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American senators urge King to respect civil liberties

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, Apr 8: In ''very strong agreement with the US Embassy's condemnation of arrests'' of political opponents and members of civil society in Nepal, seven Republican Congressmen have urged King Gyanendra to respect the basic freedoms and civil liberties of the people.

In a letter addressed to the King, the Congressmen, Mr Barney Frank, Mr James T Walsh, Mr Tom Lantos, Mr Christopher H Smith, Mr Mark Steven Kirk, Mr Mark Udall and Mr Edolphus Towns, said it would be impossible to establish demiocracy without respecting its ''basic and essential principles''.

''We must tell you that it is very difficult for us to reconcile your commitment to return to multi-party democracy in Nepal with many of your government's recent actions, including the arrest of protesters this week, as well as the arrest of hundreds of political protesters in January, many of whom we understand are still being held.'' The Congressmen said they are ''very disappointed'' with the new media law introduced in October last year that imposes what they view as ''anti-democratic restrictions on speech and the media''.

They have strongly urged the king to lead a stronger public effort to promote greater accountability of the royal forces.

The lawmakers have also repeated the US government's recipe of the King reconciling with political parties.

''While elections could be an essential element of a long-term plan for peace in Nepal, they will not be fair or free - or viewed as legitimate by the international community - without the ability of a citizenry that is fully informed to debate, disagree, organise, compromise and ultimately make their own decisions about how to organise and live as a society,'' they said.

On Wednesday, the US embassy in Kathmandu had condemned the government's detention of opposition political party and civil society activists in advance of political demonstrations scheduled for April 6-9.

The United Nations, India, Japan and the European Union (EU) have termed the ban on peaceful demonstrations and arrests of activists as counter-productive and against international conventions.

Meanwhile, Nepal's royal government has cut off mobile phones and imposed curfew in Kathmandu for the whole day today in view of the demonstration of the political parties.

The movement has spread across the country and the government employees, doctors and professionals have also expressed their solidarity for the restoration of democracy in the Himalayan nation.

Employees of Nepal Rastra Bank, the central bank, Rastriya Banijya Bank, Nepal Bank Limited, Nepal Telecommunications and Nepal Electricity Authority have stopped the works in support of the movement.


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