March 21, 2014
Originally published in The New Indian Express, March 20, 2014, by colleague Jayadeva Ranade.
After a hiatus of many months, there are indications to suggest that Beijing could be contemplating some initiative on the Tibet issue. These could comprise overtures to the Dalai Lama’s establishment in Dharamsala in conjunction with the ongoing efforts to acquire and consolidate influence among Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal and the Indo-Himalayan border belt, and efforts to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) grip on the troubled Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas in adjoining provinces.
Reports indicate channels have been activated between Beijing and the Tibetan establishment in Dharamsala. At least three were active in the past few months. One was direct, one was via Taiwan and the third, which was finally aborted, was through a South East Asian capital.
The CCP leadership under Xi Jinping also continues to accord priority to the Tibet issue. Interesting was the 7,500-word article written by Xi Jinping’s mother Qi Xin on the occasion of the birth centennial of Xi Jinping’s father and former Chinese Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun. Publicised by Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth Daily) and the official People’s Daily on November 6, 2013, just prior to the Third Party Plenum, Qi Xin’s article was laced with subtle references suggesting Buddhism’s influence on Xi Jinping’s family. The Third Party Plenum, incidentally, saw the further accretion of authority by Xi Jinping, who will head the newly created apex security organisation—the National Security Committee (NSC). There is speculation in Beijing that the NSC could usurp the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)’s jurisdiction over the Tibet issue.
Internal intellectual debate on the issue is also discernible. Wang Lixiong, the Han Chinese husband of well-known Beijing-based Tibetan blogger Woeser, commented on an article by Liu Junning published in the Chinese edition of the Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2014. In his article entitled Rethinking the Policy of Regional Nationality Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident, Liu Junning, a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Culture, a subsidiary of China’s ministry of culture, blamed China’s worsening nationality problem on the disparate treatment of the minorities. He said regional nationality autonomy and demarcations between nationalities had resulted in their estrangement. Earlier, Ma Rong, a Chinese scholar of the department of sociology, Peking University, had urged the elimination of regional nationality autonomy and distinctions between nationalities. Describing these as “root causes” for the “escalation in nationality enmity and conflict”, Wang Lixiong argued that special safeguards for minority nationalities cannot be disregarded. Citing differences in their characters, he said “the character of the Han is to pursue profits first, while Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols are more inclined to pursue religious beliefs and happiness. This doesn’t allow them to mix well in the big market economy pot with over a billion Han; it’s like forcing monks to fight with soldiers”. Recommending immigration controls, safeguarding the environment, continuing cultural traditions and safeguarding religious beliefs, Wang Lixiong asserted that without the protection of regional nationality autonomy “any one of China’s nationalities would be hard pressed to avoid being wiped away without a trace by the Han who outnumber them by a hundred thousand to one”.
He cautioned if regional nationality autonomy is abolished then the “Middle Way Approach” advocated by the Dalai Lama for decades will be meaningless, and a future democratic China will have nothing with which “to dispel the nationality hatreds that have been engendered by autocratic oppression”. Stating that Uyghurs believe the “Dalai Lama has caused Tibetans to waste 30 years without achieving any results”, he said the recent arrest of Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti confirmed to them that the “Middle Way Approach” is just wishful thinking.
There has also been a loosening of restrictions, apparently with Beijing’s tacit approval, on Tibetan Buddhist sects organising functions in Nepal. The Sakya tradition and all its various sub-sects was, after many decades, permitted to organise Monlam celebrations in Lumbini. This is the only Tibetan Buddhist sect to so far have been granted such permission. The gesture would be aimed at accentuating the divisions among the different Tibetan Buddhist religious sects. It implicitly undermines the authority of the Dalai Lama by drawing attention to Kathmandu’s unwillingness to allow him to visit Buddha’s birthplace till he effects a reconciliation with the CCP leadership in Beijing.
China’s abiding interest in Nepal and, particularly the Buddha’s birthplace of Lumbini on the India-Nepal border, is evident in the China Buddhist Association’s decision to redevelop Lumbini. This follows the failure of the Chinese government-sponsored Asia-Pacific Exchange and Co-operation Foundation (APECF) to obtain approval for its US$3 billion project for Lumbini’s re-development. The project envisages monasteries, hotels and an airport.
For detailed information about the APECF proposal, link to my series of Lumbini articles and interviews here: LUMBINI
An important development reinforcing Beijing’s authority in the selection of high ranking lamas and “reincarnates” is Beijing’s recognition of the reincarnation of Penor Rinpoche of the Nyingmapa tradition and approval for his enthronement. The information was first disclosed in a statement issued on December 5, 2013, by the Namdrol Ling Monastery in Bylakkupe. It revealed that the reincarnation of Penor Rinpoche, former head of the Nyingma sect which is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism, was found in Tibet five years after his passing. The reincarnation was found by a senior lama in Tibet at a sacred location near Lhasa, based on a “prophecy letter” sent by 100-year-old Jadrel Rinpoche. The new reincarnation will be formally enthroned in Tibet’s Palyul Monastery as its 12th throne-holder on July 31. Beijing’s move leaves the Dalai Lama, who has no formal authority to approve the heads of other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, with little choice but to acknowledge the new Beijing-recognised reincarnate Penor Rimpoche. China will undoubtedly cite this as a precedent for any future case relating to the Dalai Lama.
May 13, 2013
Two very different news articles circulated in Asia this week. Both focused on the increased difficulty facing foreigners who are in Nepal without proper visas. The forces at work are external and internal and the non-Nepalis in question range from Americans to Tibetans:
Nepal to blacklist foreigners working without permit
Beijing, May 9 (Xinhua-ANI): Nepal's Department of Labor (DoL) is going to strictly regulate the non-diplomatic foreign workers working without employment permit in the country, according to a government official.
The non-compliant workers, if found, would be blacklisted, said Krishna Hari Pushkar, director general of the department.
"Some 50,000 foreign nationals are working here without official work permits, which could pose threats to our national sovereignty, integrity and even job creation for Nepalese youths. Se we have decided to strictly impose the work permit system as per the Labor Act 1992," he told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
Only 9,119 foreigners working in various hydropower projects, construction companies, telecommunications, banking and hospitality sectors, among others, have been granted official work permit, according to DoL statistics.
There are mostly Chinese nationals among the foreigners who have obtained the official employment permit to work mainly in infrastructure and communications sectors in Nepal.
A team led by DoL officials, comprising representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Department of Immigration, will start on-the-spot monitoring of the non-diplomatic foreigners working in different sectors such as social organizations, charities and diplomatic missions from next week, the official said.
The DoL has planned to put the names of non-compliant foreigners who will continue their jobs without official work permits finally in the blacklist and such individual will have to leave the country.
Likewise a separate team will conduct the status assessment study of the informally working foreigners in Nepal that is expected to reveal the facts.
Assessing primarily that Nepal is losing some 46 million U.S. dollars annually due to tax avoidance by foreigners working informally in Nepal, the DoL has begun scrutinizing the applicants ' details before issuance of the work permit.
The DoL has initiated the process of interviewing respective candidate who seeks employment permit to work in Nepal.
During the interview, one must justify his/her compatibility to Nepal's national interest, correlation between the academic certificate and nature of job along with the necessary approval from other concerned authorities according to the job specifications.
Though the DoL received some two dozens of applications for work permit in the last fortnight, it has approved only four of them after successful completion of the interview.
Most of the foreigners working without official permit in Nepal are from Bhutan, South Korea, Europe, the United States and Australia, according to the DoL.
Bhutanese nationals are informally working in the education sector largely whereas the South Koreans and Europeans are illegally working in various charities. The citizens of the U.S. and Australia are found to be working in several nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations and even in some diplomatic missions.
"The donor agencies such as UNDP, DFID, ADB and the like are also hiring non-diplomatic staffs for very common job positions like computer operator or vehicle driver which is against the provision in section 4(a) of the Labor a Act 1992 given that foreigners can be hired for high level technical jobs only," Director General Pushkar stated.
Any individual working in Nepal for more than 180 days must pay the income tax as per the Income Tax Act 2002. But most of the illegally working foreigners are supposed to receive their benefits directly at their bank account in their home countries.
"If any foreigner generates income here in Nepal, he/she must obtain a permanent account number and paying the income tax, rental tax and other necessary taxes, which is mandatory by law," said Bishnu Nepal, deputy director general of the Inland Revenue Department, adding, "We will coordinate with the DoL to investigate the issue further." (Xinhua-ANI)
China 'crushing’ Tibetan dissident groups in Nepal
Bharti Jain, TIMES OF INDIA | May 12, 2013
NEW DELHI: Wary of dissident Tibetan groups making Nepal a hub for their anti-China activities, Beijing appears to have taken to squeezing the Himalayan nation on the issue by using its developmental initiatives there as a counter-pressure tactic. China, which already boasts of a wide involvement in Nepal that covers all critical areas including defence, infrastructure development and cultural activities, is now focusing on taking up development initiatives across Nepalese villages adjoining Tibet, besides liaisoning with Nepalese border authorities and security officials to enhance border security and upgrade police stations at points used by Tibetans to cross into Nepal.
