Thursday, 28 May 2009

June 20: Protest 2 years of the Intervention

Protest, march and concert – marking two years since the announcement of the NT Intervention

Saturday June 20, 10:30am Belmore Park, Eddy avenue, Haymarket (opposite Central station)

March to the Block in Redfern for family and culture day concert

Stop the NT Intervention
> Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
> No Blackmail – Land Rights not Leases
> Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs
> Housing and Services for all Communities
> Jobs – not cuts to CDEP

Speakers include:
> Maurie Japarta Ryan (Central Land Council, NT)
> Larissa Behrendt
> Adam Kerslake (Unions NSW)
> Geoff Scott (NSW Aboriginal Land Council)
> Jim Allen (Board Member NSW Aboriginal Housing Office)
> Jeff McMullen
> Dootch Kennedy (Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council)

Performers include:
> The Last Kinection
> Nadeena Dixon
> Cuzco
> Maupower (Torres Strait)
> Dizzy Doolan
> DJ Exile (Aotearoa)

Stand Against Rudd’s Racism

June 20, 2009 will mark two years since the Howard government announced its Intervention into NT Indigenous communities.

The Intervention promised health, housing and education – but it has delivered only racism, the destruction of Aboriginal control and worsening social problems. After the allocation of more than $1 billion the only houses that have been built with intervention funds have been for government managers imposed on communities. The compulsory quarantine of welfare payments is causing greater poverty, real hunger and segregation in Centrelink and in shops.

The Rudd government has made symbolic gestures to try and signal a break from the racism of Howard – apologising to the Stolen Generations and recently signing on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But this is hypocrisy. They have pursued Howard’s agenda of “mainstreaming” and assimilation with force, expanding the Intervention, despite the recommendations of their own ‘review’.

In the NT, they have also overseen the withdrawal of funding from remote ‘outstations’, forcing migration into towns, and severe restrictions on teaching in Aboriginal languages. The government has pledged to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act this spring, but has insisted this will mean no ‘softening’ of punitive Intervention policies.

Land Rights not Leases – Stop the national expansion of Intervention policies

A key aspect of the Northern Territory Intervention has been the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal township land for five years. Housing assets have been forcibly transferred from community councils to the NT public housing agency. Over the past nine months, the government has announced that only 16 of the 73 ‘prescribed communities’ will receive any funding for new housing. And these communities have been given an ultimatum. They must sign township land over to the government for between 40-90 years before any construction can commence. While a handful of communities-desperate for housing and under extreme pressure-have signed these leases, the majority say they will never sign away Land Rights fought for over decades.

In March, the government announced it would extend the policy nationally – no new housing will be built in any remote community across Australia unless long-term leases are signed. And of the scores of Aboriginal communities in NSW who desperately need housing, only two – Walgett and Wilcannia – will receive funding.

The abolition of Aboriginal controlled Community Development Employment Projects (CDEPs) was a cornerstone of Howard’s Intervention, forcing thousands of Indigenous people in the NT out of work. Now this policy is also being rolled out nationally, with up to 30,000 CDEP jobs facing the axe this July. In the face of looming global recession this is madness. We need to fight these policies aimed at breaking up Aboriginal control and forcing Aboriginal people to leave their communities.

June 20 will be a national day of action, including a march in Darwin led by Aboriginal people living under Intervention policies. Join in the rally, march and concert in Sydney. Demand an end to Rudd’s racism and funding now for Aboriginal controlled housing and services in all communities.

For more info contact the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) through
Monique on 0415 410 558 or
Paddy on 0415 800 586

To see the flyer for the protest: click here

May 30 ‘Stop the Sell-Offs’ day of protest to relaunch campaign against privatisation

May 28, 2009

“Unless he abandons his plans to privatise NSW public services and assets Nathan Rees is headed for electoral oblivion”, Colin Drane, convener of the Sydney Power to the People coalition1 said today.

Drane was announcing the first in a series of “Stop the Sell-Offs Saturdays” on the privatisation issue. They will feature campaigning stalls in shopping centres and protests outside MPs’ offices.

The protests are part of the campaign to force the Rees government to drop its plans to sell off management of prisons, wholesale and retail electricity distribution, NSW lotteries , NSW Waste Services, Sydney Ferries and Pillar, the NSW superannuation fund administrator.

The campaign has the support of Unions NSW, the South Coast Labour Council, Newcastle Trades Hall Council and individual unions.

