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Tibet protesters arrested in Nepal

world Updated: Aug 08, 2008 12:00 IST

Nepalese police said they had arrested at least 500 Tibetans protesting near the Chinese embassy on Friday, hours ahead of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

"We want to give the millions of people who will watch the opening as well as the hundreds of athletes taking part the message that there are no human rights in Tibet," Tashi Tsering, a 20-year-old Tibetan student, told AFP.

The Tibetans, including dozens of monks and nuns, chanted "Shame shame, Hu Jintao," referring to the Chinese president, and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans," as they were rounded up near the Chinese embassy.

Police said at least 500 protesters were arrested on Friday morning and more arrests were expected as organisers said they would keep up their protests throughout the day.

"Those we detain will be released later in the day," said senior police officer Ramesh Thapa.

Some protesters scuffled with police, who kicked and hit the Tibetans with bamboo poles as the protesters tried to break through a police cordon outside the Chinese visa and trade section.

Some protesters shaved their heads and painted their faces and scalps with the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile. They also wore headbands calling for a "Free Tibet."

The exiled Tibetans have been protesting almost daily since unrest broke out in the Himalayan region in March.

"I've been coming here nearly every day for the past three months, and I will continue," said demonstrator Tsering before being dragged into a police van.

Nepal -- home to around 20,000 Tibetan exiles -- has repeatedly said it will not allow pro-Tibetan protests out of respect for their giant northern neighbour.