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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The independence of a nation

    Mike Morefield/columnist
    Mike Morefield/columnist

    Moments of revolution are often those that define nations. In America, we recall the fights on the grounds of Boston, diehard patriots screaming, “”Give me liberty or give me death,”” and the surrender at Yorktown as the inception of our country. Like those of other great revolts in history (those of Africa after colonialism and the French Revolution), they are defining moments that are ingrained in people – the times when citizens threw off the shackles of oppression and claimed their freedom. Although it seems the time of revolutions has passed, a burgeoning new upheaval has begun. The new revolution for freedom is occurring in the most obscure of places: Nepal.

    Nepal has been in and out of the public eye since 1990. King Gyanendra, wanting a modern Nepal, moved away from a monarchal system and created a constitutional monarchy; this stemmed his power and gave it to his people. Unfortunately, the progress of the king was destroyed by a drug-driven royal slaughter. Prince Gyanendra, angry at the denial of his marriage to his girlfriend, massacred the officials of the monarchy, essentially killing the country’s hard-won peace.

    The country began to separate itself into conflicting parties, political and militant. Maoist rebels attacked citizens, and the people had no government to which they could turn for protection. The rebels undermined the government for years in a situation more reminiscent of 1990s Somalia than a country that once held public elections.

    The government eventually turned to its last option: to return power to the monarch and allow him to try to re-establish control of the nation. In 2005, the king declared a state of emergency, took complete control over the government, blocked lines of communication and suspended the rights of citizens. He felt this was the right move to stabilize a country ready to tear itself apart, but what it created is a situation undeniably close to America’s founding.

    The country now faces a monarchy separated from the people. While the “”government”” attempts to act in the best interests of its people, its citizens plot an uprising. The actions taken by such citizens mirror the protests on the Boston Commons, the Declaration of Independence against the British king and the acts of non-compliance of the original Americans.

    The Nepalese government has even opened fire on protestors after countless confrontations – much like the Boston Massacre, in which protesters were shot for speaking against a government unrepresentative of its population. Although Nepal has a progressive monarchy that appears to hope to move the country toward constitutional and democratic ideals, shoot-to-kill curfews and iron-fisted rule have primed the nation for a moral revolution.

    But don’t expect an instantaneous switch. The move away from an established monarchy is a long and dangerous path; the U.S. fought a bloody eight-year war to establish its separation. Only last week, the king of Nepal re-established the Parliament, a first step down a long road. During the celebrations that ensued, people chanted, “”Democracy hasn’t yet come, our struggle continues.””

    At this juncture, we may view the fledgling growth of an independent nation, an exciting time. It is a lesson in democracy itself, watching the move toward a government for the people, by the people.

    This hidden story of national independence should be given the respect it deserves from the U.S. government. The U.S. has urged peaceful resolutions, but has not acted to directly support the people. It’s no longer time for rhetoric; the U.S. must proactively involve itself in the move away from the monarchy to an independent, democratically elected parliamentary system. We could not have won our independence without the French; maybe the U.S. can be a savior of Nepal.

    This is a glimpse into our past; it is a chance to see the true struggles of a people oppressed and ready for change, instead of what history books have shown us. The U.S. government must carefully evaluate its stance on this vital uprising, because a show of support means an ally in democracy, and ignoring it will crush a modern American revolution.

    Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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