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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?"

Visiting MPs from Nepal pledge support for Tibet

June 26, 2009

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dharamsala, June 24: A group of visiting Nepali Parliamentary members are
pledging to speak for Tibet and the plight of Tibetan refugees in Nepal
after they return to their country at the end of their three-day visit here.

It is a rare and first such visit to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibet's
Government in exile in north India, by a delegation of MPs from Nepal, a
country that readily succumbs to Chinese pressure over Tibet issue.

“Nepal and Tibet shares historic relationship and we are here in Dharamsala
to reinforce our relations again,” says Siddharth Gautam, President of the
Lumbini Foundation for Development & Peace (LFDP) and the delegation leader
of the visiting MPs.

“Lumbini Foundation partly works as a friend of Tibet in Nepal by supporting
Tibetans in their struggle to seek freedom and rights in their own country,”
Gautam adds.

According to Gautam, the Nepali MPs are currently visiting Dharamsala to
have “a deeper understanding of Tibetan issue and situation, and to pave
ways to bridge closer relations between the two communities” in the long
run.

The unofficial delegation comprises six MPs, including two women,
representing Dalit Janjati Party, Madhesi People´s Rights Forum (MPRF) and
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) and Federal Democratic National Party
(FDNP).

“No other country in the world had developed such close and neighbourly ties
with Tibet as Nepal did in the past,” says Biswendra Paswan, President of
the Dalit Janjati Party. “People of Tibet and Nepal shared strong
historical, cultural, and trade relations for centuries, and the unique bond
of relations that exists so naturally today between the two communities is
the legacy of our past,” he adds.

Paswan says the three-day visit to Dharamsala has been an eye-opening
experience for the MPs in understanding the exile Tibetan community, the
administrative functioning of the Tibetan government and, their struggle for
rights and freedom in their home country.

During the visit, the MPs toured the Tibetan Government complex and various
cultural and education institutions in and around Dharamsala. They also had
a private audience with the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and are scheduled to meet His Holiness the 17th Karmapa later.

The MPs say they are now determined to work for ways to ease situation for
Tibetan refugees in Nepal that has deteriorated dramatically in recent
times.

Nepal had come under intense international criticism last year for its
brutal handling of Tibetan protesters, and the government was accused of
cracking down on the refugees under Chinese pressure. It also closed down a
representative office of the Dalai Lama in Kathmandu that administers the
affairs of the Tibetan people in Nepal.

Tibetans in Nepal staged some of the most sustained and regular anti-China
protests in Kathmandu last year after unrest against Chinese rule in Tibet
faced brutal Chinese military crackdown.

Tibetan demonstrations were routinely stopped by Nepali police, often using
excessive force. The demonstrators regularly faced arrests, intimidation and
in some cases individual threats and arbitrary detention.

In the midst of protests, a flurry of high-level visits by Chinese
officials, including a delegation led by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi, repeatedly asked Nepal to effectively curb "Free-Tibet activities”
while promising to increase assistance to the crisis-stricken country in
return.

“In recent times, Nepal government has apparently acted in tune with
diplomatic pressure from Chinese government that shows little concern for
human rights and democracy,” Paswan said.

“When we go back to Nepal, we will initiate joint-efforts and lobby in the
parliament to help ease situation for Tibetans living in Nepal,” he said. We
will ask the government through proper channel to reopen the Office of Tibet
and also to start issuing refugee registration card (RC) for Tibetans in
Nepal,” Paswan added.

Paswan said the new efforts to support Tibetans will also include lobbying
for inclusion of such provisions in Nepal’s new constitution, which is
currently under drafting process, to ensure “legal status and social justice
for Tibetans and other refugees” in the small Himalayan state. “We will also
ask for such provisions that can effectively help check Nepali security
forces and government agencies from acting arbitrarily against Tibetans or
others during peaceful demonstrations,” Paswan said.

“At community level, there is no problem between the two communities. Nepali
people treat Tibetans as their own relatives and we live together
harmoniously,” Gautam of Lumbini Foundation adds.

More than 20,000 Tibetans have settled in Nepal since the Chinese invasion
in 1959. Estimates suggest between 2,500 and 3,000 Tibetans escape Tibet and
enter Nepal each year after a perilous journey over the Himalayas on their
way to Dharamsala.

Gautam said his foundation had also been working to realize a “long-awaited
visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama” to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord
Buddha in Nepal.

Describing Nepalese as “peace-loving people”, Gautam said they would never
appreciate China’s wrongdoings in Tibet.

“We are opposed to oppressive rule by China. Our solidarity and support will
always remain with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and people of Tibet,” Gautam
said.

Tseten Norbu, a member of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile based in Nepal, has
coordinated the MPs' visit to Dharamsala.
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