Hundreds detained in Tibetan anti-China protests in Nepal

Society Materials 8 August 2008 11:44 (UTC +04:00)

Nepalese police on Friday detained nearly 600 Tibetan exiles participating in anti-China protests in Kathmandu on the day the Beijing Olympic Games open, dpa reported.

Small groups of Tibetans gathered near the consular section of the Chinese embassy in central Kathmandu, defying a government ban on protests in the area.

Many Tibetans wearing "Free-Tibet" T-shirts and with their faces painted with Tibetan national flags chanted anti-China slogans.

The police stopped the protestors several hundred metres from the embassy office and bundled them into waiting trucks to be driven off to detention centres.

"We will protest around the Chinese embassy throughout the day," said a protest organizer who did not wish to be named. "We must highlight the situation in Tibet."

As one group of protesters were loaded unto trucks, another group appeared to continue the demonstration.

"So far, we have detained nearly 600 Tibetans for violating government orders," police officer Ramesh Thapa said. "We expect more arrests during the day."

The Nepalese government had beefed up security around the Chinese embassy consular section, expecting protests coinciding with the Olympics.

Friday's demonstrations came a day after Tibetan exiles organized the biggest anti-China protest in Nepal since they began in March. It drew nearly 2,000 participants.

Nepal has come under growing criticism over its handling of the Tibetan protests. Human rights organizations said thousands of Tibetans have been arrested since they began.

The Nepalese government, which recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China, said it would not allow anti-China protests in the country because it would effect its relations with its northern neighbour.

Nearly 20,000 Tibetans are officially listed as refugees in Nepal. However, several thousand more have not been given that status after the government stopped recognizing arrivals after 1989 as refugees.

Human rights organizations said an estimated 3,000 Tibetans cross the Himalayan passes each year into Nepal, risking their lives to escape Chinese rule in Tibet.