Anti-Olympics protests by Tibetans shake Kathmandu

August 8th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 8 (IANS) More than 2,000 protesting Tibetans were arrested but fresh waves of young men and women took their place in front of the Chinese embassy here Friday as the refugees began an unprecedented protest against the 17th Olympic Games being held in Beijing. “The Olympics have no meaning, it’s an unfair Olympics,” the protesters shouted.

Most of the demonstrators wore bright yellow jackets that said “Free Tibet” and wore bands around their heads with similar messages.

“There is no human rights in China, no freedom of expression, no liberty. We want all political prisoners to be freed,” said one of the protesters.

Nepal’s police, tipped off by the Chinese authorities that the protests could snowball on the day Beijing inaugurates what is promising to be the biggest show on earth, Wednesday declared the area around the Chinese embassy prohibited and banned any rallies in its vicinity.

However, hundreds of Tibetans defied the ban to keep up continuous protests before the embassy, turning the road into a battlefield. Riot police dragged the protesters into waiting wire-meshed vans that sped away to the various detention centres but fresh demonstrators took their place.

Started in March, the Kathmandu protests have now snowballed into full-fledged demands for freedom.

China has been demanding stiff punitive action against the protesters. But after Nepal Police’s roughing up of unarmed Tibetans, including women, the elderly and monks, evoked strong protests by the US, Kathmandu has been apprehensive of offending either.

Last month, New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report, which said over 8,000 Tibetan protesters were arrested in Nepal as China tightened the screws on the caretaker government.

Stung by the report, Beijing has denied it as well as the recent statement by US President George W. Bush that human rights need to be improved in China.

The Kathmandu protesters said they would keep up the demonstrations. “We fear China will intensify its crackdown in Tibet after the Olympics,” said a protester who identified himself only as Tshering.

Almost 20,000 Tibetan refugees lead a precarious existence in Nepal. They are not allowed to register marriages and births, own property or follow their traditional culture in public.

Nepal has also refused to let the refugees be resettled in the US.

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