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Nepal stops exiles from marching to Tibet, 30 held
Reuters[Monday, July 28, 2008 15:32]
KATHMANDU, July 28 - Nepali police detained 30 Tibetan refugees, including nuns and monks, marching to the Tibetan border to protest against crackdowns on anti-China demonstrators.

The exiles were picked up on Sunday from the northeastern Nepali village of Jalbire, close to the Friendship Bridge which lies on Nepal's border with China and is the only international gateway to Tibet open to tourists.

"They were trying to march to Tibet and see the situation there for themselves," said Tashi Dorjee, a refugee in Kathmandu.

The march on Sunday was the latest in a series of protests by exiled Tibetans in Nepal since deadly anti-government riots broke out in Tibetan capital Lhasa and other areas in China in mid-March, to mark the anniversary of a 1959 failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Nepal, where more than 20,000 exiled Tibetans live, is the second-biggest home for Tibetans outside Tibet after neighboring India.

Police officer Suraj Khatri Chhetri said the refugees were being driven to Kathmandu, where they would be handed over to immigration authorities.

Nepali police broke up a similar march by Tibetans this month and detained 42 exiles in the same area.

Last week, New York-based Human Rights Watch said that China was putting pressure on Nepal to crack down on protests by the Tibetans, a charge Beijing has denied.

Nepal considers Tibet part of its influential giant neighbor China.

In India, six members of the Tibetan Youth Congress began a hunger strike on Monday in New Delhi to protest against the Olympic Games, which will open next month in Beijing.

"The Chinese people deserve to host the Olympic Games, but what the Tibetans and the Chinese people deserve more now is freedom," the organization said in a statement.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Valerie Lee)
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