Interview with Comrade Sushil from the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)

This piece is from Ben Peterson’s blog, Lal Salam. He seems to be located in Nepal. It’s a very nice piece about the Communist Party of Bhutan ((Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) or CPB (MLM). It’s a pretty big illegal party in Bhutan. The situation in Bhutan is little known. The population is split between ethnic Bhutanese, who are a Tibetan Asiatic type, and ethnic Nepalis, who are an Indian type. The Nepalis migrated to Bhutan 100 years ago from Nepal.

The migration was completely legal, and they have been in the country ever since. I assume that they were granted citizenship, but I am not sure. About 10 years ago, the Bhutanese king threw 100,000 Nepalis out of Bhutan in a fascist effort at one people, one land nation-building. Implicitly, only ethnic Bhutanese can be real Bhutanese.

The Nepalis have been languishing in refugee camps in Nepal ever since, and many have been effected by the Maoist movement in Nepal that nearly overthrew the state. They formed their own Maoist party similar to the Nepalese party. The party is mostly made of up ethnic Nepalis, and it is huge in the refugee camps.

Recently, there have been some efforts to resettle the refugees in third countries, as the King of Bhutan has said he will never let them come back to Bhutan again. It’s similar to the Palestinian situation where people were thrown out of the country to languish in refugee camps and many of them want to go back to their homeland. Some of the refugees have been resettled in the US.

They have carried out some armed attacks, but only a few. There are many Nepalis still in Bhutan, mostly in the south, and the party probably has a lot of support there. I doubt if the party has much support among the native Bhutanese, so the ethnic factor will be hard to deal with.

Bhutan is a monarchy, so similar to the goals of the Nepalese Maoists, the party wants to get rid of the monarchy first of all. It also says that the country is feudal, as is Nepal. The Nepalese Maoists have resolved to also eliminate feudalism from Nepal, and the Bhutanese party has a similar goal of eliminating feudalism from Bhutan.

This party is part of a growing Maoist movement in the region.

The Nepalese Maoists have been very successful so far, though they have run into some roadblocks lately.

The Indian Maoists have also done very well and have established a large red belt in the east of the country. They also have some large roadblocks in front of them.

The Bangladeshi Maoists are a small movement, but they are armed and still carry out attacks. They have some huge roadblocks in front of them.

The Sri Lankan Maoists are a small unarmed party and do little, but they have issued some statements recently.

Interview with Comrade Sushil from the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoists

The following Interview was conducted with Comrade Sushil of the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) at some point in the previous few weeks. It occurred somewhere in the area of the Indian-Bhutan border. There are minor edits for clarity, and also as they are an underground party, minor editing for the security of Comrade Sushil.

Lal Salam Blog: Thank you very much for meeting with me. So are you from Bhutan?

Comrade Sushil: Yes, from Bhutan.

Lal Salam Blog: From the Bhutanese refugee camps?

Comrade Sushil: Uhh, actually people think that all our party are from the refugees, but I am from Bhutan. I have spent allot of time in India, working, but then also in Bhutan and then in Nepal working for the party as well.

Lal Salam Blog: So you are a cadre of the Communist Party Bhutan (Marxist Leninist Maoists)?

Comrade Sushil: Yes i am a member of the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist Leninist Maoist). I have been a member since 2003 and i have worked actively as a whole timer since the same year. I joined the party from within Bhutan.

Lal Salam Blog: What is the history of the Party?

Comrade Sushil: The CPB(MLM) was established on the 7th of November 2001, and the announcement of the Party was on the 22nd of April 2003. From this time the party has been working with the exploited people in Bhutan. The people are all exploited by the regime, so our party has been working with all the people, mainly in rural areas, but in urban areas also. Mostly we work with the people in the villages.

Lal Salam Blog: So what are the problems in Bhutan? What sort of oppressions are forced on the people of Bhutan?

Comrade Sushil: The biggest problem is the feudal Monarchy. Because of this monarchy the problems are created. Peoples standard of living has been kept backwards because of the Monarchy. In a third world country like Bhutan, this is because of feudalism. This feudalism is the main problem of Bhutan. This is why the Communist Party, our glorious party, is working to overthrow the regime, and to overthrow feudalism.

