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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 16:12 UK

Nepal cracks down on Tibet exiles

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Female Tibetan exiles participate in a silent march in Kathmandu to protest against the Chinese government, 11 May, 2008
There is a substantial Tibetan refugee population in Nepal

Nepalese police have detained three refugee community leaders in a significant hardening of its position against Tibetan refugees.

It says it will hold them for up to three months without trial.

The trio were picked up early on Thursday morning and later in the day scores of Tibetan demonstrators were arrested while staging rallies.

Police said they were leaders of an agitation programme which was being conducted "very aggressively".

Anti-Chinese activities

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Yam Bahadur Gurung, told the BBC that those arrested included two women, Ngawang Sangmo and Tashi Dolma, who lead the Tibet Women's Association.

The third person to be detained was Kelsang Chung, the director of the Tibetan Refugees Reception Centre.

The commissioner said the agitation campaign conducted by the trio violated the state rules of Nepal.

He said that they would be held for a maximum of three months under the country's Public Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

Nepal, a small country between two huge neighbours - China and India - has repeatedly said it will not allow anti-Chinese activities on its soil.

It has spent several months declaring its support for the forthcoming Olympics in China.

Tibetans here have been demonstrating against Beijing regularly since March and until now the authorities have been detaining them for up to one night and sometimes beating them.

These longer-term arrests seem to be a response to the Chinese ambassador here, who has been publicly urging Nepal to treat the refugees more toughly.

Later on Thursday scores of other Tibetans were picked up while demonstrating near the Chinese consulate.

It was not clear how long they would be held.




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