Nepalese police say they have arrested at least 1,100 Tibetans protesting near the Chinese embassy.
1,100 Tibet protesters arrested in Nepal
KATHMANDU // Nepalese police said they had arrested at least 1,100 Tibetans protesting near the Chinese embassy today, 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, said. Some protesters screaming anti-Chinese slogans had tried to breach a police cordon outside the Chinese visa and trade section before being hauled away in police vans.
The Tibetans, including many monks and nuns, chanted "Shame shame, Hu Jintao," referring to the Chinese president, and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans," as they were rounded up near the Chinese embassy. More arrests were expected today 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," a Nepalese senior police officer, Ramesh Thapa said.
"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 the protesters tried to break through a police cordon. Some 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," Nima, a 19-year-old nun who goes by one name, said. The exiled Tibetans have been protesting almost daily after deadly unrest erupted against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region in March. Yesterday, about 600 Tibetans were arrested in Katmandu, several hours after 1,500 monks, nuns and supporters who had been praying and chanting mantras refused to disperse.
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 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.