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Tibetans mark Olympics close with anti-China rally

world Updated: Aug 24, 2008 18:37 IST
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About 2,000 Tibetan exiles, including children, monks and nuns, joined a protest rally in Kathmandu on Sunday, hours before the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing.

Maroon-robed monks and nuns with shaven heads, some with Tibetan flags and placards calling for independence, were among the participants who walked silently for eight-km (five miles) on the outskirts of the Nepali capital.

In India's northern town of Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, hundreds of Tibetan youths marched, vowing to keep alive their "Free Tibet" campaign even after the Beijing Olympics.

Monks and nuns walked alongside ordinary Tibetans, shouting "Free Tibet" and "We want justice".

In Kathmandu, police kept a strict vigil, snatched some flags but let the march continue from the Boudha suburb to the ancient monastery of Swyambhu outside the main city.

Exiles called for United Nations and other fact-finding missions to "assess the actual situation in Tibet and let the world know the truth".

Over 20,000 Tibetans still live in Nepal, the second biggest home for them outside Tibet after India, since fleeing their homeland after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Nepal, which considers Tibet as part of China -- an aid donor and trade partner -- says the exiles can stay in the impoverished nation but can't organise any activities against its influential neighbour.

The refugees have managed to protest, however, and have tried to storm the Chinese consular office in Kathmandu regularly since a crackdown on anti-China riots in March.

About 10,000 refugees have been arrested in the past five months, but later freed.

New-York based Human Rights Watch said last month that Nepali authorities were under pressure from Beijing to stop Tibetan protests, a charge China denied.

Nepal's new Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda is in Beijing to attend the closing of the Olympics, and is due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders and discuss Nepal-China relations.