Drane said: “80% of people in NSW oppose privatisation. They know it means worse services, higher prices and job losses. But, with a few honourable exceptions, the pollies still don’t get the message.

“The ‘Stop the Sell-Offs’ Saturdays will give the people a chance to remind our forgetful MPs that ‘No means No’ when it comes to selling off NSW public services.

“Power to the People has already sent a letter to all NSW MPs demanding that they clarify their stance on Rees’ sell-offs. We shall be publishing the results on our web site (at and letting all communities know the position of their MP. Any MP who doesn’t respond will be regarded as a supporter of privatisation.”

Drane said that the campaign would build on the protests of NSW prison officers, which have already blocked the privatisation of Cessnock Gaol . The prisoner officers, members of the Prison Officers Vocational Branch of the Public Sector Association, are presently maintaining 24-hour protest pickets outside the electoral offices of the premier in Toongabbie and of minister Jody McKay in Newcastle.

“This campaign won’t stop until the Rees government gets over its privatisation addiction”, Drane concluded. “One day the premier may thank us for it, because the government won’t survive the next election unless it drops a policy the vast majority of New South Wales rejects.”

Media contact: Colin Drane 0419 698 396

1. The Power to the People coalition consists of organisations and individuals committed to maintaining public services and assets in government hands.

Monday, 25 May 2009

South Sydney meeting against privatisation

A public meeting is being held on Wednesday 27th May at 7.30pm at South Sydney Uniting Church (56a Raglan St, Waterloo).

The meeting will be discussing many of the questions surrounding the state government’s plans to privatise prisons.

It should be an interesting look into prison privatisation and will have a number of guest speakers including: Greg Smith (Shadow Attorney General & Shadow Minister for Justice), Lee Rhiannon (Greens member Legislative Council), Penny Sharpe (labor MP), Prof Eileen Baldry (associate Dean School of Social Science UNSW) and a prison activist.

This event is being presented by The South Sydney Herald, South Sydney Uniting Church and the Social Justice Committee of the Sydney Presbytery of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Contact: Trevor Davies 0400 008338

Radical history conference: A century of struggle

Laborism and the radical alternative - Lessons for today
Saturday 30 May 9.30am (registration) - 5.00pm AMWU offices, 251 Queensberry St, Carlton

Speakers include:
Verity Burgmann, author of many books on labour movement history
Jamie Doughney, economist, National Tertiary Education Union state president
Dave Kerin, CFMEU mining and energy organiser, Latrobe Valley
Chris Spindler, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser

Socialist Alliance is organising a one-day conference on the struggle to build a radical alternative to the deadening hand of the ALP and the lessons we can draw for today. The seminar will draw on the experiences of the communist and trade union movements in Australia over the last century. This will be an important seminar given the global economic meltdown, the crisis of climate change and the dampening impact that the federal ALP government has had on the trade union movement.

The formation of the ALP. Was it ever a workers' party?
The record of the ALP. High hopes and big disappointments

The Wobblies. Achievements and limitations
The vehicle of socialism? The NSW Socialisation Units in the 1930s

Communism in Australia. Some of the issues
Left alternatives in the trade unions

Fighting under Labor governments today
Looking to the future

Registration from 9.30am: $15/$5 concession.
Organised by Socialist Alliance - Sponsored by Green Left Weekly.
For more information phone 9639-8622.

"Make Greed History"

Scottish Socialist Party EU Election Broadcast

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Rudd puts warfare before welfare: A sad day for the people of the Illawarra


May 12, 2009 - Illawarra Socialist Alliance has condemned the Rudd government’s plans to spend over $300 billion on defence projects over the next 20 years, as outlined in the May 2 defence white paper.

Illawarra Socialist Alliance convener, Chris Williams, said: 'Instead of committing to a multi-billion investment plan to reduce global warming – a very real threat – the Rudd government will spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on countering non-existent military threats and encouraging an arms build up in the region.

'The $20 million BlueScope contract is a complete sell out for the people of Wollongong , and not because it represents only one day’s work. The Port Kembla steelworks should be utilised for a massive program of green job creation, e.g. wind turbine production, not for making ‘warfare destroyers’. This is a huge slap in the face for voters who considered Rudd the anti-war candidate and one committed to act on climate change.

‘The difference between the expectations Rudd has raised and the actual proposals he’s made is huge. We must demand more of our government. What’s necessary in this time of crisis is real job creation – not one day’s work – that addresses environmental problems as well as the recession. Massive government investment in the production of renewable energies would be a great start.

