NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Thousands of angry Tibetans staged anti-China protests in the capitals of India and Nepal on Thursday, with hundreds detained by baton-wielding police in Kathmandu, a day before the Olympic Games open in Beijing.
In one of the biggest rallies in recent months, nearly 4,000 Tibetans, including maroon-robed nuns and monks, took to New Delhi’s streets, saying China had no right to hold the Games.
About 2,000 Tibetans and Nepali supporters staged anti-China protests in the Nepali capital Kathmandu. Police charged with batons raised to break up the demonstration and detained 513 of the protesters — 337 men and 176 women — police said.
The demonstrators had staged a peaceful sit-in protest since early Thursday but later refused to disperse, prompting police to charge and beat them with bamboo sticks, a Reuters photographer at the scene said.
The Olympic torch was carried along the ancient Great Wall on Thursday after a tortuous and troubled route around the world. The torch relay has often acted as a lightning rod for anti-China protests from Tibetans and their supporters.
“China has failed to live up to the ideals of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has failed to protect the Olympics from China,” Tenzin Yangdon, a Tibetan Youth Congress leader, shouted at the rally in New Delhi.
“It is also a failure for the world, how could they allow China to stage the Olympics, symbolizing equality among mankind.”
Traffic came to a halt as protesters marched through the heart of India’s capital shouting: “Stop lying in Tibet” and “Games over, free Tibet”.
Many waved the Tibetan flag and yellow “Free Tibet” caps as they walked past hundreds of policemen guarding the streets.
India has been a centre of regular Tibetan protests for months. Exiles have even scaled the walls of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi at least twice since last August.
On Thursday, policemen with automatic weapons stood guard outside the embassy, which was completely surrounded by barbed wire fences and barricades to stop anyone entering.
The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader living in exile in India, supports the Beijing Olympics.
But thousands of young Tibetans born in India disagree.
“Chinese people may deserve the Games, but not when their authorities are orchestrating violence inside Tibet,” Nangayal Soepa, a Tibetan protester, said in New Delhi. His two-year-old son Nyiama waved a Tibetan flag.
In Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, at least 1,500 Tibetan monks and nuns marched in protest.
The Tibetans have promised to carry on their protests even after the Games. The Dalai Lama was not seen during the rally.
In Kathmandu, shaven-headed nuns in saffron dresses and monks wearing burgundy robes were among the protesters.
“Many Tibetans including monks and nuns are tortured and imprisoned by China,” said Karma, a 54-year-old nun, holding a yellow-and-white Buddhist flag.
“We are protesting for their release and appealing to the international community to help to release these religious people,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu and Abhishek Madhukar in Dharamsala; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Paul Tait)
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