Nepal police break up Tibet protests, 104 held

KATHMANDU, March 31 (Reuters) - Nepali police beat pro-Tibet protesters with sticks in Kathmandu on Monday and detained more than 100 people for demonstrating against China, police and witnesses said.

Hundreds of Tibetans split up into small groups and tried to storm a Chinese consular office from different directions in the Nepali capital.

In what has become a familiar sight in Kathmandu in recent weeks, they waved signs and shouted slogans demanding independence for their Himalayan homeland.

Police broke up the rallies, grabbed the protesters by their arms or clothes and hauled them into iron-meshed vans or trucks.

"We want full freedom for Tibet," 40-year-old Sonam Dolma said. "Until then we will continue to protest and make the world listen to our voice."

Police said at least 104 men and women were detained and would be freed later.

"They have been detained according to the government policy of not allowing demonstrations against China," said Bibhutiraj Pandey, a police officer from the scene.

More than 20,000 ethnic Tibetans live in Nepal, where many sought refuge after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, almost a decade after Chinese troops marched into the region.

Many Tibetans complain that they have less rights than Han Chinese and that the Chinese authorities are trying to eliminate Tibetan culture.

Nepal, which gets development grants from the Chinese government, accepts Tibet as part of China.

Despite this, Tibetans have been protesting almost every day for the last few weeks and hundreds have so far been arrested and freed, police said. (Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Jonathan Allen and Alex Richardson)