By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, July 29: Over two dozen Tibetan exiles, who were stopped by the Nepal police from crossing into Tibet Tuesday, began a fast-unto-death in Kathmandu valley today, according to a media report.
“Over two dozen Tibetan exiles who were stopped by the Nepal police from crossing into Tibet Tuesday began a fast unto death in Kathmandu valley, demanding an immediate dialogue between Beijing and their exiled leader Dalai Lama and asking for an immediate end to all repression in Tibet,” IANS reported.
Nine nuns and 17 monks began the protest in the Tibetan refugee camp in Lalitpur city, hours after they were released by the Nepal police.
They were part of the 30-member group that had begun a secret march to Tibet this month with the goal of reaching Tibet and holding a demonstration there against the fresh Chinese crackdown in Tibet ahead of the Olympic Games next month.
They were arrested by Nepalese police after their march was stopped at the Jalbire village, close to the Nepal border, separated from Tibet by the Friendship Bridge that remains under heavy guard to prevent Tibetans from escaping to Nepal or trying to enter Tibet from the Himalayan republic.
“We demand that China start immediate dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” the report quoted a press statement issued by the protesters as saying.
“We also demand a halt to extreme political education and interference in Tibetans’ religious affairs by China that is the cause of the instability in Tibet.”
The exiles are calling for an end to all repression in Tibet, including end to torture and arbitrary detentions.
They are also demanding that a fact-finding mission be sent to Tibet immediately to ascertain the condition of Tibetans.
Last week, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Nepal was leaning on the Tibetan refugees at China’s behest to stifle Tibetan demonstrations, based on the findings of a comprehensive report
it has released.
Since March, Tibetans in Nepal have been holding regular anti-China protests before the UN office and Chinese Embassy in Nepal despite excessive use of force by the Nepal police.
Over 20,000 Tibetans who made Nepal their home after escaping from China-controlled Tibet, say the government of Nepal is tightening the screws on them to please Beijing, IANS noted in its report.
Tibetans are not allowed to own any land or businesses or even register the birth of children, who become stateless from birth, the report said.
Attempts by the US to resettle 5,000 Tibetan refugees, who face deportation to China, were blocked by China with the Nepal government giving in meekly, it pointed out.
The rise of the Maoist party and their bid to form the next government is being watched with trepidation by the Tibetans in Nepal, who feel the closer links with China would lead to further crackdowns on them in Nepal, IANS wrote to describe the Tibetan people’s situation in Nepal.
Nepal police last month arbitrarily arrested three prominent Tibetan community leaders in Kathmandu, following pressure by the Chinese government to take harsher measures against Tibetans protesting Beijing’s alleged atrocities in Tibet. Kelsang Chung, who headed the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre here, a transit home for refugees fleeing Tibet for India, and Tashi Dolma and Ngawang Sangmo, the president and vice-president respectively of a Tibetan women’s organisation, were arrested from their homes and sent to prison for 90 days on the charge that they were posing a threat to public security and were trying to mar the ties between Nepal and China.
They were, however, released earlier this month after Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled that the three had not posed any threat to security or endangered Nepal-China ties, and ordered the government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to free them.