01/18/2007, 00.00
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Maoists add minority representatives to their parliamentary delegation, but no Christian

by Prakash Dubey
Dalits, tribals, women and clerics are among the ten MPs Maoists picked from outside their ranks to sit in the interim parliament. But a Christian clergyman points out that by not choosing a Christian the work the Christian community has gone unrecognised.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s Maoists have included several representatives from various minorities as part of their delegation to the interim parliament. But for one clergyman they have failed to name a Christian despite the great work by the country’s Christian community. For their part, the Maoists have announced they will soon end their parallel administration in areas under their control.

In Nepal’s 330-member caretaker parliament, which will lead the country till the expected May-June constituent assembly elections, 83 will come from the ranks of the country’s Maoist movement, 10 of whom will represent minorities or traditionally powerless groups like Dalits, tribal groups, women; among them also a Buddhist monk and a Muslim cleric, but no Christian.

For Ma John Thulung, pastor in the Good Hope Church in eastern Nepal, this omission comes despite the size and the contribution of the Christian minority to the country’s well-being.

Across Nepal Christians have set up health dispensaries, schools, orphanages and religious centers. “During the ten years of Maoist insurgency, thousands of children were orphaned because their parents were killed in clashes between the Maoists and the army. Christian groups provided for them, ensuring they could study and lead a dignified life despite the war all around,” he said.” But the Maoists ignored the size of Christian communities and their contribution “They just let their prejudices against us sway their choices because we are allegedly bearers of Western values and ideas.”

Ram Ekbal Choudhary, a Hindu from the Tharu tribe, agrees and told AsiaNews about the commitment of Christian groups on behalf of the victims of the Maoist revolt.

“Christians have been running about 100 residential schools where thousands of children, who lost their parents in clashes between rebels and the army, found shelter. I think the Maoists could have honoured the Christian community by adding a Christian to their group in parliament”.

Still Rev Thulung points out all parties in parliament have ignored the Christian community.

Still he is hopeful that more attention will be paid to their work on behalf of the poorest.

Meanwhile Maoists are starting to lay down their weapons even though their leader, Prachanda, stated that they have not given up their goal of turning Nepal into a Communist state. But he did though confirm that his movement would start shutting down the administration it had set up in areas under its control.

Since 1996 when the Maoist revolt began, several regions of the country had come under direct Maoist control. Here the rebels had set up their own administrative structures, demanding “taxes”, providing some rudimentary services and enforcing justice through “People’s Courts”.

According to Chandra Prasad Gajurel, head of the Maoists’ international command, his movement will follow the five points policy agreed with other Nepali parties, but it will also continue its relations with foreign Communists as it did before joining the interim government.

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