Nepal Police Break Up Tibetan Refugees' Celebration of Dalai Lama's Birthday

2016-07-06
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Portraits of the Dalai Lama are shown after their removal from a stage, Kathmandu, Nepal, July 6, 2016.
Portraits of the Dalai Lama are shown after their removal from a stage, Kathmandu, Nepal, July 6, 2016.
RFA

Nepalese police on Wednesday dispersed a crowd of several hundred Tibetans who had gathered to celebrate the 81st birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, despite assurances given the day before that the event would be allowed to proceed.

Tibetan refugee representative Kalsang Dondrub and 23 other Tibetans were briefly taken into custody by police who swarmed the Songtsen High School in the capital Kathmandu, RFA’s Tibetan Service reported from the scene.

Police also pulled down large portraits of the Dalai Lama that had been placed in positions of honor on a stage in the school’s courtyard, scattering banners, flowers, and other offerings that had been arranged at the site, RFA reported.

Speaking to a reporter, several Tibetans attending the event voiced distress at the crackdown, saying the planned event had been religious rather than political in nature.

“Nepalese authorities have frequently suppressed Tibetan refugees’ political activities in the past,” one participant said.  “Today, we were trying to hold a religious celebration, and now they are stopping us from doing this, too.”

“With no country of our own, we often face crises like this,” he said.

“The police must have been very desperate not to allow us to honor the Dalai Lama, who is so well known and respected throughout the world,” another man said.

Pressure from China

One community leader named Lhalung said that by ordering the raid, authorities had gone back on their word that the celebration could be held.

“The Tibetan representative and other welfare officers sought permission from Nepalese authorities to hold the event, and permission was granted yesterday,” Lhalung said.

“But today, they changed their minds and stopped us. This could be a result of pressure from China," he said.

Tibetan refugees living in Nepal are under constant pressure to avoid asserting their national identity as their host country moves closer to its powerful northern neighbor China, analysts say.

An estimated 20,000 Tibetans now live in Nepal, though accurate numbers are hard to come by.  

Many arrived in Nepal following a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in which thousands fled south across the Himalayas.

Nepal authorities seem now to be more interested in placating Beijing than in upholding Nepal’s own laws on peaceful assembly, association, and expression, Sophie Richardson, China Director for New York-based Human Rights Watch told RFA.

“While Nepal has offered Tibetans some protections, it has also frequently invoked vague and inconsistent justifications to silence peaceful protest and discriminate against Tibetans,” Richardson said.

“Any restrictions must be based on law, and not on Chinese political sensitivities.”

Reported by Dawa Dolma and Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English with additional reporting by Richard Finney.

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Wangchuk

from NYC

Nepal has now become a vassal state of China. Nepalese Govt is kowtowing to the CCP Emperor. This was a religious/cultural celebration by the local Tibetan community & Nepalese Buddhists. It's not illegal under Nepalese law to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday. Nepal is violating the civil rights of the Tibetan people.

Jul 08, 2016 10:52 AM

Ryan Dhakal

from MONTGOMERY

Dali Lama is a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and Buddha was born in Nepal. I fail to understand, why they were not allowed to celebrate Dalai Lama's, birthday. This is stupidity!

Jul 07, 2016 12:51 PM

Siddhi Ranjitkar

from Kathmandu

What is this? It is only the birthday celebration. Nepal Police need not interfere in it. Nepalese administration has gone too far concerning the Tibetan issues.

Jul 07, 2016 04:44 AM

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