08/08/2008, 00.00
NEPAL - TIBET - CHINA
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8-8-2008: A "normal" day of arrests in Nepal and China

Thousands of Tibetans protest in Kathmandu: the police load them onto wagons "like cattle" and arrest hundreds of them. In Beijing, a human rights activist is in jail after asking for permission to conduct a public demonstration today.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than a thousand arrests in two days in Kathmandu, in  protests yesterday and today by thousands of Tibetan exiles, including many monks and nuns. Meanwhile, in China, asking for "permission to protest" leads to imprisonment.

The demonstrators, who arrived by bus, descended by the thousands in front of the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu, despite the prohibition against demonstrating and the massive police presence, waving Tibetan flags and shouting "China thief, leave our country. Stop killing in Tibet. Stop the cultural genocide". Hundreds of policemen loaded them onto wagons ("like cattle", eyewitnesses say) and arrested at least 740 people.

Yesterday, at least 513 of 2,000 demonstrators were jailed after gathering in front of an important Buddhist temple to pray and sing hymns. The police also assaulted and beat them.

Nepal has been sharply criticized by the international community for its systematic arrest, in recent months, of peaceful pro-Tibet demonstrators (at least 8,350 arrests as of a few days ago, according to Human Rights Watch), violating the right to demonstrate. Modraj Dotel, spokesman of the interior ministry, has tried to explain to the media that the protesters should "take into consideration the longstanding relations of friendship with China".

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Zhang Wei remains in jail after being arrested two days ago for "disturbing the public order". According to his relatives (the police are not commenting), Zhang, whose home was demolished two years ago in the destruction of the historic Qianmen district in Beijing (it was rased to construct modern luxury buildings), made a request a few days ago to hold a demonstration today against government repression of dissent, in one of the three parks in the capital designated for this purpose. The permission was denied.

Beijing has said that public protests and demonstrations are allowed during the Games only in these three parks, and with prior authorization. But park authorities say that as of yesterday, no demonstrations have been approved.

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