By Phayul Stinger
KATHMANDU, October 20: Joining the Tibet Solidarity Movement in honour of the nine Tibetans who set themselves on fire this year following Chinese clampdown in the eastern Tibetan region of Ngaba, hundreds of Tibetans in Kathmandu on Wednesday offered prayers and observed hunger fast.
At the Jawlakhel Handicraft Centre, around 90 Tibetan refugees began their fast at 8am in the morning after offering initial prayers. Dressed in black chupas (Tibetan tradition dress) as a sign of resistance to the ongoing repression inside Tibet, the gathering recited prayers all day long for the deceased.
Similar solidarity programmes were organised in other Tibetan settlement areas in the capital, including Boudha and Swayambu. The fast ended at 8am this morning.
During the day, US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner paid a visit to the Samdupling Tibetan Settlement camp in Jawlakhel, Kathmandu where he met with local community leaders. He also interacted with local Tibetans about the problems they faced and assured them he would raise concerns about the rights of Tibetan refugees.
Congressman Sensenbrenner, on the final day of his two-day visit to Kathmandu called on Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and reportedly expressed deep concern over the continued restrictions on the activities of Tibetan refugees in Nepal.
Reports suggest that the US Congressman also reminded the PM to honour the gentlemen’s agreement to facilitate safe passage for fleeing Tibetan refugees through Nepal on their onwards journey to India.
Congressman Sensenbrenner is the second US official to visit the settlement in less than a week. Last week, following a visit from US government officials at the settlement, former head of the Jawlakhel Handicraft Centre, Chimey Dorjey was taken into custody and detained for an hour.
Also, on October 17, Thinley Gyatso, the Dalai Lama’s former envoy to Nepal along with his aide Jampa Dhondup were arrested from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Lazimpat. They were released after being detained at a local police station for several hours.
A day before the arrests were made, the new Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan had called a press conference in the capital where he said anti- China activities in Nepal were orchestrated by "international forces".
Sources believe the crackdown in Kathmandu came after speculations of Tibetan refugees from Nepal taking part in the mass protest rally organised by the north India based Central Tibetan Administration grew rife.
According to local media, Nepal's army chief Gen Chhatra Man Singh Gurung will visit China next month to discuss non-lethal military assistance for his troops. Also, Chinese Vice-Minister Chen Zhimin from the public security ministry is arriving in Kathmandu on Monday to hold security talks with Nepal's home ministry officials.
The growing proximity between the two countries has left many worried about the fate of thousand of Tibetan refugees in the country.