Detained Tibetans stage hunger strike in Nepal

KATHMANDU Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:21pm IST

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Thirteen Tibetans, detained last week for protesting against China in front of the United Nations office in Nepal, started an indefinite hunger strike on Monday to press for their release, the president of the Tibetan Youth Congress in Nepal said.

The activists, including two women, were demanding U.N. intervention in their homeland after a series of self-immolations against Chinese rule there.

Tsewang Dolma quoted the protesters as saying the detentions, since Friday, were a violation of human rights.

"The hunger strike is to demand their release," she said.

Nepal is home to 20,000 Tibetans who have been living there since fleeing with the Dalai Lama in 1959.

Tibetans in Nepal have been organising protests against China, showing solidarity with those who have self-immolated in recent months.

In the past, most protesters were released shortly after being arrested during their protests in the Nepali capital.

Human rights groups working for the Tibetan cause say Nepal was under pressure from China to crackdown on the activities of Tibetan exiles.

Kathmandu considers Tibet as part of China, impoverished Nepal's key trade partner and a major aid donor to its economic development.

At least 16 Tibetans are believed to have died after setting themselves on fire in protest since March, most of them Buddhist monks in Tibetan parts of Sichuan and Gansu provinces, next to what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.

In November last year, one Tibetan poured kerosene on his body and set himself on fire but was quickly overpowered by locals at a Buddhist shrine on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

(Editing by Matthias Williams and Sanjeev Miglani)

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