Maoist: A Once and Future Violence

Photos and text by Nathan William Meyer

Nathan William Meyer is a photographer and writer who has worked, lived, and traveled in some thirty-three countries on six continents. Specializing in humanitarian photojournalism he has covered government crackdowns, riots, natural disasters, ethnic/tribal issues, and human development by adhering to the National Press Photographers Association’s strict code of ethics. He is currently based in California.

A Once and Future Violence
On May 1, 2010, 150,000 Maoist protesters stormed Kathmandu demanding Prime Minister Nepal’s resignation and the country’s government be replaced by a Maoist coalition. The prime minister refused. In response, Maoist leader Dahal declared an indefinite strike the following day. International observers believed the peace process could collapse.

Maoists enjoy popularity in Nepal, but coercion and violence remain tools of this militant political party. Newspapers reported children bussed to Kathmandu as conscripts and possible human shields. Protesters, voluntary and forced, stressed the city’s infrastructure. Threatened residents fed and sheltered protesters at their own expense. Maoists vandalized open businesses and food costs rose by some 140%.

Ostensibly peaceful protests, 15,000 police patrolled the capital. Newspapers reported parts of 1,000 bombs found in a single cache. The army was mobilized.

Facing dysentery in Maoist encampments and 20,000 anti-Maoist protestors, the strike was lifted on May 7th. These demonstrations cost Nepal’s economy some $300 million. Undaunted, Maoist leader Dahal proclaimed this was ‘only a dress rehearsal… We will put on the real show in days to come.”

The major causes of the 2010 uprising remain unresolved, leaving Nepal even poorer and more politically fractured.

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