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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?"

Nepal police disrupt Tibetan elections in Kathmandu

October 4, 2010

By Phurbu Thinley
October 3, 2010

Dharamsala, Oct. 3 -- Nepal police in Kathmandu
on Sunday disrupted Tibetan preliminary polls by
confiscating ballot boxes already filled with
thousands of ballots just an hour before the polls were due to be closed.

Several armed police arrived at different polling
booths located in different parts of Kathmandu
valley and confiscated ballot boxes filled with
thousands of votes, a Tibetan voter from Boudha,
a landmark Tibetan area in Kathmandu, told Phayul.

Hundreds of thousands of Tibetan exiles across
the world on Sunday went to polls to cast their
ballots to nominate candidates for the post of
Prime Minister of the Tibet’s government in exile
and members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile
for the next year’s general elections.

The voting is to take place simultaneously from to local time around the world.

Around 50 or 60 armed policemen arrived around and confiscated all the ballot boxes and put
them into police van, the Tibetan voter who identified himself as Wangdu, said.

According to Mr Tsering Dhondup, a local election
officer in charge of Boudha-Jorpati area, police
took away ballot boxes from at least three
polling booths located in areas of Swayambu,
Boudha and the main Kathmandu city circle.

"We have been told that the last-minute order was
issued directly from the Home Ministry. Otherwise
we have duly informed the concerned Nepali
authorities well in advance about our poll
schedules and at that time we have only been told
to restrict our polls within the limit of the
approved venues. Other than that there were no
other objections from their side initially," Dhondup added.

According to Dhondup, although no arrests were
made, in some cases police even resorted to mild
lathi-charge before forcefully taking away the ballot boxes.

He said efforts are underway to talk to concerned
higher authorities about the matter.

"We don’t know yet where they took away the
ballot boxes and everyone here is looking
confused and helpless. Some of the Tibetans at
the election scene even decided to stage
protests, but the Tibetan elections officials
stopped them from doing so," Wangdu said.

Nepal government has lately vowed to check
"anti-China activities" to strengthen friendly
ties with China, a major donor for the impoverished country.

The forced disruption of Tibetan polls on Sunday
follows a visit by 21-member high-level Chinese
delegation led by He Yong, Secretary of the 17th
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, to Nepal last month.

During the visit, the Chinese delegation
reportedly expressed satisfaction over "Nepal’s
‘one China’ policy and the alertness adopted by
the country over the Tibet issue."

Prior to the Chinese delegation’s visit, the
governments of the two countries had even agreed
to set up a joint mechanism to help share
intelligence on "anti-China activities" in Nepal.

Nepal, which is home to some 20,000 Tibetans, has
accommodated Tibetan exiles for decades, but has
come under increasing pressure from China to
crack down on the political protests.

Under Beijing's influence and lack of stable
government in the impoverished nation, rights
groups say Tibetans refugees in Nepal are
increasingly vulnerable and at risk of arrest and repatriation.
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