‘The ALP government is putting warfare ahead of the welfare of our community and environment. The Socialist Alliance stands for the complete opposite and demands a change now', Williams concluded.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Green Left Weekly fundraising dinner, this Saturday!

A Green Left Weekly Fundraiser


Special event to celebrate 50 years of the Cuban Revolution with
Abelardo Curbelo
Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba
Also featuring guest speaker Juan Campos of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) committee in Sydney, recently returned from observing the historic victory of the FMLN in the El Salvadoran elections
Plus an eyewitness report from Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution.

Saturday 9th May
Ukranian Association Hall
59 Joseph St, Lidcome
(near the Lidcome train station)

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, the 10th anniversary of the Venezuelan revolution
and the growth of the left movements across Latin America.

Protest the Troop Surge in Afghanistan, May 8



Surge Protest

5pm Friday May 8

Sydney Town Hall

483 George St Sydney

(Near Town Hall Station & George St buses)

Speaker: Gerry Binder, stand fast - veterans against war

Prime minister Kevin Rudd has given the order to increase Australia’s military presence in Afghanistan by 450 - making a total of 1,550.

Join stop the war in a protest vigil and speak out in the city this Friday afternoon. Come along to tell Mr Rudd that he is sending more soldiers to join an illegal, Bush-era war against people who had no connection to 9-11, in a struggling, damaged and deeply impoverished country.

The people of Afghanistan need our support to begin a new era of peace, self-determination and improved quality of life. They don’t need more pointless destruction of innocent lives and property.

Info: Pip 0412 139 968 Rob 0411 449 033 Andrew 0409 959 014

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Police smash Tamil protest in Parramatta

Via Peter Boyle on the greenleft discussion list:

Yesterday the cops smashed up a Tamil community protest in Parramatta Mall. A young Tamil man, Sutha (27), who had begun a hunger strike at the May Day rally in Sydney on Sunday was dragged off in a paddy wagon then carted to prison where they tried to force him to eat, community activists say. The racist local Liberal mayor said to angry community members: "If you want to have a hunger strike go back to your own country and do it there".

On Monday night 150 Tamils and their supporters held a peaceful interfaith prayer service at Hyde Park, A huge squad of riot police also attended.

The cops are probably crook on the Tamils because they carried out a 1.5 hour sit in on George Street outside Sydney Town Hall last Friday night.

Another factor may be the recent pro-Sri Lankan military reporting by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Matt Wade, who seems to be embedded by in the Sri Lankan army carried out the genocide against the Tamils.

So far Wade has not said much about the gross atrocities against the Tamils, e.g.
Channel 4 - Sexual abuse, Killings, Rotting bodies inside Sri Lankan camps. The civilians are not allowed to go back to their villages, and they are planned to be kept in these conditions for 3 years. politics/grim+scenes+at+sri+lankan+camps+/3126257 (exclusive videos taken)

Support democracy in Nepal ! Support the Nepalese people!

Democratic Socialist Perspective
May 5, 2009

All supporters of democracy and social justice have reason to be concerned by the recent events in the republic of Nepal .

The military high command, backed by right-wing parties tied to the country’s elite, has openly defied the authority of the elected civilian government, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

In response, the government sought to remove army chief of staff General Katawal, via legal and constitutional means. Katawal refused to accept his removal and the government’s decision was illegally overturned by President Ram Baran Yadav from the conservative Nepalese Congress party, whose position under the interim constitution is largely ceremonial.

With their coalition partners in government refusing to support the UCPN-M, Nepal ’s prime minister and UCPN-M leader Prachanda announced on May 3 that the Maoists had no choice but to resign and leave government.

The removal of the Maoists from government is nothing less than a coup. It reveals the real situation in Nepal — that despite its democratic mandate for change, the Maoist-led government is being prevented by the old elite from implementing such change.

The Maoists are working to mobilise their large base of support among the poor majority for street demonstrations against this coup.

The peace accords signed by various parties in 2006, on the back of a mass pro-democracy uprising, ended a decade-long armed struggle between the monarch’s army and the Maoist-led People’s Liberation Army. The accords allowed for the April 2008 constituent assembly elections in which — against expectations — the Maoists won the most seats, receiving over 1 million votes more than their nearest competitor.

