Attending A Maoist Mass Meeting in Pokhara

Maoists organized a massive rally and mass meeting in Pokhara a few days ago and Neil Horning attended with his camera. Here is his report:

When I told my classes I was taking a day off to go to Prachanda’s speech on March 8th. They asked “Why? You can’t understand what he says.” I didn’t really have an answer, other than it would be pretty silly to call myself a Maoist expert and not go. Needless to say, I now feel justified in attending. Much has been made about some of Prachanda’s controversial statements, but I haven’t seen much else covered. For those who want to know what actually happens at these events, the following is my account of the day. On the corner of Halanchowk, lakeside, the Hoteliers Union was getting ready. They had a band playing traditional horns.

While taking photos at the intersection, I made the last minute decision to try for a press pass from the Maoists, and I had to run for a while to catch the bus. It must have looked pretty ridiculous. When I got to the office I was incredibly lucky to have Com. Karan show up just as they were asking for my credentials. Apparently he wasn’t unhappy about the interview we had done two weeks previously, as he made sure I got a press pass without too much trouble.

The streets on the way to the event were decorated with multiple red gates. Some of them did not have enough red cloth to cover the supports, so the Maoists had asked locals for foliage in order to cover up the supports.

Some of the tree owners had complained to me the previous day about the Maoists asking for such things. I asked them if the Maoists had asked first, or if they had threatened. They said that the Maoists didn’t threaten but it was unwise to cause problems with them. This is becoming a constant theme. The Maoists are probably being honest when they claim that donations are voluntary. What they don’t realize (or at least don’t admit) is how many people give them support because of intimidation without that intimidation being overtly communicated. I am sometimes reminded of a “Protection” racquet. In the movies the thugs that come by don’t say “Give us money or we’ll break your thumbs.” They say “Otherwise who knows what can happen? You never know when someone could get hoyt.”

While police managed the traffic in town and directly outside, all visible security at the event was provided by Young Communist League (YCL) volunteers. Nearly all of them were armed with a crude lathi, but none of them were armed with anything more. The YCL was distinguishable by their white t-shirts emblazoned with Prachanda’s image and the YCL logo, as well as their red visors. The red visor was quite a practical consideration on the part of the organizers, and I wished I had one for most of the day.

There were about 3 different first aid stations managed by a Maoist medical group I had not known about. They had a flag depicting a stethoscope with a white star. The man in charge of the particular desk shown was Remesh Parajuli. He said the organization was called Creative Research and Social Service, and he was its president. According to him, they conduct parasite research on the basis of a school service organization in the western region. They have a focus on preventive medicine, and recently they had been going to schools, testing the student’s stool samples for parasites, and informing them of preventative hygienic habits. They were going to do this in Pame, a local town on the other side of the lake, the following day. Those familiar with the history of Maoist china may be reminded of the barefoot doctors program here. It will be interesting to see if more of these programs develop in the future.

 

At noon, when the presentation was scheduled to begin, there were only about 2,000 people clustered around the stage, but the YCL volunteers were lined up in a grid. Marches from various organizations or localities streamed in for the next couple of hours, filling in the grid.

These marches filled the Mahendra highway extending in both directions from Pokhara stadium.

Soon there were what looked to be between 50 and 100 thousand people in the assembly area outside the stadium.

The YCL were not only providing security, they were also lined up in ranks near the beginning of the presentation.

These YCL were obviously not amateurs. They looked about the same age as the PLA, and when they were given calls from the stage they all stomped in unison as if they were well drilled. They did this as Prachanda arrived near the side of the stage in his SUV motorcade. Shortly afterward a chorus came on stage to sing the Internationale, and everyone on stage stood up and raised their fist in a “Lal Salam” for the duration.

When I entered the reserved media area the Maoist media liaison introduced me to B.B. Bista, who was writing for a local Nepali language paper, and asked him to translate for me for the rest of the day. He told me who the different leaders who spoke were and gave me the gist of what they were saying. Com. Anil, commander of the western region said a few words first. “We have a new purpose, and a new ideology. We are going to change Nepal for the better.”

Hitrej Paudel, Gandaki Region In Charge, was next. He emphasized that Prachanda was born in Kaski district and that Babaram Bhatarai was also born in the western region. He said the program was very important because Prachanda was going to tell everybody what they would do in the future. He ended by proclaiming “We are guided by Marxism Leninism Maoism, we are fighting to be free, and we are going to make a new Nepal.”

Immediately dancers clad in fatigues and various cultural garb swarmed the stage waving red flags and singing, “We have come with a message of peace. We want to move forward in a peaceful way.”

