Democracy and Class Struggle is deeply saddened to hear that our comrade Behrooz Navaii has passed away.
We publish an article from 2012 with Comrade Behrooz Navaii talking about Peoples Struggle in India published in Indian publication Towards a New Dawn in which he informs comrades in the Iranian publication Grapes Of Wrath about the People's War in India.
Comrade Behrooz Navaii translated many articles about People's War in India into Persian and we hope to be part of a project to bring all his work together and publish it as a book or pamphlets.
The article below expresses the personal views of Comrade Behrooz Navaii.
A NEW WORLD IS COMING TO LIFE: AN INTERVIEW WITH COMRADE BEHROOZ NAVAII (Iran ) :
[This interview of Comrade Behrooz Navaii (member of People's Fadee Guerrillas of Iran)was taken by an Iranian magazine ,Grapes of Wrath to provide the Iranian activists with information about the ongoing People's war in India .
The main interview ''A New World Is Coming into life: People's war in India'' was in Farsi and it has been translated. We're very thankful to Com. Behrooz Navaii & Grapes of Wrath for sharing the English version exclusively with us - TOWARDS A NEW DAWN]
India is involved in a war all the way through. Under the leadership of the communist (Maoist) guerrillas the toilers have began an unending struggle against a grand inequality. For years this battle has been going on but today the people’s war has affected almost half of the Indian subcontinent.
Perhaps the people’s war in India is not that much known by the Iranian fighters. Hence we contacted comrade Behrooz Navaii to have an interview with him. Comrade Behrooz himself is a member of the People’s Fadaee Guerrillas of Iran and, during the years after the revolution (in Iran 1979), he had been fighting along with comrade Ashraf Dehghani in Kurdistan and, he is very well informed about the people’s wars in India and Nepal.
Grapes of Wrath: Comrade Behrooz, today there is People’s War in Hindustan and apparently international news are trying to make it seem unimportant. That is while this periodical puts every movement under the magnifier. What is the reason of the media’s carelessness (about India’s people’s war)?
Behrooz Navaii: Today’s world in general does not like communists and, the only relationship it has with the third world country is to steal their natural resources. Although England’s BBC and a couple of other places have occasionally sent reporters there, but since Hindustan’s revolution is not going to make money for anybody, so public media does not care that much about its affairs. This happens while the current Prime Minister Monmohan Singh has said something very similar to what the head of the American FBI had said about the Black Panther Party of the US in sixties. Singh believes that the Naxalite fighters – in general meaning the Communist Party of India-Maoist – is the gravest internal problem the country is facing right now.
GOR: Could you in general summarize the people’s war’s beginning and, the upward and, downward turns it has had up until today? What parties and trends inside India is leading and supporting the people’s war in Hindustan? On international level what groups are the people’s war supporters?
BN: From one side, the beginning of the struggle of the Maoist can traced back to the struggle in Naxalbari village in sixties. But, the armed struggle you watch today is based upon much more original and stable foundation and, in totally different conditions.
When China was alive, the leftist parties’ struggles in almost all countries of the world had their own source or, in other words, temple to follow up. There were leftists following the Soviet Union, some were China’s obedient followers and, some were following up Albania. Imaginations of comrade Charu Mazumdar who was one of the forerunners of Maoist struggles was very much focused upon China and, positions taken by Mao Tse-tung.
Then, they had separated themselves from existing communist parties and had formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and for this very reason for example due to Pakistan’s relations when there was a great killing in Pakistan under Zia ol Hagh, that party was totally silent about that mayhem.
Two strong communist parties of India existed there and still they are which believe in parliamentarian struggle and neither they were fans of armed struggle nor, their major goals were in regard to the grand and great majority of the people of India of which over seventy percent are residing in jungles and villages. In contrast with those parties’ reformist and legal policies the ML party only believed in armed struggle and, considering the whole world’s conditions, this movement did attract layers of urban intellectuals also.