Seeking the widest possible consensus, the Maoists established a broad coalition government. However, the UCPN-M’s proposals for a peaceful and democratic pro-poor transformation of Nepal that were endorsed at the ballot box have been frustrated by opposition within the parliament, the state and even the coalition government.

It is taken for granted all around the world that if the military is above the elected government and can act as it wishes, there is no democracy.

The Nepalese Army is infamous for its human rights abuses, including murder, torture and rape. It has also been responsible for coups against civilian governments, and the top ranks of the army recently admitted to planning a fresh coup against the current elected government!

The Maoists have simply been attempting to implement the peace accords, under which the PLA fighters could be integrated into the army to create a new, unified military. The army chiefs have refused to do this and instead recruited thousands of new, non-Maoist fighters, in violation of the accords. The right-wing elite know that if the peace agreements are implemented, the army may stop being a weapon they can use to prevent social progress.

In recent years, the Nepalese people, among the world’s poorest, have achieved giant strides forward. A centuries-old feudal monarchy has been overturned and a republic declared. The Nepalese people have voted for a transformation of their nation to one based on equality and pro-people development that ends poverty.

There is nothing more terrifying to the ruling classes globally than the sight of a people winning power. The right-wing forces in Nepal are counting on the support of foreign powers, especially the United States and India .

Nepal’s poor majority need our solidarity. All those who believe in the principles of democracy and social justice, who believe that people should not be condemned to backbreaking poverty simply because the powerful have carved the world up among themselves, need to support the people of Nepal and insist that:

  • the Nepalese people must be allowed to determine their future, foreign intervention must end;
  • the peace accords must be upheld; and
  • democracy must be respected and the people’s will implemented.

The DSP is a Marxist tendency in the Australia’s Socialist Alliance

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Coup in Nepal

From Lal Salaam blog, Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The last 48 hours in Nepal has seen a flurry of activity and has created the illusion of a political situation has been rapidly changing. While there has been a series of developments withing the parliament and within the government, and the alliances and support of different political parties has been removed and realigned- the essence of the political situation remains unchanged. The real political situation has remained stagnant for some months now. The actual reality of the political situation is that there is a new revolutionary force with an overwhelming support amongst the people of Nepal is pushing to radically change the institutions of the Nation and to create a more developed and just society. Opposed to these changes are an elite minority within the established power structures that resisting this struggle by any means necessary. This was made abundantly clear on May 3rd when the ceremonial President went outside his constitutional role to defy the democratically elected government. In essence this was a coup. The rightful political power of the government was usurped by an unlawful and outside force. In response to this blatant illegal move, the revolutionary Prime Minister Prachanda, and the Maoist government chose to resign- rather then remain in a position where in reality they had no political power, despite a clear mandate from the people of Nepal and clear constitutional and political legitimacy.

The mainstream press will tell you that the current political crisis started 2 weeks ago when the revolutionary Maoist government asked for "clarification" from the Chief of Army Staff- the constitutional first step in removing him from his post. Instead of trying to provide a clarification and justification for his actions and disobedience of the government the CoAS Katawal questioned the right of the government to seek his clarification. For the next two weeks the Maoists tried frantically to gain support from the other political parties to take action against the CoAS for his repeated insubordination, but when this was not possible, they took actions themselves to remove General Katawal from his post- sparking protests from the opposition, and parties to resign from government, sparking the current political crisis. This does not tell the full story. The fact is that the Army had been disobeying the government for months. The budget was still largely unimplemented due to political resistance. Every move of the government was resisted and every decision was made impotent. The crisis is not one revolving around the question of the army, but a crisis due to the gap between the democratic government and the power they should legitimately hold.

The last few days has made perfectly clear to anyone watching Nepal the real balance of forces within the country. The elected government is in no position of power, even on a question as elementary to any democracy such as civilian control over the military. The real power brokers are 1) those in a position of power within the country. The bureaucrats, the military, the rich, ex-royals and the feudal land lords- largely grouped behind the political leadership of the Nepali Congress and 2) those international forces that wish to preserve the status quo in Nepal as it serves their interests, namely India and the United States of America. The established political parties are all firmly integrated into this system as well which the current political crisis clearly proves. The CPN(UML) while initially giving its approval to the government, backed down and joined the opposition under the pressure of these international forces.