At this point, what was apparently a Maoist affiliated martial arts team took the place of the YCL ranks. It was announced from stage “We want the masses to play sports. We don’t need weapons to protect the people. We can use our body too.”

The Martial Arts team then set up various objects to break, some of which would have questionable safety standards in the U.S. Large clay urns filled with confetti were held aloft by one member sitting on another’s shoulders. These were broken with jumping spin kicks. Wooden posts were propped against the shoulders of comrades lying face down, in order to be broken with shins. They also broke stacks of cinderblocks with their forearms, broke a bundle of florescent lights with a back flip, and burst a full beer bottle with a bare foot.

Next up was a long procession across stage of ethnicities from the western region doing traditional dances. I only recognized that there were Gurung from multiple regions as well as Tamang and Magar represented. One precession had flamboyant costumes with black and yellow striped canes, and they were sporting banners that said “We kill the enemies of the Nation.”

Some sang a song with the lyrics:

We need a new government.

We are ready to sacrifice for a new government.

We are suffering from bad government.

Only the CPN (Maoist) can give us a new government

If we all work together we can reach our destination

During a lull I decided to go outside the press area and see what others attending the rally had to say.

After climbing to the top of an embankment to get a panoramic view, I talked to an older man from Lamagau in Tanahun district; 40km from Pokhara. When asked why he was there, he said, “Just to see Prachanda.” He wasn’t particularly interested in the rest of them. A woman who happened to be from the same area said she was there to see the Maoists as a whole. She had marched with one of the groups.

A second girl named Ashmita said she was a student who came from school in Pokhara to see the rally. At first she said that she had just come to see them; that she was just curious. But, after a short time, she confessed to supporting them. A third girl interviewed had a camouflage handkerchief on her head. She said she liked the Maoists when asked if she supported them. However, when asked what she liked about them, she said “I like the dancing.” She didn’t want to say if there was anything she didn’t like about them. The man with the red visor who kept following us around may have had something to do with that.

The most interesting person was in a group of 3 old guys. He was from Parbat District, about 60 km away, and he was 82 years old. “I used to live in Pokhara, and I was back in my village before I came to the rally. The trip was awful. I was throwing up all the way, and I never want to move again. I want to die here” he joked. “What the Maoists are saying is good, so I’m happy, and I’m waiting to see their good work. I want to see if they will do it or if they will say one thing and do another like the other parties.”

There was no indication any of these people hade been forced to attend. However, a student of mine had a relative staying with her that said the Maoists told her she “must come” (otherwise, who knows what could happen). It was clear that a large portion, if not the majority, of the crowd were from rural areas.

On the way back to the stage the receptionist from the Pokhara Maoist office near Shrijanachowk stopped by. Not having been able to talk to her with a translator before, I asked her what it was about the Maoists that attracted her to them. “They are helping people, supporting people, and capturing goons who are hurting people.”

Behind the stage, an 11 year old dancer dutifully refused an interview. “I am a small boy, and I have to talk with my senior before interviews.” He confidently declared, before strutting off.

A female YCL volunteer had perhaps not been coached as well. She said that she had been in the YCL for three years. That’s interesting, because according to my friend in UNHCHR the YCL was a defunct organization that has been revived recently. It’s likely this girl was a militia member for most of those three years. Although, when asked what she did before the YCL, she said she was a student. She also started talking about why she joined the YCL. “Many women were suffering from the old government, so we are fighting for freedom.” Just then a male member came over and cut us off. He suggested we interview someone higher up.

Another flag waving group singing “long live Prachanda Path” preceded Baburam Bhattarai. Most notable about Bhattarai’s speech was that he never looked down. It was all memorized, and at a relentless tempo. Notable quotes:

“We are brave and intellectual. We are intellectual and brave.”

“Our leadership is the best leadership of south Asia.”

While he was speaking the journalist next to me went up on stage and took a photo of him with her cell phone camera. No longer self conscious about my own camera, I realized I could go up on stage as well.

Prachanda, Anil, and Hitrej Paudel took just a second too long to look awake.

Following a break for more dancers, Prachanda took the podium, flanked by two armed guards. For some reason B.B. Bista was taking notes in English, so I copied them with his consent:

-We are facing a tough situation. We did our best.

-Political parties are like animals. We are not slaves

-We have a clear vision to build a new Nepal

-We fought against terrorism

-I’m telling you honestly [regarding the registered weapons numbers] we can’t change the truth.

-I request all not to forget about our golden past. The king threw out the political parties. We gave them space, and a chance to change politics. Why do they want to forget history?

