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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 15:07 GMT
Indian police halt Tibetan march
The marchers say they will continue with their protest

Police in India have detained more than 100 Tibetan refugees who were trying to march to the Chinese border in protest against China hosting the Olympics.

The marchers were arrested at Dehra Bridge, 31 miles from Dharamsala town, from where the Dalai Lama heads the Tibetan government in exile.

The walk began on Monday as part of a global pro-independence protest.

It coincided with the 49th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet after a failed uprising against China.

Those arrested included five women and some foreign nationals.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, has called for greater pressure on China over its human rights record.

Chinese officials have meanwhile acknowledged that Buddhist monks took part in protests in the Tibetan city of Lhasa earlier this week.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the authorities had "stabilised" the situation.

Unconfirmed reports earlier this week said as many as 600 monks had taken part in rallies, and that police used tear gas to disperse them.

Rights groups said the demonstrations were the biggest display of opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet since 1989.

'Victory to Tibet'

Tibetan activists in India say they resumed their march at 0530 local time (midnight GMT) on Thursday.

Map

"At around 0630, Indian police blocked the march and forcibly removed all marchers from the road at Dehra Bridge," the activists said in a press release.

"The police first detained Tenzin Tsundue, a high-profile Tibetan activist, carrying him away as he shouted 'Bhoe Gyalo, Victory to Tibet'."

The marchers sat down on the road, linking arms and chanting Tibetan Buddhist prayers.

The police broke up the crowd and took away the protesters in five police buses, the release said.

"Our cause is just and our actions are non-violent," Tenzin Choeying, one of the march leaders, said moments before he was arrested.

"While these extreme measures taken by the Indian authorities are unfortunate, this is but a momentary set-back in our plan and we are determined to continue our March home to Tibet," he said.

Police official Atul Fulzele was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying 100 people had been arrested.

Rights violations

A group of some 100 activists began their walk on Monday from Dharamsala.

The local police served a restraining order against them which they said had been issued by the authorities in Delhi.

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (file pic)
The Dalai Lama has called for greater pressure on China

The marchers say that their aim is to expose what they say are serious human rights violations in Tibet.

They say Tibetan refugees have the "right to return to Tibet".

India has in the past been sympathetic to the Tibetan cause, correspondents say, but in recent years it has not allowed large-scale public protests for fear of embarrassing Beijing.

Police also say that the planned march to Tibet is in breach of an agreement between Delhi and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

As the Olympics near, Tibetans have begun a global campaign to protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet.

On Monday, some 1,000 Tibetan exiles clashed with police in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, while trying to march to the Chinese embassy.



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