- Title: NEPAL: Nepal police use tear gas to break up pro-democracy protest
- Date: 16th April 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Nepali) VINOD GHIMIRE, ONE OF THE PROTESTERS, SAYING: "I am a teacher. As a teacher I will teach thousands of students about the value of democracy. If needed I am willing to sacrifice my life for democracy."
- Embargoed: 1st May 2006 13:00
- Location: Nepal
- Country: Nepal
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA2ECG0QWMMALX4WKHCMYQ25MW
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- Story Text: Nepali police beat pro-democracy activists with rattan canes on Saturday (April 15) to break up the largest anti-king protest in the capital since a campaign was launched 10 days ago.
The police charged when about 8,000 demonstrators marched into the city from a western suburb, chanting slogans against King Gyanendra and demanding the restoration of democracy.
At least a dozen people, including some women, were taken to hospital. Protesters threw rocks at police before scattering.
Earlier, the demonstrators sat cross-legged on the road for hours in the Kalanki suburb, shouting "Down with autocracy, restore democracy," as police watched. Onlookers in nearby shops and houses cheered.
Protester Vinod Ghimire said he was willing to die for democracy. "I am a teacher. As a teacher I will teach thousands of students about the value of democracy. If needed I am willing to sacrifice my life for democracy," Ghimire said.
Elsewhere in the city, police with batons charged a protest by local journalists and arrested at least a dozen people, witnesses said. Several journalists were hurt, they said.
One of the movement's leaders had vowed to step up protests but said activists would remain peaceful.
At least four people have been killed and hundreds hurt since an alliance of seven political parties launched a general strike 10 days ago, bringing the impoverished Himalayan kingdom to a standstill.
King Gyanendra, who sacked the government and seized absolute power 14 months ago, repeated promises in a Nepali New Year message on Friday to hold elections by April 2007. But he did not respond to demands to let a representative government take charge and end a crackdown on political parties.
Amrit Kumar Bohra of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), who is wanted by police, said anger against the king had mounted after his New Year message.
Nepal, the world's only Hindu kingdom, launched multi-party democracy in 1990 after a sustained campaign against King Gyanendra's predecessor and brother, King Birendra.
King Gyanendra came to the throne in 2001 after then Crown Prince Dipendra shot dead nine royals including his parents in a drug and drink fuelled rage and then turned the gun on himself.
In February 2005, the current king sacked the government, saying corruption was rampant and it had not been able to counter a spiralling Maoist rebellion.
At least 13,000 people have been killed since the Maoists launched an armed movement against the monarchy in 1996. They are now in a loose alliance with the political parties opposed to the king.
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