An amicable Iranian man in his 50s puts finishing touches to the meeting of the World Peoples Resistance Movement (WPRM) in Dalston, North London.
A Polish man sells T-shirts with the message 'Revolution-Making It Happen in Nepal'. A stout Chinese man thinks that picketing in front of the Royal Nepali Embassy in London "doesn't make much sense". A hirsute young Nepali holds forth in faltering English about "our final strategic offensive against the dictator King".
Welcome to the Maoist European roadshow which is raising money and trying to generate support for the Nepali Maoists. A mandatory donation of a minimum of ?5 sometimes gets participants a seat at one of these monthly meetings on Nepal.
Revolution can mean many things on the first floor of the Hundred Flowers Cultural Centre in Dalston. But amidst dreary British weather and a sharp whiff from the greasy chicken shop downstairs, a crowd congregates every first Sunday of the month in this decaying neighborhood with the persistence of evangelists.
It is difficult in this day and age to come across an organisation that admonishes both the Iranian regime and the US president in the same breath. But the WPRM does it and it also supports the Palestinian struggle, the urban uprising in France and it has been organising a campaign across Europe to muster 'urgently needed support for the people's struggle for liberation in Nepal'. The next meeting supported by WPRM is on 18 May at the School of Oriental and African Studies and will include the South Asia Solidarity Forum and the Friends of Africa group.
Nationality is no bar. In the audience are leftists and Mao nostalgists from Italy, Britain, Iran, Ireland, Turkey, China, India, the Philippines and even Tibet. 'A new world is possible' is the WPRM's motto and the rhetoric and jargon that floats thickly across the room is more Dickensian than Marxist.
No issue is out of bounds and one of the subjects at a recent discussion was even 'what to do with Narayanhiti palace when our comrades seize it'. WPRM markets the conflict in Nepal as 'the most advanced struggle against imperialism in the world today' and seemingly has no difficulty in finding an audience. It is usually a friendly crowd of up to 25 people but attendance goes up whenever there is a prominent speaker. Some are Nepali migrant workers scraping by in London, some are students and others reply "kam gardai" or "accountant" when asked what they do.
The Royal Nepali Embassy in London seems to have got wind of the WPRM speaking tour and among those attending was a Nepali with a distinctly Sandhurst crewcut. London is one of 13 European cities where Maoists seek 'help and support' and in the past few months, the roadshow has moved through Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Organisers are usually European chapters of the WPRM.
|SPEED BREAKER AHEAD: The street in North London where the WPRM meetings are held.|
There are other communist groups hawking Nepal's war, most notably the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) which groups revolutionaries from the world over. Nepal Communist Party (Masal) became a member 22 years ago but was replaced by its Maoist wing and it includes the New People's Army of the Philippines, Columbia's FARC and Peru's Shining Path. There was a time when Nepali Maoists used RIM to project their international revolutionary image but as the end game nears in Nepal it is now the other way around. It is RIM that uses Nepal to show that Maoism is alive and kicking.
These global communist networks look eagerly to news from Nepal and the day when Nepal's Maoists can succeed in setting up a people's republic in Nepal. WPRM and RIM help comrades with travel arrangements in Europe like they did for a senior Nepali Maoist on a clandestine trip here in January and pays for it from donations from members and supporters.
This ideological camaraderie has a real potential to turn into a solid working relationship across borders. WPRM has started appealing for 'money for travel' for the Nepali Maoists and RIM believes that the insurgency by Maoists will be at the 'storm centre of world revolution' and 'new sacrifices will be required by the comrades'.