The Young Communist League has been called both a youth service corps and a gang of neo-Nazi thugs. It is neither. It is the Maoist militia, reorganized for the final phase of their war.
In January 1921 the second convention of the Communist International passed a resolution forming the Young Communist League as an integral part of the worldwide Communist struggle, because, the resolution stated, “youth are a part – an essential party – of the revolutionary movement.” The YCL still draws idealistic leftist youth to branches in the US, Canada, England, and South Africa, where they volunteer for liberal service organizations, hand out leaflets, and stage small demonstrations.
The Nepal YCL, formed in January 2007, just days before Maoists joined the interim parliament, share a few things in common with their counterparts in other countries: They have protested and issued statements, and they have put forward a public-service face, nabbing smugglers and the leakers of a national school exam paper, cleaning up garbage, clearing out the touts that plague Kathmandu airport, and directing traffic.
From there, Nepal’s young Communists part company with their international comrades. In Kathmandu, company owners and managers have been beaten and abducted over “donations” and labor disputes. According to complaints from the business community, extortion has risen to new heights. From rural Nepal, new reports surface almost daily of YCL bullying reporters, trashing government offices, fighting with police and break-away Maoist factions, abducting people, and seizing land.
The pattern is familiar to Nepalis: This Maoist militia has a new name and wear civvies, but their job is the same. On April 29 Maoist supremo Prachanda said that the Maoists’ republican drive would encompass, “street, parliament, and government.” It’s clear which part of the Maoist organization will be in the streets.
And the YCL will have some official support for their activities. On the same day that Dahal spoke, Maoist Minister of Information and Communications Krishna Mahara issued instructions to government media to report positively on the Maoists and to “shun news critical of the party or the YCL.”
Less than two weeks later Mahara was forced to admit in a press conference that violent acts “committed in the name of YCL or others are always deplorable.” The next day Prachanda promised that YCL cadres would not participate in “unruly or violent activities,” and Prime Minister Koirala said he would come up with a stronger plan to reign them in.
If Nepal’s YCL members were like their idealistic counterparts in other countries, promises and plans might work. But this YCL isn’t composed of excitable youth. It’s the product of the Maoist leadership, doing their bidding and following their plan. Public opinion could force the Maoists to tone down the YCL’s campaign a bit, but their war isn’t over yet.