly refusing to return to Kathmandu from his outpost.Hes a very courageous person, Bahadur said of his reporter who refuses to leave his post. We could make him come in, but thats not the solution.Nepals National Federation of Journalists issued a statement that they would not cave in to the Maoist threat. Hundreds of Nepali journalists marched through the streets of Kathmandu the day after the Maoists issued their death list.NATO, The Nepal Association of Tour Operators the other (and probably more effective) NATO says Nepal is still safe for tourists, which is true. You can go anywhere, do anything.Few in the U.S. or Europe pay much attention to the political situation, asking only if the Himalayas are still standing and if they can climb them.We cannot rely on the government. The government is so weak, Bahadur said. If you get a death threat, what do you do? Its very dangerous for a journalist. The government can provide little protection … The Maoists are in a position to go into their house, take them out and kill them.One army unit was holed up in its barracks, surrounded by Maoists, and could not come out, he said. Even before the Maoists, the government had no presence. The Maoists were able to simply walk into an area and declare victory. It was very, very easy for them, Bahadur said. It was agreed to begin negotiations about solving the countrys political crisis. Everyone was there except the Maoists, who created most of the current crisis.Journalists still hope the government and rebels will behave responsibly and commit to talks, he said.Leaky blockadeIts easy for people like me to poke fun at all things political, but when you kill at least 12,000 people, lay a leaky siege to a nations capital after sacking its neighbor (Tibet), and disrupt the lives of millions of people, thats no Mickey Maoist movement.Theyve taken control of most of Nepals countryside, and have surrounded Kathmandu with what could be the most porous blockade in history. The goal is to stop all transport in and out of the city, except for tourists and their related industries.The day after the blockade began, the Kathmandu Post ran a front page article about a new beltway road project around the Kathmandu Valley, and how it will ease travel. You have to love that kind of spunk in your local newspaper.In the meantime, to get in the front door of the Kathmandu Post, where freedom of the press still finds its way into the citys streets every day, you have to pass three sets of guards and a security checkpoint.As I left, making my way through all the security, the reporters begin to file in, stopping to greet their editor.They are young, and do not appear nervous, although they say they fully understand the threats theyre under. Some of those dead journalists were friends.The paper still comes out every day and will continue to do so, until they forcibly close down the printing press. Its your job and you do it every day, no matter what.Staff writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 615, or email@example.com. Vail Colorado
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