Recent intelligence assessments by the Indian security agencies have drawn the government's attention to attempts by China to "crush" Tibetan activities in Nepal. Nepal is a major shelter destination for Tibetans who cross over in large numbers before proceeding to India or elsewhere. Over the years, many Tibetans have settled in Nepal, leaving Beijing worried that the dissident elements among them may be working against China's interests.
In a bid to thwart such designs, China has proposed to develop some village development committees (VDCs) contiguous to Tibet, jointly with the Nepalese ministry of physical planning. As per the proposal sent recently to the Nepalese government, China would support basic infrastructure building in some of these VDCs. The project, Indian intelligence agencies' warn, would enable a sizeable Chinese presence in these border VDCs and also let Beijing to exercise control over the crucial border link used by Tibetans to cross into Nepal.
Under the proposed "nationwide assistance programme" awaiting clearance of Nepalese authorities, the Chinese would also provide basic supplies to VDCs in at least 15 border districts.
Incidentally, the Chinese have gone beyond development initiatives to counter the alleged Tibetan dissident activities in Nepal. Chinese Embassy officials based in Kathmandu have been regularly visiting border areas, including remote north-western districts like Humla and Mustang to check the security situation and use their interaction with the Nepalese border authorities to push for tighter monitoring of the Sino-Nepal border. The Chinese officials seek to know the equipment and support mechanism needed for better border security and convey these requirements to Beijing so that they can be factored in future agreements with Nepal.
Another key initiative aimed at greater control over areas bordering Tibet, is China's offer to upgrade police stations along the Sino-Nepal border. Chinese embassy officials, intelligence reports say, had lately visited police stations along the border and made a proposal to renovate them, which is now under consideration in Kathmandu. If accepted, the Chinese side would get a significant say in policing in sensitive border areas. However, what may be more worrisome for India is if China's focus shifts to modernizing police stations along other borders as well.
New Chinese ambassador Wu Chuntai's security background may only help to step up vigilance and counter-efforts against the Tibetan population in Nepal, feel Indian intelligence experts. Chinese security officials have been apprising the Nepalese authorities to be on the lookout for Tibetan groups from India visiting Nepal to "influence" Tibetans settled there.
March 20, 2013
“Beijing moves to safeguard strategic interests in South Asia”, written by Jayadeva Ranade, was published yesterday by DNA. The last half of the article should be of particular interest to those who monitor the precarious status of Tibetans living in Nepal.
There are discernible moves by China in recent weeks to safeguard its strategic interests, especially in South Asia. These are part of adjustments that the new Chinese leadership, prompted by its assessment that China is facing an adverse international environment, is carrying out. China’s policy towards Asia will become evident as senior foreign ministry appointments approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC) are implemented.
Meanwhile, Beijing posted a new ambassador to India this January, reportedly for the first time with the rank of vice minister. The recent ambassadorial appointments to Myanmar and Nepal, however, attract special attention. These portend that Beijing will pursue its foreign policy objectives in these countries of strategic importance in a more determined fashion.
Fifty seven-year old Yang Houlan, till recently China’s Ambassador to Nepal, had his tenure cut short and was posted to Myanmar earlier this February. Reports assert that the work done by him in Nepal was appreciated in Beijing and he was specially selected for the assignment in Yangon.
China has had decades-long close ties with Myanmar’s military junta and these are now getting loosened. Over the years, China has made sizeable strategic investments in Myanmar, including the almost completed oil pipeline from Kyaukpyu Island in Rakhine to Kunming, capital of China’s Yunan province. It is currently in the process of constructing a gas pipeline along the same alignment. The restoration of normal ties between the US and Myanmar, soon to be followed by the likely ingress of US companies is a serious concern for Beijing.
An additional complication is Tokyo’s interest in Myanmar. China’s influence in Myanmar is now at risk.
Yang Houlan’s main task in Myanmar will be to preserve the close ties between the Myanmar and Chinese authorities and ensure continued Chinese influence. Reflecting Beijing’s concern at the developments in Myanmar, China’s foreign affairs establishment has taken the unusual step of appointing retired 71-year-old vice foreign minister, Wang Yifan, as its special envoy for Myanmar. He will reinforce Yang Houlan’s efforts from Beijing.
The appointment of China’s new ambassador to Nepal, Wu Chuntai, is more interesting. Nepal has been the focus of Beijing’s attention for a few years now because of the activities of the Tibetan refugees. Chinese influence has spread rapidly throughout Nepal coinciding particularly with the political ascendance of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the UCPN-Maoist, better known by his nom de guerre ‘Prachanda’.
Prachanda is well known to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD). He is a vice president of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) managed by Xiao Wunan, a Chinese communist cadre reputedly close to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The APECF is actively involved in trying to co-opt Tibetan Buddhists and persons of Tibetan origin in Nepal to prevent ‘anti-China’ activities and undermine the Dalai Lama’s influence. It has plans to broaden its range of activities to include Tibetan Buddhists residing in other areas along India’s vulnerable Himalayan border and is especially targeting the Tibetan Buddhist clergy. The APECF last year proposed a capital-intensive plan to develop Lumbini, which is the Buddha’s birthplace and a town situated on Nepal’s border with India.
[For more information on APECF click on my "Lumbini: Birthplace of Buddha" file.]
China’s new ambassador, Wu Chuntai, brings special skills to his assignment. Immediately prior to being posted to Kathmandu, he was the deputy director general of the department of external security of China’s ministry of foreign affairs. The department is headed by Quo Guohong, a former ambassador to Nepal. This department handles counter-intelligence, protection of Chinese personnel posted in embassies overseas, and security-related work relating to Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. Usually the heads of chancery, or officials in-charge of administration in Chinese diplomatic missions abroad, handle such work and report to this department.
While Wu Chuntai, who joined the foreign service 27 years ago, has never done an assignment as ambassador, he has been posted to Turkey, the UK, Northern Ireland and as first secretary in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience relating to Tibetans-in-exile.
Wu Chuntai received a positive reception on arrival in Kathmandu and, after presenting credentials to Nepal’s President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on March 11, met Prachanda the following day. During the meeting he discussed the political situation in Nepal and matters relating to Tibetan refugees and Tibetans resident in Nepal. He indicated that China would invest in communications infrastructure projects.
With the arrival of Wu Chuntai, the Tibetan community in Nepal can expect to come under increased pressure in the coming months. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu is also likely to become more pro-active in infiltrating the Tibetan community in India.
Jayadeva Ranade is a member of the National Security Advisory Board and former additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India.
February 14, 2012
JIM YARDLEY of the New York Times filed this report:
Feb. 13, 2013 – A Tibetan man walked onto a street Wednesday morning in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire. Engulfed in flames, and writhing in pain, the monk became the latest Tibetan to self-immolate as part of a protest campaign against Chinese rule in Tibet.
In Nepal, a small Himalayan nation that is home to thousands of Tibetan exiles, authorities said the monk was hospitalized in critical condition. Witnesses told The Associated Press that the man, who was dressed in the robes of a Buddhist monk, shouted slogans against China before falling to the ground, as others quickly put out the flames and called for help.
Photographs showed Nepalese security officers arriving as the protester stood in the middle of the street, his body consumed by flames and black smoke.
This latest self-immolation comes at a wrenching moment for Tibetans inside and outside China. Desperate to focus global attention on political and religious repression inside Tibet, yet barred by Chinese authorities from holding any political protests there, a growing number of young Tibetan men and women have set themselves on fire during the last three years.
The protest campaign is now approaching the grim milestone of 100 self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China: Exiled Tibetan political leaders in India, as well as the advocacy group, Save Tibet, have documented 99 such incidents inside China since February 2009. A handful of Tibetans outside Tibet also have self-immolated, including a man who set himself afire in March 2012 during a pro-Tibet protest in New Delhi. His image, captured by a news photographer, ricocheted around the world.
The protester in Nepal has not yet been identified but he timed his self-immolation to coincide with the important Tibetan festival of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, during which the government in exile has asked Tibetans not to celebrate in solidarity with Tibetans still in Tibet.
The protester set himself on fire near a major Buddhist stupa, or religious structure, that is located in the Boudhanath section of Katmandu, where many Tibetan exiles live.
A waiter at the Golden Eye Café told The Associated Press that the Tibetan man used the bathroom in the restaurant before stepping outside onto the street. Later, the waiter found a bottle of gasoline and clothing in the bathroom.
“He looked like the hundreds of Tibetans who came to Boudhanath today and I did not suspect he was going to set himself on fire,” the waiter, Prasant Tamang, said.
The Chinese government has condemned the self-immolations as criminal acts and has been waging a police crackdown. Last week, Chinese state media reported that at least 70 people had been arrested or detained in a Tibetan region of the province of Qinghai and accused of inciting others to self-immolate. Last Friday, a Chinese court sentenced a Tibetan man to 13 years in prison on similar charges.
Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, expressed sadness about the self-immolation in Nepal and said his administration has asked Tibetans not to take drastic actions, including self-immolation. But he also placed the blame for such acts on the Chinese government.
"The occupation of Tibet and repression of Tibetans are the primary reason for the self-immolations inside Tibet," Mr. Sangay said by email on Wednesday, while he was visiting the United States. "The solution to the tragedy in Tibet lies with Beijing and my administration is fully committed to dialogue and to address the issue peacefully."
For decades, Chinese leaders have vilified the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, and the country’s state-run media have recently been blaming him for orchestrating the self-immolations. Tibetans have dismissed such claims as blatant propaganda and argued that the self-immolations are the result of repressive Chinese policies that have sharply restructured political and religious rights in Tibetan areas.
