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Tibet protesters clash with police

March 9, 2009

From News.com.au

Pro-Tibet protesters and police have clashed outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra on the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that sent the Dalai Lama into exile.

At least a dozen demonstrators tried to break through a police line guarding the embassy today, with one woman tightening a Tibetan flag around her neck before being subdued by police.

Tensions were further inflamed when an embassy official emerged to photograph the group. He quickly retreated when the violence began to escalate.

Police detained at least two men, including one who threw his shoes at the building.

Earlier, politicians of all persuasions, including independent Senator Nick Xenophon, Labor backbencher Michael Danby, Liberal MP Peter Slipper and Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown, joined about 150 Tibetan sympathisers in a peaceful rally on the lawns of Parliament House.

In a speech, Senator Brown urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull to support Tibet’s independence from China.

“Australian people support freedom for Tibet,” he said.

“What we need is political leaders, including Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull on this hill, who have got the gumption to reflect that Australian call to the Chinese dictators to give Tibet back its freedom, its peace and its rights.”

Tibetan independence was a priority for the Greens political community around the world, Senator Brown said, adding he would be raising the issue again at an upcoming party conference in Europe.

A spokesman for Australia’s Tibetan community, Tsewang Thupten, told the rally that the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising was a day to celebrate and commemorate Tibetans.

“Today is a day to celebrate the strength of the Tibetan people and their perseverance, and to commit ourselves to continuing the struggle,” Mr Thupten said.

“We are also commemorating the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans and the millions who are still under the Chinese occupation.”

The group, waving flags and placards, sang the national anthem of Tibet before marching on the Chinese embassy.

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