Nepali Students Again Clash with Police

Students in Nepal continue to rally against the monarchy.

Student protesters shout Anti-Monarch slogans at their protest today in Kathmandu, Nepal, only to see police rush in to try to stop their demonstration:

Riot police and stone-throwing students demanding the release of jailed colleagues clashed in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, witnesses said. Police baton-charged a crowd of around 100 demonstrators after they refused an order to disperse, a police official said, asking to remain anonymous.

Simlal Bhattarai, president of the pro-left All-Nepal Students Union, said a dozen students were injured in the clashes. However police said injuries were “minimal”. The protesters were calling for the release of seven students picked up for torching pictures of the royal family in a protest two weeks ago against King Gyanendra’s seizure of power.

The students are also protesting against the arrest of popular student leader Gagan Thapa for chanting anti-king slogans. Bhattarai also said reports from around Nepal indicated over 100 colleges had on Monday planted black flags to protest against recent changes made in the school curriculum and the student arrests.

Six months ago, King Gyanendra sacked the elected government and assumed full executive powers, saying the move was necessary to face down a Maoist rebellion which has claimed around 12,000 lives since 1996. — AFP Riot police and stone-throwing students demanding the release of jailed colleagues clashed in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, witnesses said. Police baton-charged a crowd of around 100 demonstrators after they refused an order to disperse, a police official said, asking to remain anonymous. Simlal Bhattarai, president of the pro-left All-Nepal Students Union, said a dozen students were injured in the clashes. However police said injuries were “minimal”.

The protesters were calling for the release of seven students picked up for torching pictures of the royal family in a protest two weeks ago against King Gyanendra’s seizure of power. The students are also protesting against the arrest of popular student leader Gagan Thapa for chanting anti-king slogans.

This past year journalists and free speech have been under attack by the regime:

In 1990, the Himalayan kingdom had few independent journalists. By 2004, four private TV channels, more than 600 newspapers and tabloids, and 46 FM stations became a testament to a vibrant democratic spirit here.

But all that is now threatened. Nepal’s burgeoning media – indeed its entire democratic project – is becoming one of the casualties of a civil war between Maoists and the government, with both sides targeting journalists.

2,000 radio workers have lost their jobs, more than 500 journalists have been arrested and released later, and over two dozen tabloids in the districts have closed following government orders.

The government is squeezing independent media by barring public institutions from placing advertisements. In a bid to “make journalism a respectable profession,” the ministry of information and communication is finalizing an ordinance that would impose heavy penalties on reports deemed unfavorable to the regime.

Some journalists here have paid a high price. Since Feb. 1, one journalist has been shot dead by the Maoists and several others have been abducted. In the past four years, 16 journalists have been killed, five by the rebels, and 11 by the state, according to INSEC, a human rights organization.

Previous posts on Nepal:
Nepali Protest ends Violently
Nepal Cracks Down on Journalists
In Nepal, Women Join Fight for Democracy

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