“Why do the Tibetans burn themselves?” asked Penpa Tsering, speaker of the exiled Tibetan Parliament, which is based in Dharamsala, India, in a speech earlier this month. “Political freedom in Tibet is nonexistent.”
Nepal is pinched between China and India and for decades as served as way station for Tibetans escaping from Chinese rule. In recent years, Chinese leaders have pressured Nepal’s government to choke off this flow of refugees and to also limit political protests by Tibetans living in Nepal.
September 15, 2012
Tibetans living in the Himalayan country go undocumented due to pressure from China.
The United States made a fresh plea to Nepal this week to provide identification papers to Tibetan refugees living in the country, but its request was flatly rejected by the government, which cited “geopolitical sensitivities” in an apparent reference to pressure from China.
Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake urged Nepal’s government to regularize the status of the country's Tibetan community during talks with Nepalese deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha on Tuesday.
Nepal should “provide them documentation that would allow them to get jobs, to travel, and so forth,” Blake said in Kathmandu after the talks.
“We believe strongly that Tibetan refugees, like all people, deserve to lead lives of dignity and purpose,” he said, according to a text of his remarks provided by the State Department.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees have fled Chinese rule to live in Nepal, but many now lack the official refugee identity cards that would allow them to pursue opportunities for work, travel, or education.
And Nepal’s powerful northern neighbor China has in recent years become more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict the refugees' activities and help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border.
In his talks this week, Blake urged Nepal to grant “refugee identity” to Tibetans living in the country, according to Nepalese press report accounts of his meeting with Shrestha.
But Shrestha rejected the request, declaring that Nepal is not bound by international conventions on refugees and has “its own values” in dealing with them, the reports said.
“We will extend the refugee status or take other necessary actions based on our own laws. We have our own values regarding the policy on refugees,” Shrestha said.
“It is necessary for our foreign friends to appreciate that our policies are guided by geopolitical sensitivities,” said Shrestha, apparently referring to Nepal’s reluctance to offend China.
Speaking to RFA, Mikel Dunham, a writer and expert on Nepalese politics, called Shrestha’s statement a “shorthand” description of a Nepalese policy of abject surrender to Beijing.
“[This] means that Tibetans in Nepal must remain silent, passive wards of a hostile China-controlled policy of repression,” Dunham said.
“Without identity cards, Tibetans living in Nepal are deprived of education, health care, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and other basic services and human rights.”
Calling the United States’ commitment to protect Tibetans stranded in Nepal “commendable,” Dunham said, “The bottom line is that no progress has been made.”
Though Nepal refuses refugee status to Tibetans fleeing China’s rule, it does permit them in a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” to travel through Nepal on their way to India, with the help of the Kathmandu-based Tibetan Refugee Reception Center and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Speaking to the press in Kathmandui on Tuesday, Blake hailed Nepal’s “good record” in observing the arrangement.
Reported by Richard Finney.
Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.
September 1, 2012
Filed by Radio Free Asia Aug. 30. 2012
In what appears to be a growing trend, Chinese border police have deported to Nepal two groups of Tibetans who had sought to re-enter Tibet, some in hopes of reuniting with family members, according to Tibetan and Nepalese sources.
One group of 11 men was forced over the border to Nepal on Aug. 29, while a second group of four men and one woman was sent back on Aug. 23. All had been held by Chinese police at a detention center in Shigatse, Tibet, after being detained at border crossings with Nepal at Dram, Nangpa La, and Nyalam.
Six of the men in the first group are married and have children living in Tibet, sources said.
On their return to Nepal, both groups were taken to the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center in Kathmandu with the assistance of United Nations refugee workers.
After a short stay at the refugee center, the group of five who were sent back to Nepal on Aug. 23 paid fines and were released, and have now traveled into India, sources said.
One, a businessman, had left Tibet earlier in the year to attend religious teachings given in India by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The others—three men and a woman—had lived and studied in India for several years, and had attempted to rejoin their parents and families inside Tibet.
The group of 11 who were sent back on Wednesday, though natives of Dingri county in Tibet, are now stateless, having had their residency papers for Tibet confiscated by Chinese police at the border with Nepal.
Move kept secret
Speaking to RFA from the refugee center in Nepal, one of the men said that their forced return to Nepal came as a surprise.
“Initially, they kept our deportation very secret. [The Chinese] didn’t say anything to us in Dingri or Shigatse,” he said.
“Then, at Nyalam, the Chinese police informed us that they were carrying out official orders from the Tibet Autonomous Region to return us to Nepal.”
“They didn’t give any reason for confiscating our Chinese personal identity papers,” another returnee said. “They just said that those were not going to be of any use to us.”
The men are now worried about trying to cross again into Tibet without papers, and feel they have been left in a limbo, several said.
In June, Chinese border police forced back into Nepal a group of Tibetan pilgrims seeking to re-enter Tibet after confiscating their Tibetan residency permits and detaining them for a week, also in Shigatse.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal, and Beijing is becoming more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict their activities and to help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border.
Reported by Thupten Sangyal and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.
July 3, 2012
Ai Ping – Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Beijing’s point man on South Asian affairs -- paid a weekend visit to Kathmandu. He conveyed China’s growing concern over Nepal’s governmental quagmire, the country’s economic instability and the dubious political promotion of ethnic federalism.
Obviously, it’s to China’s advantage to have a politically, economically and socially stable southern neighbor. But China’s core issue with Nepal remains unchanged: Tibet.
According to Beijing-based analyst Hu Shisheng, Deputy Director of the Institute of South And South Asian Studies in the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, China fears that Nepal’s current impasse sets the stage for new free-Tibet activities.
JUNE 9, 2012
Chinese border police detain pilgrims and refuse them entry into Tibet.
In a rare move, Chinese border police have forcibly sent back a group of Tibetan pilgrims seeking to re-enter Tibet from Nepal after confiscating their residency permits and detaining them for a week, according to Tibetan and Nepalese sources.
One analyst called the move “puzzling” and “a new development” in China’s handling of Tibetans wanting to return from Nepal to their homes.
Panchen Lamas: A Reporter Looks Back – OpEd
China has introduced its hand-picked Panchen Lama for the first time outside mainland China.
Media attention naturally focused on an April 26 speech given in Hong Kong by 22-year-old Gyaincain Norbu, whom Beijing named to be the Panchen Lama 17 years ago.
But the move underscores a larger issue: Beijing’s attempts to gain control or at least more influence over Buddhism not only inside Tibet but also throughout the Himalayan region.
It seems not to matter to Beijing that many Tibetans were distressed when China installed the then six-year-old Gyaincain Norbu as the Panchen Lama in 1995 while ignoring another boy chosen by the exiled Dalai Lama.
That boy quickly disappeared from sight and is believed to be under a kind of house arrest somewhere inside China.
April 1, 2012
Honorable Prime Minister,
A remarkable meeting co-organized by the HAA, the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM) and each of the undersigned, [recently] took place in December 2011 in Kathmandu. More than 30 practitioners of Sowa Rigpa (also known as the Tibetan “science of healing”) gathered for this eight-day workshop focused on the production of efficacious medicines. This unique event brought Sowa Rigpa medical practitioners from Nepal, India and China together in new ways, enabling them to share their knowledge and experiences of pharmacology, materia medica, medical history, ecology, and botany with a view to improving the quality of the medicines they produce and safeguarding practices of medicine production that are, we argue, critically endangered, particularly without state recognition and support in Nepal.
March 29, 2012
China’s Buddhist politics now includes Nepal
by Jayadeva Ranade
There is renewed activism in recent months in Buddhist politics or, more aptly ‘kasayapolitiks’. Two large-scale events, both inextricably linked with Buddhism, are being sponsored by China’s communist regime next month. One of them, which demonstrates Beijing’s continuing interest and expanding influence in Nepal and its exiled Tibetan Buddhist community, will, quite oddly, be attended by UN Secretary General, Ban ki Moon.
China’s new initiative comes in the midst of growing discontent among Tibetans inside China and imposition of stringent security measures in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas inside China. CCTV cameras and armed police have been deployed outside sensitive monasteries like Drepung, Sera and Kirti since February this year. The security budget of Sichuan province’s Aba Prefecture, which has a sizeable Tibetan community, was doubled last year. Especially since last September, at least thirty Tibetans, almost all former monks and nuns below 30 years of age, have committed self-immolation. A sign of their desperation was shockingly manifest for the first time in Delhi on March 26, on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s arrival for the BRICS summit, when a 26-year-old Tibetan refugee immolated himself.
March 15, 2012
For almost a month now, I’ve posted exhaustive interviews with experts and stakeholders in the development of Lumbini, a topic that has gained increasing international attention since a Chinese-funded development offer came to light in July 2011. The Hong Kong-based organization in question calls itself the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF). It’s pedigree is nebulous; even its address and telephone number listed on its website have proven to be phony. Ex-Prime Minister and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” was named Co-Chairman of APECF, a detail that immediately raised eyebrows in regard to the appropriateness of a leader of a ten-year armed struggle taking the reins of a site that universally symbolizes non-violence. In the event, the gist of the controversial offer (now on hold, if not permanently debunked) was to pour an unprecedented three billion dollars into and around the Sacred Garden, where the historical Lord Buddha was born.