But after arrest and killings of main leaders, Charu Mazumdar and others, in practice few (decent) people were left from that party that in the end were divided by two groups. Why don’t I bring a couple of paragraphs from one of the important articles I have translated in this regard:
“The Naxalbari uprising in 1967 that beckoned the new revolutionary wave, demarcating the revolutionaries from the revisionists established a clear political-ideological line for Indian revolution.
The clarion call of the great Naxalbari movement led by Charu Mazumdar proved to be a “Spring Thunder over India” as symbolically captured by the then Chinese Communist Party under Com. Mao. Naxalbari thus marked a qualitative rupture from the age old revisionism in the Indian communist movement firmly establishing the correctness of MLM Thought. Thus the Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries was formed at the All India level and finally the CPI (ML) was formed as the re-established Communist Party of India in 1969 under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar. It was this newly formed party that organised the 8th Congress of the communist party which for the first time in India upheld MLM Thought and hence came up with a revolutionary line of New Democratic Revolution through Protracted People’s War, by building the People’s Liberation Army and the Base Areas.
Despite unifying all the Communist Revolutionaries the 8th Congress could not unite a part of the revolutionary forces which had also fought against revisionism of the CPI and the CPM and put forth fundamentally the same line as the one taken by the 8th Congress. The most notable was the MCC which was formed on 20th October 1969; on the basis of a document called “Strategy & Tactics” after the relentless struggle waged by Com. Kanai Chatterjee since the 7th Congress of the revisionist CPI.
The two Maoist parties—the CPI (ML) and the MCCI—which stemmed from the turbulent period of the decade of the 60s, particularly from the Great Naxalbari Uprising, inherited all that was revolutionary in the long history of the Indian Communist Movement while continuing as two streams of Indian revolution over the past 35 years. This advance was not on the bed of roses.
Both the parties had to weather bitter internal struggles against opportunist cliques, against non-proletarian ideological trends and deviations while striving to build the party among the oppressed masses based on the revolutionary line. These parties had to boldly confront the armed onslaught of the Indian State, the private armies supported by the State, and the feudal forces by adhering to the Maoist principles of guerrilla war based on the revolutionary mass line of arousing and relying on the broad peasant masses, especially the poor and landless, into armed resistance against the enemies. This concrete application of the revolutionary Maoist line creatively to the specific conditions of India enabled both the parties in developing several guerrilla zones, the guerrilla armies—the People’s Guerrilla Army and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army—directed towards establishing full fledged PLA and Base Areas in the vast countryside of Andhra, Jharkhand, Bihar and Dandakaranya and the adjoining parts of these states. The Protracted People’s War would consummate in New Democratic Revolution through the strategy of encircling the cities from the countryside.
It is this protracted, time tested history of revolutionary practice of armed struggle based on the correct revolutionary line for the Indian revolution that had provided the ideological-political material basis for unity of the two parties in to a single Maoist Party. The two parties have a long fraternal and comradely relations dating back from 1980 barring a brief period of strained relations and clashes. Based on the method and guidelines provided by the ideological weapon of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, both the parties made a deep, thorough, frank and free self-criticism of their serious mistakes that had resulted in the clashes, identified their roots in petty-bourgeois and non-proletarian ideological deviations in February 2003 and resolved to proceed with the unity process basing on ideological-political unity. It may be recalled that two major parties–the CPI (ML) (Party Unity) and CPI (ML) (People’s War) who were waging armed struggle had united in 1998 to form the CPI (ML) (People’s War). Thus the merger of the CPI (ML) (PW) and the MCCI into the CPI (Maoist) effectively completed the process of merger of the major revolutionary forces in India, though it is not the end of the process of unification of the Communist Revolutionary forces in the country.”
