1 February 2005
King imposes state of emergency and cuts all communications with outside world
(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has called on United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan to intervene in Nepal, where King Gyanendra imposed a state of emergency on 1 February 2005, taking over direct power and cutting the country off from the outside world. All communications, including e-mail, have been cut, and privately-owned FM radio stations have been forced to cancel news programmes.
In its appeal to the UN, the 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 the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. It is now urgent that the UN react firmly."
On 1 February, King Gyanendra sacked the government and said he was assuming control, while placing many opposition figures under house arrest. The Royal Army has been deployed in the streets and Kathmandu international airport has been closed.
All communications with the outside world have been cut. Phone lines, e-mail and websites hosted in Nepal are inaccessible, including http://www.nepalnews.com.
Privately-owned FM radio stations have been ordered to drop their news bulletins, but state-owned television and radio programmes are unaffected.
The king's coup d'etat is seemingly linked to the Sher Bahadur Deuba coalition government's failure to bring Maoist rebels to the negotiating table and to organise parliamentary elections for next spring. In a speech released by state-owned media outlets, the king said, "Under the 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 Deuba's government, on 26 November 2001. Within four months security forces had arrested more than 100 journalists, a majority of whom were tortured.
In 2004, for the third consecutive year, Nepal was the country with the largest number of journalists arrested internationally.