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1,100 Tibet protesters arrested in Nepal ahead of Olympics

August 10, 2008

AFP/Phayul
August 8, 2008

Update from Phayul: According a source in Kathmandu around 1,879
Tibetans have been arrested till now and the number is expected to
pass beyond 2,000 as the protest in still in process. Updated on 3:50PM IST

KATHMANDU, August 8 -- Nepalese police said they had arrested at
least 1,100 Tibetans protesting near Chinese embassy buildings on
Friday, hours ahead of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

"We want to give the millions of people who will watch the opening as
well as the hundreds of athletes taking part the message that there
are no human rights in Tibet," Tashi Tsering, a 20-year-old Tibetan
student, told AFP.

Some protesters screaming anti-Chinese slogans had tried to break
through a police cordon outside the Chinese visa and trade section
before being hauled away in police vans.

The Tibetans, including scores of monks and nuns, shouted "Shame
shame, Hu Jintao," referring to the Chinese president, and "Tibet
belongs to Tibetans," as they were rounded up near the embassy buildings.

More arrests were expected Friday as organisers said they would keep
up their protests throughout the day.

"The Tibetans continue to try and protest in small groups and as long
as they keep coming we will detain them," said senior police officer
Ramesh Thapa.

"The total number of detainees has reached 1,100. They are being held
at various police stations and will be released later on Friday."

Some protesters scuffled with police, who kicked and hit the Tibetans
with bamboo poles as they tried to break through a police cordon.

Other protesters shaved their heads and painted their faces and
scalps with the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile. They also
wore headbands calling for a "Free Tibet."

"Tibetans have been dismayed at China's interference in Tibet for a
long time. This day is an opportunity for us to attract the world's
attention," said Nima, a 19-year-old nun who goes by one name.

The exiled Tibetans have been protesting virtually daily after deadly
unrest erupted against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region in March.

A police officer tugs the hair of a protester while restraining her
near the Chinese consular office in Kathmandu August 8, 2008.
REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar (NEPAL)

On Thursday, around 600 Tibetans were arrested in Kathmandu, several
hours after 1,500 monks, nuns and supporters who had been praying and
chanting mantras refused to disperse.

"I've been coming here nearly every day for the past three months and
I will continue," said demonstrator Tsering Friday before being
dragged into a police van.

Sandwiched between India and China, Nepal endorses Beijing's "One
China" policy that views Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of China.

Nepalese officials have repeatedly said no anti-China activity will
be allowed as they seek to preserve friendly ties with their giant
northern neighbour.

The country is home to about 20,000 exiled Tibetans who began
arriving in large numbers in 1959 after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet
following a failed uprising against the Chinese.

Many have gone on to the northern Indian town of Dharamshala where
the Dalai Lama is based.

Worldwide protests erupted after China's crackdown on demonstrators
inside Tibet marking the March 10 anniversary of the failed uprising.
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