By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, March 8 – In a preemptive move to prevent embarrassment to China on its soil and to apparently appease its neighbor, Nepal has detained the representative of the Dharamsala based exile Tibetan government Sunday, three days before the sensitive anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising day that is observed worldwide by exile Tibetans to protest against China, according to a report by Indo Asian News Service.
Thinley Gyatso heads the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Centre, an NGO that was started after Nepal forced the closure of the exile government’s foreign mission in Kathmandu in 2005, saying it could not allow a parallel diplomatic office in view of its official position of recognizing Tibet as a part of China. The Tibetan Refugee Welfare Centre looks after newly arrived refugees from Tibet and ensures their safe passage to India with the help of the Indian government and the UN.
However, Nepal seems to have caught the wrong fish in its net as the exile Tibetan government which seeks to engage China in talks for a genuine autonomy have discouraged anti China protests in the past. Tibetans in Nepal have carried out anti China protests in the past irrespective of their exile government’s position to avoid antagonizing China.
The Nepal government has recently launched hunt for “trouble makers” through surprise raids of hotels, restaurants and homes earlier last week reportedly under pressure from China that rewards the crisis stricken country with financial aid and military assistance. Several Tibetans have been reportedly taken under "preventive custody" ahead of Wednesday's commemoration. Unlike protests against China by exiles in other parts of the world, the Tibetans in Nepal do not organize protests under any of the Tibetan exile groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association or Students for a Free Tibet making it hard for the Nepalese police to pin down on any particular group.
Nepal has intensified its control on the Tibetan refugee community that numbers around 20000 ahead of Wednesday’s Tibetan uprising day commemoration. The Himalayan Kingdom that was struck by a series of domestic turmoil and political revamp in the last decade has been preventing the Tibetans from engaging in anti China activities on its soil. Nepal saw one of the most vociferous protests by Tibetan exiles on its soil in 2008 when China cracked down on protests and demonstrations all over Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
Just last month, Nepal deputed additional Armed Police Force (APF) in Mustang near Tibet border, mainly to check fleeing Tibetan refugees.
Nepal last year announced its decision to tighten Tibet border by deploying armed police for the first time in its history along its northern Mustang-Tibet border, raising criticism that the move was prompted by pressure from China.
Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal met visiting Chinese official Liu Jieyi, Vice Minister of the International Department of Communist Party of China Central Committee, at the his official residence in Kathmandu last month.
In their talks, according to Chinese state media, Liu Jieyi appreciated Nepali government's “consistent and firm support” not to allow “anti-China activities” in Nepal, and in return promised "bilateral cooperation in various fields” to the impoverished and crisis-stricken country.
China has been regularly sending flurry of high-level delegations to Nepal reminding the Nepalese authorities to curb “Free Tibet activities” and anti China activities on its soil.