Tibetan exiles demonstrate against China in Nepal

Aug. 07, 2008, 3:25 a.m. (ET)

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) About 2,000 Tibetan exiles demonstrated in Nepal's capital on Thursday, a day before the Olympics open in Beijing, demanding religious rights and an investigation into China's crackdown in their homeland.

Tibetan activists said their protest was aimed at drawing international attention to the issues and urging other nations to put pressure on China.

"We timed our demonstration just before the Olympic Games begin in China to try to draw maximum attention," said Lakpa, an activist who uses only one name.

The demonstration on the eastern outskirts of Katmandu drew about 2,000 Tibetan exiles, many of them monks, nuns and schoolchildren. The area is home to Tibetan refugee shelters and Buddhist temples.

Nepalese police snatched banners from the protesters and did not allow them to chant anti-China slogans. They were, however, allowed to gather peacefully.

Many demonstrators wore T-shirts that said, "Free Tibet. Stop killing in Tibet."

Nepal has been criticized for not allowing Tibetans to protest in front of the Chinese Embassy and the mission's visa office in the center of Katmandu. Police have routinely broken up the frequent demonstrations since they began in March, when China cracked down on protests in Tibet.

Nepalese officials have said they will allow peaceful demonstrations, but not near foreign embassies or ones that target friendly nations, including China.

Thousands of Tibetan refugees live in Nepal. Thousands more are allowed to pass through the country on their way to Dharmasala, India, where their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, lives in exile.