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Nepal police arrest Tibet peace marchers

Thirty-five Tibetans, including eight women, were arrested by Nepal police on Friday near the Nepal-China border as they tried to cross over and stage a protest march in Tibet. "There is no peace in Tibet," one of the protesters told IANS. "People are being killed and tortured. Though we are Tibetans we can't return to our own land."

world Updated: Jun 26, 2009 16:24 IST

Thirty-five Tibetans, including eight women, were arrested by Nepal police on Friday near the Nepal-China border as they tried to cross over and stage a protest march in Tibet. "There is no peace in Tibet," one of the protesters told IANS. "People are being killed and tortured. Though we are Tibetans we can't return to our own land."

"We had wanted to stage a peace march in Tibet to draw attention to our plight. But Nepal police arrested us."

The group, some of whom are said to have Nepali citizenship or ID cards, left from a Buddhist monastery in the capital early in the morning. They were heading for the border when they were stopped at Andheri, a town about 30km from the border in Nepal's northernmost Sindhupalchowk district.

Police said the group was being brought to Kathmandu where they would face appropriate action.

This is the first open show of defiance by Tibetans since the Maoists came to power last year and pledged to stop anti-China demonstrations by Tibetans on Nepal's soil.

With the fall of the Maoist government in May and the new ruling alliance still struggling to find its feet, the protests have erupted again.

"During the Maoist government, there were low-profile political awareness campaigns and candle-light vigils," a member of the Tibetan community in Kathmandu, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

"But now they have decided to revive the protests."

During the Olympic Games last year that Beijing hosted, it was discomfited by continuous protests by Tibetans in Kathmandu, drawing world attention to alleged human rights violations in China-controlled Tibet.

Nepal's succession of governments has pledged China they would not allow any anti-China activities in Nepal. Friday's demonstrations will leave the government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal redfaced.

China says it does not recognise Tibetan refugees but calls them illegal immigrants who should be punished.

It has also been asking for tighter control of the open border between Nepal and India that allows Tibetans residing in Dharamshala, the seat of their exiled leader Dalai Lama, to cross into Nepal easily and boost anti-China demonstrations.