Following a decade-long insurgency and a tumultuous peace process, a new conflict might be in the making in Nepal (Adhikari 2019). After the civil war ended in Nepal, the Government of Nepal established a new constitution in 2015 and was, therefore, criticized by the opposition, especially the Maoist Communist Party. Mindfulness as a mindset might have beneficial value to decrease tensions and revise the viewpoints of all parties involved in Nepal’s current political landscape. This report will describe the ‘new’ Maoist conflict. Afterward, a list of possible mindful questions to reflect on the parties’ position will be given. A short conclusion will follow at the end.
THE ‘NEW’ MAOIST CONFLICT
A decade ago, after the civil war in Nepal ended in 2008, the people of Nepal seemed to be optimistic, entering into a new, bright era. Nepal’s People’s Movement went to the streets of Kathmandu in 2006, overruled King Gyanendra, and established a parliament. The monarchy was officially abolished in May 2008, and Nepal organized a democratic system. Nevertheless, credits for building a new policy went to all parts of the population, including the Maoists. In the following time, efforts focused on drafting a new constitution. When the country was hit by a 7,8 magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks in 2015, more than 9,000 people have been killed. The dominant parties, after that, subdued opposition voices to fast-track the implementation of the final constitution, misusing the need of the population after the earthquake as justification. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli took office in February 2018, claiming that Nepal will rise. His political decisions were often perceived as ‘illusionary.’ One can argue that, e.g., railroads between Nepal and Tibet, through the inaccessible mountains, might be a challenging vision. At the same time, a big part of the country does not even have access to health care, primary education, or social justice. The Maoists increasingly criticized government decisions from that perspective. In 2012, a group splintered away from the Maoist Party, now included in the ruling coalition. The group started a new, unified revolution. The group called itself the Communist Party of Nepal, led by Netra Bikram Chand. Nevertheless, the group utilizes peaceful but also violent means. For example, in April 2018, the group planted a bomb at the office of Arun III Hydro Project, established by a company from India. In February 2019, the group targeted the Nepali telecommunication company Ncell, motivated by rumors that Ncell did not pay millions of taxes. As a result, Nepal declared the group a criminal, banning all its activities. As a result, protests increased. Even though demonstrations seem to be calm right now, the conflict has the potential to break out at any time. After Nepal’s political leadership ignored the voices of opposition for several years, they are now in the situation to face threats by a new Maoist force, fueled by anger and disillusionment. Many theorists believe that this situation has the potential to destabilize Nepal’s peace (Adhikari 2019).
According to Erdmann, a mediator needs a set of different qualities, such as an open mind, the ability to reflect behavior. Mediation is not solely focused on structures and regulations but needs to be tailored to the needs of the conflict parties. Asking the right questions is crucial to understand the conflict and create content (Erdmann 2018). ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ – said Mahatma Gandhi. Change lies within each of us.
Translated to the conflict described above, the Government of Nepal could utilize mindful reflection as a tool to understand the Maoists, but also to reflect on their viewpoints and revise motivations:
– Why do we set our priorities the way we do?
– Why do we, as the Government of Nepal, ignore the voice of the Maoists for so many years?
– Why did the Maoists fuel the civil war in the past?
– Is it true that we used the chaos after the earthquake to silent oppositions and designed the constitution according to our needs? If so, why?
– Where might the anger of the Maoists lead to? How can the conflict be resolved, and what can we, as the government, do to prevent violence?
– How do we act as role models?
– How can we practice what we preach and rule Nepal according to everyone’s interests?
– What do the Maoists’ threats do with us individually?
– How can we establish long-lasting peace and political stability?
The Communist Party, as the opposition, could ask themselves:
– How does our aim justify our means of violence?
– What can we do differently to be heard and taken seriously?
– Is violence the right answer?
– Is our response a result of our values, experiences, upbringing, or situation?
– What would we do if the government reacts in the same way as we? Would that be okay? Why?
Considering the often criticized political priorities of Nepal’s government, ignorance towards the voice of oppositions, and years of repression of oppositional groups, the Government of Nepal may highly benefit from mindful reflection. Nevertheless, the Communist Party’s violent approaches are, from my perspective, not justifiable. Therefore, a mediator bringing the two sides together utilizing mindfulness as a basis for mediation has the potential to improve existing tensions.
Adhikari, Gyanu. “The Spectre of a New Maoist Conflict in Nepal.” 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/spectre-maoist-conflict-nepal-190404111507371.html. Accessed March 16, 2020.
Erdmann, Daniel. “Section: B) – Syllabus 2 – World Mediation Organization.” 2018. https://worldmediation.org. Accessed March 16, 2020.