Nearly 2,000 Tibetans protest in Nepal

August 7th, 2008 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 7 (DPA) An estimated 2,000 Tibetan exiles demonstrated in the Nepali capital Kathmandu Thursday, a day ahead of the official start of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The demonstration was the biggest by Tibetan exiles in Nepal since their protests started in March.

The demonstrators, including monks, nuns and schoolchildren, gathered near a Buddhist temple on the eastern outskirts of the capital and expressed anger over the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protestors in Lhasa earlier this year.

Many protests wore headbands and T-shirts calling for “Free Tibet.”

“We timed our protest just ahead of the Olympic Games as it is the right time to highlight the cause of Tibet,” said Lakpa Tenzin, chairman of the Tibetan Young Buddhist Association.

“We want China to guarantee religious freedom and human rights in Tibet.”

The organizers also said they feared a renewed Chinese crackdown in Tibet once the games were over.

There were minor scuffles between police and demonstrators after police tried to snatch away banners. However, the gathering proceeded generally peacefully.

There have been frequent anti-China protests by Tibetan exiles in Nepal since March despite police breaking up demonstrations and detaining protestors.

Nepal has come under increasing criticism from international human rights agencies for its handling of the protests.

In July, the US-based Human Rights Watch said the Nepal government was cracking down on Tibetan protestors because of pressure by the Chinese government.

The group also said more than 8,000 Tibetans had been arrested by police since the protests began nearly five months ago. The charge has been denied by the government.

Nepal recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China. Nearly 20,000 Tibetans refugees live in Nepal.

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