Sunday, August 05, 2007

Turmoil in the streets

Today Patan was an island, cut from Kathmandu and the world by burning tires, logs across streets and alleys, and crowds of Nepali activists ensuring that no car, motorcycle or bus used the streets. I wish I could post pictures, but I fear that the Internet service here would choke on the effort.

The protest seems to have passed in relative peace, with a minimum of stone throwing or any form of violence - the police and military were no more prevalent than on regular days. This demonstration paled in comparison to the one time I was caught in a clash of body-armoured riot police and stone throwing students in Seoul.

I do not know what sparked the protest in particular. Barricades were pasted with pictures of a young girl, but no one present would explain to me. I can only assume that it is related to the still simmering Maoist discontent (which I am trying to understand better, with little help from the surely gov't-controlled English press) and the upcoming elections.

There is no doubt that this type of event will not be isolated, as the coming November elections will be the first since the end of violence in the still unsettled civil war.

For now, however, I remain safe and sound in KTM....

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