Australian police arrest Tibetan protesters at Chinese consulate

SYDNEY: Australian police arrested eight Tibetan protesters who stormed the Chinese consulate in Sydney on Wednesday, including one person who scaled a flagpole to pull down the Chinese flag.

The group of around 50 Tibetan students and former political prisoners were holding a scheduled peaceful protest outside the consulate's gates to protest the death in prison last week of a prominent Tibetan monk.

When the gates opened to let a truck through, several of the protesters ran into the forecourt, one of the group, Tenzin Deky, told Reuters.

Eight of the protesters were charged with trespass, a spokeswoman for New South Wales state police said. One of those eight, a 38-year-old woman, was also charged with common assault after allegedly assaulting a consular official.

The group was protesting the death in jail in China last week of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, which has raised new questions about the rights of the Tibet community.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the monk, who had been serving a life sentence for "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism", had suffered a heart attack after often refusing to see doctors or take medicine.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's sister, Dolkar, said he had been cremated against his family's wishes and in violation of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. She also said officials had not told her the cause of his death, adding to her suspicions.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since it took over the region in 1950, and has cracked down heavily on those who support the Dalai Lama, who fled into India in 1959 following an abortive uprising.