The aim of the workshop is to compare Maoist insurgencies in various Asian and Latin American countries by addressing the following questions:
- Why does (Maoist) insurgency emerge in certain areas? How is it linked to economic, social or political factors? How are Maoist insurgencies different from other 'socialist' or 'communist' insurgencies occurring in the same region? Why do these insurgencies survive in some regions (India and Nepal) but disappear in others (Sri Lanka, Peru)?
- How do these kind of guerilla movements come to be? How do these ideologies find roots? Are some regions more prone to be subject to 'political fundamentalism' and orthodoxy than others? How is Maoism introduced at local levels? How are Maoist movements stimulated? How is this development shaped by social networks and social environment and how does it evolve? What about Maoist movements in urban areas?
- How are these organizations organized? Who are their leaders? How is responsibility shared in these organizations? How do they obtain funding? How do they purchase weapons? What kind of networks do Maoist movements support? What is the relationship of Maoist movements to the countries of Maoist origin (i.e. China, Vietnam, Cuba?)? How is ideology maintained and developed?
- Who are recruited by Maoists? What are the methods of recruitment and training? What are the personal motivations of the recruiters and the recruted? Does Maoist propaganda exist? If so, what are the forms and contents of this propaganda?
- How does this all relate to counterinsurgency-operations, paramilitary organizations and self defence organizations? How is the resistance against Maoist insurgencies and movements organized?
- How is the study of Maoist insurgency limited? What is the result of the limitations? How does one access primary sources? What is the role played by the Internet in the present day Maoist insurgency?
For contextual reasons, we describe the case of Nepal below. However, the above mentioned questions shall be addressed by all speakers with regard to their specific region of interest and field of research:
The case of Nepal
While Maoist Insurgency and Communist governments seem virtually extinct all over the World, the strength and the influence of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) has kept on growing in the last Hindu kingdom. Presently, the CPN-M has emerged as the biggest challenge to the Nepalese nation and also to the whole region, due to its contacts with other insurgent groups in India and beyond.
Maoist insurgency in Nepal has been waging a 'People's War' since 13 February 1996 with the objective of overthrowing the state and to replace it with the New People's Democracy. Since the beginning of this conflict, more than 12,000 people have lost their lives in the crossfire; the number of casualties has been rising significantly since 2001.
The insurgency began in two districts in Mid-Western Nepal: Rolpa and Rukum and then spread from West to East. Still, all the district headquarters have remained under government control.
From Nepal to India to abroad
The Maoists have not only strengthened their position inside the country, but also established links with Maoist groups across the border, in particular, with the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI). There have been reports that the PWG, the MCCI and the CPN-M are currently setting up a Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ) stretching from Nepal across Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh to Andra Pradesh. If this Zone is successfully established, it will facilitate the Maoist groups in India and Nepal to procure weapons and facilitate the exchange of goods.
Furthermore, the CPN-M has also established links with other insurgency groups from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan under the umbrella organisation named the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA). This organisation was established in December 2001 to unify and coordinate the Maoist parties and their activities in South Asia. All these South Asian Maoist parties are also members of Revolutionary International Movement (RIM). It is said that the CCOMPOSA and RIM have been advising the Nepalese Maoists against peace negotiations with the government of Nepal. The achievements of Nepalese Maoists can be viewed as a success of the 'People's War' in the entire region and beyond and therefore stimulate Maoism in the whole South Asian region.
Some of the Indian and Nepali Maoist groups have established links outside South Asia. For example, the Workers Party of Belgium (WPB) has been known to invite Maoist acitvitists to their Annual International Communist Seminars in Belgium. Furthermore, WPB regularly spreads propaganda on behalf of Nepalese Maoists.
The Ideology of the Nepali Maoists is largely derived from the 'Naxalites' or Indian Maoists and the Communist Party of Peru popularly known as Sendero Luminoso or the "Shining Path" led by Abimael Guzman Reynoso (known as Comrade Gonzalo).
There are striking similarities between the CPN-M and the 'Shining Path'. Both are founding members of RIM. Both are breakaway groups from the existing Communist parties in their respective countries. Both have coincided their armed struggle with the establishment of parliamentary democracy in their countries. The CPN-M has adopted similar strategies as the 'Shining Path' to launch a Peruvian style insurgency in Nepal.
During the workshop we will also look at the ideological roots of Maoism in general and the relationship between senior Maoist regions (China, Vietnam, Cuba) and their new followers in Asia and Latin America.
Why do these insurgencies arise? Why in Nepal, India or Peru?
Maoist insurgency is emerging as a regional and global challenge. Political and socio-economic factors are often cited as the main cause for the rise of Maoist insurgencies and other guerilla movements, as these insurgencies usually commence in economically derprived areas. However, Maoist insurgency in Nepal which started from Rolpa and Rukum (which are not the most remote or deprived areas of Nepal) and the 'Naxalite' movement in India developed only in few and well defined areas (not all of them poor or remote). In Peru, Ayacucho is the cradle of Sendero Luminoso, which was not the most poverty stricken province during the rise of Maoism in the nineteen-eighties.