Nepali police halt pro-Tibet protests, 450 detained

Police arrest Tibetan nuns as they take part in a peace rally in Kathmandu June 7, 2008. REUTERS/Deepa Shrestha

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepali police used batons to break up a pro-Tibet rally in Kathmandu on Saturday, detaining at least 450 exiles, police and witnesses said.

Those detained will be freed later on Saturday, a police officer said. Witnesses said hundreds of refugees, including nuns and monks, shouting “free Tibet” and “down with China” were held as they tried to march towards a Chinese visa office.

It was the highest number of refugees detained in a single day since the exiled Tibetans resumed protests this week after a lull of two weeks following the devastating earthquake in China.

More than 20,000 Tibetans live in Nepal since fleeing their homeland after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

Nepal considers Tibet part of China, a key aid donor, and does not allow anti-China activities. However, exiles have been staging regular protests since the Chinese crackdown in Tibet in March.