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Nepal 3 February 2005

King imposes state of emergency and cuts communications with outside world

The king has still not had communications re-established. State-run radio announced on 2 February that all negative reports on the declaration of a state of emergency and the dismissal of the government have been banned for six months. The official daily Gorkhapatra also published a statement on its front page banning "all writing or opposition to the royal proclamation for six months".

The military is in charge of censorship of state-run television programmes while officers have been posted in the newsrooms of the main public and privately-owned media, including Kantipur. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) said that the army had also put the weekly Janaastha, under surveillance. The newspaper has been critical of both the palace and the army.

Press agency Reuters said hotel proprietors had refused to let foreign television crew place satellite dishes on the roofs of their buildings. Most of the capital’s cybercafés remain closed on the order of the authorities. The FNJ has spoken out against what it called "a coup against democracy" and called on journalists to fight with courage and determination to guarantee the Nepalese people their right to news and information.


Telephone and Internet communications between Nepal and the rest of the world remain cut. Katmandu’s international airport reopened less than 24 hours after it was closed. Most Nepalese dailies were able to appear on 2 February, but the palace apparently warned editors that censorship had been re-established. Foreign television station broadcasts by cable and satellite, many of them Indian, were suspended. Finally, dozens of opposition figures, including journalists, have reportedly been arrested.


Reporters Without Borders called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to intervene in Nepal where King Gyanendra has imposed a state of emergency, taken over direct power and cut the country off from the outside world.

All communications, including email, have been cut and privately-owned FM radio forced to cancel news programmes.

In its appeal to the UN, the worldwide press freedom organisation said, "This is not the first time that the king has tried to impose himself by force, depriving the Nepalese people of their freedom of expression. The international community has failed to respond to a deteriorating human rights situation in the country. It is now urgent that the UN reacts firmly."

King Gyanendra on 1st February 2005 sacked the government and took control himself, putting many opposition figures under house arrest. The Royal Army has been deployed in the streets and Kathmandu international airport has been closed.

All communications have been cut with the outside world, telephone, email and websites hosted in Nepal are inaccessible, including Privately-owned FM radios have been ordered to drop their news bulletins. But TV and state-owned radio programmes are unaffected.

This coup by the king is seemingly linked to the failure of the coalition government of Sher Bahadur Deuba to bring Maoist rebels to the negotiating table and to organise parliamentary elections next spring. In a speech put out by the state-owned media the king said, "In the framework of rights invested in the crown by the current constitution, I have dissolved the government in the interests of the people, the country and the defence of sovereignty."

King Gyanendra previously declared a state of emergency, on the advice of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government, on 26 November 2001. Within four months security forces had arrested more than 100 hundred journalists and the majority of them had been tortured.

Nepal was in 2004, for the third consecutive year, the country with the largest number of journalists arrested in the world.

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in the annual report
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