2004 brought no relief for the people of Nepal: hundreds of innocent civilians, Maoist rebels and Nepali Army soldiers lost their lives as the now eight year old Civil War continued. It was a year in which hundreds of thousands defied a government ban on public demonstrations and took to the streets of Kathmandu in a series of protests calling for democracy to be restored. King Gyanendra, who by now had assumed absolute power in Nepal, continued to ignore the pleas of ordinary Nepalis.
In November, women in the small western village of Dailekh, rose up against local Maoists in a heroic uprising that sadly cost some of them their lives. In December the Maoists demonstrated their ability to choke the capital by imposing a week-long road blockade of Kathmandu. Once again it was the innocent who suffered the effects through spiralling food and fuel prices and chronic shortages of the most basic goods.