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Nepal police arrest 44 in Tibet protests

March 18, 2008

KATHMANDU (AFP) — At least 44 Tibetan exiles shouting "Free Tibet" were
detained in the Nepal capital on Monday after police broke up two
protests outside a UN complex, using sticks and tear gas.

Some 30 of them were taken into custody after 100 people held a morning
protest outside the UN compound while, 14 were held when 250 staged a
demonstration later in the day.

The Tibetans said they wanted to pressure the United Nations to
investigate a crackdown by Beijing on the fiercest uprising against
Chinese rule of the Himalayan region in nearly two decades.

The 44 detained Tibetans would be freed later on Monday, a police
officer said, asking to remain unnamed.

The demonstrators included Tibetan monks and nuns who were hit during
police baton charges, according to an AFP photographer, but the police
officer said he had no information about any injuries. Tear gas was also

"I don't know why police are attacking our peaceful demonstration. We've
gathered here to put pressure on the United Nations to investigate the
crackdown on Tibetans in Lhasa," protester Tashi Lama, 29, told AFP.

Exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama called Sunday
for an international probe into the situation in his homeland, which he
fled in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

Some 20,000 Tibetan refugees have lived in Nepal for decades after large
numbers started coming over the Himalayas in 1959 following the uprising.

Today, around 2,500 still arrive annually at a UN-run reception centre
in Kathmandu and then most proceed to Dharamshala in northern India,
home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Tibet's exiled prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche said on Monday around
100 people died in unrest in the Chinese-ruled region, while the Tibetan
parliament in exile reported "hundreds" killed.

China has rejected charges many have died in the unrest, saying Tibetan
rioters killed 13 "innocent civilians" during violent protests in Lhasa,
and that it did not use "lethal" force to quell the rioting.
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