Lal Salam Blog: So the goal of the Party for now is to throw out feudalism from Bhutan?

Comrade Sushil: Definitely. The main aim of our party is to overthrow feudalism and to establish the peoples rule in Bhutan.

Lal Salam Blog: So you would like to establish a People’s State in Bhutan? Is that what you would have replace the King?

Comrade Sushil: We should not understand like this. We should replace the king with a Proletarian Dictatorship. Our aim, our hope, no our dream is to establish a New Democratic Socialism. Only after that can we achieve our ultimate goal, which is to achieve communism. It is not only our goal to throw out the king and overthrow feudalism in Bhutan, but to establish a peaceful society that can achieve socialism and communism.

Lal Salam Blog: Last year your party started a Peoples War in Bhutan…

Comrade Sushil: No. We have not initiated a protracted peoples war in Bhutan. Since our parties establishment we have however had many rural peoples class struggles and these struggles have used different means. In different ways we have launched many struggles and programs, and we have the aim of reaching a level where we can launch a Protracted Peoples War. Last year we did initiate some armed struggles, which is only a factor of the rural class struggle.

Much of the media proclaimed this as the beginning of the Peoples War, but we are not at that phase. We are trying to reach the level of Peoples War, but we have not yet reached it, and are preparing for it. We do not know how long this will take, it will depend on many factors.

Lal Salam Blog: So there will be more attacks, more bombs and more armed actions in the future?

Comrade Sushil: Certainly. We are preparing for this. There will be more armed struggle. Without the armed struggle, we cannot change the situation in our country. We cannot change the state power. We will one day take the state power, but for now we are in preparation, making networks with the peasants and in the cities, training, preparing for the struggle.

Lal Salam Blog: Do you think Peoples War can be successful? Bhutan is already a very brutal state. As many as a sixth of the population lives in exile and the state has beaten, attacked, arrested and even raped and murdered those it perceives to be political activists?

Comrade Sushil: Our parties thought is that only by waging the armed struggle and the Peoples War can we win the liberation of our exploited people. I believe so. Thousands of people have been evicted from Bhutan, we are very aware of this. Why were they evicted? They were evicted after political activism and movements. They were evicted because the people in the southern belt had a high political consciousness.

This is totally not a refugee problem, this is a political problem. It is a problem of a brutal monarchy and a restrictive feudal system. Without destroying these institutions we cannot solve these problems. Our party is launching this armed struggle to liberate the exploited people and we know that one day we will be successful. This is a long term plan, it will take many preparations, and without this and without correct politics we cannot be successful.

We have this ideology, the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist and this is a political weapon. With this weapon we believe that one day we will be successful.

Lal Salam Blog: So have you learnt much from the experiences of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and their experiences in Nepal? Are there close or special links between your parties?

Comrade Sushil: We do not have special or direct links with this party. But, and also like communists all around the world, in Peru, India or the Philippines we have ideological links. These places all have communist parties leading revolution through the armed struggle, and with all of them we have ideological links and an ideological relationship. That means we support them ideologically and they support us ideologically.

We have a relationship with the CP Nepal(Maoist), but also with the CP India (Maoist) who are also waging an armed struggle. We don’t receive any physical support, or anything like that, but we should understand that we are all communists, and we are all internationalists, and we receive and give moral support.

Lal Salam Blog: What does your party think about Prachanda Path and the Nepali Maoists synthesis? It has been controversial to some international communists.

Comrade Sushil: About this Prachanda Path. It is something we should study. And also it is not only a thing to be studied, it has shown it has the ability to guide workers actions. I don’t want to comment more because the ideological things i have had not sufficiently studied, and till now our party has not discussed at length Prachanda Path.

Lal Salam Blog: The Maoists in Nepal have given up their Peoples War and taken a new tactic in pursuing the Constituent Assembly elections. Is this a correct tactic in your parties opinion?

Comrade Sushil: In regards to the UCPN(M) we do not think that they have given up their goals. We think they are pursuing another way, another tactic to establish a peoples state. We don’t think they have established the proletarian dictatorship. So we, our party, does not think that they have achieve state power. We too will go for a Constituent Assembly at first, and only after that can we step or jump or leap forward to a New Democratic revolution.