Regardless of APECF’s legitimacy, coming to terms with the finalization of a master plan before additional development resumes in Lumbini seems to have been ratcheted up in recent months. Only last week, it was announced that the UN’s General Secretary Ban Ki-moon would visit Lumbini on April 29, at the bequest of Prachanda and his recently-created “Greater Lumbini Development National Steering Committee.” And the three billion dollars, which probably never existed except in the fantasy world of Chinese businessmen – a staggeringly tantalizing sum for a nation in which three billion dollars equals 10% of Nepal’s annual GDP – has opened Nepal’s eyes concerning the very real value, (at least monetarily), of Lumbini as a tourism bonanza.
Experts and stakeholders recently interviewed by me include publisher-author KANAK MANI DIXIT, seasoned diplomat and civic leader KUL CHANDRA GAUTAM, internationally renown tourism consultant LISA CHOEGYAL, Greater Lumbini Development National Steering Committee member MINENDRA RIJAL, UNESCO Representative to Nepal AXEL PLATHE, Vice-Chairman of Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) ACHARYA KARMA SANGBO SHERPA, and long-time Lumbini archeologist KOSH PRASAD ACHARYA.
February 21, 2012
The Nepalese government is yet to respond to a December 2011 letter written by three members of the U.S. House of Representatives pushing for the implementation of a stalled Tibetan refugee resettlement program to the US.
The letters dated December 9, 2011 were addressed to the President and Prime Minister of Nepal, and were written by Representatives James McGovern (D-MA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA), a member of its Executive Committee.
The letters posted on the Commission’s website last week had prominently asked for the rights of Tibetan refugees in Nepal to be protected, and urged the Nepalese government that it assent to resettling Tibetan refugees in the United States.
February 19, 2012
Human Rights Watch issued the following report this week:
(New York) – The Chinese government should immediately release Tibetans who have been detained by local police and are being forced to undergo political re-education after travelling to India to listen to religious teachings there, Human Rights Watch said today.
Many have been detained since February 6, 2012, in ad hoc detention centers in Lhasa and other areas. Multiple sources told Human Rights Watch that several hundred Tibetans may have been detained in the current sweep, but the exact number is not known. The same sources described the political re-education the detainees are subjected to. No information is available about how long the detainees will be held, but people with knowledge of the detentions in Lhasa say the detentions are expected to last from 20 days to three months.
January 6, 2012
Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.
As baseball's New York Mets struggled toward their historic 120-loss season in 1962, their manager, Casey Stengel, famously lamented of his feckless team: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
The same might be asked of the various players in Nepal's carnival of political and diplomatic dysfunction: the dominant United Communist Party Nepal (Maoist), the pro-Indian Nepali Congress, the Madhesi parties representing the interests of the ethnically Indian lowlanders of the Tarai, and even the ostensible grownups in the geopolitical game, the diplomats of India and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Nepalese politicians dramatically describe their nation as "a yam between two rocks" to illustrate the vulnerable circumstances of a small nation trying to maintain its equilibrium and independence between two overbearing regional superpowers.
It would seem that Nepal could plausibly regard itself as the mountain maiden wooed by two determined and deep-pocketed suitors, instead of an imperiled potato.
However, halting efforts to exploit Sino-Indian rivalry to Nepal's benefit have been consistently frustrated by Nepalese weakness, exacerbated by the factionalism, opportunism and corruption endemic in local politics.
January 3, 2012
Today, Republica published an editorial by Arun KR Shrivastav, which, as far as I know is a first in methodically questioning the wisdom behind the Nepali government kow-towing to China’s position on Nepal’s Tibetan refugee community. Highly recommended reading.
CHINA, TIBET & NEPAL: Until that Happens By Arun KR Shrivastav
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming visit to Nepal purportedly to put bilateral relations irreversibly in the perspective of Tibet is the last masterstroke by the outgoing leadership in China to link its relations with Nepal firmly and solely with the Tibet issue. The current leadership is scheduled to demit office in less than a year. Nepal has adopted a One-China Policy that accepts both Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of China—a Chinese claim that rest of the world perceives as its insatiable aggrandizement boosted by its sheer size of population, geography and now the economy, ranked number two in the world. So, when it comes to bilateral relations or its worldview, Nepal has no opinion on any of the matters that the world finds wrong with China. And, with a Maoist-led government in power, the differences between the two nations on issues of ideology and therefore, the worldview, perhaps do not exist at all.
December 6, 2011
By Saransh Sehgal
DHARAMSALA, India - Tibet's government in exile says there has been a sharp drop in the number of Tibetans fleeing to join the refugee community in Dharamsala.
According to records provided by the reception center for new arrivals from Tibet in Dharamsala, there have been just 2,500 arrivals since 2008. In the years 2004 to 2007, new arrivals totaled 12,000, while this year there have been only 600.
November 26, 2011
Conditions for Tibetan in Nepal continue to deteriorate amidst growing Chinese pressureNepal police forcibly returned a young Tibetan man who was escaping from Tibet to the Chinese authorities in September, according to information that reached ICT on November 23. According to the same Tibetan sources, the Tibetan - whose full name is known to ICT - is now in detention in Tibet. It is the first known case of the refoulement of a Tibetan from the border areas of Nepal since June 2010.
The return of the Tibetan, Tashi, was in contravention of established protocol between the government of Nepal and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that provides for the safe transit of Tibetan refugees through Nepalese territory and onward to India. These measures were put into practice after 1989 when Nepal stopped providing refugee status to new arrivals from Tibet. The 20-year old Tibetan who was sent back to Tibet is from a nomadic family in rural Biru County, Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. He was traveling into exile in mid-September with a group of five other Tibetans from his village of around the same age, two of whom were interviewed by ICT after they arrived safely in India some weeks later.
The six young men each paid 6000 yuan (approximately US $943) for a guide to take them from Lhasa to the Nepal border. After the group arrived on the Nepal side of the border in mid-September they stayed the night with a local family. The next day, three members of the group left with the guide to travel to Kathmandu, but were detained by Nepalese police on around September 11-13. Also detained were a group of 20 other Tibetans in the border area; all 23 were handed over to Nepal's Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. These 23 Tibetans were held in custody for at least 12 days before being handed over to the UNHCR, despite pressure from the Chinese embassy to return them to the PRC.
In the meantime, Tashi and two of his friends set out on a separate journey to Kathmandu on two motorbikes. But along the route to Kathmandu, two of the Tibetans were stopped by Nepalese police at a road checkpoint and detained in a police vehicle. They did not see what happened to Tashi, but said that the last time they saw him he was en route to Kathmandu by motorbike with a guide. They later learnt that he had been apprehended by police too and had not reached Kathmandu.
One of the Tibetans told ICT: "I was not afraid but very confused, because we didn't know where the Nepalese police will take us and what they would do with us. The police drove back for quite a long time in the dark and the road was very bumpy. After a while we saw many lights through the trees. There were around four armed police in the back of the jeep with us. Suddenly, the in-charge of the police yelled at us to jump and we jumped out of the jeep and ran up into the forest on the mountainside. We never stopped to rest until we reached the top; it was past midnight already. Our clothes were completely wet. We tried to spend the rest of the night at the top of the mountain, and next morning we saw that there was a family house and we went there to ask for something to eat and hot water to drink. Fortunately, the family gave us space to rest as well as food and drink. Then we asked them where we were and how far it was to Kathmandu from there. The mother told us that it will take more than two days to walk to Kathmandu, more than 150 kilometers."
The two Tibetans reached Kathmandu on September 24, after their departure from Tibet on August 28. It was only after reaching the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu that they learned that their friend Tashi had been been detained by Nepalese police after crossing the border and handed over to their Chinese counterparts on the Tibet side. According to several sources connected to the incident, Tashi is now being held in detention in Lhasa.
Although Nepal is not a signatory to international refugee conventions, the forcible return or refoulement of refugees to a place where their lives or freedoms could be threatened violates a fundamental norm of international law. However, there is no recourse for refoulement and Tibetans that are forcibly returned face torture and harsh prison conditions. That details of Tashi's refoulement are only now coming to light, nearly three months later, speaks to the increased difficulty in ascertaining information on refoulements and possible refoulements.
The last known refoulement from Nepal occurred in June, 2010, when two Tibetan monks, 20-year old Dawa and 21-year old Dorjee, and a 22-year old woman called Penpa, were detained by Nepalese police in Nepal's Humla district bordering Purang (Chinese: Burang) county in Ngari prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. The three Tibetans were held at the police post in the village of Muchu, about a day's walk from the Tibet-Nepal border. According to ICT sources, Chinese border police were in touch with the Nepalese police, and the three Tibetans were taken by helicopter to the border at Hilsa, accompanied by a Nepalese politician and a policeman. Chinese security personnel collected them there and took them back into Tibet. According to the same sources, two of the Tibetans, one of the monks and the young woman, were jailed and would serve around six months. The second monk was allowed to return to his monastery.
