Nepal upholds restrictions on Tibetans

Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal. Credit: Business Insider
27th March 2020

Tibetans in Nepal were once again banned from commemorating Tibetan National Uprising Day.

Authorities in Nepal have reiterated that Tibetans are forbidden from marking Tibetan National Uprising Day.

On 6 March 2020, the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in the capital, Kathmandu, issued a notice requesting Tibetans in Nepal to abide by Nepali law and not to organise any demonstration or protest on Tibetan National Uprising Day. 

Tibetan National Uprising Day takes place on 10 March annually and is commemorated all over the world. 

The prohibition on Tibetans marking National Uprising Day in Nepal is not a new development. Tibetans have been banned from doing so for several years. Before the bans were imposed, there were also cases of the Nepalese police violently manhandling Tibetan protesters. 

Furthermore, there is a prohibition on celebrating the birth anniversary of the Dalai Lama. Tibetans are also denied the right to stage peaceful protests.

Outside of these prohibitions, Tibetans in Nepal face numerous other  restrictions on many aspects of life. Most of the Tibetans who are living in the country do not have a residential permit. They are also unable to open bank accounts or own property.

Image of the notification issued to Tibetans on 6 March
Image of the notification issued to Tibetans on 6 March

Nepal’s crackdown on Tibetans, under the pressure of China, has been on-going for several years. But, significant recent developments between the neighbouring countries, Nepal and China, indicates a closer working relationship and further restrictions on Tibetans. This includes the signing of an extradition treaty between Nepal and China, which has prompted concerns among Tibetan refugees in Nepal that they might be returned to occupied Tibet

Nepal’s weak economy and on-going political instability have increased its dependence on China.

Adak, a Tibetan activist in Nepal, who was previously detained for posting a picture of himself with a Tibetan national flag on social media spoke to Tibet Watch:

“Nepalese police have put us [Tibetans] under strict surveillance, reaching us either by calls or home visits and searches, particularly during Tibetan related occasions or during visits by Chinese leaders.” 

Nepal has long been a place of refuge for Tibetans escaping from Tibet due to its close proximity. Under an agreement with the United Nations Refugee Agency, Tibetans in Nepal have traditionally been allowed safe passage on to India, although some remain in Nepal.

There are an estimated 20,000 Tibetans in Nepal today, although exact numbers are difficult to confirm since many of them are undocumented.

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