The important matter is the fact that these two parties began armed operations in separate states independently of which their main operations were from Andehra Pradesh up to Bihar State. At first differences of those two parties were based upon matters and affairs within the Communist party of China i.e. groups of Mao and, his opponents. And unfortunately during a short period of time in ‘80s they shot against each other in Bihar state but, at the same time, those two groups were in touch with each other from distance. And in completely different situations, from one side the leaders of MCCI, martyred comrade Kishanjoo (who was apprehended and tortured in a very brutal animal manner at the end of the last year until death and, he sure deserves to be referred to as the Southern Asian Che Guevara) and, from the other side comrade Ganapathy of the people’s war party, discovered a fundamental poor part of the CPI ML and, started to resolve that weakness. The matter was being separate from the masses (of the people.) That is to say that the armed struggle was solely operated in the countryside and forests in its courageous and, revolutionary manner. But after defeat after defeat after numerous defeats, Indian fighters learnt grand lessons through struggling. For example, through raising their guns they managed to raise the price of Bidis leaves that were the only sellable products for the forest people which, the merchants used to take dozens and dozens of those leaves from the forest people for almost zero money. They raised the price and told the merchants they can only purchase them for several times more money and through doing that not only they got liked and trusted by the people directly, but also, they had added a new dimension to their struggles. So anyhow after numerous attempts in different areas and numerous defeats, it was proven to them that living within the masses of the people in the forest is the safest way for them and, based on such ground they expanded their struggle. Then, the most important thing they gathered was the fact that along with armed struggle, they ought to also fight for reformist demands of the people’s rights and especially, when the state regimes want to relocate people to use/abuse their lands for foreign corporations interest, they put their hearts and lives on the line along with the peasants and forest people to fight against the soldiers and the police officers.
GOR: What level is the people’s war in India? How much has it gathered masses of the people along itself? Does it have a chance of victory very soon? Can it become a major trouble for the new capitalist world soon or, in the future?
BN: I believe you are asking a difficult question; in fact you are asking several questions at once. Considering the fact that over 70% of the people in India are still residing in jungles and villages, therefore of course, their need for a so called New Democratic Revolution is a natural need. According to Mao Tse-tung Thought such revolutions have three major levels: A: Strategic Defense. B: Strategic Equilibrium. C: Strategic Offense level. Considering that the liberated zones of India are located right in the heart of India where they are supported by the great majority of the masses of people down there, therefore it is possible to say that after some decades of struggle, finally they have reached the second level that is the strategic equilibrium level by now. But having a near victory seems very unlikely. Since right now, under the title Green Hunting, the state has mobilized lots of forces to repress them and, naturally this is going to be a protracted war and until the party does not manage to grow up enough in the cities and have enough support, the possibility of taking the political power completely in short period of time is unlikely. But on the other hand, considering the fact that a parallel system of life for the people in the forests is getting more orderly and stabilized with less relations with the outside world economy that is full of crisis, naturally, with the economic problems of India and the world there may come a crisis or world war that bring an opportunity for the Maoists to take power. But it is such a big country that, its all Indian revolution needs a lot of time.
GOR: Comrade, we have heard numerous times that the Maoist guerrillas have established revolutionary governments in Chhattisgarh and … what is the structure of such a revolutionary government? Is that a starting point to serve the people?
BN: The most remarkable nature of revolutionary governing is the fact that it is the people of the villages themselves who decide their own destiny through the guidance they receive from the party members of / in their own village.
GOR: Comrade, you have cooperated with the Kasama Project (site) that is one of the international supporters of the People’s War in India and have translated a number of articles and interviews in its regard; why are you so much passionate about the people’s war in India and southern Asia?
