Rebellion Is Justified!: Interview with Nepal Maoist Student Leader Himal Sharma

Wednesday, July 19

Interview with Nepal Maoist Student Leader Himal Sharma

"I came to know that the barrack was a slaughterhouse for killing people through wild and inhuman torture."

"...a major came to see us and said, 'We won't spend bullets to kill you. We will keep you hungry so that you die crying for food.'"

Leader of the Nepalese Maoist student union gives an interview, appearing in issue number 10 of The Worker magazine, during his time in Nepal's prisons. Last month, Sharma was released along with hundreds of other Maoists as part of the ongoing talks between the Maoists and the state.

FROM THE PRISON: INTERVIEW WITH HIMALSHARMA

[Himal Sharma, General Secretary of ANNISU (Revolutionary) was detained 27 months ago, and he is now imprisoned in Nakkhu Jail. This interview was prepared by Janmadev Joshi on the basis, of written conversation with Mr. Sharma. Sharma describes the context of his detention, wretched life within the prison, and his struggles against the prison authority. - Ed.]

When and from where were you detained?

I was detained on October 20, 2003 from Jamal, Kathmandu. Colonel Raju Basnet of Bhairavnath Barrack himself came to arrest me. I was arrested in a manner which resembles kidnapping. He nabbed me, blindfolded me and took me to his battalion at Maharajgunj, Kathmandu.

You were kept in a military custody for a long time without any formal notice, weren't you?

Most of my 27 months were spent in the military custody at Bhairavnath barrack. I came to know that the barrack was a slaughterhouse for killing people through wild and inhuman torture. The army pushed us into the water, electrified us, ordered us to urinate in the electric heater, and beat us with sticks and their boots. They used to beat us twice everyday at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and every fit of punishment continued for two hours. They did this to me and Krishna Sen till the last day there. In our files, the headquarters had ordered the army of Bhairavnath Barrack to torture us until we surrender. We were given a glass of rice after every 18 hours. We used to collect and eat the spilled rice, too. Two of other friends namely, Khadga Bahadur Gharti and Padmanarayan Nakarmi died of hunger in the custody.

They had a rule of beating us twice with a stick every time we went to toilet. We were ordered to stand up for 30 minutes every night. There was no question of getting any sleep. We were blindfolded and our hands were tied back for twenty four hours.

The detention of Krishna K. C. and yourself was made public. However, the situation of 47 others is atill unknown. What do you say to this?

Hundreds of people have disappeared from within this custody. As far as those 47 of our friends are concerned, they were with us until the night of December 20, 2003. All were given lockets with numbers to wear. We were called by those numbers not by our names. Among those who were in custody, Nischal Nakatmi, Gyanendra Trithi, Oipendra Panta, Suchendra Maharjan, Bhim Maharjan, Punya Basnet, Ohirendra Basnet, Hira Rokka, Bhim Geri, Oeshbhakta Chapagain, Jalandhar Bastola, Hirabahadur Saru, Koushilya Pokharel, Arjun Pokharel, Bhavanath Ohama Rewakala Tiwari, Ourga Bisankhu, Renuka Oula Babukaji Shresth Rupal Adhikari, Lila Acharya, Gokul Niraula, Lila Pandey, Hemnarayan Shrestha, Rajendra Mali, Kamala Waiba, Oileshwar Limbu, Rajendra Thapa, Kumar Dhakal, Ashok Akela, Prakash Lama, B. K. Shrestha, Shantiram Bhattarai, Tejman Bika, Arjun Maharjan, C. N. Dhungana, Bipal Shrestha, Sudarshan Rijal, Buddhi Lama, Ram Chandra Kafle and some others were put in a military truck and taken away. They are still missing.

Some media have mentioned that all of them were murdered in Shivapuri forest. Is this true?

If this is not true, why does this royal regime hesitate to make them public? Therefore, I think, the media reports are true. The royal army conducted this with great precision and preparation. I think this mass murder was done under direct order from the King and Chief of the Army Staff. We know about a secret meeting of Chief of the Army Staff Pyar Jung Thapa, Generals Oilip Rayamajhi, Rukmangat Katuwal, Biplavbahadur Gurung, Sudeepbahadur Shaha and the Colonels of Bhairavnath Battalion, Uddhabhairav Battalion, Mahavir Battalion held on that day. I think the investigation of United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Mr. Ian Martin must have reached to this conclusion.