This basic situation within Nepal is unchanged still today. Even though the Maoists have withdrawn from government, the basic and fundamental political situation in the country is that the great majority of Nepalis desperately want real and radical change, and the current political institutions are neither willing nor capable of fulfilling these demands. The form of this struggle has now changed, in light of the coup by the Nepali Congress President. The struggle now is outside of the government, and will be led by the struggle on the streets, and the struggle for the people in Nepal is for a meaningful government that is capable of bring about the changes that they demand.

These demands fly in direct contradiction to anyone in a position of power. The entire economic and political set up of Nepal is geared towards ensuring the dominance of international power centers and the local powers that do their bidding. Creating a Nepal that is truly democratic, and that will create real economic development within Nepal (and geared towards the whole people of Nepal- not just an elite) needs to go against this power structure. This struggle continues to be played out. The struggle now for the Maoists not just for government, but for meaningful power that can really start to build the New Nepal- and fulfill the modest dreams of the Nepali people- democracy, development, equality and justice.

Former elite resists the `New Nepal', forces "Soft Coup"

Supporters of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) demand the sacking of army chief of staff Rookmangud Katawal on April 28.

* * *

STOP PRESS -- Ben Peterson from Kathmandu reports on May 3, 2009, 3pm: This morning the Maoists in government made the decision to remove General Katawal from his position of chief of army staff after his repeated political insubordination. This follows 10 days of trying to reach consensus with the other political parties, up until a final cross-party meeting this morning. Failing to achieve consenus, the goverment ordered Katawal's retirement.

Reactionary and anti-democractic forces are trying to unseat the elected government. The major coalition partners in government, the Madheshi Peoples Right Forum and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninst) have reportedly left the government, and the major opposition party, the Nepali Congress, has small groups of supporters in the streets, disrupting traffic and burning tyres. Allarmingly, the chief of army staff has not accepted his removal, and is attempting to meet with other members of the millitary.

It is becoming clear that the political opposition, including parties previously within the government, are trying to find ways to destroy the Maoist government and to remove it from any form of power. This situation is changing by the minute, but it is clear that very important and decisive struggles are playing out as we speak.

At the same time, there are rallies in various places in support of the government and the Maoist party's decision. The support for this decision and the government as a whole is widespread and while life is generally unaffected away from the major roads, there is an increasingly tense situation in Kathmandu.


May 3, 2009, 4pm: The Maoist led government is no more.

I have just come from a press conference at the Prime Ministers office where Prime Minister Prachanda was to address the nation.

The Meeting was first addressed by Minister of Communications and Information, and spokesperson of the Government, Krishna Mahara. He informed those present that the just completed cabinet meeting has declared that the actions of the President in reinstating the Chief of Army Staff was illegal, and sent him a letter demanding he revoke his decision. He also informed that the cabinet meeting has also accepted the resignations that had been presented by the ministers from the UML and the Sabdhavana party.

After this Prachanda addressed the Nation. He announced that he has resigned from his position as Prime Minister. This has naturally completely changed the political situation in Nepal. It seems, my early analysis would be, that this is to open it up to the opposition to try and create a government without the Maoists, which would be extremely difficult and have no political basis- apart from being "anti-Maoists".

It is hard to tell at present the exact course of events, however, when i have more information i will pass it on. There again has been protests from both sides all day, which without doubt would have had some clashes.

Still a situation of tremendous uncertainty. things are changing by the moment, sorry for short post...

For news of the latest developments, please visit

* * *

By Ben Peterson

Kathmandu, April 29, 2009 -- After the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) won three by-elections in April , it is facing fresh resistance by the old elite.

Nepal's elite is seeking to stop the UCPN (Maoist) push for a “New Nepal”. This has included front-page exposures of a coup plot to overthrow the elected Maoist-led government. The centre of the storm is the move, begun on April 19, by the UCPN (Maoist)-led coalition government to remove the chief of army staff Rookmangud Katawal. This follows a long dispute between the military high command and the elected civilian government. Katawal has refused to implement government instructions.

The April by-elections proved that the program of the UCPN (Maoist) for a new Nepal has popular support. Occurring in six constituencies that had been left vacant in the past year, the by-elections took place in areas across the country, encompassing different ethnic groups and where the main political parties are powerful.

This meant the by-elections were a good reflection of the political mood. Although only a fraction of people could vote, and the small number of seats at stake would not affect the balance of power within the parliament, the by-elections were seen as significant in the wider political struggle.

Despite what was widely predicted, UCPN (Maoist) support increased. This is despite constant media attacks on the government and its difficulties in implementing most of its program.

