Kathmandu: In what appears to be another bid to please China, the Nepal Police on June 21 arrested a dozen Tibetans who had gathered to take part in the birthday celebrations of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa.
The incident occurred in Boudha, a Buddhist area of the capital on Wednesday where around 70 Tibetans had gathered to offer prayers. Witnesses say police randomly picked the dozen Tibetans-all men when they were coming out of the monastery. The 12 arrested are still held at the local police station in Boudha on charges of carrying out anti-China activities.
In another incidence, the Nepal Police disrupted a basket ball tournament organised by the Bhodrigpunda Association citing that the Tibetan group was carrying out anti-China activities. The organisers had to switch locations after they were prevented from continuing the tournament.
“From when did playing sports become an illegal activity,” questions Tenzin Dorjee, a twenty year-old who is baffled like many others by the length to which Nepali authorities have gone in limiting Tibetans’ freedom.
Many are now worried about the upcoming birthday celebrations of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
“Last year many Tibetans were prevented from attending the celebrations. The police blocked their movement which is completely irrational. I hope this year doesn’t repeat last year’s case,” shares Sonam Palmo, 62, a resident of Jawlakhel.
The latest move by the Nepali Police comes after the recent request made by the new Chinese envoy to Nepal, Yang Houlan to curb Free Tibet movements in the country. In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Krishna Prasad Mahara in Kathmandu on Monday, Yang expressed worries that Tibetan exiles in Nepal could resort to ‘anti-China’ protests during the anniversary celebrations of the Communist Party of China. Mahara on his part expressed the government’s full commitment to prevent such activities.
Last year, Mahara who is known to be a close aide of China was caught in a controversy when an audio tape featuring his alleged conversation with a Hong Kong-based Chinese agent was leaked. He was reportedly heard asking the Chinese agent for a 500 million bribe to swing the prime ministerial election in Nepal.
Nepal has been home to more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees since 1960 but its commitment to One-China Policy and the increasing pressure from China to thwart any anti-China activities has ceased its status as a safe abode for Tibetans.
With basic freedom of movement and assembly being curtailed, the situation only seems to be deteriorating for the thousands of Tibetan refugees. In March this year, Tibetans in Nepal were banned from electing their Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) when Nepali authorities forcibly took away the ballot boxes.