Sunday, February 27, 2005

Articles of interest: February 27

Many developments have come about in the past week that are hopefully of interest to all of you.

The Economic Times: US rejects Nepal King's 3-yr timetable for restoring democracy

The Japan Times: Nepal's king under pressure inside and out

Newkerala: 5 Nepal parties to launch stir from Mar.8

The Times of India: India reiterates stand: Restore democracy

Khaleej Times: Gyanendra must change his style Follies Of The Kingdom

The last article is quick to point out that King Gyanendra is on "the road to disaster."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Nepal in the News - Feb. 25, 2005

Nepal Monarchy Should Work with Democracy: India Prez
US Asked to Freeze Military Aid to Nepal

Student Leader Calls for Revolution in Nepal

An hour ago, RFN interviewed a student leader, the vice-president of Nepal Student Union - the largest student union on telephone:

NSU Vice-president Pradeep Poudel, the vice-president of the Nepal Student Union (NSU) – the sister organization of one of the largest parties Nepali Congress, while giving an exclusive interview to the Radio Free Nepal claimed that the 'new movement would overthrow the king' and the country would 'experience true democracy – that is democracy without king.' Poudel believes it is impossible to bring kings under constitution and is now calling on the international community to support the democracy movement in Nepal and for donors to cut off the flow of aid to Nepal.

Excerpts of the telephone interview:

RFN: How you have taken the February 1's move by King Gyanendra?

POUDEL: Our conclusion on the move is that it had ended whatsoever limited rights the people of the country were enjoying after the restoration of democracy in 1990. We also believe that this step helped us to consolidate our voice about the need of new movement for the establishment of republic as now it would be easier for the democratic power-centers to unite against the King.

RFN: But after more than three weeks of the move, there has been no significant protest programs. Why?

POUDEL: Since this is a political issue, it takes time to reach the mass public. Besides, the King has tried to create the fear among the mass imposing absolutism. We also admit that we have been so far not been able to inform the mass about the real situation, but this doldrums wouldn't remain long.

RFN: You talked about 'New Movement'. How would it be?

POUDEL: The result of all movements so far has been temporary. In 1950, the 101-year-long tyrant Rana regime was thrown but for only 10 years. The monarch didn't let the democracy remain long then. Now similar has happened. There is a need of agreement between the political forces on basic issues for the effective movement that will result in permanent change. Nepali Congress always believed on constitutional monarchy. We, the youth, always questioned monarchy. We always said it's impossible to bring the kings under law – because the kings are by nature absolutists. Now, it's time for all political parties to make consensus for the 'system with our monarch'.

RFN: NSU raised the issues about a year ago, but Nepali Congress tried to discourage the move. So, in new pretext, are you sure the party will support this vision?

POUDEL: Nepali Congress believed in the monarchy, they always saw importance of it. But the King's move on Feb 1 has proved that there can be no democracy when there is the king. Now, it's time for parties to be clear on the issue.

RFN: Nepali people were irritated with the behaviors shown by political parties during democracy and they are saying there are people who believe the king's step is right. In this pretext, how sure
you are for the support of the people for the new movement?

POUDEL: Individuals can be wrong, but that doesn't make a system wrong. We don't believe the state should award corrupt people, but then there are alternatives in democracy. People are free to make their choices whereas there is no such situation now. The people can't choose. The king ended the system pointing at the wrongdoings of individuals. But how clean is the king's behavior? Is monarch clean from corruption? No, today, monarchy is the most opaque and corrupt institution in the country. We want to know where did King Birendra's property go. We want to know why there is increment in palace's budgets. Besides, the present king is a businessman – he owns businesses. Who guarantees that these businesses won't get undue advantages? About people's support, no movement can succeed without people's support. And I believe the mass, especially the youths, are aware of
the need of new movement.

RFN: The king has reiterated his commitment for democracy and said that they will restore democracy in three years. Why can't you wait and see?

POUDEL: There is censorship in media. The media industry which flourished so much during democracy is stalled. There is ban on free flow of expression. People are being arrested. So, all these things prove that it is only the king's fake reiteration – nothing more. No king can be honest for democracy and the expression by King Gyanendra is only an unreal commitment to deceive people and international community.

RFN: At present, what you expect from international communities?

POUDEL: The king is trying to militarize the country; to end people's rights and our history is only the history of monarchy. Nepali people have always suffered due to monarchy. So we request international communities to support in our movement which is for a revolution. We also request all our donor communities, who support Nepal in social, political and military front to stop all the support for now. I request all Nepalis residing abroad and all the well-wishers of Nepal to closely watch our movement and to spread the words. People like Kundan Raj Kafle, who advocated for republic, may face atrocities in custody so we request them to pressure the authority to protect such people from state atrocities.

RSF: Three Journalists Released, Another One Arrested

From Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontieres

Reporters Without Borders repeated an appeal for the release of the nine journalists still imprisoned in Nepal after three journalists were released on 25 February.

The authorities freed Bishnu Nishthuri, Secretary General of the Nepalese Federation of Journalists, after 21 days imprisonment; Khem Bhandari, editor of the daily Abhiyan, and Sujeeb Bajracharya, editor of the daily City Times. Seven public figures, including a former minister and an ex-ambassador, were released on the order of Baman Prasad Neupane, head of the Kathmandu district administrative office.

Khem Bhandari, detained since 16 February, was sentenced by the authorities in Kanchanpur district in the east of the country, to pay a fine of 5,000 rupees (50 euros) for infringing the press law.

The previous day, Dipin Rai, editor of the regional weekly Mukti Aawaj and local official for the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, was arrested at his home by security forces in Jhapa, east of the country. All publications in the Jhapa district were closed on 1 February but Dipin Rai had republished his weekly on 22 February. The journalist has been held since 23 February at the barracks of the Chaar Aali battalion in Jhapa.

Tough To Get Word on Civilian Death Toll

I couldn't confirm from reliable sources but there has been talks around about the civilian causalties in the army's offensives against Maoists insurgents. Many people believe, the killings of civilians is rampant in the time when media is not reporting anything, and many my friends have told me there has been Maoists attack in their villages outside the valley. But we are hearing nothing about army causalties (although, we have seen on two occassions, a few army ambulances running out from airports). RFN would like to receive emails at from the people around the country about such incidents. Tomorrow, I will get the lists of published news about the killings of Maoists and Maoists' attacks.

King Missing His Aid Money

The international aid-cut is showing the effect. The King today invited editors of national dailies along with editors of and for tea at the palace and told them that 'he wants his friends (the donor countries) to understand his resolve.'

