October 5, 2010
This is what happened on Sunday, when Nepal’s northern neighbor pressured the struggling government to disrupt the peaceful election held by Tibetan refugees. The election was held to elect a new prime minister for the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
Armed police in riot gear stormed three elections centers in Kathmandu – shortly before voting was completed -- and confiscated the ballot boxes, despite the fact that – according to human rights organizations in Kathmandu – tacit permission had been given by Nepali authorities.
This was the first time Nepal had interfered with the Tibetans low-profile election process.
5316 Tibetans were registered to vote in the Boudhanath stupa area of Kathmandu, 980 in Jawalakhel, and 2336 in Swayambhunath at the nunnery. 15 ballot boxes were seized in Boudhanath. Five boxes were seized in Swayambhu. In Jawalakel, the voting process had already been completed and the boxes had been removed.
Bhim Rawal, the current Minister of of Home Affairs, just returned from New York, where he led Nepal’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. Rawal is a leader within the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) also known as the UML.
For this writer, the problem does not so much hinge on what any given political party in Nepal feels about the 20,000 Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal – who are not allowed to own property, and who have no hope of gaining Nepali citizenship. The real problem – at least for me – is the process that took place here:
China doesn’t like something. China phones the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry immediately calls in the armed police. The armed police hit the streets in riot gear and carry out their orders.
Where’s the affirmation of the basic human rights due every human being in Nepal in such a backroom operation?
The irony here is that, while Nepal’s government can’t conduct a successful election for its own prime ministry (nine failures in the last two months!) the Tibetans, who conducted a quiet and orderly election (with no funds or bureaucratic might), will certainly result in the naming of a new Tibetan prime minister – with or without the ballot boxes absconded by the Nepali government at the behest of Beijing. The contrast is as blatant as it is shameful.
To see the video of the police taking away the ballot boxes CLICK HERE