Tashi's two Tibetan friends who are now safely in India said that they and his family are now very worried about his safety and welfare. Tibetans who have been caught escaping from Tibet are known to have undergone torture and hard labor while in custody. One of his friends said: "Since our arrival [in exile] we have learned many stories about the new arrivals being handed back to Chinese border security after being arrested in Nepal. Very sad stories." They also described their own feelings on being in India, saying: "We already had an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and it was very great and we had that kind of feeling we are not be able express in words. Now we are dreaming and excited to join the Tibetan Transit School in Dharamsala. And also we are very keen to learn Tibetan and English. We don't have a specific dream for the future, but we definitely want to be real Tibetans."
Tashi's two Tibetan friends said that Tashi had similar reasons for leaving Tibet to theirs - a desire to see the Dalai Lama, to have a good education, and to escape from the strictures of the Chinese authorities' policies in rural areas, affecting their livelihoods. One of them told ICT: "My family had 80 yaks, 200 sheep and five horses before, and I was grazing them together with other people in the village. Before 2005, our land was not divided or fenced at all, but since 2005, the local government set up fences and divided the land according to the number of family members. Now we cannot graze livestock freely as before, because, you can only graze on your own land, and it is not really necessary to watch the livestock as closely as before. But the problem that so many families face is shortage of grazing, and the only option is to reduce the number of your livestock or rent the land of other families who have few livestock. Most people choose the first option. Now my family has 60 Yaks, 120 sheep and 4 horses."
Tashi's other Tibetan friend said: "We grew up together and were always together with the livestock on the mountains back in Tibet, so we had plenty time to discuss going to India so on. Particularly, we spoke many times about His Holiness, and the massive protest in 2008 in Tibet. We heard from elderly people in the village that His Holiness is in India plus we had much more information about the Tibet issue since 2008. We used to listen to Radio Free Asia on the mountains with our livestock sometimes. Finally, we made the decision to leave Tibet and go to India, since then, I became more interested in education than before."
As Nepal-China relations develop, Tibetan refugees in Nepal face increasing dangers both on the journey into exile and within the long-standing Tibetan community in Kathmandu. In one recent incident on October 17, four Tibetan community leaders were detained by Nepalese police following a speech by China's Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan on October 16, in which he blamed "international and domestic forces" for "coordinating [anti-China] activities in Nepal".
The refoulement comes at a time when Nepal's treatment of Tibetan refugees are coming under greater scrutiny by the United States government. Two U.S. Congressmen visited Kathmandu in late September and October with the situation facing Tibetan refugees on their agenda. On November 20, U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi authored an article in the Kathmandu Post urging the government to continue to protect Tibetan refugees. The opinion piece came days before Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha visited Lhasa, Tibet, where he reportedly thanked the Government of China for its support and pledged to not allow any "anti-Chinese activities" on Nepali soil.
November 15, 2011
According to Rajdhani Daily, spokesperson Sudhir Kumar Sah of the Home Ministry issued the following statement on November 13, 2011:
The government is in a very difficult situation since the Tibetans have begun setting themselves on fire. The government of Nepal is committed on its one China policy. We will not allow any activities that go against the interest of our neighbors. This will lead to a situation where the government may have to slash all the facilities being granted to the Tibetans residing in Nepal, such as that of their freedom of movement.
Sah also warned that the government could opt to ban all Tibetan business activities.
Many assume that this latest warning is an attempt to assuage the potential misgivings of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jaiboa, who is reportedly slated to visit Nepal in December. Obviously, if the Maoist-led government cannot guarantee Wen that his visit will be a smooth one, chances are that the visit will be aborted.
As it stands, the Tibetans are in no mood to self-censor.
For most of the year, the refugees have watched in horror as monks and nuns in Eastern Tibet have used self-immolation as a means of protesting China’s repression of Tibetan religious and cultural freedom. Eleven monastics have set themselves on fire since March, at least five of whom died in the process.
More recently, Tibetans outside of Tibet have taken up the protest. At the beginning of the month, a Tibetan exile set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi before Indian police overpowered him and put out the flames.
On November 3, a Tibetan woman tried to set herself on fire in Kathmandu but was thwarted by friends.
On November 10, at the base of Kathmandu’s famous Boudhanath Stupa, where hundreds of worshippers were gathered for a religions festival, a Buddhist monk wrapped in the Tibetan flag and chanting slogans against China doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire with a devotional lamp. Onlookers quickly extinguished the flames and whisked him away before police could arrive to arrest him.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO NEPAL’S STRANGLEHOLD ON TIBETAN COMMUNITY
Human rights groups have frequently accused Nepal of arbitrary arrests and harassment of Tibetans. In July, Nepal prevented its 20,000-strong Tibetan community from celebrating the birthday of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
China accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of encouraging followers to set themselves on fire.
In response, the Dalai Lama has denied complicity and said that China's "ruthless policy" was behind the self-immolations.
The Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism's third-ranking leader, asked China on this week to review its policies toward Tibet in the wake of the protests against Chinese restrictions on their religion and culture. "These desperate acts, carried out by people with pure motivation, are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live," he said.
U.S. Representative Frank Wolf weighed in on November 3 by threatening to strip Nepal of its millions of dollars in US aid unless it loosens its stranglehold on Tibetan refugee movement. Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into exile, but the country has increasingly cracked down on Tibetans' movement and activities out of fear of upsetting its giant neighbor to the north.
Representative Wolf, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee that determines US funding, said he would try to block funding to Nepal unless it grants exit visas to Tibetans who seek refuge in the United States.
"We're not just going to cut them [Nepal], we're going to zero them out. If they're not willing to do it, then they don't share our values and if they don't share our values, we do not want to share our dollars," he told a congressional hearing on Tibet.
Wolf said he would propose the aid cutoff if Nepal's record does not improve by the time the United States looks at foreign aid funding next year.
The US Agency for International Development sought $57.7 million for Nepal in the 2010 fiscal year.
November 8, 2011
Today is the pub date for my newest book, a project that began more than three years ago. I gave digital cameras to Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal with the task of documenting their daily lives in their settlements. Caught in Nepal is the result of that joint effort. The book includes my essay on the 2000-year-old relationship between the people of Nepal and Tibet.
The book is now available. If you are not in Nepal you can still purchase a copy directly through the Nepali publisher’s website, (located in Kathmandu), or, if you prefer, through amazon.com.
Vajra Publisher's Link
November 1, 2011
Nepali security forces detained more than 60 Tibetan refugees earlier today as they demonstrated in support of Buddhist monks who have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule in their homeland.
Police say the demonstrators were arrested after shouting anti-China slogans during a prayer service outside a monastery on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu. Bowing to Chinese pressure, the Nepali government is increasingly cracking down on gatherings of exiled Tibetans. On Monday, China's military chief, General Chen Bingde, said Beijing approves of Nepal's “firm stance on issues related to Tibet.” Chen made his comments in Beijing during a visit by his Nepalese counterpart, General Chhatraman Singh Gurung, who reaffirmed his promise to never allow “anti-Chinese activities” to take place on Nepalese soil.
The protest followed the 11th self-immolation in Tibet on October 25, when a monk set himself on fire during a religious ceremony.
Dawa Tsering, a monk in his thirties from Kardze Monastery in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prececture in Sichuan, became the 11th Tibetan to have self-immolated since March 2009, and the tenth since March of this year.
Details from various exiled sources indicate that Dawa Tsering was still alive immediately after monks and other people attending a religious ritual at the monastery extinguished the flames, although his current condition and whereabouts are not clear.
One source indicated he was initially taken to hospital before monks then took him back to the monastery to prevent his arrest by police arriving at the hospital at around the same time; another source indicated he refused medical treatment and pleaded not to be taken to hospital. Both sources suggested however that Dawa Tsering was at the monastery in the care of other monks and laypeople, who were preventing Chinese police – stationed at the monastery in large numbers since the Tibet-wide protests of 2008 – from interrogating or detaining him.
Eye-witnesses report that Dawa Tsering was participating in a religious ceremony at the time of a Cham (monastic) Dance, attended by hundreds of local people inside the monastery when he set himself alight and shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. The atmosphere at the monastery in the immediate wake of the incident was said by sources to be extremely tense, with Chinese police deployed around and inside the monastery in an apparent stand-off with the monks and lay-people protecting Dawa Tsering.
October 20, 2011
This week a young nun became the ninth member of the Buddhist clergy to set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule in the remote Himalayan province of Tibet, while two protesters were shot and wounded by police during a protest outside a police station, human rights groups said yesterday.
The nun, Tenzin Wangmo (20), died after setting herself on fire on Monday outside Dechen Chokorling nunnery in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture where a number of other self-immolations have taken place this year. (See previous blog entries for backstory.)
MEANWHILE IN NEPAL
Four Tibetan leaders in Kathmandu were detained on October 17 by Nepali police following a speech by China’s Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan on Sunday (October 16) in which he blamed “international and domestic forces” for “coordinating [anti-China] activities” in Nepal.
China has made Nepal’s handling of Tibetan new and long-staying refugees a focal point in its bilateral relations and presses Nepal to crack down on activities it deems to be “anti-China.” The Nepalese authorities have become increasingly compliant in meeting this demand.
In one incident on Monday, three Tibetan community leaders - Thrinley Gyatso and Jampa Dhondup from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office and Tsering Dhundup, head of the Boudhanath Tibetan community – were taken into police custody for several hours of questioning, that included whether representatives of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala would join the thousands of devotees attending a significant prayer ceremony (October 18) to mark the passing of a venerable Tibetan Buddhist lama, Trulshik Rinpoche. Trulshik Rinpoche had been one of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s teachers and the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He died on September 2 in Nepal where he had established Thupten Choling Monastery, Nepal’s largest monastery. A witness to the questioning told ICT that there were indications that the questions followed directions from the Chinese Embassy.
