After growing protests in Tibet and India against China’s rule of the formerly Buddhist kingdom of Tibet, demonstrations have now flared up in Nepal with police arresting nearly 100 people near the Samdupling Tibetan refugee camp in Kathmandu valley.
Nepalese police said they acted on a tip that some people would attempt self-immolation in protest on Nov. 2, the second day of a three-day “Global Action” campaign by Tibetans in Nepal. Among the arrests were 18 people who were found carrying oil cans. Blogs showed aghast relatives and neighbors grappling with the protesters to stop them.
The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the campaign organizer, had said it planned to hold peaceful activities, including a mass prayer service, pledges written in blood and shaved heads.
The aim was to show solidarity with Tibetans whose political and religious rights have been curtailed in since China annexed Tibet in the 1950s. The prayers are especially for nine monks and a nun who set themselves ablaze in Tibet this year in protest with five of them dying.
TYC said the participants were angered by police tearing down the portrait of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. On Nov. 1, when the campaign started, police tore down a placard that said that Tibetans were holding a prayer ceremony for those who had laid down their lives for religion and politics in Tibet.
Nepal, situated between China and India, once had offered fleeing Tibetan refugees a home. However, it now has begun tightly controlling the movements of the exiles, preventing them from holding traditional prayers or celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday in public.
Rights groups like Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Tibet say the crackdown is due to growing pressure by China, which claims Tibet is an integral part of its communist republic.