Do you have any information about the erstwhile general secretary of ANNFSU (Revolutionary) Mr. Purna Poudel, who was detained two years before your detention?

We came to know that many people including Purna Poudel, Bain Bandar, Nabin Rai, Dil Bahadur Rai and Ishwar Lama were kept in Bhairavnath Barrack two years before. One night, they were tortured extremely until they became unconscious, and they were put in an army truck and taken to an unknown place. We have enough evidence to prove this information as correct. They will be made public in due time. The Bhairavnath Barrack and the whole royal regime must answer the question related to their situation.

What do you remember most when you remember your 27 month-long detention in a military custody?

There are many things. First, we could hear the voice of a woman who was kept inside a tent within the barrack. During a night of November 2003, we suddenly started to hear her scream. At first I thought it must be a routine, beating, and I, would also receive the same punishment after her. But we later came to know that she was being raped. The woman was pleading in loud voice that she was pregnant of eight months, and was asking the soldiers to kill her rather than rape her. In spite of her requests she was blindfolded and she was raped by a group of soldiers. Af­ter that the soldiers hit her on her stomach with their boots. The lady was requesting the soldiers to give her innocent child a chance to be born promising to be ready to get killed after the birth of her baby. But the drunken soldiers kept hitting the woman on her stomach. The lady gave birth to a dead child the same night. It was a baby girl. The lady, too, died after a couple of hours. I was kept in the next tent which was five meters away. My heart was paining for not being able to do anything except witness that wild incident. Before early morning, the colonel ordered his soldiers to bury her at the same place where she died. I can never forget that incident however hard I try to.

Second, 47 of our friends who were sleeping with us in the same Bhairavnath barrack were taken away in an army truck on December 20, 2003. On that occasion a major said to his officer, "The people who are taken out today will not be spent. The others' turn will come next." We later came to know that 'spend' means killing with bullet in their codified language. I still remember those words.

Third, we were not given food for many days during the month of March in 2004. During that time, a major came to see us and said, "We won't spend bullets to kill you. We will keep you hungry so that you die crying for food." Our friends Khadga Bahadur Budha and Padmanarayan Nakarmi died the same night. Be­fore they died, they were asking for a loaf of bread. After the soldiers heard their scream, they beat both of them severely. They lost their lives after a while. The scene, of people dying of hunger can never be forgotten.

You were detained for 27 months without any in­formation to anyone. The Supreme Court bas al­ready ordered your release. However, you were re­arrested. On what account are you imprisoned at the moment?

This question could be answered if the country was ruled on the basis of law. The police and the army mock the Supreme Court verdict. The king feels his rule is safe this way. We are detained because of our ideology and faith. Everyone understands the false drama hidden behind the government's cases. They have prepared 19 cases against me. All those cases allege me of wrongdoings while I was in their custody. This is funny. They hold no truth.

What have you been thinking about currently?

The reactionaries are turning this whole country into a prison. Our responsibility is to fight against evils of all kind. The nature of fight may be different. How­ever, the jail, too, is a trench of struggle for the revo­lutionaries. Therefore, we are struggling within the goal, too. We recently organized different programs from on the occasion of people's war day. During the same period, we struggled against the prison author­ity between January and March. As a result, the jail administration was forced to step down. We are not animals. We don't want to be shackled while we are taken to the court or to the hospital. The prices have soared. Therefore, Rs. 30 is not sufficient for us, and we are fighting against the authority so that it is doubled. Similarly, we have achieved some success in taking the issue of missing people to the interna­tional arena. This has become one of the major issues in the Geneva meeting.

Finally, is there anything else tab you want to say?

The country is rapidly moving towards democratic republic. Time has now arrived to fight against the feudalist monarchy. In this crucial turning point of history, I request all students and citizens to get active in the mass struggle.


Photo: At right, Himal Sharma after being released from Nakkhu prison on June 13th, as part of a release of Maoist political prisoners and prisoners of war in preparation for talks over constituent assembly.

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You believe or not but I am the witness to be there where you comreds were inhumanly tortured,but some of your statements are exagerated and torture that you mentioned is not enough even too, there died two due to torture but they did not ask any piece of bread because they died for party not for themselve,the prignant woman was not gang raped but was tortured more than you mentioned,some of names you mentioned i do not know may be all of them did not tell true but you did not mention some names of Bina Magar, Tara Bhandari and yourself sister, I am sure that you dont know all about what happened there, anyway I am going to publish a book in which I have mentioned about that too.

 
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