In a separate incident in Kathmandu on October 17, Chime, the head of the Jawalakhel Tibetan settlement, was detained for more than an hour by police and questioned following a visit to the settlement by U.S. government officials earlier that day.
On October 16, China’s ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan spoke at Nepal’s Press Club, saying: “We have the authentic information that our oldest and nearest friend Nepal is turning into a playground for anti-China activities. Some international and domestic forces are coordinating their activities against China.”
Yang Houlan’s comments contribute to an atmosphere of tension for Tibetans in Nepal this week. China appears to be moving Nepal to impose the kind of limits on civil and political rights that China imposes on Tibetans in Tibet. Beijing has buttressed its expectations with cash and other assistance to support Nepal in carrying out security measures targeting Tibetans.
On July 26, 2010 the first “Nepal-China border Security and Law Enforcement Talks” concluded with Beijing and Kathmandu agreeing to establish high-level intelligence sharing capabilities targeting “anti-China” activities and border management, in addition to a pledge from Beijing for an annual aid package to enhance Nepal’s handling of “anti-China” activities. Greater cooperation between Chinese and Nepalese security forces regarding intelligence sharing and border enforcement increases the threat of forced repatriation for Tibetans.
September 21, 2011
Human rights monitors and foreign diplomats in Nepal who monitor the situation for Tibetan refugees transiting from Tibet through Nepal are concerned for the safety of 23 Tibetan refugees in custody in Kathmandu, Nepal. The group of Tibetans has not been turned over by Nepalese authorities to the UNHCR, as per established protocols, and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has written a letter demanding that the Tibetans be released into Chinese custody for return to Tibet.
The 23 Tibetans were arrested by Nepalese police on September 11-13 after they crossed the border from Tibet, brought down to Kathmandu and turned over to Nepal’s Department of Immigration (DOI) in Nepal. They remain in the custody of the DOI, contravening established protocols that Tibetans crossing into Nepalese territory are promptly handed over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for processing and onward transit to India. The group includes eight minors (ages 13-17).
Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The Chinese embassy’s menacing interference into the case of these 23 Tibetans represents an escalation in China’s attempts to undermine existing protocols for the protection of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. The forcible repatriation of any among this group would violate Nepal’s commitment to the UN Convention against Torture, which bans returning any person to a state where there is substantial danger of torture. We strongly urge that Nepal release these 23 Tibetans without further delay to the UNHCR.”
The appointment of a new Chinese Ambassador in Kathmandu, Yang Houlan, in June 2011, was seen by some observers and reported in the press as a signal of elevated importance for Beijing’s interests in Nepal, of which the Tibetan issue is predominant. Chinese authorities have taken advantage of political instability, the rise of the Maoists, and the need for resources to develop Nepal's infrastructure to gain an unprecedented leverage over Kathmandu's treatment of its long-standing Tibetan community. Beijing's influence over the Nepalese government, border forces, the judicial system and civil society at a time of political transition in Nepal means that Tibetans in Nepal are increasingly vulnerable, demoralized and at risk of arrest and repatriation.
Nepalese officials indicate that the case of the 23 Tibetans is now being handled at the highest levels in the Nepalese government. Nepalese Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai is currently in New York City to take part in the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.
According to local sources who have interviewed them, all of the Tibetans appear to be legitimate refugees and have given reasons for escape that are consistent with thousands of other accounts over previous decades, including to see the Dalai Lama.
Under the established ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between the Nepal government and the UNHCR, Tibetans who enter Nepalese territory from Tibet are to be given over to the care of the UNHCR and expeditiously allowed to travel onward to India.
Tibetan refugees brought to Kathmandu are provided temporary refuge at the UNHCR-funded Tibetan Refugee Transit Center. Tibetans registered as “persons of concern” by the UNHCR enter a system administered by the Central Tibetan Administration through which they are placed in age-appropriate care and schooling or monastic institutions in Tibetan settlements throughout India.
The 23 Tibetans were traveling in two different groups from Tibet and through Nepal. On September 11, twenty of the Tibetans were arrested in Bajura district, western Nepal, after crossing the Tibet-Nepal border in Humla district. On September 11, they were brought to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. On or about September 13, three Tibetans were arrested in Barabise, Sindupalchowk district, north-central Nepal. They were also brought to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu.
In total, there are 18 males and five females in the group; with two in their 40s, 13 between 18 and 28 years of age, and 8 are between the ages of 13 and 17 (minors).
In the last four years, minors have represented 15 percent of the total number of Tibetans transiting through Nepal to India. Based on interviews conducted by ICT, the UNHCR and others over the years, as well as numerous Tibetan sources, young people often leave Tibet to secure a traditional Tibetan education or to join Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries in India. Religious practice is strictly controlled in Tibet where repression has intensified since March 2008.
Forcible return (refoulement) of Tibetan refugees to Tibet is a violation of international law. While Nepal is not a party to U.N. refugee conventions, it is bound to follow international norms in this regard. Nepal is a party to the U.N. Torture Convention, which bans the forcible return of any person to a country where there is a credible fear that torture could be employed. The U.S. State Department has reported that “Tibetans repatriated from Nepal suffered torture, including electric shocks, exposure to cold, and severe beatings, and were forced to perform heavy labor.”
September 22, 2011 update:
Last night, the 23 Tibetan refugees detained for almost two weeks in Nepal for "illegally crossing" into the country were finally released and turned over to the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It would be nice to think that international outrage had some bearing on their release. But it could also be a reflection of how ineffectually various governmental departments in Nepal are being run these days.
August 18, 2011
Detentions reflect growing Chinese influence in Nepal
Nepalese police detained eight Tibetans in Kathmandu this week in a bid to block anti-China protests during the visit of a high-level delegation from Beijing, sources said.
The delegation, led by Chinese Communist Party Politburo security chief Zhou Yongkang, arrived in Nepal’s capital on Tuesday for a three-day visit, where it announced a $50 million aid package to the impoverished Himalayan country.
August 10, 2011
To Order Link here: PASEKA PUBLISHERS
August 6, 2011
Authorities in Nepal arrested on Friday the Dalai Lama's new representative in the Himalayan territory after he held a news conference calling for protection of Tibetan refugee rights, sources said.
The arrest of Thinley Lama, volunteer coordinator of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, came amid persistent pressure from Beijing urging the Nepalese government to stop “anti-China activities” by Tibetan refugees.
He was taken away and interrogated by police after he held a press conference asking the Nepal government to ensure the rights of the country’s 20,000 Tibetan refugees under Nepal’s new constitution.
The press conference, held at a Kathmandu hotel, was Thinley Lama’s first since his June appointment. (Full transcript translated into English provided below.)
Thinley Lama, a Nepali citizen, was expected to be released after signing specific "commitments," a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They want him to shackle himself in future press conferences,” the source said.
Rights groups criticized the Nepali government and called for strong action from the international community and an end to what they called "persecution" of Tibetan refugees in Nepal.
"I think this gesture—arresting this representative of the Tibetan government in exile—brings us to a new low," Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's Asia advocacy director, told RFA.
"We have not seen behavior this specific, this aggressive, and frankly this baseless, in quite some time, and it is a very alarming development that requires a fairly vociferous response from the international community to make sure that the government of Nepal is upholding its obligations to Tibetans," she said.
China has been more aggressive in urging Nepal to take action against Tibetan refugees since last month when the new Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, assumed office, news reports said.
Yang had reminded the Nepali government and political parties in the country against allowing any “anti-China activity” by Tibetans living in Nepal, the reports said.
Tibetan refugees living in Nepal are under pressure to avoid asserting their national identity as their host country moves closer to its powerful northern neighbor China, analysts say.
Even religious ceremonies and community gatherings by Tibetans are increasingly viewed with suspicion by authorities in Nepal. They were also prevented from celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama last month.
Many of the refugees arrived in Nepal following a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in which thousands fled south across the Himalayas.
Many still flee Tibet each year, hoping to transit Nepal to India, home of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
At the press conference on Friday, Thinley referred to four treaties signed between Nepal and Tibet as two "sovereign countries" in 1645, 1789, 1792 and 1856, the Times of India reported.
He noted that on the basis of amicable relations with Tibet, earlier Nepali governments had given sanctuary to Tibetans forced to leave their countries as "political refugees," the report said. China says there are no Tibetan “refugees,” only illegal immigrants.
"I guess the thing that really ‘got their goat’ was that he referenced old treaties between Nepal and Tibet," said Mikel Dunham, an American writer and blogger on Nepal’s politics who frequently travels to the country."That would not have gone down well, particularly with the new Chinese ambassador in Nepal, Yang Houlan, who seems to be the feistiest of all the [Chinese] ambassadors so far."
July 27, 2011
“The plight of Tibetan refugees has long been documented with startling clarity and insight by renowned author Mikel Dunham, who has brought their voice to the world through his powerful writing, commentary and deep immersion into the complex political situation of Nepal. It is thrilling and ingenious then that he is empowering those same Tibetan voices that the world desperately needs to hear by aiding them through the medium of photography. By giving cameras to Tibetan refugees, he has given them voice in documenting the intimacy of their daily lives. Caught in Nepal: Tibetan Refugees Photographing Tibetan Refugees, is an inspired undertaking and an invaluable addition to the study of the Tibetan Diaspora.”
