Tibetan exiles in India protest Beijing Olympics

Aug. 09, 2008, 10:06 a.m. (ET)

NEW DELHI (AP) Tibetan exiles made a poster with their bloodied thumbprints and marched with it through the Indian capital Saturday as part of a campaign timed to coincide with the Beijing Olympics to protest Chinese rule in their homeland.

A Tibetan nurse used syringes to prick the thumbs of the protesters so they could make their gory statement. The protesters then rallied near India's Parliament, carrying the poster and chanting "Free Tibet!" and "Down with China!"

With India reluctant to embarrass Beijing during the Olympics, hundreds of police and armed paramilitary soldiers surrounded the marchers and stood by with tear gas canisters and water cannons.

On Friday, heavily armed police foiled a bid by dozens of protesters to storm the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi to mark the games' opening ceremony. Police barricades prevented three busloads of activists from reaching the Chinese mission.

Elsewhere in New Delhi, six other Tibetan exiles entered a third day without food or water. They began their fast Thursday to protest the Beijing Olympics and the "oppression of Tibetans by the illegal communist regime in Tibet," the Tibetan Youth Congress said in a Friday statement.

"Their condition is stable," Tsewang Reigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, told The Associated Press on Saturday.

India is home to the largest Tibetan exile community and their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The protesters say China's often-harsh rule of Tibet goes against the Olympic spirit.

Tibetan exiles in India have been staging protests and trying to march to Tibet to show their support for the uprising that erupted in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in March.

The Dalai Lama has been vilified by Chinese authorities, who blame him for the recent unrest and claim he is trying to split the Himalayan region from the rest of China.

The Dalai Lama has not joined calls to boycott the Olympics, saying he supports China hosting the games.

He has been living in Dharmsala, a northern Indian town, since he fled Tibet after an abortive uprising against China in 1959.


Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma contributed to this report.