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India stops Tibetan exiles marching to protest Beijing Olympics

March 12, 2008

The Canadian Press,  India
10 March 2008

DHARMSALA, India — Indian police barred several hundred Tibetan exiles
from beginning a long march to Tibet on Monday to protest Beijing's
hosting of this summer's Olympic Games.

Protesters, who were marking their uprising against Chinese rule in
the 1950s, also held demonstrations in New Delhi and Kathmandu, Nepal,
where 10 activists were detained after hundreds clashed with police.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader,
speaking at a separate event, accused China of "unimaginable and gross
violations of human rights" in the Himalayan region.

The planned six-month march from India to Tibet began Monday to
coincide with the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese
rule in Tibet that forced the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959.

Local police chief Atul Fulzele said an order banning the marchers
from leaving the area near the northern Indian city of Dharmsala, the
seat of the Tibetan government in exile, had been issued following a
recommendation from the Indian government.

India, which has been sympathetic to the Tibetan exiles in the past,
has clamped down on such protests in recent years, fearing they could
embarrass Beijing and damage burgeoning ties between the Asian giants.

Fulzele said the march contravened an agreement between New Delhi and
the Tibetan government in exile.

However, none of the groups taking part in the protest were affiliated
with the government, and neither the Dalai Lama nor Tibet's government
in exile have issued an official statement on the march.

Tenzin Tsundue, one of the march leaders, said they had not decided
whether to defy the ban.

The exile groups said the march was to be one of several protests
around the world before the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games.

Beijing contends that Tibet is historically part of China, but many
Tibetans argue the Himalayan region was virtually independent for
centuries.

Protest groups say China is attempting to stamp out Tibetan Buddhist
culture and increase the Chinese government's presence in Tibet.

Speaking Monday, the Dalai Lama said that for nearly six decades
Tibetans "have had to live in a state of constant fear, intimidation
and suspicion under Chinese repression.

"In Tibet, repression continues to increase with numerous,
unimaginable and gross violations of human rights, denial of religious
freedom and the politicization of religious issues," he said.

In New Delhi, more than 1,000 protesters marched, some wrapped in
bandages covered with fake blood and wearing cutouts of the Olympic
rings around their necks.

In Kathmandu, police fired tear gas and beat up hundreds of Tibetans
who threw bricks and stones at the police, officials said. At least 10
of the protesters were detained, said a police official who asked not
to be named.

Every year, some 3,000 Tibetans cross into Nepal, mainly through four
passes across the Himalayas on their way to Dharmsala.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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