Tibet crisis militarizes Nepal

Police in Kathmandu clashed with hundreds of Tibetan refugees during a protest March 15 over the repression in Lhasa. The protesters tried to march on the Chinese embassy, but the police barred their way. The previous day, dozens were injured when police broke up a march on the embassy by some 1,000 Tibetan protesters, including dozens of monks. Twelve monks were reported injured. (IANS, March 15; AP, March 14)

Security has been beefed up on both sides of the Tibet-Nepal border since the Tibetan uprising began a week ago. Said Kailash Kharel, chief district administrator of the Sindhupalchowk border district: “The number of security personnel deployed on Nepal-Tibet border has been significantly increased in the recent period. The number of Chinese border guards have also been increased, and the patrolling on Chinese side of the border has also been intensified.”

Every year thousands of Tibetans cross into Nepal at the Tatopani border post in defiance of authorities, risking their lives to pass through Nepalese territory en route to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, India, to visit the Dalai Lama.

Nepal has also halted all expeditions to Mt. Everest for at least 10 days—a move widely assumed to have been undertaken at Chinese behest, although officials deny it. (PTI, March 16)

Under Chinese pressure, the new and professedly democratic government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has barred nearly 5,000 Tibetan refugees from leaving Nepal for asylum in the US, though it has allowed Bhutanese refugees to do so. The government has also de-registered a Nepalese NGO working with Tibetan refugees, and recently raided a UN-supported Tibetan refugee reception center to arrest a fugitive and hand him over to the Chinese authorities. (IANS, March 15)

The BBC World Service March 16 noted reports of Chinese security forces crossing into Nepalese territory to put down protests at the border—presumably with the connivance of Nepalese authorities.

See our last posts on Tibet and Nepal.