In the context of the Maoists, we don’t think they have state power, and are still struggling for it. It is a fact that the future shows you which path you must take, you can only pick your path depending on the concrete situation you face.

We will also move for a constituent assembly elections and a new state, but without establishing the proletarian people at the center of this new state then it cannot reach higher and improve the lives of the people. We think that the Maoists of Nepal face similar situations to us, and have similar actions, so we will continue to watch closely.

Lal Salam Blog: So a Constituent Assembly is a tactic that you are interested in for change in Bhutan?

Comrade Sushil: Actually it is the tactics and strategy of communist parties in the third world. Third world countries are semi-colonial and semi-feudal. So without a New Democratic Socialism stage we cannot reach socialism. So we are in this revolution, it is a peasant revolution we can say.

So to reach our aims, to some extent we should aim for a Constituent Assembly, and this is our main slogan and the main aim of the present situation in our revolution. That is not our only slogan, and out only goal, and it isn’t the only thing that we campaign around with the peasants and people of Bhutan. And we don’t want or aspire to another bourgeois constitution, but we need a constitution that is in favor of the oppressed and poor people of Bhutan.

Lal Salam Blog: Last year the government of Bhutan held elections, in a very restricted and controlled way, but the western media still presented this as a opening up and of “democracy”. If there was to be a more open electoral system, would the CPB(MLM) pursue peaceful politics through elections?

Comrade Sushil: WE think there is only one path to real democracy in Bhutan. We don’t believe in the current “democracy” this is well known. And we don’t think that this system can lead to real democracy. The international community has its formula and they see votes and call it democracy- but there is no such thing in Bhutan and it is not possible to impose a real democracy from the outside into Bhutan.

Any “democracy” that the regime brings into practice itself will be done in such a way so that real power continues to be restricted and kept in the hands of the old order, and not in the hands of the mass of exploited people, so that this “democracy” could not be used against the regime. Even if the regime cast out the king, it would not fundamentally change it. Our party will not make compromises with that order.

We wont co-operate with their agenda, we have another agenda that is contradiction to theirs. We are going to establish the rule of all the people while they just want to exploit them. There is this contradiction between the people and the regime. Our party struggles because of that. If they were to try and set up a “democracy” for then when we should not be a part of it.

When I say this it does not mean that we are militarists. The people want peace, and don’t want to live in terror but this regime suppresses and exploits the people, they already live in terror. It is not a hobby to carry out armed struggle, it is our only option the liberation of our people.

Lal Salam Blog: Bhutan is such a tiny country, and it has very close relations, with India in particular. If you care to reach peoples war, do you think India would interfere to defend its interests?

Comrade Sushil: On this the whole party is very much conscious. But in the present situation India is not so dangerous to Bhutan. China is quite dangerous. 11,500 square kilometers of Bhutan’s lands have been occupied and taken by China. So we are surrounded by two very large and powerful countries, who are always looking to interfere into Bhutan.

They have two ways of interfering. Political intervention and direct intervention. There are Indian Army camps established in Bhutan. There are several big barracks. We have known this, but we don’t think they will intervene directly. Maybe at some point in the future.

There will be political intervention, and we can try to counter this with our allies by rousing grassroots support for our cause in India. We are already doing this. If they try to intervene militarily it will be a heavy cost for them, a bloody and long civil war. Also the regime and the fuedalists don’t want this. They want to defend their borders, protect his kingdom. We also want to establish the sovereignty of Bhutan, so we will always fight foreign influence, from India as well as China.

Lal Salam Blog: I understand that your party has allot of support amongst the refugees in Nepal.

Comrade Sushil: We are not just a party for the refugees. We have support where ever our people are.

Lal Salam Blog: So in India, Nepal and Bhutan?

Comrade Sushil: Yes.

Lal Salam Blog: And your party does work amongst all the communities of Bhutan and across the whole country, not just in the southern Belt that is largely Nepali speaking?

Comrade Sushil: The southern belt is not only Nepali speaking, but there are people from many communities there as well. Myself i haven’t been to the north as yet, our party does work there, but i have been working in the south and also in the east. In a lot of people, and in the media there is allot of confusion. The CPB(MLM) is not just a party in the refugee camps, and not just Nepali speaking. We have cadres of many ethnic backgrounds, and our party works all over Bhutan.

