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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Senior Tibetan detained by Nepalese police: Tibet border closed as tension escalates over March 10 anniversary

March 11, 2010

International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
March 9, 2010

The unofficial Tibetan representative of the
Dalai Lama was taken into custody on March 7 by
Nepalese police in a climate of increasing
tension in Nepal as the 51st anniversary of
Tibetís National Uprising Day on March 10
approaches. Nepalese police are being deployed
across the Kathmandu Valley in an attempt to
prevent any large gatherings or vigils by
Tibetans as a show of compliance with Chinese
government warnings against Nepal allowing its
territory to be used for any alleged anti-China activities.

The border crossing between Tibet and Nepal at
the Friendship Bridge has been effectively closed
in the lead-up to the anniversary, according to
sources in Nepal. Flights to Lhasa were grounded
on the tarmac at Kathmandu airport from Friday
(March 5). Nepalese travel agents have warned
that tourists may not be able to enter the Tibet
Autonomous Region from Kathmandu until several days after March 10.

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous
police raids on houses and hotels in the area
around the Tibetan stupa, Boudhanath, a major
pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists.
These raids reflect an approach believed to be
sanctioned by the Nepal government of harassment
and extortion, which is contributing to a sense
of fear and insecurity among long-staying Tibetan
refugees in Nepal. The risks are even higher for
new arrivals from Tibet ñ with two senior police
officers referring to threats of deportation.

The temporary detention yesterday of Thrinley
Gyatso, who serves unofficially as the
representative of the Dalai Lama in Nepal and who
is a senior member of the Tibetan community in
Kathmandu, is believed to be a measure to
intimidate the Tibetan community and prevent
protests in Nepal against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Thrinley Gyatso was released on the same day
after several hours of questioning and verbal intimidation.

A demonstration in Lhasa on March 10, 2008
sparked a wave of protests that spread across
Tibet, and resulted in an often brutal Chinese
police crackdown and enhanced security presence
in many Tibetan areas. In 2008, the Tibetan
community in Kathmandu demonstrated its
solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet by protesting
repeatedly in front of the Chinese Embassy, at
times provoking brutal responses by Nepal police
and resulting in numerous arrests.

The 2008 protests in Tibet and Nepal coincided
with Chinese government preparations for the 2008
Beijing Olympics, which included carrying the
Olympic torch to the summit of Mount Everest
(Chomolungma in Tibetan) on the Tibet-Nepal
border. Since that time, it has become a priority
of the Chinese government to stop any
demonstration of dissent by Tibetans, however
peaceful, in Nepal. Space for Tibetans within
Nepalís civil society is constricting due to the
Chinese governmentís focus on Tibetan issues in
its relations with the Nepalese government, and
shifting internal politics in Nepal. (See ICT

One senior Nepalese police officer was quoted
yesterday as saying: "We wont spare any
pro-Tibetan if found guilty of provoking anger.
They will be immediately arrested and handed over
to the Department of Immigration for
deportation." (Deputy Superintendent of Police
Pradhumna Karki, quoted in the Himalayan Times
today, March 8). The Himalayan Times also quoted
Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police as
saying: "We will take stern action against the
Tibetans if they dare to stage anti-China
demonstrations [this week]." ("Security beefed up
for 51st Tibetan uprising anniversary," March 8, 2010.)

The Nepalese government has adopted a hard line
against expressions of Tibetan identity in Nepal,
despite strong cultural and religious ties among
the Himalayan peoples that have existed for
centuries. Long-staying Tibetan refugees in
Kathmandu and in settlements close to the
Tibet-Nepal border are increasingly fearful as
the Nepalese government relinquishes its historic
and sovereign interests in response to
incentivized political pressure from Beijing and its Nepalese sympathizers.

Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of Advocacy of
the International Campaign for Tibet, said:
"These disturbing developments deserve an
immediate response by the international
community. Nepalís political leadership is
betting that the internal benefits of assuaging
China in the cause of oppressing Tibetans will be
greater than the costs of abandoning principles
rooted in the law and grounded in historic ties
between the Himalayan peoples. While long-staying
and transiting Tibetan refugees bear the brunt of
this approach, bending to China on fundamental
freedoms and the rule of law presents a real risk
to the Nepalese people and their democratic institutions."

Over the past two years, ICT has documented the
following evidence of Nepalís shift towards China on Tibetan issues:

* A change in the use of language by Nepalese
authorities to describe the Tibetan refugee flow
through their country, suggesting a ëlaw and
orderí approach rather than the humanitarian
approach that had characterized Nepalís treatment
of Tibetans over the last decades.

* Continuing harassment and extortion of
long-staying Tibetan refugees in Nepal,
contributing to a widespread sense of fear and insecurity.

* Cancellation of peaceful expressions of Tibetan
identity, such as the celebration of the Dalai Lamaís birthday.

* Pre-emptive arrests of Tibetans, ID checks and house searches.

* Large-scale police deployment in Tibetan communities.

* The harassment of Nepalese journalists for
attempting to report on police actions in Tibetan
communities, and a plethora of hostile articles
in the Nepalese media alleging ëFree Tibetí conspiracies.

* A growing presence of organizations sympathetic
to the Chinese government position, both secular
and religious, some popularly assumed to have links with the Chinese Embassy.

* The resistance of the Nepalese government to
provide durable solutions for certain
long-staying Tibetan refugees in Nepal, either by
regularizing their legal status or allowing their
resettlement to the United States through a
refugees admission program proposed by the U.S. Government beginning in 2005.

* A pattern of hostile coverage in the Nepalese
media of the Tibetan community and their supporters.

International Campaign for Tibet
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Phone: (202) 785-1515 | Fax: (202) 785-4343 |
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