(AFP) – Aug 8, 2008
KATHMANDU (AFP) — 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.
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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