By Tenzin Choephel
Kathmandu, May 6: Nepali Police today unexpectedly intercepted Tibetan attempts to stage a demonstration at the Chinese Consulate stopping three buses full of Tibetans near Nepal Rastra Bank. 57 Tibetans were arrested while more than 70 others managed to disperse into different directions avoiding police arrest.
Young Tibetan women during a 24-hour hunger strike at Swayambhu in Kathmandu on Saturday, May 3, 2008 (Photo by Tenzin Choephel / Phayul.com)
One escapee later told Phayul that a group briefly shouted and protested as police began arresting them.
The Tibetans on their way to stage demonstrations were arrested around 3:00pm and were taken to police station before releasing them late at night.
“Our protest plan was foiled by Police today. We were heading towards the Chinese Consulate at Hattisar when Police stopped us. I think someone informed Police about our exact route and time. It is sad that we could not protest today but got arrested and detained for doing nothing,” explained one of the Tibetan activists.
“We came in three buses when Police stopped us. Many jumped off the buses and ran in different directions,” another activist carrying a mock cartoon of Chinese President biting a hand told Phayul. “I couldn’t show this cartoon,” he said with tinge of disappointment in his voice.
According to Jamphel, another activist in the group, there was no media person when the incident happened. “So Police were beating us with baton and we ran in different directions. I got whipped up couple of times on my hip,” he said.
Many Tibetan activists complain that Nepali police have shown no restraint in using force and sometimes extreme brutality on demonstrators even in the face of strong media and human rights observers’ presence.
“Police on many occasions really did not care about media persons and observers. Yesterday they were kicking and dragging us badly right in front of two UN OHCHR observers. One of them even shouted that it was too much,” Jamphel explained.
This is the first incident where Nepali Police thwarted an attempted protest by Tibetans. Since unrest erupted in Tibet on March 10, Tibetans in Nepal have regularly carried out successive protests against China’s repressive rule in their Himalayan homeland. Chinese Embassy and Consulate, and the UN House located in Kathmandu are the main targets of their protest campaigns to seek international attention to end the ongoing repression in Tibet and call on China to resolve Tibet issue.
The Chinese Embassy on Sunday accused Tibetan protestors of damaging Embassy property, but provided no specific proof of any rampaging incidence of it. The Embassy also denounced the US Embassy’s expressed concerns for the rights of Tibetans in Nepal and called it interference in Nepal’s internal matter.