Bagirath Yogi of was first to publish the report. He wrote: "In the first-ever interaction with a select group of Nepali media at the Narayanhiti royal palace Thursday afternoon, His Majesty King Gyanendra said when we are fighting for democracy and against terrorism, Nepali people want to know what our friends are thinking. We want our friends to help us by word of mouth and by deed. If that is not the agenda they want to go along, then they should tell us what their agenda is, the King said."

So his agenda was terrorism and with terrorism as a stick he wants to walk along the other leaders of the world. What an excuse for dismissing democracy? Terrorism seems to be an unique tool for US support.

The King also asked the donors to clarify their message - what they want to say with the aid-cut? Isn't it clear: they want democracy back in Nepal and the king under constitution. “Are they telling us that we should not fight against terrorism, that we should put our democracy into jeopardy?” The king asked. One may ask: where is democracy in Nepal?

“When we have chosen to uphold democracy and fight against terrorism, why are they shying away from helping us? I can see one thing clearly emerging out of it. Our objectives are the same. We are going to meet somewhere. But we have chosen may be different paths in attaining that objective,” he added. I firmly believe he should stop saying we and start telling I. And the path the king has chosen to end terrorism not only would worsen the situation.

“They must say what they must say and we must do what we must do,” the king's expression not only say he is stubborn to his decision but also that he is ready to put Nepal into more troblu by walking alone if he didn't get support. He also asked political parties to come up with clear vision against terrorism.

So, at least for now, the King is seeing that the water is not moving his way. Rather its the other way and now he is a bit little worried (that's a good sign for people like us who want him to return democracy.) More international dissatisfaction will bring him down the stream and that may save Nepal from lots of trouble

Friday, February 25, 2005

Nepal in the News - Feb. 24, 2005

Even Family Members Can't See Leader Koirala
Nepal Defiant on Military Aid Cut

Civil War Atrocities Follow Royal Takeover

from Human Rights Watch:

(Kathmandu, February 24, 2005) -- In Nepal's civil war, both Maoist insurgents and the Royal Nepali Army continue to attack civilians after the royal takeover of power, violating the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch researchers in the southern town of Nepalgunj documented several attacks on civilians by both the Maoist insurgents and government troops, including the Maoists' burning an ambulance and placing bombs in schools, and government troops shooting and wounding two members of a wedding party. [read more]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Online Journalism Review Writes About Radio Free Nepal

Nepalese Bloggers, Journalists Defy Media Clampdown by King
By Mark Glaser

After the Royal Takeover in Nepal, King Gyandendra censored the media, arrested journalists and cut communications. But tech-savvy journalists are using their blogs to get news out to the rest of the world.

"Communications are still cut off. And the future of the country, people and our journalistic career look glum." -- Radio Free Nepal blog, Feb. 2, 2005

In the Internet Age, powerful rulers have little chance to operate in a media blackout. They can shut the newspapers, the TV stations and even block Web sites and telephone lines. But eventually, news leaks out, an e-mail here, a Web site there and eventually a Weblog fighting for the cause of the repressed.

In Nepal, King Gyandendra took power February 1 from Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, putting ministers under house arrest and immediately censoring and threatening the free press. But a few days later, after phone lines were back up, journalists were getting news out via Weblogs -- either anonymously posted or under their own names. [read more]

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Nepal in the News - Feb. 23, 2005

Mess in Nepal
India Asks Nepal to Lift Press Curbs
India Must Take the Lead on Nepal: US
Nepal's Military Aid Cut by U.K., India Over State of Emergency

Reporters Without Borders Press Release: Eleven Nepali Journalists Imprisoned

22 February 2005


Reporters Without Borders has renewed an appeal for the release of 11 journalists currently being held in prisons in Nepal.

Six of those being held were among at least 16 journalists security forces picked up after King Gyanendra seized power on 1 February and declared a state of emergency.

Nepal was already holding five journalists before the royal coup, making it, after China, Cuba and Eritrea, the world's fourth largest prison for journalists.

"Until they are released we will continue to urge the international community, particularly the European Union, to apply political and economic sanctions against Nepal", the worldwide press freedom organisation said. It was particularly regrettable that Nepal was using exceptional and anti-terror laws to detain the journalists, it added.

The six journalists still being held after their arrest on the orders of the palace are:

Bishnu Nisthuri, Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, arrested on 4 February.

Naryan Adhikari, RSS and Kalifa FM, arrested 13 February.

Basanta Parajuli, Gorkhapatra and Synergy FM, arrested 13 February.

D. R. Panta, Kantipur, arrested 15 February.

Sujeeb Bajracharya, City Times, arrested 16 February.

Khem Bhandari, Abhiyan, arrested 16 February.

The security forces have used exceptional laws to keep the journalists in prison. Narayan Adhikari and Basanta Parajuli, arrested in Chitawan district, were placed in custody for 90 days under the state of emergency. Police who arrested them said it was for criticising the king's orders. Their families can visit them daily for 10 minutes. In the far west of the country, Bhandari, editor of the local daily Abhiyan, was detained for covering a local opposition demonstration. Police had previously arrested him at the beginning of February.

Appeal from Gagan Kumar Thapa

Gagan Kumar Thapa
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Gagan Thapa, the outspoken republic-advocate, and former General Secretary of Nepal Student Union, the sister-organization of the biggest political party Nepali Congress has issued an appeal urging the youth of the country to fight against the King's move. Radio Free Nepal received the appeal in email and is being reproduced here.


Democracy and individual freedoms are not only the hallmark of the 21st century but are the inalienable rights of a nation and its communities and individuals. Today these rights are not only restricted within documents but have become a way of life. King Gynendra's assumption of absolute power in Nepal has not only caused a set-back to the national development but has also compelled all the freedom lovers to re-group to fight till the end using all peaceful means available. We the youth of Nepal represent the agents of change—more fit to invent, than to judge; more fit for execution, than for counsel; and more fit for new projects, than for existing business. No wonder our troubled nation has once again put her faith upon us.

Inefficiency in tackling Maoists and corruption by the political leaders in the past fourteen years has been the basis behind the king's move towards the assumption of absolute power. But the past fourteen years of democratic practice has impacted the way people perceive their rights and freedom. Commoners have become more vocal in demanding their rights with the concerned authorities and that has been the greatest achievement of democracy in the last fourteen years. King Gyanendra claims that the democracy failed to represent the voice of people and is therefore, misleading and baseless. Nepal has remained poor and the justice has been curtailed since its unification. What about the corruption, inefficiency and injustices that have been perpetuated by the Monarch of Nepal for the past 237 years? Shouldn't it be raised as a relevant question? And therefore we the young ones of Nepal have been advancing the cause of republic set-up in Nepal.

