Tibetans step up protests in Nepal, 740 held
Nepali police detained hundreds of angry Tibetan refugees who tried to storm a Chinese consular office in Kathmandu on Friday, in protests only hours before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Police said the Tibetans, who arrived in busloads, and included nuns and monks, had begun a march towards the walled premises of the consular office.
They said at least 740 protesters, mostly refugees, had been detained and more were expected to be rounded up as the protests continued outside the office. On Thursday, at least 513 demonstrators were detained.
“We want that the Tibetans should stop protesting, taking into consideration the long lasting relations of friendship with China,” Nepali Home Ministry spokesperson Modraj Dotel told Reuters.
China is an influential neighbour, donor and trade partner of impoverished Nepal which considers Tibet a part of China.
“Stop killing in Tibet,” some protesters shouted, with red and blue ribbons emblazoned with “Free Tibet” around their heads.
Protesters were quickly overpowered by hundreds of riot police who hauled them into iron-meshed blue vans and open trucks and took them to detention centres.
Friday’s protests in Nepal followed one of the biggest anti-China demonstrations in recent months on Thursday, which saw thousands of Tibetans take to the streets in Delhi and Nepal, protesting against the Olympics in China.
The protest in Nepal came as thousands of performers readied in Beijing for the start of the Games at 8pm on the eighth day of the eighth month—the number appropriately symbolising fortune—before an estimated global audience of one billion.
More than 20 000 Tibetans still live in Nepal, second-biggest home for them outside Tibet after neighbouring India. They fled their homes after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959.
Although Kathmandu prohibits any anti-China activities by the refugees, the Tibetans have managed to regularly protest China’s crackdown in March in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and other parts.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said last month at least 8 350 Tibetans had been arrested in Nepal, which it said was pressured by China into cracking down on peaceful protesters.
Beijing has denied the charges.
Most protesters detained in Nepal are usually released within a day or two. - Reuters