Pro-Tibetan demos held on eve of Beijing Olympics

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony, Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal held marches to denounce China's human rights violations in Tibet.


Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal held anti-China protests Thursday on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, saying the occasion was an opportunity for their plight to be recognised around the world.

In New Delhi about 1,000 Tibetans staged a march, carrying Tibetan flags and shouting "Say no to Beijing Olympics" and "No Olympics in China".

"We will keep up our protests during the Olympics to draw attention to human rights violations in Tibet," said Dhondup Dorjee, vice president of the radical Tibetan Youth Congress.

Police and paramilitary troops were deployed with fire extinguishers and buckets of water amid fears that protesters would set themselves on fire.

A Tibetan set himself ablaze two years ago outside the Mumbai hotel of visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao.

India is home to more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees, including exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and radical youth groups, and has seen frequent protests since an outbreak of unrest in Tibet in March.

Six Tibetans on a hunger strike in New Delhi were shifted to hospital this week suffering from severe dehydration.

In Nepal about 600 Tibetans were detained after they clashed with police while protesting in Kathmandu, police and eyewitnesses said.

Earlier about 1,500 Tibetan exiles had gathered in the city to demonstrate against the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Clashes broke out after monks and nuns praying and chanting mantras refused to disperse.

"More than 570 Tibetans have been picked up and have been driven to detention centres," Bharat Lama, a police officer at the scene, told AFP. "All of them will be freed in the evening."

Protesters wore T-shirts that read "Help protect the practice of Buddhism in Tibet" and "Stop cultural genocide".

Police resorted to baton charges to break up the rally.

Protesters screamed "Free Tibet" and "We want justice" as they were rounded up.

"Tibetan culture and religion is in serious threat. China is trying to wipe out the identity of Tibetans," said Dolma, 22, a nun who goes by one name.

"We need support from international community to pressure China to safeguard Tibet," she said.

One organiser said that the protest was scheduled to coincide with the Olympics "because it is the right time to highlight the cause of Tibet as the whole world is watching China."

"We want China to guarantee religious freedom and human rights in Tibet," Dakpa Tenzin, chairman of Tibetan Young Buddhist Association, told AFP.

"After the Games are over, we fear more severe crackdowns in Tibet."

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