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Nepal: Tibet Uprising Anniversary Exposes Growing Rift

M10_heart_webTibet Uprising Day, observed on March 10 every year, marks the violent crackdown in 1959 by Chinese authorities after Tibetan protesters launched protest against their presence in Tibet.

This year's anniversary observation in Nepal is already under tremendous scrutiny from the authorities. EverestJournal, a blog on Nepal tourism and environment, says that Nepalese government is ready to stop any anti-China demonstrations in the country.

“Determined to prevent anti-China demonstrations in Tibet Wednesday, the 51st anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese annexation, Beijing has snapped most links between the former Buddhist kingdom and its neighbor Nepal.

The bridge connecting northern Nepal with Tibet – the Friendship Bridge – has been effectively closed by the Chinese authorities, rights body International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a statement, while flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, have been grounded since Friday.”

Tibetan Protest in kathmandu. Image by Flickr user Buddha's Breakfast. Used under a Creative Commons License

Tibetan Protest in kathmandu. Image by Flickr user Buddha's Breakfast. Used under a Creative Commons License

Nepal's forceful approach towards the Tibet Uprising Anniversary and any public program that may be organized by Tibetan refugees in the country is attracting criticism from Tibetan & Nepali blogs.

TibetCustom says that Nepal is falling “into the arms of China over Tibet “issue””:

“The Nepalese government has adopted a hard line against expressions of Tibetan identity in Nepal, despite strong cultural and religious ties among the Himalayan peoples that have existed for centuries. Long-staying Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu and in settlements close to the Tibet-Nepal border are increasingly fearful as the Nepalese government relinquishes its historic and sovereign interests in response to incentivized political pressure from Beijing and its Nepalese sympathizers.

Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of Advocacy of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “These disturbing developments deserve an immediate response by the international community…..”

Lathi charge on Tibetan protest in Kathmandu. Image by Flickr user Buddha's Breakfast. Used under a Creative Commons License

Lathi charge on Tibetan protest in Kathmandu. Image by Flickr user Buddha's Breakfast. Used under a Creative Commons License

At influential Tibetan blog Phayul, Kalsang Rinchen reported on Nepalese government's decision to detain Tibetan government's representative. Rinchen describes the government's decision as a deliberate move to “appease” the Chinese.

“The Nepal government has recently launched hunt for “trouble makers” through surprise raids of hotels, restaurants and homes earlier last week reportedly under pressure from China that rewards the crisis stricken country with financial aid and military assistance. Several Tibetans have been reportedly taken under “preventive custody” ahead of Wednesday's commemoration. Unlike protests against China by exiles in other parts of the world, the Tibetans in Nepal do not organize protests under any of the Tibetan exile groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association or Students for a Free Tibet making it hard for the Nepalese police to pin down on any particular group.

Nepal has intensified its control on the Tibetan refugee community that numbers around 20000 ahead of Wednesday’s Tibetan uprising day commemoration. The Himalayan Kingdom that was struck by a series of domestic turmoil and political revamp in the last decade has been preventing the Tibetans from engaging in anti China activities on its soil. “

Over The Top, the Blog of Himal Magazine from Nepal informs:

A letter dated 8 March from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Committee of Kathmandu, currently making its rounds in the community, makes the ominous allegation that the Nepali police have been going so far as to threaten some extremely dire consequences to the kinds of protests Kathmandu has seen in the past. In a stark warning to the community, the letter states that, in the areas deemed off limits to demonstrators, “the police may even resort to shoot[ing].” As news of arrests of Tibetan activists continue to trickle in, the accompanying photographs taken today around the valley indicate that the Nepali government will continue to channel the paranoia of Beijing.

This is not the first time Tibetan community in Nepal has come under government's ire. There was a large scale violent crackdown in 2008 when protest against China broke out in Kathmandu before the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Protest in Pokhara before summer olympics in Beijing. Image by Flickr user Tboothhk. Used under a Creative Commons License

Protest in Pokhara before summer olympics in Beijing. Image by Flickr user Tboothhk. Used under a Creative Commons License.

A recent report in Al Jazeera English characterized the incident as Nepal curtailing Tibetan community's free speech rights, under pressure from China.

Focus on the Tibetan community in Nepal and neighboring India has however failed to include growing division within the community on a very serious issue-religious freedom. The Dalai Lama has imposed a ban on worship of deity Shugden. This has divided the community as Shugden's believers face hostility and suspicion.

As Nepal continues to put emphasis in building closer relationship with China, its relationship with hundreds of Tibetan refugees scattered around the country is bound get more strained in coming days. Anniversaries commemorating events like 1959 uprising juts add extra pressure to the already difficult situation.

1 comment

  • Sonam Ongmo

    Great report Bhumika. I think it is good that a Nepali writer is addressing this issue. Since the last few years the Nepal government’s stance and attitude towards Tibetans has truly revealed the complicated politics that China is playing in the Himalayas.

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