There was unprecedented intervention by Chinese embassy officials in Kathmandu yesterday with the handling of clashes between Nepalese police and Tibetans carrying out demonstrations for an important Tibetan anniversary, March 10 National Uprising Day.
In Greece, too, Chinese officials filmed Tibetan activists yesterday and were caught on camera attempting to impede a peaceful protest by Tibetans linked to the Olympics in Olympia, ancient site of the first Olympics.
Images published today on ICT’s website show Chinese Embassy officials working behind police lines in Kathmandu, and attempting to prevent their photograph being taken by an American observer, who reported to ICT that they spat at him.
It has been well known in Nepal that due to strong Chinese influence on the multi-party government, the Chinese embassy issues instructions to the Nepalese Home Ministry to direct the police on various important Tibetan anniversaries. But yesterday the Chinese embassy was visible on the streets with the Nepalese police, and according to one experienced observer, Chinese officials were “directing them, positioning them, [and] telling them to remove people”.
An estimated several thousand Tibetans gathered at the Buddhist stupa in the Boudha neighborhood of Kathmandu yesterday (March 10), waving the Tibetan national flag and shouting pro-Tibet slogans to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa in 1959. Police used batons to forcibly halt attempts by protestors to move the demonstration to the Chinese embassy, reportedly injuring more than 20 protestors and detaining at least 100 more.
An eyewitness in Kathmandu told ICT that there was a confrontation between the peaceful demonstrators and police at the bridge below Batpatini (pictured). The observer said: “In five police vans and two trucks, they were able to apprehend about 50 Tibetans, while another 20 or so ran in various directions. During the attempt to apprehend all of them, many Tibetan demonstrators were beaten with sticks and billy clubs, kicked, and punched. This was in the street and visible to the many residents around the bridge. The altercation took less than 15 minutes before they cleared the area.”
At least 100 Tibetans were detained temporarily yesterday following the protests, and most of them were held in the courtyard at Gosala police post near Pashupati. Around a dozen Tibetans were detained in Boudha police station, and most of them were hit with lathis and punched. Family members of the detained and supporters gathered around the police station, where they were being held, urging officials to release those who were arrested. Most of the detained are believed to have been released without charge at 5:45 pm local time yesterday.
An experienced observer in Kathmandu told ICT: “The number of [Nepalese] police in full riot gear, fanned out across the city, counting at least ten intersections with over 25 policemen, and 450 policemen posted in front of the Chinese embassy alone (along with three police dogs), was a show of planning and coordination that has not been seen before.”
Five Chinese and one Tibetan staff at the embassy, in plain clothes were positioned in front the Chinese embassy. When an American man photographing the demonstrations was was taking pictures of the two embassy Chinese officials telling the policeman where to stand to block the intersection, the two Chinese men tried to stop him, and upon walking up to the observer, one spat on him and the camera. While the American left, Chinese officials yelled in English to the Nepalese police man to apprehend the American and take the camera away, which the Nepalese police did not act upon.
In another example of China’s interference in the due process of other countries, Chinese embassy officials were caught on film yesterday by the BBC at Olympia, Greece, objecting to a peaceful protest by Tibetan activists at the ancient site that is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The Chinese embassy officials filmed Tibet protestors who symbolically lit a torch as part of a Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay in the buildup to the summer Olympics in Beijing. Tendon Dahortsang, of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe, said: “Greek authorities told us we were not allowed to go in because of our big bags, as Chinese embassy officials stood nearby and watched us.” (The Guardian, UK, March 11, 2008). When a BBC reporter challenged the Chinese officials for their involvement in impeding a peaceful protest in a free country, the Chinese officials became angry and shouted at the camera that Tibet is part of China, before telling the reporter that he was ‘stupid’ and walking away.
Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said today: “In both these instances China has attempted to orchestrate the bullying of peaceful protestors in democratic countries where — unlike in China — free speech and assembly are protected in law. This manifestation of China’s influence is certainly not the peaceful rise on the international stage of which China so often boasts in its Olympics year.”