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Pro-democracy activists tortured in Nepal: Parties

Hundreds of dissidents have been rounded up during raids on their homes and offices or arrested during protest rallies against the King.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 12:24 IST

Politicians and pro-democracy activists detained by Nepal's royal government are being tortured and denied proper medical care, political parties alleged on Monday.

Hundreds of dissidents have been rounded up during raids on their homes and offices or arrested during protest rallies against King Gyanendra since he grabbed power a year ago.

"Many of them are being tortured and severely beaten while being held in detention. They are not being given blankets, food or even clean water to drink," said Krishna Sitaula, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress, the country's largest party.

Protests organised by Nepal's seven largest parties to press the king to restore democracy have frequently been violently broken up by police armed with batons and tear gas.

Sitaula said those detained have been denied medical aid despite being injured.

They are held in warehouses with leaky roofs and thin walls, with relatives only allowed to visit once or twice a week, he said.

"They have been living without (clean) water to drink or a toilet to use," Sitaula said.

Activists detained at a prison in Kirtipur, 8 kms south of Kathmandu, are being beaten and denied food, said Pradeep Nepal, spokesman for the Communist Party of Nepal.

"They were beaten so hard that their screaming was heard all over the area," he said, adding that villagers last week surrounded the prison demanding an end to the beatings.

Nepal said they were also trying to get food into the prison. Government officials could not be reached for comment on the allegations, but Home Minister Kamal Thapa told reporters last week the detained activists were being properly treated.

Gyanendra seized control of the government on February 1, 2005, drawing heavy protests from the main political parties and criticism from foreign governments, which have urged him to restore democracy.

Municipal elections called by the king for Wednesday have been largely ignored by the main political parties who claim that participating in them would legitimise the king's rule.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 12:24 IST