In Nepal, hundreds of opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists have been detained. They were among those participating in banned protests against the monarchy. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the United States "calls on the government of Nepal to release these and other detained activists":
"We condemn the government of Nepal's banning of public gatherings and the detention of opposition. . . .political party and civil society activists and we're seriously concerned about the government's ongoing curbs on civil liberties and human rights, which has led to serious unrest in Nepal. The arrests and harassment of pro-democracy activists violate their fundamental human rights."
In February 2005, King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency. He dismissed the cabinet and parliament. The state of emergency was lifted in April 2005, but the king maintained control. Political opponents were arrested, the news media suppressed, and civil liberties suspended. The king said he acted in response to a growing Maoist insurgency.
In February, local elections were held, the first since the king's takeover. Nepal's seven major political parties boycotted the election, and turnout was low. There were no candidates for more than half of the four-thousand-one-hundred mayoral and council seats.
"Dialogue between Nepal's constitutional political forces, the king, and opposition political parties is the only effective way to return Nepal to democracy and address its Maoist insurgency," says State Department spokesman McCormack. He says, "Such a dialogue is not possible in the climate in which freedoms of assembly and speech are suppressed."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.