Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

#ChooseFrance campaign aims to show 'France is back'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2018: Balancing tech risks and opportunities

Read more

THE DEBATE

Erdogan's new front: Turkey takes on Syria's kurds (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Erdogan's new front: Turkey takes on Syria's kurds (part 1)

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2018: Modi defends globalisation but warns it's losing its lustre

Read more

FOCUS

Namibia's genocide: Descendants sue Germany for reparations

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ex-president Lula is 'clearly innocent', Rousseff says

Read more

ENCORE!

Author Mohsin Hamid: The magic of the migrant crisis

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Estonia at 100: President Kaljulaid on risks, opportunities and Europhilia

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-01-05

How former Maoist child soldiers became engineers of Nepal's democracy

Between 1996 and 2006, a bloody civil war between Maoist revolutionaries and the state tore Nepal apart. A decade later, FRANCE 24 Reporters head to Nepal for the first legislative elections under the new constitution adopted in 2015. In this report, they meet three former Maoists who spent their childhoods fighting for the revolutionary cause, but today they are hoping to make a change not by staring down the barrel of the gun, but through the ballot box.

FRANCE 24 reporters have selected three key moments that stood out during the filming of their meetings with the former Maoist fighters:

The rocky road. Jeevan used to be a Maoist child soldier, but now he’s in charge of his former commander’s election campaign. We had been filming with Jeevan at an election rally, in the upper reaches of the Karnali valley, in western Nepal. As night fell, we descended from the mountain in single file, torches in hand. It took us less than an hour to go down the slopes that had taken us five hours to climb the day before, camera gear on our backs... We had to keep pace with the former soldiers.

Halfway through our journey we stopped to catch our breath at a small cottage with red flags flying overhead. It was the home of a local farmer, a friend of the Maoists. There, as we drank cups of lemon tea, the “comrades”, who still go by their "party names", negotiated the price of a goat that we would eat for dinner by an open fire later that night. Soon after, we carried on in silence, as our eyes remained focused on the rocky road. It was hard not to think of those who had fallen here, fighting battles in this unforgiving terrain.

Political patronage. Sapana joined the Maoist party at the age of 14. She was one of several young Nepali girls who fought for the Maoists during the war. More than a third of the guerrillas were women. But only a handful of these women stood in the elections (7 percent). Sapana was one of them. We followed her as she campaigned in several villages just before the elections. She had to constantly confront the harsh realities of Nepal today. Poverty, caste inequality, poor access to healthcare, water, electricity -- the problems that made Sapana take up arms against the state and the monarchy a decade ago, were still issues during this campaign.

In one of the villages we visited, she arrived a little too late. The inhabitants were in the process of cutting up sheep they’ve been “offered” by a rival party. This is a system of political patronage that remains very strong in Nepal. But the dreamer -- Sapna means "dream" in Nepali -- remained committed to her democratic mission.

An assault rifle painted on the wall. With the elections approaching, we saw several roads being renovated -- a way for those in power to show Nepali citizens that they are working for them. Are the elected officials the ones who will change Nepal? Arjun and his wife Purna didn’t think so. They are former Maoist soldiers who were devoted to the revolutionary cause. Today, they are a hard-working couple. On their farm everything works like clockwork. They provide employment to many while making sure they respect the environment. We were blown away by Arjun's ingenuity and ideas for innovation.

But after their parents and son headed to bed, the eyes of Arjun and Purna hardened and they began to speak freely. They fought fiercely in the jungle for leaders who did not keep their promises after the war. In the small shack serving as a toilet at the bottom of the garden, an assault rifle is painted on the wall.

In Nepal, the memory of the war persists, but few are nostalgic.

By Thomas DENIS , Bhojraj BHAT

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-01-19 Gambia

Video: Gambians reflect on first year of democracy

One year ago, former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh waved to his supporters for the last time on the tarmac of Banjul airport before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea, where he still...

Read more

2017-12-21 Africa

The remains of Central African Republic's imperial past

FRANCE 24's reporters returned to the Central African Republic, 40 years after Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowned himself emperor. Nicknamed the "Central African Napoleon", Bokassa was...

Read more

2017-12-08 Egypt

Video: Tahrir Square, a melting pot for Egyptian revolutions

Egypt’s Tahrir Square is emblematic of the Arab Spring uprising. In January 2011, thousands of Egyptians thronged onto the Cairo square to protest society-wide corruption and...

Read more

2017-11-09 Europe

Video: Remembering France’s 'camp of shame' at Rivesaltes

For three decades, Rivesaltes in southern France was home to the largest internment camp in Western Europe. FRANCE 24 returns to the site where tens of thousands of people were...

Read more