The UCPN-M retained two previously held seats and won a third. The other three seats went to the right-wing Nepalese Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum.

The popular uprising and a Maoist-led “people’s war” brought down Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy, opening the way for constituent assembly elections one year ago. Against expectations, the Maoists, whose support is based on the poor, won the largest number of seats.

Since then, right-wing forces, backed by foreign powers, have sought to weaken the UCPN (Maoist)-led government and drive back the momentum for genuine change. The UCPN (Maoist) has deep roots within poor communities, through its work in local areas, among youth, women, peasants, and in the trade unions. So far, the campaign by the right-wing forces that dominate much of the state and media have failed to sever these links.

`New' Nepal

The perspectives of the UCPN (Maoist) for a new Nepal include creating secular, democratic republic; a new democratised military based on merging the formerly royalist Nepal Army with the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA); and fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities, women and the lower castes.

A minimum wage has already been created and the UCPN (Maoist) program promises to guarantee employment. National industry will be prioritised to promote development. Workers will have the right to take part in management. The UCPN (Maoist) also promotes land reform based on the principle of “land to those who work it”.

The public education system will be expanded and made free at lower levels. Private education institutions charging high fees will be regulated and phased out. Ethnic minorities will have the right to education in their own language. A literacy campaign has been launched by volunteers, to combat an illiteracy rate around 50%.

Recognising that health is a human right, the Maoists plan to significantly develop the healthcare system from its current decrepit state — especially in poor rural areas.

Suresh Kumar Ale Maga, a UCPN (Maoist) member of parliament, told Green Left Weekly that, for the UCPN (Maoist), a new Nepal meant “a Nepal on the way to socialism”.

Army sabotage

Following its victory in the by-elections on this program, the UCPN-M has pressed ahead with plans to restructure the state. The existing structures, inherited from the monarchy, have proved resistant to change. This has sparked fierce resistance from the opposition, the foreign embassies and the army. This has put the ongoing peace process, in which the PLA agreed to end its armed struggle, in jeopardy.

Facing attacks from various sides, the UCPN (Maoist) has responded with daily street demonstrations across the country. The core issue is the need for control by the elected government over the state, with its entrenched bureaucracy.

There have been many controversies involving the army. In February, the army recruited several thousand soldiers against the orders of the government, the supreme court and the interim constitution — and in direct violation of the peace process. The army again challenged the government when it reinstated eight generals who had been retired by the defence ministry on March 16.

Finally, the army staged a boycott of the recently held National Games when the PLA was allowed to compete.

The open disloyalty of the royalist military towards the elected civilian government represents an obvious threat to democracy. For the security of Nepal, it is essential that the military be restructured and brought back under the control of the government.

The Nepal Army has changed only in name from the old Royal Nepal Army, which backed an anti-democratic coup to reinstate absolute royal rule in 2005. The retirement of the chief of army staff is an initial step in a process aimed at creating the new democratic armed forces as part of the struggle to create new, democratic state structures.

The basis of the opposition to such moves is the question of power. People in positions of state power in Nepal, be it in the bureaucracy, judiciary or military, feel threatened by the process of change.

The political opposition unites those within the fabric of the old society seeking to prevent the creation of the new. Resistance to change in the military is part of the struggle of the rich and powerful. The elite views the military as its armed wing against radical change.

However, recent Nepalese history has shown that the real power in society is not to be found at the top. Rather, it rests in the people.

There have been demonstrations every day by Maoist supporters calling for Katawal's retirement. Combined with the by-election results, it puts beyond doubt the fact that popular sentiment is behind the government and supports change.

[Ben Peterson is a member of the socialist youth organisation Resistance currently living in Nepal. He maintains a blog on Nepal. This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #792, April 29, 2009.]

Monday, 4 May 2009

Happy May Day and a note on Nepal

The Wombats are flat out at the moment, busy digging deep for research (and a couple of tasty-looking morsels) and protesting our little paws off, so posting has been a bit of an ask. While we'll be back in a day or three, readers are strongly urged to get over to the Lal Salaam blog, where there is a blow-by-blow account of recent strife and trouble unfolding in the Nepali revolution, after the Maoists tried to fire an uncooperative General, and coalition parties left the government.

There is also the partial victory against the prison "cell-off" in NSW to celebrate, but the battle isn't over yet, so get involved!

Happy May Day, and keep up the struggle!