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Human Rights Group Says Nepal Tortures Political Prisoners

November 12, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ Nepal tortures some of the journalists, trade unionists, students and others it has imprisoned for their political beliefs, Amnesty International said today.

″The government of Nepal has persistently violated the human rights of its citizens through political imprisonment and torture,″ said the London-based international human rights organization.

Amnesty International urged the Nepal government to release all political prisoners immediately and ″take effective measures to end torture.″

A 48-page Amnesty International report on the Asian nation said at least 100 political prisoners are believed held. It said officials routinely torture criminal suspects to extract confessions and sometimes use it on political prisoners.

The report cited the case of Sarbottam Dangol, a teacher arrested in May 1985 and detained for two years without charge or trial, including two months in solitary confinement. He was released earlier this year.

″He said he was hung upside down and beaten and left injured in a cell for four days,″ Amnesty’s report said. ″He was later taken to hospital where his leg was put in plaster, but the police refused to let him be admitted although this was recommended by doctors.″

Nepal has banned activity by political parties since 1960, and anyone caught engaging in it may be detained for up to three years without charge or trial under the Public Security Act, the report said.

Among those in jail is Sita Ram Maskey, a member of the Nepal National Teachers’ Association, the Amnesty report said.

It said he was arrested in April 1987 after organizing a boycott of the sale of powdered milk that was feared to be contaminated by nuclear radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Soviet Union.

Keshav Raj Pindali, a 71-year-old editor, and Rup Chand Bista, a member of Parliament, were charged under the treason laws for publishing a poem deemed critical of King Birendra, according to the report.

Amnesty International also expressed concern about the ″disappearances″ of several men arrested in 1985 in connection with a bombing incident.

One of the seven, Dr. Laxmi Narayan Jha, ″is said to have become mentally ill after being tortured,″ the report said. ″His family obtained a writ of habeas corpus in March 1986 but the authorities failed to produce him and denied he was in custody. His whereabouts are still unknown.″

Nepal, which borders India, is a constitutional monarchy.

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