By Tenzin Dharpo
Nepalese police manhandling Tibetan refugees. file
DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 8: The Tibetan refugee community in Nepal will not be allowed to commemorate the anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising day due this Saturday, after Nepalese officials turned down the permission to hold any “protests” or “public gathering” by Tibetans on the day.
An official notice sent out by the Central Tibetan Administration’s ‘Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office’ in Kathmandu on Wednesday, appealed to Tibetans in Nepal to refrain from organizing protests or public gatherings on the day and instead pray from their homes.
The notice stated that the Nepalese officials have turned down permission to commemorate the Tibetan uprising day this year as well like the previous years in the near past and that refugee Tibetans should abide by the laws of the land.
The official appeal is most likely, in anticipation to avoid any violent interruption by Nepalese police towards Tibetan refugees, as were seen after 2008 when the tension was at its height following alliance between Beijing and Kathmandu. Over 200 peaceful Tibetan protesters were arrested on 10th March 2008 and over 1,100 Tibetans arrested prior to the Beijing Olympics for holding demonstrations the same year.
Tibetan refugees have been subjected to clampdown by Nepalese police over the years on this day, which marks the uprising of the Tibetan people in Tibet in 1959 against the colonial Chinese rule.
Nepal, a tiny Himalayan nation wedged between occupied Tibet and India was once a sanctuary for Tibetan refugees. Until the late eighties, the Nepalese government issued RC (Registration certificate) to Tibetans who came from Tibet as well as their children. A “gentlemen’s agreement” to continue allowing Tibetan refugees to cross over into India was struck between the government of Nepal and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1989 following the Kathmandu government refusal to give refugee status to Tibetans.
However, that agreement has since been pushed aside after Nepal started receiving a lucrative patronage from China. The influx of Tibetan refugees has been severely restricted with the once average of 2000 immigrants a year dropping to a lowly 200 since 2008 Uprising in Tibet. In an extreme case of heavy handedness, 18 Tibetans including some children in 2003, and 3 Tibetans in 2010 were detained by Nepalese police and handed over to Chinese authorities in Tibet.
Nepal which is home to more than 20,000 Tibetans who either came across the border or were born to settlers, are finding it hard to sustain a free and normal existence. The Nepalese government’s treatment of the Tibetan refugees has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years with China pumping in cheap interest loans and relaxed FDR (Foreign Direct Investment) schemes in exchange for its will to be imposed. China’s FDR in Nepal has shot to $128 million in 2015 up from $24 million in 2014 besides perks such as a fleet of Mercedes SUVs.