- Title: NEPAL: Nepali police detain 50 human rights activists.
- Date: 11th December 2005
- Summary: RIOT POLICE BEHIND BANNER READING 'RESTRICTED AREA'
- Embargoed: 26th December 2005 12:00
- Location: Nepal
- Country: Nepal
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA351QJOLOTUF8J9RH4LK98K9C0
- Story Text: Nepali police fired water cannon to break up a rally by human rights activists on Saturday (December 10) and detained at least 50 people as they tried to defy a ban on protests and march into central Kathmandu, witnesses said.
Scores of riot police holding bamboo canes and plastic shields stopped the activists who chanted "Respect human rights" and "We don't accept an autocratic regime".
Protesters were dragged into iron-meshed blue police vans and driven to a detention centre, witnesses said.
The activists were protesting against the seizure of power by King Gyanendra in February which he justified as necessary to crush a deadly Maoist revolt in the impoverished kingdom.
After sacking the multi-party government, the monarch suspended civil liberties, curtailed press freedom and jailed human rights activists.
"Without full democracy or democratic republic we will never have the situation where we can exercise our civil liberties, political rights, cultural rights, social rights effectively," said Devendra Raj Pandey, Coordinator of Citizen's Movement for Democracy and Peace, who marched in the protest.
In recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets across the Himalayan nation demanding civil liberties and restoration of democracy.
Last month, in a move to step up pressure on the monarch, Nepal's seven main political parties and the Maoist guerrillas formed a loose alliance to end the absolute powers of the king and restore democracy in one of the world's 10 poorest countries.
Last week, the rebels, who declared a unilateral truce in September, extended the ceasefire by one month. But the Nepali army has dismissed the extension as a "crooked trick" to regroup.
King Gyanendra is under pressure from the United Nations to declare a matching truce and begin talks with the Maoists, as well as political parties, to resolve the crisis.
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