A WORLD TO WIN    #32   (2006)

Nepal — International Teams Help Build a Road to the Future

Magarat Autonomous People’s Republican Government, Nepal June 22, 2005

To ……………………….,

The great people’s war that has undertaken a great goal of building an independent and progressive new Nepal, free from exploitation and oppression of feudalism and imperialism, is running in its tenth year. Today, the people’s war being waged under the leadership of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the initiative of great Nepalese people, destroying local hegemony of the old state across the entire countryside of Nepal, has been not only challenging imperialism by building and practicing people’s new power, but also is providing a forceful revolutionary message and new energy to the working masses the world over.

The revolution does not only destroy the old; rather, it simultaneously creates and builds a new also. Today, the colossal works of construction being carried out in an independent and creative initiative of lakhs(1 lakh = 100.000) of people in the regions liberated by people’s war is justifying this fact. There is insuppressible courage, energy and creation in the unity and labour of the masses that can shake the world. This is the real source of building a history. Encouraging activeness and participation of the masses observed in the construction of 91 km motorable road, the Martyr Road, which is being carried out under the initiative of people-elected Magarat Autonomous People’s Republican Government in the main base area of people’s war, is justifying the aforesaid fact.

Till now, about one lakh of people have used their direct labour of more than 10 lakh working days for the construction of that road. In addition to this, people’s liberation army, mass organizations, different fronts and departments have been using their labour in this work. Almost 35 percent of the total length of the road has already been accomplished, while motors are running in the initial part of 14 km. In its essence, the work of building a motorable road has not only benefited to the transportation service of the masses in the main base area but also has become a fundamental particularity of Nepalese people’s war changing people’s life and it has also revealed proletarian receptive notion and sentiment, great unity of the labouring masses and internationalism.

Definitely, it is very difficult from the viewpoint of physical labour, though not impossible, to successfully accomplish such a huge plan of construction. The assistance of not only the masses from this autonomous region, but that of entire nation and international community also is necessary for this. And so, we appeal all to provide all kinds of moral and material support for such a great task that has a far-reaching and historical significance.

Santosh Budha Magar

Head, Magarat Autonomous People’s Republican Government, Nepal


In response to the Call from the Margarat Revolutionary Regional Government, two teams have traveled to Nepal to take part alongside the Nepalese people to build the road. The following text is slightly edited and excerpted from a report from the first team. For the full text see aworldtowin.org. –AWTW

 In November 2005, the first international road-building brigade, consisting of seven volunteers from Australia, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Norway arrived in the liberated Rolpa district in mid-western Nepal. We had travelled many thousands of miles to work side by side with the people to build a road as part of the efforts of the new revolutionary power there to forge a self-reliant economy, free of the chains of imperialist domination.

The brigade members were well aware that the regime of King Gyanendra, who dissolved parliament last year and centralised power in the hands of the feudal monarchy, was waging a vicious counter-insurgency war and that we would have to cross army checkpoints to reach our destination. The regime has “distinguished” itself by compiling one of the worst records in the world for disappearances, extra-judicial executions, and other types of bloody repression. We also had some idea of the fierce determination of the Nepalese people to forge a new future, and were eager to see what they had achieved, and to work alongside them on this crucial project for the all-sided development of the autonomous region.

While the Himalayas are never all that far away in Nepal, this is not a journey made by many tourists. Anyone travelling into the liberated areas needs to cross a series of roving military check points, where almost anything can happen. Buses into the area are stopped, young soldiers carrying machine guns come inside and the passengers are forced out where their baggage is searched. Any Nepalese identified by the soldiers as Maoist – or a “suspected Maoist” – are taken away… to prison or sometimes just marched off into the countryside and executed on the spot. The soldiers stationed on the approaches to the liberated areas are the elite of the RNA, battle-hardened, crack troops equipped with the army’s best weaponry. You can tell their elite character just from the way they look: not only meaner and more arrogant, but bigger, and better fed than the average soldiers. They also bear more than their share of responsibility for the horrors for which the regime has been repeatedly denounced by human rights groups around the world.

On our arrival to Tilla Bazaar, 250 people gathered to hear more about the brigade members, and to express their enthusiasm, and the brigaders told the attentive crowd what had motivated us to come so far. As we bedded down for our first night, we all shared a feeling that we were in for an experience unlike any we’d ever known before.

The area the brigade visited is part of the Magarat Autonomous Republic, which was declared in 2003 after the Royal Nepalese Army was driven out by the forces of the People’s Liberation Army, led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The Magars are one of a number of oppressed national minorities in Nepal. The founding of their new regional republic in one of the most advanced revolutionary base areas in Nepal is widely viewed in the country as a momentous event marking the end of centuries-long injustice suffered by the people there, and we saw many expressions of pride in this achievement.


