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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: Stop Illegally Detaining Tibetans Respect Tibetans’ Right to Peaceful Expression, Assembly

April 21, 2008

Human Rights Watch

(Washington, DC, April 20, 2008) – As protests over China’s abuses of
Tibetans intensify in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, police continue to
arbitrarily arrest, detain, and mistreat record numbers of Tibetans in
violation of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, Human
Rights Watch today.

“Nepal has just held relatively peaceful, democratic elections,” said
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But
the government cannot be selective about who in Nepal is entitled to
such basic rights – Tibetans there are entitled to peaceful expression
and assembly too.”

Demonstrations began in Kathmandu on March 10, the date on which
Tibetans worldwide commemorate the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese
rule. Over the past five weeks, police arrested more than 2,500 Tibetans
for protesting peacefully, or simply because they appeared to be Tibetan.

The protests were suspended between April 3 and 14, while Nepal held
Constituent Assembly elections. But in the days immediately following
the elections, police detained more than 850 Tibetans.

On April 15, the first day that the protests resumed, 125 Tibetans were
detained, including 101 at Ghan II Police Barracks. A senior police
officer from Kamal Pokari Police Station requested that those held at
Ghan II Police Barracks show their ID cards and later a Ghan II police
officer threatened the same group with deportation to China if they
could not produce proof of refugee status in Nepal.

The next day, 112 Tibetans were detained at four different locations
with 58 Tibetans taken to Ghan II Police Barracks, 14 to Kamal Pokari,
25 to Singh Durbar, and 15 to Gau Sala Police Station. All were held
overnight with the exception of 13 women held at Gausala Police Station
who were released. At about 11 p.m., the 25 held at Singh Durbar Police
Station were given arrest warrants for public nuisance offences and
released around 1 p.m. on April 17. Those held at Ghan II Police
Barracks were questioned by three plain clothes officials and released
on April 17, around 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, on April 17, 504 Tibetans were detained during protests in
front of the Chinese Embassy in Balawatar. They were held at four
locations: 478 at Ghan II Police Barracks, Maharajgunj; 10 at Kamal
Pokari Police Station; five at Gausala Police Station; and 11 at Narayan
Gopal Chowk. They were released around 11 p.m. the same evening.

On April 18, 117 people were arrested, 115 protestors and two Tibetan
journalists covering the protest. Tenzin Choephel and Thupten Shastri
were specifically identified by Nepali Police for arrest from a group of
five Tibetan journalists at the same location. They were initially held
at Kamal Pokhari Police Station for 40 minutes and later moved to
Lanchaur Metropolitan Police Station where they were released after
around 90 minutes. When Cheophel and Shastri enquired about the reason
for their arrest, a senior officer replied, “I don’t know the reason,
but it might be because if there are many Tibetan journalists, then
there are more Tibetan protesters coming.”

“This is not only another example of an illegal arrest and detention,”
said Richardson. “Given the targeted nature of this attack on the
Tibetan media it must be viewed as an intimidation tactic aimed at
silencing media who are reporting on the illegal arrests and detentions
of hundreds of Tibetans in Nepal.”

Human Rights Watch has documented ill-treatment of many Tibetans in
detention, including beatings, repeatedly being denied access to medical
care, or being given inadequate medical care. Human Rights Watch has
observed Nepali police using unnecessary and excessive force during
arrests and sexually assaulting Tibetan women.

Nepal, which after India is home to the second-largest community of
exiled Tibetans, has long provided some security to Tibetans seeking
refuge from religious, political, and cultural persecution in Tibet, but
in recent years has come under increasing Chinese pressure to halt what
are perceived to be “anti-China” activities. Successive Nepali
governments have silenced such dissent in blatant contravention of their
obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the rights of expression, assembly, and
association to all people in a country regardless of their status.
Although Nepal is not a party to the Refugee Convention, customary
international law requires that individuals not be forced to return to
countries where they face a well-founded fear of persecution.

“One of the best ways the new Nepali government can demonstrate its
commitments to rights is by releasing these Tibetans and allowing them
to peacefully express their views,” said Richardson.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on recent arrests by Nepali police
of those who appeared to be Tibetans, please see:

· March 26 statement: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/26/nepal18351.htm

· March 18 statement: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/18/china18310.htm

· March 15 statement: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/15/china18291.htm

· March 14 statement: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/14/china18290.htm

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin):
+1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In New York, Elaine Pearson (English): +1-646-291-7169 (mobile)
In Mumbai, Meenakshi Ganguly (English, Hindi): +82-10-9096-4327 (mobile)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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