-We are doing all this for peace.

-We have a golden history and we have a beautiful future. No one can forget this truth.

-We did good work. But, bad people are trying to cheat us.

-I’m willing to give my life, but I will never give them a chance to cheat us.

-The old government is worthless. We must make do for ourselves. We must not give them a chance to kill our people. We are brave Nepalese. We are not cowards. We need to protect people’s rights.

-The CPN Maoist is the power of people. We speak the voice of the voiceless people.

-Bush has no vision. America is playing the role of destruction. We love American people, but we hate American Foreign Policy.

-What is our New Nepal. How will our New Nepal be? We have everything we need to utilize our resources. We have Nepal’s beauty. We can change our country from poor into rich within 5 to10 years. We can do it!

-We are hard working. We are happy with our family.

-We realize the people’s aspiration. We have bright vision. I know you want to go home, and we do too. That is why we are doing our work in the night. Don’t worry we will not go to the jungle.

-You must understand. We want peace. They want to see us go to the Jungle. America wants to see us in the forest. We want to stay in the heart of the people.

-Bad people [Americans] try to teach us to be good. What madness!

-Our war is more difficult now than in the past.

-Yesterday G.P. Koirala was good, but tomorrow I don’t know.

-They are trying to kill us. The King and his group are trying to kill Americans and they want to accuse us.

-We know their plan. We know killer Gyanendra and Paras.

-We want to throw the king out.

-Please listen to me. I’m speaking from my inner heart. I can’t lie to people. If you curse the Maoists, then the king will love you.

-but don’t worry, the king will go to America soon. No, Saudi Arabia.

-We will return peoples property. Please don’t die with the King. Someday Nepal will be a prosperous country.

 

 

Obviously, there is something lost in the translation. The crowd was not ecstatic, but they responded well, and the speech was surprisingly humorous. For a few lines a good chunk of the press section burst into applause — something I wasn’t particularly expecting. The lines accusing the King of plotting to kill Americans and promising to return confiscated property were the ones repeated in the paper the following morning.

Prachanda’s retreat from the podium was instantly followed with a first-rate dance routine. It was a PLA cultural squad, including central cultural squad leaders Rita and Pralat, dancing with Khukuris. Most cultural squad dances can look like amateurish affairs; with dancers out of sync and martial arts moves awkwardly incorporated. This certainly was not one of those.

 

The crowd that gathered around the stage to see the dance was led in one last chant, and then Prachanda along with all the central leaders were whisked away in their SUV motorcade, with the YCL and the crowd waiving passionate goodbyes.

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93 thoughts on “Attending A Maoist Mass Meeting in Pokhara”

  1. Yeah… Mr Fool dae puret! Initially I was not aware that this blog is a Maoist propoganda. But it’s clear and everybody knows that you dudes work on the agenda of your Masters. You can try to glorify and praise the murderer from your part. But eventually a murderer is a murderer nomatter what he says! And nomatter what you try to prove here. You cannot block the sun from your dirty hand!

    Thats the all you can do it… just reign the terror … But plz. Don’t infect other you rogue !

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  2. If the terrorists kill you, you don’t stay silent for ever. You come back and fight hard and win the battle – sooner than later.

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  3. The problem is not with the report, but the manner in which it is reported, the words utilized all show a bias towards these Terrorists, yes terrorists and they are terrorists becasue that is how they are living, by terrorizing people.
    If Neil and other organizers of this blog have an agenda which it seems like they do for the Maoists, then they should come out and state that.
    Knowing about whats going on is very important but in an unbiased process, otherwise it is a tool for propaganda.

    Neil has done multiple interviews with Maoist combatants and their superiors during the Nepalese conflict and subsequent period.

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  4. matribhumi:
    Every media house in the world has one bias or another. Take Sky news in the Uk, Fox news in the US, Kantipur in Nepal, Zee News in India. Show me one media house that isn’t biased. But no one explcitly states that they are affliated towards a particular side of the political specturm. So why are we holding UWB (which is just a blog) to this unreasonable standard? Even if Neil is a mouthpiece of the Maoists he still should have the right to express himself as he pleases. Just like Royalists should also have the right to express themslves. I think Nepalese people are getting carried away with loktantra without really even understand what they are talking about.

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  5. Lol , once upon a time there was a …….. who thinks he understands everything!! haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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  6. Yeah, this site has been infested with idiots lately. Mr. Horning can say what he wants, and I must say I find most of his writing quite sensible. This piece, for instance, is simple reporting. as someone stated.

