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Britain condemns Nepal political crackdown

Britain has condemned the arrest of more than 100 political activists in a Nepalese government crackdown.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 20:13 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Britain condemned the arrest of more than 100 political activists in a Nepalese government crackdown aimed at preventing pro-democracy demonstrations called for Friday.

"(Britain) is extremely concerned by the king's actions, and we can see no grounds for these anti-democratic measures," Kim Howells, British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said in a statement received here Friday.

At least 107 political and human rights activists were arrested Thursday while an unknown number of political leaders were placed under house arrest early Friday in the troubled Himalayan kingdom.

Mobile phone links were severed on Thursday as a daytime curfew was slapped on the capital. Late-night curfews have been in place since earlier this week.

"I call on the king urgently to release those arrested, and to find ways to resume dialogue with the political parties," Howells said in the statement. "We will be making our profound concerns known to the government of Nepal at the highest level."

The United States, European Union, neighbouring India and Japan have all expressed concern over the moves, which come just under a year since King Gyanendra threw out Nepal's elected government to deal with a bloody Maoist revolt.

More than 12,000 people have died in the revolt waged by the Maoists since 1996 to topple the monarchy and establish a communist republic.

The US, Britain and India suspended arms sales to Kathmandu after the king's power grab, but New Delhi later resumed "non-lethal military aid" following assurances from the monarch that he would restore democracy.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 20:13 IST