Maoist insurgency could have been tackled by the democratic government in its infantile stage back in 1996. But the army headed by the present King didn't allow for that to have a basis and refused to be unified on the side of democracy. And this has happened again, in the last month in Nepal. Therefore the present monarch is not the hero but a villain that has claimed the lives of more than 15,000 lives of common Nepalese and needs to be brought to justice. We the youth of Nepal have to fight our war on two different fronts at this critical moment of history: Monarch and the Maoists. Monarch on the one hand has shown its ambition of maintaining state power at all cost. Maoists on the other have not shown commitment towards the practice of democracy. Both the Monarch and the Maoists have established themselves as extremists with whom the democratic forces cannot afford to comply with until the Maoists change their stance theoretically as well as practically. We the youth, believe that we have a capacity to eradicate the injustices that have prevailed since its unification and to face those that are yet to arise.

Security forces have entered the campus premises today. Many of our political and human rights activists have gone underground but only in order to consolidate our strength and come back with much vigour and enthusiasm. The bigger threat is to these young people who can make the things happen despite the risk. New Nepal cannot rest upon an elite few who have perpetuated crime for the last 237 years. But rather we choose to rely on those who see this nation as a place for all to exercise their rights and pursue a happy and life of abundance.

I, Gagan Kr. Thapa in my capacity as a young leader would like to appeal to my entire generation that the time has come to exercise our capacity to make a positive difference in the national life in Nepal. We have two choices, we can either be mere spectators or we can take the responsibility to propel the nation toward a positive future. The latter choice will lead to a prolonged struggle against all the reactionary forces in Nepal and the former leads to a compromise with those forces. The latter demands the commitment, conviction, and dedication and the former requires total submission. The latter will allow us a free life with access to the state's resources and the former is a future wherein all the Nepalis dignity will be at the mercy of another. I have chosen the path of prolonged struggle that requires commitment and conviction, in order to be instrumental in realizing the common dreams and ambitions of my fellow citizens. I strongly believe that I belong to a generation that knows no compromise with their dignity, a generation that loves to live in a free and just world, a generation which believes in a peaceful movement, and I'm extremely proud to be a part of this generation.

We the youth of Nepal have traveled our hills, terrains, and terais. The sweet smells of our nation runs through our veins making us restless to achieve dignity for our citizens as a nation. We assume this as our moral responsibility. I, Gagan Kumar Thapa, see the takeover of King Gyanendra as a glorious day in the history of Nepal not because it has abolished all the fundamental rights enshrined by the constitution but because this day marks an end of the monarchy in Nepal. I would therefore like to appeal to all the youth in Nepal and abroad to prepare for the peaceful movement. We have seen what we have been provided by our elder generations and we are not ready to accept it any further. Our motherland calls upon us and dear friends, at this crucial point of history we are being looked upon not to falter. We place our firm commitment in the democratic way of life and we believe that every single individual has the right to live in a dignified way. I call upon a total revolution against all the reactionary forces in Nepal, a revolution that is based on the premises of love and brotherhood, a revolution that guarantees freedom and dignified life for all. This freedom will be marked by the "glorious revolution" in the history of Nepal because it will be lead by the generation of the 21st century Nepal fighting for a new and glorious republic of Nepal.

Three Editors Summoned by Government to "Clarify" Blank Opinion Pages

Three editors, Kabir Rana of Deshantar Weekly, Gopal Budhathoki of Sanghu weekly and Rajendra Kumar Baidh of Bimarsha weekly were summoned on Feb 23 to the District Administration Office in Kathmandu to "clarify" their decision to publish blank opinion pages immediately after the Feb 1 Royal Takeover. The black opinion pages were widely seen as a protest of media censorship following the Royal Takeover.

Kabir Rana of Deshantar weekly before he entered the premises of District Administration Office.
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Kabir Rana of Deshantar Weekly, Gopal Budhathoki of Sanghu weekly and Rajendra Kumar Baidh of Bimarsha weekly display the issues of their newspaper immediately after the Feb 1 Royal Takeover when they published blank opinion pages in protest of media censorship.
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

RSS Feeds Fixed; More Feed Options Added

We received this note from a reader:
I'm very impressed by your efforts to fight for a free Nepal. I hope to show my supports to you by adding the atom (or RSS2) of your website ( to my blogs. However, it seems the link that you provided, has some setting problems. The cannot add your atom.xml link and asks for a password! Please check these out nad let me know if there is anything that I can help. Thanks! - PYC
We found the error causing this problem. We fixed it. We have also now activated Feedburner and added more options to add feeds to most of any readers. We now hope all is well and you can use our feed. If you encounter more difficulties please send e-mail.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Nepal in the News - Feb. 22, 2005

Nepal Leaders Demand Restoration of Democracy
Military Takeover of Community Radio in Nepal
Nepal's Political Bosses Hide, Plan Political Movemement Against King's Government?
Nepal A Police State: Nepali Congress

King Blocks Web Sites in Nepal

The King is catching on to the Internet. How long until Radio Free Nepal is blocked by the King?

So far these two sites are confirmed as blocked:
(with headlines blocked by King today)

Nepal-India: A story of wasted opportunities: Pandey, Feb 22/05
Swiss projects come to a halt, WI, Feb 22/05
Cartoonist Kalashnikov on target, IANS, Feb 22/05
12 Maoists killed in Sindhuli, Feb 22/05
FM Pandey confident of international support, NK, Feb 22/05
India must take the lead on Nepal: US, Sify, Feb 22/05

News sites in Nepali language; to view Nepali correctly set your encoding to user defined. Download Nepali Fonts for PC. For MAC, Click here

Pro-Bush Bloggers Support Coup

Commenters on the Pro-Bush blog are supporting the King. One says the coup is the same as the Queen sacking the Australian Prime Minister in 1975.

- The king dismissing the prime minister in an effort to ensure the nation does not slip into a Maoist twilight doesn't move my outrage-meter very much.

- A democracy that produces Maoist collectivism is not nearly the moral equal of a monarchy that holds the line against it.

The situation in Nepal is nothing like Australia. Their friend Bush went to war to fight the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to bring democracy to 50 million people. Nepal has 20 million people but now the King has suspended the following rights indefinitely.

  • Freedom of opinion and expression
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms
  • Freedom to form unions and associations
  • Press and Publication Rights
  • Rights against preventive detention
  • Right to information
  • Right to property
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to constitutional remedy through writ jurisdiction (Writs like
  • mandamus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto), except habeas corpus

So does the U.S. support democracy or not?

Radio Free Nepal Interview on The Media Drop blog

TMD: To start, can you explain a little bit about how you've been corresponding over the Internet for the last weeks? I know there are times when outbound communications are shut down, and I would expect that dial up Internet access creates for frustrating situations when trying to get information out there. Are you being monitored while on the Internet at all, or are there certain times when you are able to be online, uncensored?

