[JURIST] Police in Nepal Thursday fired rubber bullets at a peaceful rally of lawyers in the capital Kathmandu, injuring four. Seventeen other lawyers were injured when police charged with batons. 72 lawyers were arrested in total. The lawyers were holding a silent rally demanding democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in the Himalayan Kingdom which is currently facing nationwide anti-king demonstrations [JURIST news archive].
Police opened fire without prior warning as the lawyers sat on the streets in protest of the police intervention in their peaceful demonstration. They were led by Nepal Bar Association (NBA) [profession website] President Shambhu Thapa. The Bar Association has decided to boycott all the legal proceedings in Nepal's courts until the arrested lawyers are released and the police involved in the firing are punished.
The use of rubber bullets followed a minor scuffle resulting from police efforts to round up the lawyers. The police then fired nearly a dozen teargas shells to disperse the rally. The police chased the lawyers to Kathmandu District Court, tried to break the gate of the court and hurled stones inside the court premises, according to President of NBA Kathmandu District Court Branch Yogendra Adhikari.
But Nepal's police said the firing occurred when the shotgun carried by a cop fell on the ground after he received a push from the lawyers.
Kiran Chapagain is a special correspondent for JURIST writing from Nepal. He is an Assistant Senior Reporter for the Kathmandu Post.