A work schedule was drawn up with the road organisers. It basically set out which sections of the road we were to work on and when, and with which group of people – families of people who’d fallen in the revolutionary war, local peasants, PLA members, etc. Time was also set aside for some discussion with the different groups. It was explained to the brigade members that the road building was not going on at full speed at that very moment, because it was harvest time. Completing the harvest successfully was crucial to people’s livelihoods, especially over the coming winter months, so this had to be taken into account when mobilising volunteers. This was also why the revolutionary government requested each family to try to provide only one volunteer, so as to ensure the livelihood of the family as a whole.


The techniques used were like nothing we had ever seen. Upon reaching the road, some hundred people were hard at work. We first noticed gangs of young men hugging the hillsides with long steel crowbars labouring to remove large rocks to clear a passageway for the road. At first we were a bit sceptical: the rocks appeared much too large to yield to the youths’ exertions. But the young men had had a lot of practice, and soon cries of joy rang out as a giant rock was tumbled out of its age-old resting place.

At one point, perhaps inspired by the efforts of the newcomers, a young woman, Sapana, a nom de guerre which means “Dream”, came up in a full-length red dress, and began to sing a haunting revolutionary melody. As the brigade members looked around, with the majestic mountains in the distance, terraced rice paddies along the hill sides, solitary pine trees piercing the clouds, the beautiful melody rising to the heavens, and people from so many parts of the world and so many different walks of life throwing heart and soul into our common efforts, for such a worthy cause, none of us could help but be deeply moved.

Some work techniques were particularly difficult. For example, one person didn’t work a shovel, but two. A rope was tied just above the blade of the shovel, and just as the first person shoved the shovel deeply into the ground, the other person would lift on the rope to get the maximum amount of dirt out. It was very hard to get the timing right – if the person holding the rope jerked too soon, the person with the shovel got a little dirt hurled into their face (which brought more giggles), and if they didn’t jerk soon enough the shovel wouldn’t come out.


During one session the brigaders spoke with an older man of the Magar nationality, Lila Darpun, 65, from Corshavan. When we asked why he had come, he said, “We’ve come here for ourselves. We feel good about what we’re doing. It will help us. Even though I’m very old, if I can just lift a few stones, I’ll be very happy. As a young man I worked so hard, but this work is different, it’s special.”

The work was indeed physically demanding and many women took part too. When asked the same question, Ima Kumari, a 43-year old mother of three, explained, “I’m still illiterate. I don’t know much about books. But I know that the road is a good thing. We’re building a new country. It used to take days to get salt and clothes, but with the new road we can do it in hours.”

The monarchy and some of the media have tried to slander the road-building effort as “forced labour”. They make lurid comparisons with the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia and generally play on “anti-totalitarian” stereotypes. But it was clear from watching and talking with the people who’d come to do their share that there was nothing at all “forced” about the inimitable combination of good humour and serious dedication with which they went about their work.


In any case, the effort to carve this road through this difficult terrain has struck a deep chord among the people here. Government after government had promised it would be built – but somehow the money never came through, or if it did, it just disappeared into the deep pockets of corrupt politicians. After all, who would benefit? Just some peasants in the hinterland – and that was hardly sufficient motivation for the Kathmandu elite to act. So what no Western-backed government ever managed to do, despite their hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid, now the people, mobilised by their new leaders, are doing themselves.

The team were asked constantly about the situation in our own countries, especially about the woman question, and people took notes of what we said. The local people were also very eager to show us other new projects they were working on. There was a “model commune” and two “model schools” “not far away” – but “not far away” in the Nepalese countryside meant hours of walking, making a visit impossible in our short stay. They had also launched a big fish-breeding farm, a new thing in this part of the country, which was created with help from people living in a liberated area in another region where this was a more common activity. We saw this and were very happy to be able to benefit from it quite directly – one brigader said it was “the best fish I’ve ever tasted”, to the contentment of the new fish farmers.

We saw other new things that had been impossible under the old regime. When one of the brigaders fell pretty ill one evening, our hosts travelled through the darkness to find a “barefoot doctor”, a young village man who had been trained under the new regime in the basics of medicine. He came at 4 in the morning, and gave the sick brigader a drip feed, and stayed by his side till the next day when he was better. Under the old system, many, perhaps most of Nepal’s doctors choose to live in Kathmandu, where life is easier, and attend to the middle classes. But the new revolutionary regime has drawn on the experience of China under Mao to develop new health care policies aimed at serving the majority of Nepal’s people, the peasants in the countryside, and relies on mobilising them to solve their own needs....


The brigade members looked back on all this and felt a heightened sense of responsibility to strengthen solidarity with the struggle in Nepal – a revolution suddenly moved off the news pages and acquired faces, names, and voices. Those from the imperialist countries shuddered at the thought of what it means when their own governments, like Britain, provide weapons to the RNA. Were cluster bombs and bunker busters the next weapons to be used against the people we’d been with – for the “crime” of taking their destiny in their own hands and building up their own self-reliant economy and society?