RFN: At exactly 10:00am on Feb 1, the King's address to the nation was broadcasted by the state-run radio and television. And, by the time, the half-an-hour speech ended, all the inbound and outbound calls were closed. Later I heard that army personnel went to each ISPs and shut down the servers and told them not to run it until further orders.

The telephone was open for a few minutes everyday at random time but with out international calls but no internet. The internet and phone started running as usual after a week and since then working fine without any problem. I don't know if its being monitored or not but my query to the ISP was answered in negative.

During the time, the only way to communicate to outer world was the satellite phones which very less people own. And embassies and UN offices let journalists (I don't know about others) to use internet using their V-SAT.

TMD: Also regarding the Internet, are you able to read most websites, but not have access to self-publishing tools such as blogs and whatnot? [read the rest here]

NOTE: If you wish to interview bloggers from Radio Free Nepal send email to

Blog Links for Radio Free Nepal

Radio Free Nepal Links via Technorati
Nepal "tag" at Technorati
Global Voices Nepal wiki page

Some blogs linking to Radio Free Nepal. Thank you to all for spreading the word.

BuzzMachine: Brave bloggers from Nepal
Publius Pundit
Junkyard Blog
Simon World

Hobbsonline: Radio Free Nepal
It's one thing for bloggers to take on the king of CNN. It's quite another to take on the king of your country.

This is a very good site: International Nepal Solidarity Network

More Nepali Bloggers defy King.

Images from Nepal - Feb. 22, 2005

Nepalese army soldiers patrol a highway in the backdrop of smoldering trucks in Jabang, 100 kilometers (63 miles) southwest of Katmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005. Maoist rebels blocked a key highway leading to Nepal's capital Sunday, planting bombs, laying logs across the road and firing at motorists, injuring three, while security forces struggled to keep crucial lifelines to Katmandu open. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Nepali women walk past armed police standing guard in Kathmandu February 20, 2005. Nepal's King Gyanendra said on Friday he took power to protect democracy from Maoist rebels and political instability, as political workers were detained and telephone lines were cut in a bid to scuttle anti-king protests. (REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Images from Nepal - Feb. 20, 2005

Army Puts Squeeze on Democracy Protestors in Nepal
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Making Mockery of Democracy

His Majesty King Gyandendra
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Lincoln's definition to democracy, in his Gettysburg Speech given at the height of American Civil War, is the most widely used and simplest to understand. But Nepal's King Gyanendra either couldn't understand it or is trying to make mockery of it.

Falgun 7, which fell on February 18 this year, is celebrated in Nepal as the Democracy Day because in 1950 AD, for the first time democracy was introduced here ending the 104-year-long autocratic Rana Regime.

King Gyanendra's grandfather King Tribhuvan, a democratic king, led the fight for democracy. Gyanendra's father Mahendra however didn't like democracy and in 1960, suspended democratically elected government to introduce partyless Panchayat System that ended through People's Movement in 1990.

History is gone. But what King Gyanendra is trying hard these days is to show him the most ardent supporter of democracy. The function of democracy day that was live on state-run television and radio, Gyanendra listened while his follower reiterated his support for democracy.

The democracy day was celebrated in manner that would have made a lot of sense in democracy. But at the time, when democracy is dead, it was not more than a mockery of democracy.

Before that too, King Gyanendra mocked democracy. On his Royal Proclamation on Feb 1 after taking all the executive power and dismissing government, he lectured on the importance of democracy and that he is doing all that for protection of democracy. Can anything be protected after killing it?

And iterating his commitment to democracy, he appointed two most undemocratic deputies – Dr Tulsi Giri – the one who thinks there shouldn't be election at all, and Kirti Nidhi Bista – who received 136 votes compared with the winner's more than 59000 when he went into election. Both will be vice-chairman of the government that 'is for the people, by the people and of the people'.

And what's more: on Feb 18, the very democracy day, the security disrupted the rallies in various cities of the country because they were protesting the King's move (see the photo) – so in his democracy, King Gyanendra believes there should be no protest. The phone lines went dead (for outgoing calls) for more than 10 hours in the Kathmandu Valley.

King Gyanendra is an absolutist, no democratic and he should immediately stop mocking democracy.

Advocacy Project Tells Nepal Story

The Advocacy Project in Washington DC USA is telling the story of what happens is Nepal

Bulletin #10: Update from the Nepal Democracy Desk

200 Nepalse Activists Flee to India As Emergency Deepens in Nepal

Bulletin #9: Escaped Daughter of Ex-Premier Says King Ruling By Terror

Dispatches from the Nepalese Democracy Desk

International Nepal Solidarity Network

Human Rights Watch on disappearances in Nepal

UN working group on disappearances in Nepal

Images from Nepal - Feb. 20, 2005

Show of Force from Nepali Army
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

King Cuts Phones & Internet Again; Democracy Day Protest Collapses

Democracy Takes A Beating in Nepal
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; if you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Posts to this site are again impossible as the King has cut phone service throughout Nepal in the hopes of curbing protests scheduled for February 18th, Democracy Day, in Nepal.

UPDATE: only outgoing from Kathmandu Valley, incoming service was okay

The King of Nepal cut telephone lines in and out of the country today in an attempt to squash potential protests against the monarch. In an interview, he said he took control at the beginning of this month to protect the constitutional monarchy for democracy and avoid political instability. Political analysts say the military and police are staunch supporters of the king and masterminded the takeover. Maoist rebels have been struggling since 1996 to establish communist rule. More than 11-thousand people have been killed in the related violence. Yet, the Maoists have considerable popular support in some regions of the country. In other regions, people say they are fed up with corruption and instability and support the king.

Here are a few stories this fellow will not be reading tonight:
Only Democracy Can Defeat the Maoists
Students Tooo Will Join Protest
Nepal's King Sets Up Anti-Graft Panel
12 Rebels Killed in Nepal as Maoist Blockade Enters Day 4
Nepal Shrugs Off Critics
Journalist Organizations Express Concern
Protest Against Nepal King Collapse, After Communications Blackout, 57 Arrested
US threatens Cutoff for Nepal Crackdown
43 Anti-Gov't Guerrillas Killed in Nepal
Nepal marks Democracy Day

Cats to Guard Milk: The Anti-Corruption Move

Corruption, which has been continuously spreading its tentacles, has not only cast a shadow over politics and administration, but has also obstructed the nation's march towards progress. Corruption has struck at the very core of our society, the result of which the common man's confidence in the laws of the land has been shaken. Therefore, in keeping with the popular will and to fulfill the main criterion of good governance, effective measures will be adopted to curb corruption, while ensuring that the principles of justice are not infringed upon.

King Gyanendra told the nation in his Royal Proclamation on Feb 1. His commitment towards curbing the corruption which is deep-rooted in the country 'ensuring that principles of justice are not infringed upon' was sweet to the ears. On Feb 16, he constituted five-member Royal Commission for it.