Jonathan Green, author of Murder in the High Himalaya
“This book is an immensely valuable record of the reality of Tibetans’ existence as refugees in Nepal. Mikel Dunham and his amateur Tibetan photographers have made a tremendous contribution to our understanding of Tibetans’ lives in Nepal and the existential issues that daily confront them.”
Warren W. Smith, Jr., author of Tibet’s Last Stand
"The raw and heartfelt moments captured in Caught in Nepal reveal the grit, courage, and fortitude of refugees from Tibet as they struggle to maintain their unique cultural identity outside their occupied homeland.”
Matteo Pistono, author of In the Shadow of the Buddha
July 17, 2011
An Inside look at Tibetan Exiles Trapped without Basic Rights
Most of the oldest exiles have now passed on, leaving second and third and even fourth generation offspring. Unlike their forefathers, these younger refugees harbor no hope of ever returning to their homeland.
Chinese pressure on a succession of weak Nepali governments has been so successful that all major political parties in Nepal now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Beijing’s insistence on a “One-China Policy”, i.e. China’s spurious claim that Tibet has always been an inseparable part of China.
Where does that leave Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal? They have no legal status. Tibetan refugees cannot own property or own businesses. They are not allowed to register the births or marriages of their children. Without the proper paperwork, they are deprived of the opportunity to attain higher education, meaningful employment in the Nepali job market, and visas to go to other countries. In short, the only right Tibetan exiles have in Nepal is to be in Nepal and it has left them despondent and idle – not unlike Native Americans must have felt, at the beginning of the 1900s, when their confinement to reservations represented an unjust dead-end.
Over the years, I have seen this constriction of Tibetan hope firsthand. Because of various books and projects, I have had occasion to visit the refugee settlements almost annually since the mid-1990s. Each year, I have seen the exiles’ prospects dim to the point that, now, in 2011, the great challenge for Tibetans stranded in Nepal is finding a legal means to leave Nepal forever.
Westerners who visit Nepal often come away with the false notion that the Tibetan refugees are economically thriving and that they enjoy freedom to practice their religion without interference from the Nepali government. This is not the case and, for years, I’ve tried to address this misconception by conducting and publishing interviews with refugees. It’s been a difficult message to get across to the international community.
Then, about three years ago, I came up with a different tactic: Why not let the Tibetans speak for themselves through cameras?
With the support of the William Hinman Foundation, I distributed ten inexpensive digital cameras to young volunteers living in the Tibetan settlements. None of the recipients had ever owned cameras and only three exhibited any knowledge or experience with photographic equipment. That didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t looking for expertise. I was looking for access to the most intimate aspects of the daily lives of Tibetans-in-exile.
The result of the experiment is my new book, CAUGHT IN NEPAL: Tibetan Refugees Photographing Tibetan Refugees. Out of thousands of submitted photographs, approximately 150 photographs were incorporated into the book, grouped in sections such as “Buddhist Devotion”, “The Importance of Community”, and “Political Struggle”. There is also an accompanying text, written by me, entitled, The History of Nepali-Tibetan Relations and Why Tibetan Refugees are Stranded in Nepal Today.
Politically, the refugees have never been as heavily censored as they are at the present time. That is why I believe this book is so relevant. Tibetans in Nepal may not be able to wave the Tibetan flag or gather publicly to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday – as was recently and heartbreakingly revealed only last week in Kathmandu – but there is still a publisher in Kathmandu who is brave enough to publish the book.
July 14, 2011
The Supreme Court of Nepal has ordered the release of a group of 12 Tibetans after finding that their 20 days in detention was “without reasonable explanation… and that said detention is illegal,” according to court documents obtained by the International Campaign for Tibet.
The 12 were ordered released on July 10 and is the second instance in little over a year in which the Supreme Court of Nepal has ordered the release of a group of Tibetans detained in Kathmandu on political grounds. On March 22, 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the release of three young Tibetan men, Sherap Dhondup, Sonam Dhondup and Kelsang Dhondup, who were detained in Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu on March 9 and accused of “posing a threat to Nepal-China relations,” with the police also claiming they found weapons on the Tibetans, an allegation that the Tibetans denied while talking to reporters, saying it was “totally fabricated” (ICT report).
“The Nepal Supreme Court’s ruling clearly points to the political nature of these detentions, highlighting the precarious situation Tibetans face in Nepal,” said Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “This is an encouraging indication of the independence of the judicial system in Nepal despite Beijing’s pressure on Nepal to crackdown on activities it deems to be ‘anti-China.’ Given the blatant disregard for the law as demonstrated by the police, the Chief District Officer and other officials involved in favor of political enforcement, it seems the only way for Tibetans to avoid detention over the specter of ‘anti-China’ activities is for Tibetans to renounce their very identity,” said Markey.
The 12 Tibetans ordered released on July 10 had been detained since June 21 following their participation in a candlelight vigil in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu to express solidarity with Tibetan demonstrators in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province who are currently under an intense security crackdown (ICT report). The prosecutor’s office accused the Tibetans of organizing an “anti-China” activity “harmful to China-Nepal foreign relations,” according to an ICT monitor in Kathmandu. The Nepal Supreme Court chastised the Boudhanath police, the Chief District Officer and the prosecutor’s office involved in the detention for failing to provide a written explanation to the court for the Tibetans’ detention and for failing to issue arrest warrants for the Tibetans, according to the court documents.
ABUSE IN DETENTION
Also, according to the ICT report, among the 12 Tibetans recently released was a 39-year old Tibetan man, who was beaten with a bamboo baton and accused of being the main organizer of “anti-China” activities in Kathmandu. In addition to physical abuse, he was coerced into signing a confession and then locked overnight without drinking water in a bathroom at the Boudhanath police station. He told ICT that the DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) of the Boudhanath police station called him to his office, where there were another six or seven police officers, and accused him of organizing the candlelight vigil that evening. The Tibetan told him that he took part in the vigil, but that he wasn’t the organizer. The DSP then got angry and slapped him in the face several times, dragged him by the hair onto the office floor, and accused him of being the main “Free Tibet” activist in Kathmandu. Other police officers recorded the questioning and beating on video. He told ICT: “Even though I was not an organizer of the vigil, he [the DSP] told me: ‘If you don’t confess, I will kill you tonight.’ Then he beat me with a bamboo stick. He hit me all over my body, but mostly on my legs. Then the DSP hit my knees and my stomach a few times while pulling my hair. I thought he was going to kill me and then I confessed and said I was the organizer. Then he punched my mouth and locked me in the toilet with no drinking water or anything until 8am the next day.”
You can help to fight injustice toward Tibetan refugees in Nepal by supporting my new book, Caught in Nepal: Tibetan Refugees photographing Tibetan Refugees
July 10, 2011
July 7, 2011
Hundreds of riot police blocked Tibetans from entering a school where celebrations were planned. Only students in uniform were allowed entrance, while other Tibetans, including monks and nuns were shunned.
Across the capital, all public celebrations for the Dalai Lama were prohibited.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone monitoring the anti-Tibetan trend currently choreographed by Nepal’s Maoist Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
June 8, 2011
FOR VIDEO and how you can help: CLICK HERE
June 18, 2011
With U.N. World Refugee Day (June 20) just around the corner, a new International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) report has just been released that details the dangers for Tibetan refugees transiting Nepal and for Nepal’s long-staying Tibetan refugee community.
The report for 2010, ”Dangerous Crossing: Conditions Impacting the Flight of Tibetan Refugees,” attributes these dangers to inadequate protections provided to Tibetans by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the government of Nepal, and to significant pressure from Nepal’s northern neighbor, the People’s Republic of China, to comply with its directives on the treatment of Tibetan refugees and their activities in Nepal.
In 2010, security along the Tibet-Nepal border, enhanced in preparation for the lighting of the 2008 Olympic torch lighting on Mt. Everest, was further entrenched. The numbers of Tibetan refugees successfully reaching the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathamandu, in sharp decline since 2008, were slightly higher than in 2009.
June 9. 2011
Earlier this week, June 5-6, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Kelly Clements visited Kathmandu to discuss humanitarian protection and assistance issues for Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees. This was her second trip to Nepal within the year.
In regard to Tibetan refugees, DAS Clements voiced her concern to Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara. She stressed her concern over Nepal’s failure to register Tibetan children born in Nepal after the 1990 census. Nepal has not conducted a Tibetan census since – two decades of inattention.
WHAT IS NEPAL’S STANCE ON TIBETAN REFUGEES AND TO WHAT EXTENT DOES IT CONCUR WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW?
April 21, 2011
This week, two events underline the Chinese government’s ever more emboldened stance in Nepal.
1) A diplomatic row erupted between China and Nepal as Beijing expressed dissatisfaction over the appointment of a minister of Tibetan ethnic origin by the communist party-led government of Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal. Chinese embassy officials in Kathmandu denounced the appointment of Lharkyal Lama as State Minister for Finance. The embassy’s stance is that Mr. Lama is connected with the “Free Tibet Movement”, a CPN-UML party source said in Nagarik Daily. According to Republica, Lama holds the nationality of Nepal, India and Tibet –the latter, of course, being unacceptable to Beijing.
