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India stops Tibet protest march

Tibetan monks setting off on their protest march
The marchers did not say what route they were taking

More than 100 Tibetan exiles in India have been barred by from marching to Tibet to protest against China holding the Olympics, Indian police say.

The marchers left Dharamsala on the 49th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

But police in Dharamsala say they have been prevented from leaving the area.

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

In Nepal, some 1,000 Tibetan exiles have clashed with police in Kathmandu while trying to march to the Chinese embassy.

Escape

"We have issued a restraining order to the marchers not to leave the Kangra district and if they violate the order then all necessary actions will be taken," district police chief Atul Phuljile told the AFP news agency.

Tibetan protests in Nepal

Mr Phuljile said the order had been issued at the behest of the central government in Delhi.

The planned six-month march from India to Tibet began on Monday to coincide with the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet that forced the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, into exile in 1959.

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

Tibet activists are hoping to use China's hosting of the Olympics to publicise their cause.

'Great impact'

Before the marchers in India set off, the Dalai Lama said he approved of China hosting the games because it provided the world with a chance to pressurise the Beijing government to uphold the Olympic ideals of freedom of speech and equality.

"China should prove herself a good host by providing these freedoms. Therefore, besides sending their athletes, the international community should remind the Chinese government of these issues," the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama heads the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, a northern Indian hill town.

Tibetan exiles chanting against China
The exiles say Tibetan identity has been suppressed

In hard-hitting remarks, the Dalai Lama also said that "repression continues to increase with numerous, unimaginable and gross violations of human rights, denial of religious freedom and the politicisation of religious issues" by China.

Tibetan exile groups say the march was one of several protest events in the run-up to the games in Beijing in August.

Organisers say they represent tens of thousands of Tibetan exiles, and want to draw attention to what they see as Chinese suppression of Tibetan identity.

Organisers had not given details of where or when they were going to try to cross into Tibet.

Tear gas

Meanwhile police in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, say that up to 80 protesters have been arrested.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC between 1,000 to 3,000 Tibetan exiles and their supporters gathered at a large Tibetan Buddhist shrine, including many monks and nuns.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that police barred the way when some protesters tried to march towards the Chinese embassy, which lies in a different suburb.

Protests by Tibetans have also been held in other parts of the world, including the Greek capital, Athens, where protesters were prevented from getting into the site of Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games.


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