08/12/2008, 00.00
NEPAL - TIBET - CHINA

Anti-China protests to continue in Kathmandu throughout Olympics

by Kalpit Parajuli
Hundreds of Tibetan exiles are protesting every day. The police arrest them, but must let them go within one day. To explain the many injuries suffered by peaceful demonstrators, the police are saying that they "injure themselves". But the population respects those who are fighting for their rights, something "more important than the competitions".

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The protests of Tibetan exiles continue on a daily basis, with many Buddhist monks and nuns among those in front of the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. And they are drawing increasing attention, despite attempts by the Nepalese authorities to repress them.

Yesterday, many Tibetans protested in front of the Chinese embassy, in the area of Hattisar (Kathmandu), calling for a "Free Tibet". Many had the Tibetan flag painted on their faces. The police arrest hundreds of demonstrators every day, so many that they have to divide them among different precincts. But the law prohibits keeping them in jail for more than a day without charging them with a specific crime, so they are set free at night.

There are more than 400 policemen monitoring the protests, and one of the supervisors says they are "acting under the direct orders of the government". "Some of the demonstrators", adds inspector Ganesh Ahir, "have started carrying knives, clubs, syringes, and other objects to use to attack the police". "They also use them to wound themselves, and then accuse the police".

In recent months, the media all over the world have shown footage and photographs of the Nepalese police beating demonstrators, who are always unarmed, provoking international indignation.

The government also had three important Tibetan leaders arrested, taking them from their homes at night, but  had to release them under orders from the supreme court. The United Nations has sharply criticized these arrests.

There are no fewer than 20,000 Tibetan exiles in the country, who took refuge there after the failed uprising in 1959.

Finally, the protests are attracting the sympathy of the Nepalese, who in the beginning were mostly disinterested and annoyed. More than 1,000 of them are now attending the protests, in the street or from the rooftops. Rahul Dhungana tells AsiaNews that yesterday's demonstration "makes me wonder why China is ignoring the requests of the Tibetans", who "are fighting for democracy and human rights".

Professor Harish Chandra Gautam criticizes the police for "the beatings during the demonstrations. My heart is with the Tibetans, and I have spent hours [watching] them protest, instead of the Olympics".

During yesterday's protest, many Nepalese left their homes to watch. Others took the Beijing Olympic flag out of their windows. Umesh Thapa, among the many in the street watching the demonstration, says that "the protest takes away the importance of the Olympics. The people fighting for their rights are much more important than the competitions".

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