BN: Fact of the matter is that I used to know nothing about India. I remember once I was so much influenced by a newspaper (LA TIMES) that was comparing China and India and, I believed bourgeoisie propaganda that says India is the biggest democracy in the world. Why? Since I could see that two of its states are having legal communist governments (that were Kerala and West Bengal then that were elected by the people. Although I have lots of respect for knowledge and greatness of Mao Tse-tung in (people’s) war but, due to the great errors that occurred in building China in which he had a role in, I still consider Chinese revolution a bourgeoisie democratic revolution. You remember the revolution in Kampuchea? In that revolution they killed such large number of people that stamped a bad stamp upon the face of communism while, China was supporting them – and Vietnam was forced to salvage them. Anyway, the Nepal bourgeoisie democratic revolution led by its Maoist party was a new revolution where they got rid of their king who was a Hindu god and, through studying that revolution I began to hear about their relations with Indian Maoists and, fro the first time I also discovered that the Aryans of which three tribes, Mede, Pars and Parts had come and conquered our country (Iran) had also went to Hindustan and through their knowledge of ploughing and, iron, they had revolutionized agriculture and these people we know as Indian today are their descendants and majority of the (real) Indian people are still residing in the jungles and recent technology has placed their lives dangerously on the line.
GOR: Nowadays when the bourgeoisie media are dangling for the death of communism and make fun out of peoples’ uprisings and claim that the times of armed struggle is over, do you presume that people’s war in India can have some importance? Especially for the people of Iran?
BN: Indian civil war is an attempt to overthrow the – perhaps – the eldest – class and caste system of the world. In addition to the current global contradictions for semi – feudal, semi – colonial contradictions, their people have their caste system problem that is as if forehead of some people are stamped as un-touchable (filthy) or, Brahman, that is of the higher class. Thus, although in appearance England has moved out of India but, still that grand country has remained on cultural and, in its inner parts, on that semi colonial, semi feudal status. Therefore their only way of liberation is armed struggle the way it occurred in China that is through surrounding the cities by the liberated forests and the countryside. Naturally, it is imperative since a seventh of the population of the humanity is in that subcontinent. Any change in the world naturally has effects upon the people of Iran in some way. After the land reforms, Iran cannot be considered to be in a semi colonial, semi feudal status; but still, conditions for some parts and peoples of Iran, for example in Kurdistan, are not exactly the conditions of major cities such as Tehran. Without intending to necessarily be repeating the People’s Fadaee/Ahmadzadeh line ideas, I must confess that the degree of repression seen in Iran has shown that demonstrations and strikes are not enough. Hence armed struggle is necessitated. But is it the only way? No. Armed struggle is valuable when it is in direct relations with problems and strikes of the people. Killing this or that Mullah within a regime that bears out tons of Mullahs day after day cannot make any major changes at all. But for example, defending the people during their struggles and demonstrations, breaking regime’s military and, pressure chains around the factories and places where people are on strike, blocking regime agents and means who are attempting to attack demonstrations of women, people, etc. are the most suitable armed struggle format; parts of a people’s liberation army with units absolutely independent with their own councils, such form is suitable for Iranian civil condition. But such struggles cannot easily create liberated areas like the ones Indian guerrillas are making. And, with all inspirations we receive from the struggle of complex and variant oppressed peoples in India and their armed struggle that is very valuable but still, we should always remember that each country has its own concrete conditions and copying from other revolutions is not possible and, is counter productive.
GOR: And as the final question, since you were a People’s Fadaee in Kurdistan, what similarities and differences do you find between Indian Naxalites and Fedayee and Pishmarghs (sacrificial of Kurdistan)?
BN: Fedaee armed struggle was more like the first twenty years of Naxalites’ when the armed struggle of organization was separate from daily problems of people of Iran but, it was an action against (the Shah of Iran) and although it scratched the Shah’s regime but, since it was not in a direct relations with affairs of the peoples’ of Iran and, was not connected with the struggles of the working class, therefore it did not have relations with lives of the people. But the comrades struggling along with Kurdistan people had a stronger relationship with people’s lives due to the ethnic and regional struggle conditions.
Connecting the people’s struggles with armed struggle is the key revolutionary item.
Note: Behrooz Navaii was only 15 during the people’s guerrillas struggle in Kurdistan and, was a sympathizer residing in Tehran distributing their materials.
For more information about the line of Ahmadzadeh and Ashraf Dehghani feel free to see http://www.siahkal.com