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News :: International
Nepal's royal takeover - civil rights gone
03 Feb 2005
The royal takeover in Nepal of 1 Feb 2005 has demolished civil rights and press freedom, at least for the moment. Please be informed, and visit and create pressure in solidarity with Nepal's civil society, who need your help!
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Radio Sagarmatha_01.jpg
Member of Civil Society
Notes on the Royal Takeover
February 2, 2005

[The following report was brought out by courier from Kathmandu, where all communication with the outside world is cut off, except for select satellite telephones and internet connections mostly controlled by embassies. The general public had no access to communication with the outside world from 10:00 AM on 1 February 2005 until at least 7:00 PM on 2 February 2005. All domestic telephones are also shut off, both mobile
and land lines. People are traveling from one place to another to communicate.]

Freedom of expression, political organizing, assembly, among others,
have been the first casualties of the king's takeover on February 1,
2005. Below are only a small number of incidents narrated by those
working in the press sector in Nepal:

1. All private media houses have been virtually run by military
personnel since yesterday. In Rajdhani daily, one of the vernacular
dailies published from Kathmandu, an army major commanded about a dozen
military personnel and made the editors to show all reports to him for
approval before the paper is sent to press. "You have written about
Girija and Madhav Kumar Nepal for the last fourteen years. Now is the
time for you to write about His Majesty the king", the major told one of
the editors.

2. In the Kantipur offices, which publishes Kantipur and Kathmandu Post
dailies as well as broadcasting the Kantipur news program on television,
army personnel circulate through the newsroom. The newspaper staff
reports that they have been told to pass all stories by army personnel
for approval before printing the paper, or the newspapers will be shut
down. Army personnel also stand by in the broadcasting building while
news programs are being aired. The 2 February 2005 Kathmandu Post
printed mainly news stories from the governmental news feed, the
Rastriya Samachar Samiti, while most days this paper publishes mainly
reports by staff writers.

3. In Jana Astha, a vernacular weekly published from Kathmndu, the army
major sat in a chair in front of the editor's table and dictated word by
word what he should be writing in the editorial. It was another matter
for discussion whether the paper could publish an abstract cartoon,
which showed a pigeon escaping from two hands, effectively meaning the
peace will become more distant.

4. A number of armymen sat through the night in the office of Sankhu, a
vernacular weekly published from Kathmandu, even though the publishers
and editorial team had decided not to publish their coming issue.

5. Radio Sagarmatha, the first community radio station in South Asia, is
now being manned full-time by khaki-clad and machine-gun-totting Royal
Nepal Army officers. They have not allowed any news, discussions and
regular programs to be broadcast. This morning (Feb 2), they did not
even allowed a discussion on women's health problems of uterus prolapse.
The officers said that no news can be broadcast from now onwards. The
army personnel control the coming and going records of all the visitors
including all the staffs (photographs attached).

6. In Pokhara, a city 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu, armymen told
local media houses to shut down "until further notice". "You don't have
to publish news from now onwards. This is the responsibility of the
Kathmandu-based daily papers," an army personnel stationed in one of the
media houses was quoted as saying to a local reporter of one of the
national vernacular dailies.

7. The king ‘invited’ all the editors of major national dailies and
‘asked’ them to cooperate with his government.

8. All the FM stations outside the Kathmandu valley have been shut down.

9. Army personnel have taken charge of both Nepal Telecom and UTL, the
two companies providing telephone and other communication services. All
mobile and landline telephone service was still shut off as of 2
February evening.

10. Army personnel have taken control of all the internet-service
providers in the country and have shut down all internet service.

11. Security forces have placed the leaders of most of the political
parties under arrest until further notice. Student group leaders have
also been placed under arrest. It is also said that the head of a major
human rights organization was also placed under arrest.

This work is in the public domain
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