March 21, 2011
Worldwide, more than 82,000 exile Tibetans voted yesterday for the new Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), who will head the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, located in Dharamsala, India. The election holds a particular significance because, on March 10, the Dalai Lama announced his intention to retire – or, more specifically, to devolve political authority to an elected leadership other than himself. In addition to the Kalon Tripaas, 44 members of the Tibetan Parliament will be determined by the voting.
Eighty-six regional election offices throughout the world were set up to count the votes and to forward the results in secret to Dharamsala. Election booths in various places in Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada, were arranged without incident.
But the general mood of optimism across the Tibetan Diaspora was seriously dampened by the news that more than 10,000 Tibetans in Nepal were forbidden to participate in the democratic process.
March 11, 2011
Yesterday, the Nepali government ordered the police to suppress a peaceful demonstration of more than 1,000 Tibetan refugees pleading for an end to the Chinese iron-fisted rule over Tibet. The demonstrators, chanting anti-Chinese slogans and waving Tibetan flags, gathered outside the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu to mark the 52nd anniversary of March 10, 1959. On that day, riots in Lhasa over Mao’s invasion of Tibet led to brutal Chinese PLA retaliation. A few days later, the Dalai Lama's made his famous escape to India, never to return to his homeland.
Unlike previous years in Kathmandu on this Tibetan anniversary, no serious injuries were reported. Police in riot gear told the crowd to disperse, then pushed them back with bamboo batons. A few arrests were made but the overall effect was an exemplary display of how well organized Nepali security can be when the Chinese government is breathing down its neck.
While the whole world sympathizes with the people of northern Africa and the Gulf States for their demonstrations, the Tibetan community’s desire for freedom of speech and religion are successfully relegated to state-imposed silence.
February 18, 2011
Nepal's "one China policy" is ever more frequently invoked by the government as justification for shutting down community activities within the Tibetan community.
The newest crackdown took place on Sunday, when the government sent armed police -- in riot gear and wielding batons -- to shut down local elections for the leadership of the Chushi-Gangdruk, a Tibetan community group principally looking after the welfare of veterans of the Tibetan resistance force that battled the Chinese People's Liberation Army from 1958 to 1974.
What were the sinister intentions behind the Chushi Gangdruk election?
February 15, 2011
Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, who serves concurrently as U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi visited the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu on February 13 as part of a high-level visit that includes meetings with government and UN officials. Her visit to Kathmandu comes as both new and long-staying Tibetan refugees feel increasingly exposed to Chinese influence in Nepal.
“Under Secretary Maria Otero expressed the United States’ continued support for the safety and welfare of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, and said she would carry their message back to Washington,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet, from Kathmandu. “Her visit signals that concerns for Tibetans, both the refugees and vulnerable long-staying population, remain a key interest in U.S. relations with Nepal.”
February 13, 2011
Tibetans 'Insecure' in Nepal
Reported by Richard Finney
As relations between China and Nepal grow closer, Tibetans come under greater scrutiny and pressure.
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.
Many still flee Tibet each year, hoping to transit Nepal to India, home of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
As relations between China and Nepal grow closer, though, recent agreements and meetings between the two countries “can only be regarded as bad news for Tibetans,” said Mikel Dunham, a writer and close observer of Nepalese politics and frequent visitor to the country.
Dunham noted that in November, China hosted a two-week special training for Nepalese police to help them prevent “pro-Tibet, anti-China” activities and demonstrations from occurring in Nepal.
“Then, in December 2010, Nepal and China agreed to step up security along their mutual border areas,” Dunham said. “This is an obvious move to make it more difficult for Tibetans inside Tibet to cross into Nepal.”
“The general mood of Tibetan refugees stranded in Nepal is, as it has been for many years now, one of depression,” Dunham said.
“The only difference now is that the Tibetans are beginning to understand that, whichever political party wields power in [Nepal’s capital] Kathmandu, the government of Nepal will remain resolutely pro-Chinese and therefore only marginally—if at all—sympathetic to the plight of Tibetans.”
November 21, 2010
The interim constitution promulgated in 2007 provies for freedom of religion; however, it specifically prohibits proselytizing. The Constituent Assembly recently extended to May 2011, the deadline for drafting the new constitution.
October 15, 2010
Jamyang Norbu is a noted author, blogger and activist in the forefront of the Tibetan struggle for independence from China. While he has many supporters, he is also controversial within the Tibetan community for criticizing the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration for eventually taking a "middle way" position of accepting Chinese rule, seeking only autonomy within it.
Norbu began working in the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in 1968, and was part of the Tibetan resistance in Mustang, Nepal from '71 to '72, just when the CIA was beginning to pull their aid. Mainly charged with getting intelligence on China, he also helped raise funds to keep the resistance alive until the Dalai Lama finally put an end to the Mustang base in 1974. Among other involvements in Tibetan activism, Norbu was president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, director of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, and co-founder of the Amnye Machen Institute for advanced studies on Tibet.
In the film clip, Norbu talks about the collective psyche of Tibetan refugees – in the 1960s, when Tibetans first became refugees, and in the 21st century, when cynicism has come into play.
October 7, 2010
The Maoists continue to do the bidding of Beijing. Yesterday, they stepped up their anti-Indian campaign by attempting to foil Rakesh Sood -- Indian Ambassador to Nepal -- from visiting the Mt. Everest region, where he was scheduled to inaugurate various Indian-assisted projects previously green-lighted under bilateral cooperation.
A group of 30-35 Maoists associated with a regional group called the Sherpa Rastriya Mukti Morcha-Nepal tried to block the road when Sood touched down at the Solukhumbu Airport. They waved black flags at the ambassador, a particularly menacing and insulting warning sometimes used in Nepali demonstrations. The group was led by former Maoist minister for culture Gopal Kirati, who had earlier spearheaded the attack on Indian priests at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu – a protest that seriously backfired on Maoist Supremo Prachanda, who was prime minister at the time.
There can be little doubt that the protest was mounted on behalf of China. Northern Nepal remains an extremely sensitive spot for Beijing, ever since China annexed Tibet in the 1950s.
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
July 9, 2010
Scottish author George Patterson arrived in Tibet in 1947 and lived there until the Chinese invasion in 1950. Following that, he briefly served as a translator for US State Dept and the CIA. He reported on the Tibetan resistance throughout the 50s. In 1964, he collaborated on the BBC documentary "Raid Into Tibet", which included astounding footage of a secret raid on a Chinese convoy by Tibetan guerrillas, who were based in Mustang. It is the only known film to document the Khampa warriors in a firefight with the People’s Liberation Army.
I first became acquainted with George while conducting research for Buddha’s Warriors in the late 1990s. Later, he was kind enough to write a cover blurb for the American hardback edition of that history.
CLICK HERE for film clip
Patterson is the author of Gods and Guerillas, Requiem for Tibet, Tibetan Journey, among others. My personal favorite is Journey with Loshay (Norton & Company, New York, 1954). Long out of print, Journey with Loshay is Patterson’s account of fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet and there has never been a more evocative book of what Kham was like prior to Mao’s takeover.
July 7, 2010
For those politicos who love to demonize India’s interference in Nepali internal affairs, they might first want to take a look at their new best friends from Beijing.
On Sunday, the three leading political parties – the Maoists, UML and Nepali Congress -- warned their respective Constituent Assembly members against taking part in any ceremonies connected to organized celebrations of the Dalai 75th birthday, celebrated on July 6. The whip orders indicated that to ignore their warnings would result in serious repercussions. Earlier on Sunday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forbade CA members to participate in the birthday event, fearing an adverse reaction from China. The various parties were quick to fall in line, illustrating the extent to which Chinese influence has seeped into all aspects of Nepali politics. Until 2005, the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Government-in-Exile had offices in Kathmandu.
But that’s ancient history. Today – if there is anything that unifies the various political groups in Nepal – it is their eagerness to bend over backwards to please Beijing.
Can outlawing photographs of the Dalai Lama in Nepal be far behind?
March 17, 2010
Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 Human Rights Report on Nepal. Below are some of the highlights. A link to the full document is provided at the end of the summary.
The government's respect for human rights improved slightly as all parties joined the government. Members of the security forces, the Maoist militias, the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL), and members of other small, often ethnically based armed groups committed human rights abuses. Members of the Nepal Army (NA) were confined to their barracks in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2006. Members of the Nepal Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) occasionally used excessive and lethal force in response to continued demonstrations throughout the country. Maoist militias engaged in arbitrary and unlawful use of lethal force and abduction. Violence, extortion, and intimidation continued throughout the year. Numerous armed groups, largely in the Terai region in the lowland area near the Indian border, attacked civilians, government officials, members of particular ethnic groups, each other, or Maoist militias. Impunity for human rights violators, threats against the media, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention were serious problems. The government compromised the independence of the judiciary by exerting political pressure on the judicial process, and society continued to discriminate against persons of lower castes and persons with disabilities. Violence against women and trafficking in persons, mainly women and girls, continued.
March 9, 2010
Two days before the 51st anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising in Lhasa, Nepali police were ordered to arrest Thinley Gyatso, the representative of the Dalai Lama in Nepal. This is a preemptive strike against the anti-China demonstrations expected to take place on Wednesday March 10.