But sadly enough, the reality is, what he had told and what he had done do not match. Indeed he has been asking cats to guard milk.

Let's begin with Day 2 when he constituted his cabinet. His sweet-worded commitment towards curbing corrupting became bitter within 24 hours. His cabinet included two such ministers who can not be called clean in the regard.

Minister of Home Affairs Dan Bahadur Shahi is still under investigation for the suspected embezzlement of NRs. 6,7100,000 along with 14 others. The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is investigating that 'corruption' in importing chemical fertilizers which happened when he was agriculture secretary. And wasn't he the one who was sacked during Girija Prasad Koirala's premiership for dubious charters tics (later to be reinstated by court).

King Gyanendra appointed two vice-chairmen to his cabinet a few days ago. Who are they? Dr. Tulsi Giri, former prime inister, was the 'chief accused' in the Carpet Scandal in 1965 AD. After the scandal known as the biggest of the Panchayat Era, Dr. Giri's political career ended and he left the country. He along with 90 others – including administrators and businessmen – were accused for inappropriate conduct in export of carpet. (Three years after all were given clean chit however.)

Radha Krishna Mainali, another minister, was also under investigation of CIAA but later was given clean chit in lack of enough proofs.

The Royal Commission is constituted for five members with Bhakta Bhahadur Koirala as the chairman. Koirala claimed that 'the corruption will be totally eradicated if he had support of people'. But had anyone looked at Mr. Koirala's career?

He was special secretary at ministry of home affairs when he was sacked after restoration of democracy in 1990. He was also the one pointed out by commission, Mallick Commission (1992), as the administrator with 'corrupt behavior'.

A member of the commission, Shambhu Prasad Kharel, long served in ministry of finance and retired as the secretary of Election Commission. He is known for his love to 'Playing Cards'. He spent most of his career in such department where people believe everyone is corrupt.

So will the government and commission would really curb corruption. Not at all, they will target leaders of politica parties. The chairman has already hinted that. Those who had poor economic standards have suddenly become millionaires today,” Koirala said in a TV interview. His references are directly hinted at political leaders who are accused of having amassed huge property during their term in office.

One more thing is wrong with the Commission: their power. The commission is in a position to investigate and take punitive action against any individual found indulged in embezzlement of fiscal matters, amassing wealth by unfair means, tax evasion and dealing with illegal contracts on the basis of complains received from any source. Probably no other commission in the world has the power to investigate and punish (the commission is equal to the special court).

Moreover, there is no way to criticize the commission's action (that could cost upto NRs. 10,000 fine or 6 month term or both). However, the last appeal could be lodged at the Supreme Court but what could SC do against Royal commission?

Once again, the King's step is only the popular one because there is already CIAA which investigates (alas, they had to take the accused to court and prove the embezzlement!). If he wanted, truly, to curb corruption, CIAA would be the best mean as they are operating for last 25 years.

One thing is clear: the commission will stage a few dramas in coming days and many leaders will be the victims – without chance to clarify themselves (and that will be said to go in accordance with the spirit of the Royal Proclamation!).

An Account from Kantipur TV News Staff on Censoring

This report was written several days ago and recounts the moment immediately preceding the coup when the military took control of Nepali broadcast facilities prior to the announcement of the coup by King Gyanendra.

The army began cordoning our office premises at around 9:30 (0445GMT) in the morning, some half an hour ahead of the Royal Proclamation… the state-owned radio and television had already announced that King Gyanendra was going to address the nation. Nothing more than that had been said, except that the King had summoned the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and chiefs of security agencies for a Royal audience.

As the group of armymen covered the periphery of the premises, an army major, in his military outfit and a gun, asked for an entry into the television station's newsroom. He politely said that he was here to provide security to the office in case an incident like September 1 occurs (On Sept 1, following the killing of 12 Nepalis in Iraq, there were riots in the city...the rioters had vandalized the office, burning several vehicles and pelting stones on the office building).

All of us, almost the entire news team, watched the Royal Proclamation live on the state owned television. Following the proclamation, the army major asked whether he could visit the control room. By then, the telephone lines were already cut and the cellular phones were cut during the address to the nation itself.

He was promptly shown the studio and news control room of the television station. A lot of confusion had already been created with the announcement of emergency, following the sacking of the then government. A lot of fundamental rights were suspended with the announcement.

The following rights have been suspended:

  • Freedom of opinion and expression
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms
  • Freedom to form unions and associations
  • Press and Publication Rights
  • Rights against preventive detention
  • Right to information
  • Right to property
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to constitutional remedy through writ jurisdiction (Writs like mandamus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto), except habeas corpus

As a matter of fact, not many of us knew what line to follow as far as the news was concerned. So one of the bulletin spot was used to re-telecast the proclamation. In the following bulletin, all the scripts were screened by the Army major. An armed army man was present within the news control room throughout the bulletin. The screening continued throughout the day, including all the bulletins. The same was the case with all of our daily publications and the FM radio news. The armymen
cordoned the premises throughout the night.

The following day, King announced a cabinet of ministers. So we prepared a report on all the cabinet members, which included their positions. Incidentally, the report also talked about the ministers holding some important positions during the Panchayat regime (the non-party political system, which was overthrown by the popular movement in 1990). That news, aired at 1200 local time, was said to be bold under the prevailing circumstances. The army major told us that the news should not go in the format written and those parts had to be deleted from it. So those parts
were removed in our subsequent bulletins.

The same day, we had aired an international news, which had it that the Marxist guerrillas had killed 14 Colombian marines, in Colombia. We ran the news in three of our bulletins, starting in the morning. The army major, very polite in his conversations, requested to remove that news as well. The reason: that could be detrimental to our security forces' morale. The word communist had its effect.

The armymen stayed within the premises for three days and the screening went on a regular basis. One of our bulletins had to be aired two minutes late, because the Major had not finished reading the news then. On the third evening, the army left. But before leaving, they cautioned us to follow the guidelines issued by the government while disseminating news. And we have been following that ever since.

An interesting pattern of news had emerged in the whole media. While some papers had editorials on archery, weather and significance of socks, our regular section of vox-pop in the prime time news, called Janamat, had people being asked the importance of fruits in one's diet. While that was being aired, the control room crew had a hearty laugh. That also prompted the news-anchor to smile. Eventually, the chief of news was asked from a certain person close to the Royal Palace (although he did not reveal the identity and name of the person) on why did the news-anchor had that mocking smile on his face, while reading that particular section. Well, perceptions...

RSS Feed for Radio Free Nepal

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Media Fails Nepal in Time of Need

After a fortnight of the Royal Coup, I would like to comment on the media and their 'bravery' in publishing or not publishing about the coup.

