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India police turn back Tibetans marching to homeland: official

June 7, 2008

Agence France-Presse
June 4, 2008

DEHRADUN, India (AFP) - Indian police Wednesday turned back more than
300 Tibetans trying to trek to their homeland in a protest against
Chinese rule of the region ahead of the Beijing Olympics, an official said.

The marchers were stopped 180 kilometres (108 miles) from the
Indo-Tibetan border after starting their trek in March in India's
Dharamshala where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, the official said.

"Three hundred and twelve Tibetans were trying to go towards the
border. We have sent them back," district magistrate Senthil Pandian told AFP.

The protestors were now being sent from Berinag region in northern
Uttarakhand state to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh state, where
Dharamshala is located, the official and Tibetan groups which
organised the march said.

"They have been taken in jeeps and buses. We assume the marchers will
be dropped outside the (Uttarakhand) state," Tenzin Choedon, media
coordinator for the marchers, told AFP by phone.

The marchers had been camping in Uttarakhand, of which Dehradun is
the capital, for 13 days after police detained some of their leaders last week.

"As Tibetan refugees in India, we have the right to return to our
homeland," said Tenzin Palkyi, one of the marchers.

The start of the March 10 trek coincided with the 49th anniversary of
the Dalai Lama's escape from the Tibetan capital Lhasa after a failed
uprising against Chinese rule.

It was suspended for a month when the Tibetan spiritual leader called
on the group to stop in the wake of a Chinese military and police
crackdown on unrest in the Himalayan region.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died in the Chinese crackdown
on the demonstrations in Tibet, while China says it killed no one and
that "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths.

India is home to more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles.
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