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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Nepal journalists urge free press
Narayan Wagle
Harassment of journalists has been criticised internationally
Hundreds of journalists in Nepal have held demonstrations across the country demanding the restoration of press freedom in the country.

King Gyanendra imposed sweeping curbs on the media as part of emergency rule introduced last month.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says that about half of Nepal's newspapers had ceased to publish since the king seized power.

A number of journalists have also been detained on charges of showing dissent.

About 300 journalists joined by human rights activists participated in a protest rally in the capital, Kathmandu.

"We are going to fight until all press freedoms are restored in the country," Taranath Dahal, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) told the Associated Press.

He said the Nepalese journalists were facing one of the worst crises in the country's press history.

Security situation

The FNJ says 10 journalists are in police custody for expressing opposition to the royal takeover.

The authorities say that the restrictions on media are aimed at helping efforts to fight the Maoist rebels and restore peace.

They have insisted that the curbs would be lifted as soon as the security situation improves.

The IFJ says that at least 600 journalists have lost their jobs since the royal takeover and a further 1,000 could be out of work if press censorship remains in place.

So far King Gyanendra has ignored repeated calls from the international community to restore democracy.

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