Himal, a fortnightly newsmagazine that never failed to criticize the King's role in the past, came up in the bravest way. The first issue after the coup was published two days ago and ran a full page advertisement and a note by editor to tell the readers that the magazine has been censored and claimed that it would soon change. The ad with two photographs, the first with the mountain (mountain is Himal in Nepali) covered by clouds with caption Mountain is blocked … and the second without clouds saying … but will again be unblocked, is so vivid in meaning that everybody understood the hidden meaning.

The editor's note on the content page ‘we regret the difficulties caused by the imbalance in some of our article due to special censor' and grey fill for the content relating to the coup along with the main editorial (‘Long Live Democracy') talking about the King's commitment towards democracy were all but the protest of the King's move. The newsmagazine was heavy censored (how do I know it? Because they left all the censored areas blank.)

Weeklies like Deshantar and Bimarsha although were censored protested the move by leaving the editorial page blank and publishing the front page in grey. What we today popularly talk as the Mission Journalism (the role of journalists in returning democracy to Nepal in 1990 was greatly appreciated and called that Mission Journalism while trying to separate it from professional journalism) is set to make a return. The journalists at era of 1960-1990 bravely published newspapers despite being imprisoned and punished several times.

After 1990, journalism has become an industry and we all enjoyed the good things about it in the recent past, now we are experiencing the misery. The big newspapers despite having a huge reader-base and influence failed in the test due to fear that the King would order the close-down of the newspapers (why would any publisher want to lose the advertisings and the huge investment?) Kantipur Publications, which never let slip away any moment to show itself the great supporter of the democracy, chose to protest meekly with light editorials (on newspapers) and light news stories (on TV). No wonder many people around me have stopped reading the #1 newspaper (why should we?)

Kantipur even chose to close-down its printing press in Chitwan and handed contract-termination letters to all the employees there. One of my acquaintances, who was working for the newspaper for last 12 years as a plate-maker, couldn't stop his tears. I felt really sorry for him when he talked about the need for finding a job as soon as possible for his family survival.

The other day, The Kathmandu Post, printed a photograph of a journalist who lost the job as his newspaper was closed. In the photograph he was seen playing guitar in front of the board that displayed the advertisement of the newspaper he worked for. So many around me has lost the job, even mine is in danger, that I felt all my enthusiasms for journalism have swept away.

The Maoists have announced the blockade to the capital and I heard that outside the Kathmandu Valley everything is closed. With army escorting around 200 vehicles are going out and coming in but nothing is as normal. If all this continue, I don't know what will be the situation after a month.

Democracy Day Planners Elude Capture - For Now

The media are slowly opening up and today's newspapers confirmed it. Read a blog here about it.

The leader of Nepal's biggest political party GP Koirala has appealed for the protest, non-violent and peaceful, from Feb 18. And he has also admitted the mistake of political parties including his for the situation. That thing could be good for the future of the country.

I asked a leader of Nepali Congress’ sister-organization about reaction to the appeal and he told me that they had met today in secret place and decided to start peaceful protest from Feb 18 as appealed. They also agreed not to easily let security personnel capture them as used to be in recent past and continue staging protests at various levels. The student union is also talking to other seven student organizations for unity in the protest.

So for now, it looks like Feb 18, the democracy day, is going to be a big day but what form it will take is hard to tell.

Nepal in the News - Feb. 16, 2005

This is a very good article: The Disenchanted Kingdom

This is a good page to bookmark for information about Nepal: Crisis in Nepal

I will work to get some photos to show more of what is happening in Nepal.

Some reporters are asking to report on Nepal. I put an e-mail address on the home page. If you have any questions about Nepal please e-mail me or post a comment. If you are a reporter you can e-mail questions. I will also be able to ask my friends on any questions i don't know details about.

Some bloggers are linking to this site:

Literature, Politics, Cricket, and Life! - Read a blog from Nepal
The Media Drop - "Radio Free Nepal" appears
Metafilter - Nepal has been in the news lately
RConversation - New blog: Radio Free Nepal - Radio Free Blogosphere

Thank you for that please do more so the word gets out.

More stories about Nepal:
Press Conference on Amnesty International's Findings
Nepal Shrugs Off Foreign Critics
200 Activists Flee Nepal for India as Crackdown Intensifies
Nepal : Two Journalists Arrested
Help us: Nepal Journalists to World Media

Monday, February 7, 2005

Question of Survival

In between last few days, I was unable to write anything. A few important things happened during the time:

Since, February 3 night, the army stationed at the newspapers offices and FM stations have been removed. FMs have been banned to run news based program whereas newspapers are warned not to publish anything against. However, the scenario is a little changing – there are news about problems created by lack of telecommunication and news about Pokhara shooting with quotes from Deepak Gurung, the spokesperson of the Royal Nepalese Army.

  • Samay weekly gets published on Sunday – two days late because of heavy Army censoring, according to my friends in the newsmagazine. Despite that, the magazine is critical and is most-sought after for its balanced coverage on the issue.
  • Telephones are now available for longer times, for me whole day both incoming and outgoing for some others only incoming. But not ISD and no Internet.
  • Most sadly, the newspapers have thinned and are now talking about lay-off requirement to survive the period unknown. We are already talking about looking for new job. The question of surviving the direct rule of the press has been most pressing question and didn’t look good for the journalists. However, we all are as our newspapers are following ‘wait and see’ strategy for two months more. The news staff at FM Stations are already feeling the heat.

Foreign media went Pokhara to report hostel shooting incident and found out that at least two have been hit on thigh and undergoing treatment while 66 arrested were beaten badly and thrown to trenches for around 14 hours without water and food. However, they reported no casualty.

Nepal in the News - Feb. 7, 2005

United Telecom Restores ISD Calls from Nepal
Call for Democracy in Nepal
Journalists Missing in Kathmandu
Tales of Torture, Rights Abuse Emerge from Nepal
India Plans to Suspend Military Aid to Nepal

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Changing Consciences

Many people I met on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning were slightly in support of the King’s move saying that there was no alternative in such a deteriorating situation. But the three-day information isolation has changed many of their thoughts and now they have started doubting the King’s said intention. They are probably questioning themselves why the King needs to cut all the communication lines and close down the information channels if his motives are of good omen.

The Kathmandu Post began a new way to protest silently –writing editorial on a ‘very very light issue’ - ‘Appreciating Good Weather’ on sunny day. Kantipur is also following somehow same – has wrote editorials on protecting archeological sites and development of archery game.

All the Indian news channels have been banned since yesterday and the BBC Nepali Service is cut off thus our only news sources are gossips and BBC/CNN which gives quite less priority of our news as many things of the their interest are happening (like Sudan genocide debate, Oil-for-Food program corruption report, Israel and Palestine and Dennis Rumsfeld saying he twice submitted his resignation).

