Thursday, March 20, 2008

Seeing red, and blue

Is that blood on your face, or just Holi colours?
Patan, Nepal

This morning, there was another attempted demonstration by pro-Tibetan protestors at the UN House in Patan. I didn't make it to the site in time (around 10.30 am).

An eyewitness who did make it, but asked not to be named, says it was very brief. The police acted so quickly in arresting the protestors this time that there was no violence. Basically, they just showed up (again in an attempt to deliver the memorandum, as below) and were immediately taken into custody.

When I arrived at Pulchowk, the street was still lined with dozens of Nepal's Men in Blue (police in riot gear). There will likely be no more actions for a day or so till their release of the Tibetan demonstrators - most of the leaders are incarcerated right now.

As I mentioned previously, Monday saw Nepal's most violent police intervention in a protest since the People's Uprising in 2006.

The latest I've heard about the Monday demonstrators is that nine were injured, including one monk named Tseten Dorjee who sustained serious head injuries. The wounded are dispersed between TU Teaching Hospital, Patan Hospital and Birendra Police Hospital. Above is a photo of an injured monk that appeared only in local paper the Nepali Times (not the "MSM"), so I will reproduce it here )(above). The photographer asked to remain anonymous.

The Tibetan protestors had been attempting to deliver a memorandum to the UN, requesting intervention in Tibet, when the Nepal police descended on them with not only bamboo canes but tear gas. Most of the serious injuries were from hurled tear gas cannisters.

Meanwhile, the UN themselves have issued a statement saying they did not request police "protection" from peaceful demonstrators and have or had no objection to receiving the petition. From what I've read, the Nepal police deny acting at the behest of Chinese Embassy, but I have yet to confirm that source.

On a lighter note, while on my way to the UN in Pulchowk, Patan today, I got splattered with a water balloon by a young Holi-gan who announced, "Happy Holi!" and ran away. What a coward, to throw it at my back. I actually felt a bit cheated that it was just a water balloon. Seems like a degraded version of Holi, just water instead of bright colours. I guess I should be glad it wasn't a teargas cannister.

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