India and Nepal block Tibetan anti-China demonstrations
by Nirmala Carvalho
Delhi stops the "return march" of exiled Tibetans from Dharamsala: "It violates agreements according to which anti-China demonstrations should not take place". Kathmandu arrests 130 activists. And in Lhasa, dozens of monks have been arrested for protesting peacefully.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - On the Tibetan question, diplomacy is once again winning out over respect for human rights.  Peaceful demonstrations organised yesterday by Tibetans in exile and in their home country have been blocked, and have led to the arrest of dozens of monks.  The demonstrators wanted, in various ways, to commemorate the anniversary of the repression of the Tibetan revolt against the occupying Chinese army in 1959.

In Dharamsala in northern India, agents blocked hundreds of Tibetans who had set out on a "return march" to Tibet.  They intended to arrive in early August, in protest against the Chinese occupation of the Himalayan region and against the holding of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.  The head of police in Dharamsala, the headquarters of the exiled Tibetan government, explains that an order from New Delhi prohibits the demonstrators from leaving the area.  According to Indian authorities, the initiative is "in clear violation of the understanding between the government of India and his holiness the Dalai Lama that there will be no anti-China political activities on Indian soil". Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress and one of the organisers of the march, explains to AsiaNews: "We are grateful for India's hospitality, but it is nonetheless true that we are refugees who want to return home.  Some of us were born in exile, and it is so exciting to think of touching Tibetan soil for the first time.  In spite of China, our resistance will continue".

In Boudhanath, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Nepal, in the capital Kathmandu, the police shot tear gas to stop about 500 people who wanted to go to the Chinese embassy to protest. 130 activists were arrested in the clash.

The same thing happened in Lhasa, in Tibet.  There, according to Radio Free Asia, 300 monks marched from the Drepung monastery to ask for the release of monks arrested last year, after the Dalai Lama had received the Congressional Gold Medal from the United States. Authorities stopped the group at a checkpoint and arrested between 50 and 60 monks.  According to witness reports, "many monasteries in and around Lhasa were surrounded by members of the paramilitary People's Armed Police".

Beijing asserts that Tibet is an integral part of China, while Tibetans maintain that they have been independent for centuries.  The borders of the Himalayan region are patrolled by Chinese troops who shoot anyone who dares to cross from one side to the other.