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Tibetan Students Enter U.N. Compound

March 31, 2008

By SOMINI SENGUPTA
The New York Times
March 29, 2008

NEW DELHI — About 20 Tibetan high school students scaled a brick wall
surrounding the United Nations compound in Katmandu on Friday morning,
carrying a small home-made sign that read "Free Tibet" and asking for
the United Nations to help their cause, according to a United Nations
spokesman.

They were served a lunch of steamed dumplings, called momos, instead.

John Brittain, a spokesman for the United Nations, described the
teenagers as polite intruders who sat on the grass inside the compound,
were asked to write their grievances for United Nations officials and
were treated to lunch. No one has been arrested, Mr. Brittain said, and
agency officials would make sure they all were escorted home safely.

"They were very nice," Mr. Brittain said by telephone from Katmandu.

"They sat down on the grass and chatted and they were asked to put down
their grievances."

The students were not available for comment.

The Associated Press reported from Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, that
police had arrested 60 demonstrators outside the compound.

Nepal has been at the cross hairs of the protests inside Tibet and the
swift Chinese crackdown. Its government, at the request of its large and
powerful neighbor, China, announced earlier this month that it would
seal off access to the summit of Mount Everest from the Nepali side of
the mountain to avert potential anti-Chinese protests. China plans to
send the Olympic torch to Mount Everest in early May.

Since then, Nepalese authorities have diligently sought to stamp out
Tibetan demonstrations, saying that they cannot brook agitations against
friendly nations. Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule usually cross into Nepal
on foot, before moving to India, which hosts the largest number of
Tibetan refugees in the world, including the leader of Tibetan
Buddhists, the Dalai Lama.

Nepal, itself no stranger to pro-democracy protests, has been criticized
for its crackdown on Tibetan protests. Human Rights Watch this week
accused government forces of "pre-emptively arresting Tibetans" in the
capital and threatening several with deportation to China.

The United Nations would also launch an inquiry into the security
breach. The compound, which houses several United Nations agencies, is
surrounded by a high brick wall. Extra police have been posted outside
its gates since Tibetan protests began about two weeks ago.
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