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Call to Protect Exile Rights

October 13, 2010

The United States asks Nepal to allow Tibetans to freely exercise their rights
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
October 7, 2010

The United States called on Nepal to protect the rights of Tibetan
exiles after police in the Himalayan kingdom stormed into polling
centers and blocked voting by Tibetans for the Dalai Lama's exiled government.

The policemen in riot gear also forcibly seized ballot boxes from
three voting centers in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, throwing in
jeapordy the outcome of the elections held among some 80,000 Tibetan
exiles to pick candidates for polls for a new parliament-in-exile and
prime minister next year.

"We urge the Nepalese government to protect the longstanding rights
and privileges of Tibetans in Nepal, particularly their right to
express themselves freely in accordance with Nepali law," a
spokesperson for the US State Department said on Oct  6.

The Dalai Lama's special envoy had expressed concern over the police
action, saying Kathmandu had acted under pressure from China.

Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama's representative in Washington who met
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Scott DeLisi at the. State Department Oct.5,
said Kathmandu's action was "one both of concern and regret."

"Nepal has become like an autonomous region of China. [Gyari] said he
was concerned because of the long-term historical relationship
between Nepal and Tibet," a statement by the exiled government on Oct
5 said. "There was concern and the [U.S.] ambassador is looking into
the matter," it said.

China influence

Nepal's increasing political tilt toward China has made life
difficult for Tibetan exiles protesting China's rule in neighboring
Tibetan regions of China.

Tibetans demonstrating outside Chinese diplomatic facilities in Nepal
have routinely been beaten, detained, and threatened with deportation to India.

Nepal shares a long border with Tibet and is home to around 20,000
exiles who began arriving in 1959 when a failed uprising against
Chinese rule forced the Dalai Lama into exile in India's Himalayan
foothills at Dharamsala.

The Nepali government has defended the action.

"The administration intervened in the so-called election because
Nepal's foreign policy does not allow any activities against any
friendly neighboring countries," Nepal's Home Ministry spokesman Jaya
Mukunda Khanal told CNN.

China reviles the Dalai Lama as a "separatist" for seeking
self-determination for his homeland but the spiritual leader says he
is only campaigning for greater autonomy for his people.

The International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT), which
brings together 133 legislators from more than 30 parliaments
worldwide, has called on the Nepalese government "to immediately
release the ballot boxes to the legitimate representatives of the
local Tibetan Election Commission in Nepal."

Matteo Mecacci, co-chair of INPaT, said legislators in the group were
"deeply disturbed by this unwarranted action" which he believed was
"due to a demand by the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu."

Reporting in Washington by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.
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