Tibetans vow to keep up China march despite arrests

July 1st, 2008 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 1 (IANS) Though Nepal police Tuesday arrested a group of Tibetan monks and nuns who were leading a peace march to the Tibet border, a second group of protesters, already in their way, vowed to keep the march alive. After six days marching in the dead of night over bad roads, 42 Tibetans, mostly monks and nuns, were stopped by Nepal police Tuesday near the tightly guarded Friendship bridge connecting Nepal with Tibet.

The 23 monks, 17 nuns and two laymen were being brought back to Kathmandu, police said. However, it was not clear immediately if they would be released or charged.

Last month, Nepal police raided the homes of leading members of the Tibetan community in Kathmandu and arrested three, who were detained for 90 days.

The marchers said they wanted to draw attention to the “absence of human rights in Tibet and urge for an independent investigation into the violence in March” in which, they claim, over 200 unarmed protesters were killed by Chinese security forces.

Clad in traditional red robes and waving the old flag of independent Tibet as well as banners, the marchers came out of hiding Tuesday as they neared the Nepal-Tibet border.

However, though the first group was arrested, a second smaller group, that also includes monks and nuns, is secretly on its way to the border.

They are hoping to be able to evade watchers and cross over into Tibet.

The marches come as Tibetans worldwide gear up to observe July 6, the birthday of their exiled leader Dalai Lama, as World Tibet Day.

Over 20,000 Tibetan refugees have been living in Nepal.

Since March, the diaspora has kept up regular protests against China in Kathmandu, incurring the wrath of Beijing, which has been pressuring the government of Nepal to take harsher measures against the protesters.

China is also asking Nepal’s communist parties to unite in a bid to win greater support to its One China policy.

In addition, China would like to see the open border between India and Nepal closed or tightly controlled so that Tibetans do not find it easy to flee from Tibet to Dharamsala in India, the seat of the Dalai Lama.

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