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Nepal government arrests politicians, activists as protest planned

[JURIST] The Nepalese government on Thursday arrested over 52 senior politicians and activists in an apparent attempt to shut down an anti-government rally [Reuters report] planned for Friday in the capital. The government banned demonstrations and imposed a night curfew earlier this week in anticipation of the rally, and in reaction to an anti-government rally last week in southwestern Nepal [JURIST news archive]. A government official said there are plans to detain an additional 200 people, but the only reason given for the detentions is that they are necessary to fight a Maoist insurgency and reduce corruption. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] released a statement Thursday saying the mass arrests raise human rights concerns [Nepal News report] and that there have been apparent violations of protesters' rights to freedom of assembly and freedom from arbitrary arrest. The politicians arrested are members of a coalition of the country's largest political parties, all of whom oppose the rule of King Gyanendra [BBC news profile]. Gyanendra seized power [JURIST report] last year, suspended civil liberties, outlawed governmental criticism, and jailed hundreds of political opponents. AP has more.

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