Tibetan refugees arrested in Katmandu

Some 40 exiled Tibetans have been arrested in Nepal over the past week, in a crackdown against refugees attempting to celebrate the Buddhist religious festival of Saka Dawa in the capital Kathmandu. Hundreds of Tibetan refugees gathered to celebrate Saka Dawa; the birthday of Buddha, in the capital Kathmandu. The festivities, which were repeatedly shut down by the police, included candle-light vigils for Tibetans recently detained in a new wave of protests within the People’s Republic of China.

Nepal acts as a corridor for fleeing Tibetans, who seek refuge in India. Many are headed for the home of the Tibetan exile government at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. The crackdown on the refugees is Kathmandu comes just weeks after the United States called on Nepal to honor its “gentleman’s agreement” and allow the refugees safe passage to India. (Dossier Tibet, July 4; UNPO, June 27; Tibet Post, June 25)

But the crackdown also comes days after the newly-appointed Chinese envoy to Nepal, Yang Houlan, met with high officials in the Kathmandu government to express concerns that Tibetan exiles in Nepal could stage “anti-China” protests during the upcoming anniversary celebrations of Chinese Communist Party (CCP). China began celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1. (Republica, Nepal, June 27)

The Tibetan exile government at Dharamshala is actually urging restraint on Tibetans in Nepal. Dharamshala’s new refugee coordinator paid his own visit to Kathmandu within days of that of the Beijing envoy. Appointed by the Central Tibetan Administration, Thiley Lama is the first Nepali coordinator for Tibetan refugee welfare. “Dharamshala has recognised the One China policy that acknowledges Tibet,” Lama said. “We are urging all Tibetans in Nepal not to take part in any anti-China rhetoric or hold demonstrations before the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.” (Times of India, June 24)

Caught in the Great Game for Central Asia, Nepal has unleashed periodic repression of Tibetan exiles in recent years.

See our last posts on Nepal and Tibet.

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