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Tibet exiles protest against China in Nepal, India

Aug. 07, 2008, 10:44 a.m. (ET)

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) Thousands of Tibetan exiles demonstrated in Nepal and India on Thursday, a day before the Olympics open in Beijing, demanding religious rights and saying China should not be allowed to host the games while its harsh rule over their homeland continues.

Police broke up a protest by about 2,000 Tibetans, including many monks, nuns and schoolchildren, in Nepal's capital. The protesters threw rocks and bricks at police, who retaliated by beating some of them with bamboo batons.

Police official Bharat Lama said 570 protesters were detained and no one was seriously injured.

Tibetan activists said the protest was aimed at 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.

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

In India's capital, New Delhi, heavily armed paramilitary forces manned roadblocks around the Chinese Embassy and hundreds of police surrounded several thousand marchers, as India sought not to embarrass Beijing ahead of the games.

"There is no human rights, no justice and no freedom inside Tibet," said Konchok Yangphel of the Tibetan Youth Congress, one of the more radical exile groups.

The protesters said China's rule of Tibet violates the Olympic spirit.

Several hundred protesters also marched in Dharmsala, the northern India hill town where the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile is based. India is home to the largest Tibetan exile community and its exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan exiles in both Nepal and India have been staging frequent protests to show their support for the uprising that erupted in Tibet's capital in March, and to protest China's hosting of the Olympics.

The March protests were some of the biggest in almost 50 years of Chinese rule. Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before Communist troops invaded in 1950, while Beijing says the Himalayan region has been part of its territory for centuries.