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Nepal's Arrests Of Tibet Issue Protesters Alarming

Nepalese arrests of protesters on Tibet issue alarm UN human rights office

25 March 2008 - United Nations human rights officials in Nepal have expressed deep concern at the arbitrary arrest and detention of several hundred people in the capital, Kathmandu, apparently on the grounds that they were involved in protests related to recent developments in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal issued a statement yesterday saying that it had been informed that a number of prominent human rights defenders were among the people arrested in Kathmandu. As many as 475 people were reportedly arrested yesterday.

"These actions by police violate individuals' basic rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom of movement, in addition to impairing the individuals' rights to peaceful assembly and expression," OHCHR-Nepal stated.

The Office - which promised to monitor events closely and continue to communicate its concerns to Nepalese authorities - said it had received reports that some people were arrested on the basis of their appearance and their assumed political opinions.

Richard Bennett, the representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, said such arrests were a form of unlawful discrimination.

"The practice of widespread arrests without charges is against the spirit of a democratic society governed by human rights and the rule of law," he said.

The Office stressed that Nepal is obligated under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to uphold the right of all persons to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

"While it is permissible to limit these rights where necessary to protect such interests as public order, a Government cannot suppress demonstrations merely on the basis of disagreement with the political opinions expressed."

Both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have voiced concern about the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, where there have been reports earlier this month of demonstrations, violence and loss of life.

Mr. Ban told reporters that all sides must avoid further confrontation and he urged restraint by the authorities, while Ms. Arbour called on Chinese authorities to allow protesters to express their right to freedom of expression and assembly.


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