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Australian police arrest 4 Tibet protesters

Protesters scuffled with police outside the Chinese Embassy in the Australian capital on Tuesday at a demonstration marking 50 years since the uprising that sent Tibet's spiritual leader into exile.

world Updated: Mar 10, 2009 11:09 IST

Protesters scuffled with police outside the Chinese Embassy in the Australian capital on Tuesday at a demonstration marking 50 years since the uprising that sent Tibet's spiritual leader into exile.

In the South Korean capital of Seoul, demonstrators waved Tibetan independence flags and face masks plastered with the slogan "Peace in Tibet" at a gathering outside China's embassy. Other rallies were planned for elsewhere in Asia.

In Canberra, police arrested four of about 300 protesters who marched from Parliament House to the nearby Chinese Embassy after they broke through temporary fencing bordering a designated protest area, a police spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity. The four men were taken to a police station and later released without charge, she said.

Police grappled with several protesters who stormed the fence, including a woman who appeared to attempt to strangle herself with a Tibetan flag, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp television footage.

Several lawmakers joined the protesters marking the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, ignoring a Chinese request for legislators to stay away.

Government lawmaker Michael Danby told the rally he had received a letter from Chinese Ambassador Junsai Zhang asking him not to attend the event.

"I think the ambassador made a mistake. This is not exactly ... diplomatic in an open society like Australia," the ABC quoted Danby as saying.

Asked about the letter, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said an ambassador can make statements about his country's policy, but added, "What a diplomat is not entitled to do is to somehow seek to direct an elected official or elected member of parliament in how he or she might conduct himself."

The phone at the press office in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra rang unanswered on Tuesday.

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