Hundreds arrested following pro-democratic rally in Nepal

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April 8, 2005

More than 500 activists, journalists, lawyers and students were arrested Friday in Nepal, whilst protesting against King Gyanendra's take-over of the country's government. Human rights groups have now called for a UN investigation into alleged abuses of civil liberties after King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency at the start of February.

"We see no sign that the rule of law is being restored," Nicolas Howen, secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists, said. "The appalling violence against civilians carried out by the Maoists and security forces continues and the democratic parties, human rights organisations and the media are still intimidated and controlled."

The state of emergency was initiated to properly tackle Nepal's Maoist rebels who, according to King Gyanendra, seek to replace the monarchy with a communist republic. Fears are now growing that violence in the country will continue to increase and insurgency in Nepal has claimed the lives of at least 11,000 people since 1996. Arjun Karki, president of the Federation of Non-governmental Organisations in Nepal said today: "If they are suppressed, those who support democracy are forced to use other means. So those who repress democracy should really consider their actions first."

Elsewhere in Nepal today, soldiers repelled a rebel assault on one of their bases in the country's northwest, say reports. [1]

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