Today’s papers are not mention worthy. I was looking for a Nepali newsmagazine Samay due to publish today because yesterday I heard that they have strong material But it wasn’t in the market. I suspect they have been seized.

Early morning the state-news service said quoted ministry for communication and information saying that the telephone and internet would be back in 15 days. (But there is widespread speculation that the pre-paid mobile service would be closed and that only limited number of telephones will be open). We are going back to 15th century, no doubt.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Going Bloody

The worst news of the day is yet to be fully confirmed. The BBC Radio reported that the security personnel entered the hostel of the Prithivi Narayan Multiple Campus in Pokhara on Tuesday night after the students initiated a protest rally and sounds of shooting were heard. Although the BBC said it was not clear what types of bullets were used, it said that more than 250 were injured and arrested.

Later, I heard a report that at least 15 have been shot dead. And, all the newspapers and FM stations outside the Valley have been forced to close down. It appears that the King wants no media at all.

More information isolation followed today as all the Indian news channels plus Nepal 1 TV was taken out of all the cables. And I heard that foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey today called all the foreign reporters and threatened them not to report negatively on Nepal’s issues which he called illegal. (the dieing bulb glows more).

Japan and EU condemned the move today in strong words.

An interesting thing happened this evening. The Indian newspapers except Times of India were in the marker. I bought two – The Asian Age and The Hindustan Times. The HT has the banner on yesterday saying Royal Coup in Nepal and a lot of more in-depth news in inner page but I am yet to read them.

Yesterday, after I finished writing, the phone rang and there was the phone line. I tried to connect to the internet but in vain. I didn’t try to call anyone.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Nepal in the News - Feb 3, 2005
Nepal Tells Maoists to Begin Peace Talks
Media Choked as Nepal Turns a New Page
King of Nepal Orders News Blackout

Confusion Continues

I am writing this after watching news bulletin on the BBC World TV channel (there is no CNN). The BBC reporter at Kathmandu, Charles Haviland talked with the news anchor on a satellite phone and said that the ‘10 member government has been formed and most of them are the King’s allies.’ He also added that there has been reports of Maoists release by Prachanda who termed the move as ‘mediaeval feudalism’ and said the Maoists are ready to work with the ‘pro-people forces’.

The BBC news added that the King has been widely criticized for the move in home and abroad and ran a scroller saying that ‘US says deeply troubled by move’. Well, in fact yesterday, Indian foreign minister Natwar Singh talked on the matter with PM Manmohan Singh for an hour and later issued a release saying that India is deeply concerned with the move and demanded the well being of leaders under house arrest.

Yesterday night, after writing a portion of this, I watched a special program ‘Again Monarchy (Phir Rajtantra)’ in Aaj Tak channel which talked about everything – from how Gyanendra became the King to the aristocratic behaviours of Paras; from the Maoists problem with people’s suspect that the King was involved in the Royal Massacre.

This morning a through look at all the newspaper I got hold of confirmed that there is censorship in all but the largest publishing house, Kantipur Publications, was the one most feared.

Kantipur, the largest selling national daily, had a banner headline for the news of Rastriya Samachar Samiti about the proclamation and not even a single word in the whole paper about that could have been termed as ‘a bit good’. The Kathmandu Post suspended four-page daily supplement – City Post and came up with the same – all news of RSS not even a single piece by Post Reporter.

The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post were ditto. THT had the banner main news with the abridged version of the speech (while most other put the original version in inside pages). Annapurna had a box anchor titled – ‘Intuitions welcomed royal proclamation.’

State-controlled Gorkhapatra had many good things to say about the proclamation ranging from special editorial on the front page (‘historical step for nation’s good’) to anchor (‘Royal Proclamation: timely step for overcoming crisis’) Inside pages too had good things including a photograph of motorcycle rally on the support of the move. Interestingly, Gorkhapatra had a first page advertisement from well-known industrialist Hulas Chand Golchha saying thank you to the King for the move.

Rajdhani daily was the bravest – with a special editorial (‘HM’s risky move’) that said the King’s move is timely and could take the Royal honor to a new height if he succeed in what he had promised and returned democracy but is risky. The editorial ended with the conclusion that ‘the re-establishment of the democracy is only possible in unity of the political parties and the King’.

The editorial is cleverly written – praising the King for his move and also warning him of negative consequences indirectly. It also carried a three-column news about house-arrest of the top leaders and the stoppage of communication including protest release by Nepal Bar Association.

The other news about state of emergency explicitly said there is censorship in newspapers (‘security personnel reached the Rajdhani office for censorship at eight o’clock in the evening’). The anchor too was balanced (‘People, somewhere happy, somewhere irritated’).

Nepal Samacharpatra, the other daily, too had a special editorial (‘King’s step and people’s hopes’). It was supportive to King’s step adding that people hope for peace in the country. The paper also carried a one-column news about the top-leaders being under house arrest and small one of India’s concern. On second page, another one-column news about the communication and aviation.

Two weeklies I got hold of were, Jana Aastha (known of its inside stories of the Royal family and army). Main news (‘Sher Bahadur’s migration along with dismissal’) sum up the overall condition of the country. It is descriptive in nature. It had an interesting cartoon – a man sending a pigeon with a letter and saying ‘go, now your era had began, again’. Ghatana Ra Bichar weekly (Royal supportive) had a double-deck banner (‘Democratic rule of 21st century begins under the King’s leadership’).

Nepal Samacharpatra had a small box news on the second page saying that all eveningers and weeklies has been closed from today.

This morning I heard the news about appointment of 10 in the government. All of them are close to the King, no doubt. I am still cut off with rest of the world with no telephone line. Some said that was running for an hour last night, but I missed it. No one knows what will happen next, there is state of confusion throughout the capital but everyone seems to be perfectly unconcerned. Offices are running and the rush of people is as same as earlier, tea-shop gossips are largely based on the king’s move and new ministers and personal experience without communication.

There has been no reports about the protest or such but people believe once the telephone lines start working, there will certainly be some. Two of the active political members told me that they are awaiting central committee’s ruling on all this (but since most of the leaders are under house arrest, will that happen soon?)

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

The Day Log

Morning shows the day: but it went all wrong today. Morning went fine before the King addresses to the nation and the whole day was spent amidst confusion.

At 9:30, I checked the internet for anything latest. KantipurOnline had a brief news about the address which was posted in’s Kurakani board, where somebody had also posted about the house-arrest of top leaders (I thought it might be true). didn’t open up.

At exact 10:00am, the King’s address began. I had already known the government would be dismissed so wasn’t surprised at all for that. But was not prepared for his takeover of the executive power. It was as for many people a bit surprising.