Lal Salam Blog: For the refugees in Nepal is it true your party favors repatriation in Bhutan rather then resettlement in third countries?

Comrade Sushil: It is not that our party policy is just to return people to Bhutan. It is not a solution. Liberating the people of Bhutan is the only real and long term solution to this problem. We are not for resettlement, and we are not for repatriation in Bhutan without changing anything else. Moving people around like they are animals is not a solution. That is our position. There needs to be a political solution to this, and only then can the refugees get their rights.

Some people have said our party was created to agitate for the repatriation of refugees, this is not the case. Our party was established within Bhutan and amongst the people. We are in favour of all the oppressed people. Only understanding the problem of the refugees as a problem of the political structure of Bhutan that we can find a solution. Our party was not established for the refugees, but for all the Bhutanese.

5 Comments

Filed under Asia, Asians, Bangladesh, Economics, Government, India, Left, Maoism, Marxism, Nepal, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Revolution, Socialism, South Asia, Sri Lanka

5 responses to “Interview with Comrade Sushil from the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)

  1. lafayette sennacherib

    Thanks for that. That site looks interesting. Worth a regular look.

  2. Movenon

    Hi Robert,

    Actually there are over a dozen Tibeto-Burman languages spoken within Bhutan. Dzongkha is dominant, of course, but Nepali being a 20th century addition to the Bhutanese linguistic landscape means that rather than being a fascist language policy trying to rid the country of diversity, the current policies are designed to ensure that Bhutan doesn’t follow the same fate as Nepal and Sikkim, both historically Tibeto-Burman speaking lands that have been overwhelmed by a Indo-Aryan speakers of a Pahari dialect which has now usurped the name Nepali (which originally would have referred to Newar).

    Please read George Van Driem’s excellent article “Language Policy in Bhutan” for a more detailed account of the Bhutanese government’s intent. The language policy in the mid 20th century caused a situation where Nepali illegal immigrants kept swarming into Bhutan, and had no incentive to learn Dzongkha or any other native Tibeto-Burman language. If no action had been taken, Bhutan may have ended up just like Sikkim, where the native language is basically overrun by immigrants with a higher birth rate.

  3. Niruta Maghi

    HI This is Chittij Sharma from Bhutanese Refugee Camp.By seeing this interview with Comrade Sushil I am really glad.Once I was also the cedar of Bhutan communist party for more then 2 or 3 years and stay in Bhutan for more then 1 year in Bhutan during that period.From my stay in Bhutan I knew that this movement is not raise by the races and ethnic group or only by the people who are in refugee camp.It also got support from the Bhutanese people who were staying in Bhutan. In fact most of the cedar are from Bhutan. I have many Drukpa, who stay with me and are cedar of party . Even during that period I got full support from Karbari and other Bhutanese government officer.But it is the fact that it gain popularity mostly in refugee camp because in camp it was free environment to have different idea and the motivation of people regarding communism and the party. Lastly I request the publisher to publish more news regarding the Bhutan communist party.

  4. The ethnic problem in Bhutan is not unique to the region and I don’t think a democratic socialist movement would solve the problem. This region of the world, which includes my own nation as well, is rife with ethnic and tribal conflicts – most of which crops out of xenophobia or a deep distaste of what is better termed as the Hindi people. The people of the region have to learn to look above petty tribal and ethnic affiliations and see humans as humans more, members of a ‘group’ less.

    I am no fan of the Bhutanese Monarch any more than I am a fan of the Boro insurgency, but by putting the Butanese government in a precarious position, they have simply helped strengthen Delhi’s influence in the region. The Bhutanese government, threatened by the threat of communist ‘insurgency’ signed pacts with the Indian government a couple of years back, that it will no longer harbour as a safe haven for North Eastern insurgents. Read about the Indo-Bhutan Joint Action Against Insurgents for more details.

    Saying that India is not a serious danger to Bhutan is an understatement and something that I think comes not because of Comrade Sushil’s impartiality, but because of his Hindu bias.

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