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Nepal arrests anti-China Tibetans

August 10, 2008

August 7, 2008

Hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested in Nepal's capital during a
protest against Chinese policy on the eve of the opening of the
Olympics in Beijing.

Around 2,000 Tibetans, including monks and nuns, gathered in
Kathmandu to highlight what they said was religious repression in Tibet.

The protesters gathered outside one of the world's biggest Buddhist
shrines, praying and chanting mantras.

But later, police with batons moved in to disperse the large crowd.

More than 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal after fleeing China in 1959.

The Tibetan exiles wore yellow jackets with slogans including "Stop
cultural genocide in Tibet" and "Long live His Holiness the Dalai
Lama" - referring to their spiritual leader.

They said they wanted to tell the world that their religious rights
were not being respected.

"We timed our demonstration just before the Olympic Games begin in
China to try to draw maximum attention," Lakpa, an activist, told the
Associated Press news agency.

Others called for imprisoned Buddhists to be released.

"Many Tibetans including monks and nuns are tortured and imprisoned
by China," Karma, a 54-year-old nun, holding a yellow and white
Buddhist flag, told the Reuters news agency.

"We are protesting for their release and appealing to the
international community to help to release these religious people," she said.

The exiles are also demanding the release of the eleventh Panchen
Lama, an important Buddhist figure, allegedly abducted by the Chinese
authorities as a child.

In the Indian capital, New Delhi, nearly 4,000 Tibetans took to the
streets in one of the biggest protests in recent months, saying China
had no right to hold the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of Tibetan exiles also marched in Dharmsala in northern
India, where the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile is based.

Police move in

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says there were scuffles
earlier in the day as police made a show of strength against the
Tibetan exiles.

A huge poster of the Dalai Lama was torn and then the police just
watched as the crowd, mostly seated, chanted Buddhist prayers and
listened to speakers alleging that Beijing was involved in religious
persecution in Tibet.

Around 1500 local time (0915 GMT) the security forces decided enough
was enough and started arresting people, says our correspondent.

He said the crowd said that they did not want violence and many had
moved forward in batches, singing prayers as they offered themselves
up to the waiting police and army vehicles.

According to the Associated Press news agency, some the protesters
threw rocks and bricks at police, who retaliated by beating some of
them with bamboo batons.

More than 500 protesters were detained, according to agency reports.

Our correspondent says renewed emphasis on religion comes after
months of mainly political protests by Tibetan exiles here.

The Tibetans have been holding regular protests after deadly
anti-government riots broke out in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and
elsewhere in China in March.

Many Nepalese people have little sympathy for the Tibetan cause, says
our correspondent. They see Tibet as a territory the Chinese are
rapidly developing, he adds.

Neighbouring China is an important trade partner and aid donor to
Nepal, and Nepal does not allow anti-China activities. Hundreds of
protesters have been detained over the past few months.
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