I tried to connect to the Internet immediately after the speech but the dial-up networking said that there is no dial tone. I then looked at my cell phone which was saying no network and I understood that I have been cut off with rest of the world.

I went outside my home and saw the school children returning home as the schools were closed due to curfew rumors. I met a few people who were not let to cross the district border.

By the afternoon, it was clear that there is heavy censorship in the news of television and FM radios. I called a friend of mine at the Kantipur Television who told me that there are military personnel monitoring the news. There was a strict censorship.

There was no flights coming and going. The airports were closed.

We talked at length about the decision and the general consensus was that – “the King’s move is foolish as the next fight would be now for republic and that the King had no backup from India.”

And the move would be decisive for the Maoists problem because –

  • If the King has been backing the Maoists as suspected my many, they will lay down the weapons and there would be peace
  • If the King hadn’t been backing them then there will either be major military operation (as we all knew the army was not co-operative in the issue with other government and they were not actually fighting) or the Maoists would start a decisive war against the King

At that point, my friend jokingly stated a very valid point. “Now since the political parties have been banned, how possible is it for them and the Maoists to unite for the fight against the King?”

I also came to know that most of the top leaders are under house-arrest and some have been taken into custody. The same friend at the KTV had also told me that the news editors of many newspapers have been summoned to palace.

The state-run radio broadcasted a news saying that the state of emergency has been declared with right to expression, right of press and publication, right to information, right to free movement, right to privacy and right of property suspended along with the clause that said there would be not pre-censorship in the media content.

The king’s secretary asked all the newspaper editors to support the move or to be ready for harsh consequences.

With all this, we moved into an ‘information isolation’ because we have no access to information content neither we would be able to verify and report on any activities. We will be merely writing and publishing the materials that the state will avail us.

There has been no difference in the street rather than the presence of security personnel but most of the people who knew a little about politics were bewildered. The cut-off of telecommunication literally kept everyone silent as there remained little chance of communicating with others. Till now there has been no heard protest but news about dipawali in few places to welcome the decision (even a rally at Satdobato).

Sacked PM Deuba released a statement somehow saying the decision ‘an open intervention and violation of constitution’ adding that they would protest the decision.

Nepal in the News - Feb. 2, 2005

Nepal's Cabinet Named
World Condemns Nepal King
Nepal Names New Cabinet, Protests in New Delhi
King in Nepal Names Cabinet; Dozens Are Arrested
Nepal Cut off from World, Situation Worsening
Human Rights the First Casualty after Nepal's Palace Coup
US Warns of Possible Unrest in Nepal
EU Warns Nepal on Political, Civil Restrictions
Nepal's Politicians Live Life on the Run
Dozens of Politicians Arrested in Nepal Purge

Glum Future

Communications are still cut off. And the future of the country, people and our journalistic career look glum.

India has strongly come against the move as well as US, UK and UN. India’s PM Manmohan Singh’s decision to cancel the SAARC meeting starting Sunday, we believed, would hit the King hard. Despite the Foreign Secretary of India Shyam Saran quoted two reasons (the other being deteriorating situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh where the meeting has been scheduled), we were all unanimous that India do not want to share the same dais with the King as it would mean ‘support of coup’.

Indian newspapers, although were not available here, called the move coup, according to AFP and urged their government to go strongly against it. The UN, UK, Amnesty International all condemned the move in strong words as well as United States.

One of my friend at Kantipur daily told me, when we met on the road, that his office looked like a military barrack with army vehicles coming and going frequently and army men roaming around freely. They had made a visitor room in the TV building their office and are censoring everything. He called it a ‘psychological warfare’ against the biggest publishing house of the nation.

I heard that the state has asked the FM stations to stop broadcasting news bulletins however, the BBC Radio FM which was not broadcasting yesterday started service today. TV news are being closely monitored (‘they are looking every word’ is what the friend at KTV liked to call).

Annapurna Post didn’t put pictures as they used to in the airpanels which we earlier thought was a way to protest. But we were wrong, the official in charge of it didn’t like any picture above the picture of the King and they were gone. The censorship so far has been subjective of the officials in charge. The army in Nepal Samarcharpatra even forced them to put the news about closure of the weeklies and eveningers (in fact there were several eveningers in the market today).

The condemnation from all ensured that the King move was not backed by any neighbors and was therefore a foolish one. If India comes out against it strongly, then there would be no other option for the King other than to surrender.

Just before writing this, I watched Nepal Television News that showed all the ministers and their quotes. Minister for Information and Communication Tanka Dhakal told the reporters that it was the time of crisis and everybody should help the King. He said there would be no loosening in media ‘until a step further for the end of crisis’.

The first thing that his ministry did today was issuance of a directive prohibiting any articles, news, view, even personal view against the theme of proclamation for next six months. The journalism which was flourishing well in democracy all looked pale and notwithstanding the charm. What will we do without the right to expression, information and with the censorship.

I am curious about what might the King has been thinking about the internet. It can not be blocked for long and if it’s open there is no meaning of blocking foreign newspaper and channels in Nepal. And all the things will be out in the internet through emails.

It’s very difficult to live without communication.

King Gyanendra Takes Executive Power

(Written at 10:30am, immediately after King Gyanendra finishes his address to the nation)

King Gyanendra on his ‘historical decision’ took all the executive power dismissing the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government in his address to the nation broadcasting by the Nepal Television at 10am NST today.

The 31-minute long recorded (and edited) address to the nation, the King criticizes the government, political parties and politicians; dismissed the Deuba government taking the executive power and promising ‘activation of multi-party democracy’ in three years; asked Maoists to lay down weapons and warned them of harsh consequences if they continue the terrorism and promised end of terrorism; end of corruption and sustainable development.

The King started the address saying that ‘he was on the verge of historical decision’ for the betterment of the country and people as politicians failed to think of the people and the country and tried to demolish the ‘universal principles of the state’. ‘Democracy and development are complement to each other’ but we had a ‘bitter experience’ not in coherence of it and the ‘current situation forced him to take the decision’.

The King, ‘in accordance with the constitution’, in view of article 27 (c) of the constitution (27.c. says that the King would obey and patronize the constitution for the people’s progress), dismissed the current government as it failed to progress towards the election. The next government would be ‘constituted in our chairmanship’.

‘In next three years, after establishment of peace and harmony in the country, the multiparty democracy will be re-activated through election’. ‘Now on, the crime of terrorism should end’ and there will be harsh punishment for such crime. The King called the Maoists to ‘enter the national politics laying down the weapons’. And promised to initiate steps of curb the wide-spread corruption immediately.

Talking about free-media, the King said they play important role in national development and hoped of the ‘worthy contribution’ towards the establishment of peace and development. No comments for now.