Friday, April 5, 2013

Commune at point of life or death

Members of the Ajammari Commune at Thabang, Rolpa district.

KATHMANDU, April 4: Following the deviation of Maoist leaders from their ideals and their ostentatious lifestyle, most Maoist communes have seen dissolution.
The remaining one commune is also at the point of life or death.

Of the four communes run in the Maoist heartland, only the Ajammari Commune at Thabang, Rolpa is still running. The others-- Jaljala Commune at Jelbang, Rolpa; Balidan Commune, Rukum; and Juni Commune, Jajarkot are defunct.

The demise of the communes is also the result of intra-party disputes, the party split, and lack of planning.

UCPN (Maoist) has formally turned into a parliamentary party. So, naturally the party does not have a communes program. The Juni and Balidan communes are dominated by the UCPN (Maoist) but the Rolpa communes have joined the CPN-Maoist. CPN-Maoist also has no clear plan for communes, saying only that they should be strengthened.

The dissolution process started with the peace process. Families living in the communes were exposed to the elements and they also saw with their own eyes the party leadership deviating from the ideal life.

"The communes are also affected by the deviation seen among the leadership. They do not see any future for the revolution," said Prabes Roka Magar, in-charge at Ajammari Commune.

Ajammari Commune member Sumanti Roka Magar said the party decided to form communes to settle family members of whole-timers, martyrs and the injured. The party had formed the communes in their ´liberated and base areas´.

"It was necessary for saving the family members. It was for security and also for day to day living. It was difficult to live during the conflict without a common settlement," she said.

Ajammari Commune now has 14 families totalling 85 members. Formed nine years ago, it had 33 families during the conflict period. They now consist almost entirely of the old and children.

The first commune, Juni, was formed in 2057 out of the families of people killed by security forces in the two villages of Jurk and Nipane, Juni being a combination of the two names.

"The party cornered us after the Kharipati meeting, where we supported the revolutionary line [of Mohan Baidya]," said Prabes. He said they can run the commune properly if they get help from the government. The Maoists ruled the country twice but the commune did not get any help.

Some family members were kicked out of the commune for not following regulations.

"The door is opened for everybody to join or to leave," said Yojana of Ajammari Commune. Family members can join the commune with their property and can leave again with the property after a financial reckoning of gain and loss.

Why only Magars?
In the four communes the members were mostly from the Magar community. Ajammari Commune had only one Chhetry and one dalit family.

"It may have been the nature of the Magar community to want to live in a commune, sharing happiness and sorrow," said in-charge Prabes.

Foreign researchers
Even as the communes are disappearing, the number of foreign researchers into the phenomenon is increasing. According to Prabes, researchers from Belarus, France, Japan, Canada and India are involved in research into Thabang, the Magar community and the Kham language, and what they all have in common is their interest in the Maoist movement.

"All the foreigners are surprised to see us living our common life in a group. They tell us how honest and simple we are," said Prabes.

What next
Prabes is still hopeful for the future. He wants the commune to open up to the outside world.

"We will success if only the leaders come up with a plan," he added.

"We will try to save the commune till the last moment. We will try even if there is deviation in the party. Our ideals were abandoned, our revolution discarded. But I do see a life for the commune," said Prabes adding, they are going to review the past 10 years. "We are going to build our commune in a new way and make it a tourist destination, developing three aspects --new idea, new production and new culture."
from Republica

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