Protesting Tibetan teens breach UN walls in Nepal

March 28th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 28 (IANS) Three dozen Tibetan teenagers scaled the walls of the UN headquarters here Friday to register their protest against the crackdown by Chinese authorities on their people in Tibet. Police swooped down on the rest of the protesters and arrested more than 60 people. “We have asked the (Nepal) authorities not to take any action against the children,” said UN spokesperson John Brittain, whose Unicef agency is looking after the teenage protesters inside the UN compound.

According to Brittain, around 10 a.m. the teens scaled the walls of the UN office bearing placards and banners that said “Free Tibet”.

“They were very peaceful and polite and apologised for breaching the walls,” the UN official said. “It was part of the ongoing campaign to highlight the various issues in Tibet.”

The Tibetan teens were given lunch by Unicef and shown a film after which they held talks with different UN agencies, including the Unicef and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The sympathetic UN treatment is likely to anger China, which has asked its representatives here to keep pressure on the Nepal government to stop the protests.

Riot police Friday continued to use force to break up the peaceful sit-in by more Tibetans in front of the UN House.

By the afternoon, 64 Tibetans had been arrested.

Protesters say police have been “branding” the arrested ones, taking their photographs and recording addresses and other details.

They also say police have been threatening that their “legs and heads would be broken if they take part in further rallies” and they would be deported to China.

According to Nepal’s foreign affairs ministry, while it had not asked for the use of excessive force against protesters, the government would not allow any anti-China demonstrations.

“Nepal supports the One China policy that says Tibet is an integral part of China,” foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Hira Bahadur Thapa told IANS.

“Nepal will not allow any movement on Nepali soil against its friendly neighbours.”

The continuing protests, which started last week to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against the Chinese annexation of Tibet, has tarnished Nepal’s image, rights activists say.

The use of brutal force against unarmed peaceful protesters has grossly violated the fundamental right of freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, said Gopal Siwakoti, chief of the Institute for Human Rights, Environment and Development.

The protests have also featured in a recent discussion between Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Foreign Affairs Minister Sahana Pradhan.

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