Q & A with a reble commissar
By Neil Horning in Myagdi and Pokhara
We know what Prachanda and Barburam are saying. What does their military think? This is an interview with commissar of the Basanta Memorial Brigade, 4th Division of the Peoples Liberation Army. The Maoist military has both a military officer and a political officer for each unit down to the company level. A section is 10 to 15 solders, a platoon is 50 to 70, and a company is 100 to 200. Three companies make a battalion, and three battalions make a brigade. There are about 25 brigades in the PLA, they say, comprising 7 divisions.
The Basanta memorial brigade did not have anyone present who could speak English well. The interview was conducted with the Brigade Commander, a Company Commander, District Secretary, a Brigade medic, and a female Brigade Medic Assistant present. After I submitted the written questions they all listened to a translation from Deep, the Medic, and took notes while conferring with one another to see if they understood the translation. Then, after dhal bhat, the brigade commander decided that the questions were political in nature and should therefore be answered by the Commissar. I did not know what his responses were until I had them translated in Pokhara. It is clear from the translation that he didn’t fully understand all of the questions.
Neil Horning, left, With Maoist Commissar
I took the approach in this interview that I could gain more information by asking questions the PLA wanted to answer then by interrogating them. I believe this approach was successful. While I was more interested in concrete actions that the PLA was taking in their army and the areas they control, the answers given were quite ideological. While this is to be expected considering the role the Commissar plays in the brigade, I believe it also reflects on the state of mind in the PLA.
How much political education are the troops given?
We give political education about the past history of the communist movement, and the struggle of the Nepal Communist Party. In general, we teach about oppression. We teach about the people who do not have to work and the people who do have to work in order to eat. We espouse the political idea of a beautiful world without classes. We give education that encourages change in the people, society, and the world. We teach how to build a country without exploitation.
How long is the troops training?
Since we started the class fight, we have been fighting with exploiters. Afterword, the people have come continuously to join the Peoples Liberation Army and support us. So, the training goes piece by piece. As long as we cannot get liberation for our class, we will learn more and more fighting skills continuously until we overcome our enemies strength.
Are the troops excited/ happy about the ceasefire?
As our army is political nature, now we have moved from the bloody fight to the bloodless fight. According to the will of Nepalese citizens for peace and development, we have coordinated peace talks. As these negotiations are possible due to our 10 year fight we are happy to inform the citizens of this fact, and we feel our responsibility has become more important.
Are you and the troops ready to be moved into barracks if the United Nations says so?
We have been fighting from this land for the liberation of the world’s class of people who have nothing. Whatever the United Nations says about our troops, as long as the decisions are made in the welfare of the the people who have nothing then we will surly accept that decision and will implement it seriously. After all, we are the Peoples Liberation Army of the citizens. As long as the United Nations decision will be in favor of people there will be dialog between Maoists and the United Nations. According to our parties instruction we will follow the decision with fierce determination.
The three months ceasefire will expire soon. What do you think will happen then?
We will try our best to fulfill the wish of peace and development of the Nepalese citizen during this three month cease fire. After this time, the alliance of the seven political parties, civil society, and Maoists together will make a decision for the welfare of the people, and to fulfill their wish for peace. We will move accordingly.
What are you planning to do when the war is over?
After ending our fight with the Peoples Liberation Army we will raise the level of consciousness of the people with our leadership. There will be development in communication, transportation, hydroelectric power, and growth in both small and large scale factories, which will enable the Nepalese people to depend on their own economic system. We PLA will connect to this with development and labor work. We will make Nepal the most beautiful country, and an example to the world.
This division and brigade have been in many battles. What is Morale like?
Our division and brigade have been forwarding many army policies and work policies and that sort of development during wartime to defeat our enemies. We have been developing [positional warfare] skills, and we have been achieving victory. Now, all of these new policies and work policies have been generated by our PLA chief commander Com. Prachanda. While there have been problems, the new work policies and others will be generated by Prachanda, so we feel happy about that.
If the Maoist leaders join the interim government, do you feel that the Maoists have won? Is that victory?
