Kathmandu: The area outside Namgyal Middle School in Swayambu, the venue for the 76th birthday celebrations of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama turned tense for a while after a minor clash erupted between the Armed Police Force (APF) and Tibetans.
The clash took place when two Tibetan women were manhandled by a dozen police as they tried to push their way inside the compound. The women were among the hundreds who were left to wait outside as police had barred Tibetans from attending the celebrations. Presence of UN officials however saved the women from being put into APF truck and hauled away to jail. However, three Tibetans were reportedly arrested during the day.
“What kind of treatment is this? Neither are we allowed to go inside nor can we wait outside,” bemoans Karma Tsering who had come to watch his daughter’s performance.
His wife and daughter were on the other side of the gate.
“My daughter had to wake up before dawn to be able to enter inside,” he adds.
Like Karma’s daughter, hundreds of school children were forced to rise as early as 2 am to be able to participate in the celebrations.
A source informed around four hundred people were able to make it inside the venue, many of whom climbed walls, crossed fields and even jumped buildings. Some even as old as eighty were reportedly said to have done the same not to miss out on the celebrations. Sadly, an elderly lady met with an accident when she tried to jump over a barbed wire tearing her ear in the process. She is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital.
“This is absolutely ridiculous. We aren’t doing anything illegal by trying to attend a function. And what’s worse now they want to file a case against us for simply standing on the road,” expresses one of the crowd members.
The day saw heavy presence of police in all the major settlement areas of Tibetans. In Jawlakhel, a truck full of cops was stationed outside the monastery from the early morning. In Boudha, cops were found checking public transportations to stop any Tibetan from attending the festivities. In Swayambu, a truck and two jeeps of cops were stationed outside the venue.
“It is sad when you don’t have a country. We can do nothing but bear this inhumane treatment spearheaded by the Nepali government,” says Sonam Choenzom, 45.
The Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet) in its official statement on His Holiness’ birthday admitted that ‘due to recent political situation in Nepal, the Central Tibetan Administration has not been able to provide necessary support or to look after the welfare of the Tibetans living there’.
“Of late we have appointed a Nepalese citizen as a voluntarily liaison for the Tibetans, and we hope that he can solve some of the immediate problems that Tibetans living there face. We request the Tibetans there to cooperate with him as and when needed in accordance with local situation”, the statement said.