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  7. once upon a time there was an idiot called Suntali ko poop who had trouble expressing himself. So he just called everyone a terrorist since his small brain couldn’t really come up with anything else. Then one day he met ‘noname’. It was love at first sight. They decided to go live a cave somewhere since no one cared to share their outdated, idiotic views. But they lived happily ever after.

    The End

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  8. “The Maoists are probably being honest when they claim that donations are voluntary. What they don’t realize (or at least don’t admit) is how many people give them support because of intimidation without that intimidation being overtly communicated. I am sometimes reminded of a “Protection” racquet. In the movies the thugs that come by don’t say “Give us money or we’ll break your thumbs.” They say “Otherwise who knows what can happen? You never know when someone could get hoyt.””

    This sounds quite anti-Maoist to me. But the nitwits wouldn’t get irony if it bit them on their fat behinds.

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  9. budhai– you seem to be policing this blog as ell, are you? I don’t have to justify to you if I like ot hate Neil. Ok, the event happened, and Neil or whatever his real name is reported, with six pictures of teacher Pushpa Kamal and one of ceremonial Baburam.. and the rest were people in martial arts uniform etc. I still stick to my point that Nepal shouldn’t made a dumping site of people who haven’t made it in their own countries back home, dumping site for losers and discards… the Maoists met happened but we dn’t need an interpretation of the meeting from a biased self-proclaimed Maoist expert. Now, you may enter into a state of denial by disagreeing with everything I have just said t -But realize that I have every right to be concerned and bored by the sub-standard write ups

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  10. Out of context comment but still to the point: once again

    A nation gets the government that it deserves; Nepal deserves maoists right now and all the BS of CA and what not.

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  11. Bhudai,
    Yes all media have biases, and it is apparant although they may not come outright to say it. It is apprant in the article above and also in Neil’s previous reply to posts. All, I am saying is that one should recognize that bias. The blog in general seems to be biased towards the Maoists and despite their atrocities and blatant abuse of the laws that govern the country, are getting glorified by the ones that run this website. It is wrong to mis lead the public by calling this a freedom of speech, when most of the speech comes from the people who support these terrorists.

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  12. Puret DAE! All media are biased and so you think its natural for you and UWB….. OK, go and leak the sh** of your master then! You r the man with no stand and follow like a street dog whatsever Neil and UWB do!

    Prachande murderer MURDABAAD!

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  13. The rally Horning talks about (I gather it was the Newar faction of the mao rally) was obviously not covered well by him because it was poorly attended. Therefore, his mao bosses probably told him not to promote it.

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  14. “I didn’t really have an answer, other than it would be pretty silly to call myself a Maoist expert and not go. Needless to say, I now feel justified in attending.”

    And yet the rally in Kathmandu was not covered well. Wonder why “maoist expert”? Was the report washed away by the river as well?

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  15. I would like to thank you scoop. It is so much easier to be accused of taking commands from the Maoist leadership that to have my personal competence questioned.

    The crumby coverage discussed is here

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  16. guy – I am not policing this website. All I am saying is that if if disagree with the article then you should point out flaws by refering to specific things within the content. I just don’t understand you saying you hate Neil – who cares who wrote the article. I often disagree with Neil’s views but I still appreciate his reporting. These Maoist events are happening wheather Neil reports them or not.

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  17. “All, I am saying is that one should recognize that bias.”

    The media houses or the general public. I don’t understand why a media house would recognize their own bias. That’s the whole paradox of bias – nobody thinks they have it. Have you heard Fox News’ logo “All the news that fair and balanced”.

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  18. Budhai…
    I can understand what you are trying to say but Kantipur has defied even that logic in Nepal when recently Pratik Pradhan came out on television to talk about how Kantipur covered the news during the April “revolution”. He categorically said that publication houses have to be biased and in his mind, Kantipur is biased for all the right causes. He said that this is the reason why he and his publication house have been publicising everything in favor of Loktantra (although he never defined what Loktantra means to him) and said that they have shied away from every news that even remotely supported anything for the palace. Now, you can make your judgment about what should people be thinking when they are reading Kantipur “reporting”– it is never reporting, it is always their point of view of events that took place. And I am afraid, their point of view is very warped.

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  19. Last night I gave a Fu** to Prachanda for 10 000 Rs. His ….. was not that good I suppose. He is kind a old person and I hate those types!

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  20. I am a victim of maodbadi. Those bastards took 30,000 Rs from me which I got from selling my property for the shake of my wife’s treatment. They took everything from my house even my kali bhaisee, my childrens daily milk source.

    I do not care about prachanda path, nor baburam bato nor mahara marga nor girija goreto. I am the sole victim of maoists’ looting attitude.