Our great and glorified leaders will definitely enter the interim government. We have not yet been able to take all the power centers according to our plan. That’s why this is our evolutionary success. This is not our full success. It will play a very important and crucial role to establish our party’s image and glory to the people. And this will help to bring full success according to our ideology.
In Maoist theory, joining mainstream democratic politics is often called revisionism. Is what the CPN (Maoist) doing now revisionism?
Yes, Mr. Neil, that is a question to think about. There have been so many revolutions and counter-revolutions from the 18th century to the 20th century. Last time, Com. Mao generated new peoples [power]. After that huge conspiracies were made against Mao by Lin Bao. While comrade Lenin was also badly betrayed. So, we Nepali PLA have been studying their history very deeply and closely. Now, in the 21st century, Com. Prachanda is bringing forward the idea of making Nepali PLA as a political army, in order to not to let those conspiratorial ideas arise within the Nepali Revolution.
What changes has the PLA made to implement the 25 point code of conduct?
Yes, Mr. Neil, our Peoples’ Liberation Army has been fighting for change. That’s why now after 10 years of peoples’ war, the 12-point agreement between SPA and Maoists resulted in the 19th day people’s revolution achieving a new government coalition and ceasefire. The 25 point code of conduct is positive to us. Moreover, we have been implementing it in practice. By nature, being a changeable army, we have been experiencing transformation.
What has the PLA done to win public support?
Our peoples war is of [by, and for] the people. Our peoples’ war began with 60 to 70 people in the whole country depending on the support of citizens. Now, after 10 years of people’s war, not only are the Nepalese people are supporting us, but also the whole world’s laborers and dominated people. Due to that reason, in today’s 21st century, American imperialism that is trying to control the whole world is quaking [in fear]. When the Nepalese people rise up it will feel like a missile attack in the White House.
Our PLA have studied well. When people rise up in a conscious way no tyrants will be able to oppress in the world. We have seen the Paris Commune, Socialist October Revolution in Russia, and Communist Revolution in China. All revolutions were supported by citizens. Now, the Nepalese revolution has also happened by the support, sacrifice, and direct involvement of the people. That is crucial support which has been made clear from the 19 day peoples’ revolution. In addition, the Maoist announced rallies from east to west and especially in Kathmandu on June 2nd. The June 2nd gathering proved to us that the public support the PLA as clear as the sun during the day
Do you feel the war has been worth it? Would you do it again?
Neil, my friend. We don’t give any worth to the war. But as it is said, “Iron cuts Iron,” so there is struggle of violence against violence. So, as the representatives of the Nepal Communist party we have taken up the gun to finish the violence. To give freedom to the Nepalese people from war we started the war. Therefor the war will be worth it until there is liberation of the working class citizens. That does not mean we feel everything is war. There will also be a fight directly or indirectly until the people obtain equal rights.
How important is the role of women in the PLA?
Thank you Neil my friend, for you curiosity. Even if before, in the 18th century, there was not much explanation of the roll of women in revolution, after the time of Lenin and Mao it has been explained that without the involvement of women the revolution will not succeed. following that ideology we have an involvement of 35 to 40% women. Moreover, in the capitalist government structure the role of women is on paper only, not in practice. During this revolution, when the army came to the village they abused women cutting grass, collecting wood in the forest, and fetching water at the tap, from the age of 9 to 60. Therefore, those from the very young to the very old, being infused with [bitter] aggression they have come to join our PLA formation with a sense of revenge . This kind of revenge is a great source of inspiration in the field of revolution.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Nepalese People/ American people/ world etc.
Do Nepalese citizens like all citizens of the world? About this matter, the PLA has two views. one view is that tyrants use more and more citizens for their army and production in order to pursue their own purposes. Naturally, we help to liberate the people who are laboring. So, we look as friends to the laborers of the country, and we like them. However, we fiercely hate all the tyrants of the world and view them as enemies.
Special thanks to Krishna for the translation. I have made some modifications according to my understanding of Maoist ideology. I will be posting an article on my experience with the Maoists in the days to come.