    I stood along with my neighbour guna dai, whose son aakash was brutially killed by maoist after his denial to join their force. One day prachanda will pay this price. His son Pa Pu (Prachanda Putra) needs to be killed and let him realize how hard it will be when you have your loved ones killed before your eyes.

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  21. Horning,

    don’t be nervous. Spit it out if you’re reports are censored. Spit it out, we will stand up for you, but then on the other hand maybe you’re sponsored by the mao’s – probably jumped the line with your comrade buddy Kiran or whoever it is that you’re chummy with and got a visa pronto – how much did it cost if anything?

    By the way, when are you going to take up the challenge of covering the maoist victims? I had mentioned this a while ago? Too guilt ridden to do so?
    trying to call yourself a “maoist expert” – my a$$. How can you even attempt to glorify your self without covering all sides of the story. Maoist victims buddy – you know who they are. Try it – you’ll be very quickly disillusioned with your lover boy comrade.

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  22. Forgot to mention, on the subject of competence – I wonder what prompted you to assume anything else then my feeling that you’re full of shit. In case you’re still in doubt I’ve just clarified it.

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  23. well here’s a new report on maoists…. f**king kantipur(nepali) had it on page1but i guess forgot to mention it in it’s online newspaper…what ever….here’s the news as far as i remember it’s udaypur and there was a sarvajanik sunuwayi where people questioned maoists behaviour and also about the death or murder more precisely of one shyam rai…turns out the commander there snapped at humanrights activists and journos and locals said ” timi haru lai ke ko khaanchho” ( what does it matter to u) kudos great response….wait wait wait i am not done yet…there was a news included that there had been an incident regarding a school teacher appointment and guess what happened….maoists shot bullets and i think 2 were mentioned to have been injured by it….noticed something…shooting…maoists…there that’s it…they have blowed it….they showed their guns…how stupid…and impatient… if only they had waited a few more months they could have pulled off all the “weapon khola le bagayo” stuff…hehe…after all they’re all illiterates bunch of goons…what more can they do….but the question is what are we going to do?

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  24. The maoists are up to no good. Now they have pissed off the business community. I think this is the last straw. See you in hell comrades.

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  25. Businessmen are being beaten up in kathmandu and this United We sing Maoist song has nothing to update. fcuktart. That the hell man.

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  26. Just to add here … a Nepali and Marwari businessmen have been abducted by the SPAM warlords. The sold out media isn’t reporting this fact.

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  27. I’m not sure where this is going. The Maoists behaved more like cheap, hired thugs than a political party when they beat up that businessman.

    Maybe what the businessmen should do is hire their own thugs and have them beat the crap out the Maoists.

    I think Maoists now have the feeling that they have a monopoly on violence. Either someone has to tell them that that’s not the case, or stronger measures may have to be taken.

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  28. its time the people of nepal declared war with the maoist, even if the peace accord fails. Somebody should beat the hell out of the home minister so that he resigns, this will be the first victory for the people.

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  29. Lol! “United We sing Maoist song” has nothing to update. Accurate….Buddy!

    Might be Prachande was not physically present in those brutality events…so Mr Horn and UWB team were not there. Might be they were busy writing the draft for where Prachande $hit$, when he #uck$………………

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  30. Yeah.. these Maoist lover of here, are also responsible for these situations of Nepal. UWB, Horn, Puret, … you had glorified, praised the murderer and ultimately misused the media so far.

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  31. Thanks for a good reportage, Prashanda is a freedomfighter and deserves support, not slander.
    God bless to CPN(m)!

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  32. well personnally i don’t want to blame character of other individual but here in this case… i must!
    well.. neil horning .. i know everythign abt u. I will list below.

    1. You are other version of terrorist (Suntali ko pooe u r rite!)
    2. You are sick person
    3. You violated law of Nepal. You used to work in Tourist Visa.
    4. You are asshole
    5. You support moaist terrorist through your Fucking articles and photos.
    6. I don’t want to waste my time.

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  33. Gaur Reality:

    Maoists weapons swept by bagmati river and MJF collected those weapons and killed maoists.

    Prachanda’s Claim:

    I found a clue of the prachanda’s claim about royalist killing americans. Yea, not other than Neil Horning, he will be killed and royalist will accuse maoists.

    New David Hicks “Neil Horning”:
    Mr Neil Horning, are you another David Hicks or trying to be Daniel Pearl? No matter who you are or are tying to be, people like you sucks. You guys are good for nothing. Go to Iraq and afganisthan where your fellow soldiers are killing innocent people or visit Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay.

    Like

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