05/14/2008, 00.00
NEPAL – CHINA – TIBET
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Beijing’s envoy criticises Nepal and the United Nations for being too soft on Tibetan protests

by Kalpit Parajuli
China’s envoy to Kathmandu criticises Nepal because it releases anti-Chinese Buddhist protesters, but he fails to say in what way peaceful demonstrations constitute crimes. He criticises the United Nations for the fact that some of its officials are present at such demonstrations.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – It is not sufficient to arrest “Tibetan separatists” who are protesting in Nepal against Chinese repression in their country. For Zheng Xianglin, China’s envoy to the Himalayan nation, Nepal and the United Nations ought to undertake a “more decisive action.” Indeed it makes no sense “arresting demonstrators in the afternoon and releasing them in the evening,” Zheng said, but then for him the Nepali government is under huge pressure from outside and demonstrations are “staged under the directives of foreign elements”.

Since the crackdown in Tibet in March Nepal has become the scene of frequent protests by Tibetan exiles which the authorities have tried to crush by arresting anyone involved, including monks and nuns, and this despite protests by United Nations envoys who have tried to defend the right to peaceful protest. One example: a few days ago 500 Tibetan demonstrators, mostly women and nuns, were arrested. But for Zheng that is not enough; for him the Nepali government ought to live up to its responsibilities “and not allow frequent anti-Chinese activities to happen.”

Activities of this sort that involve monks and nuns “should be clearly defined,” he said when referring to Tibetan religious who took part in the protests. In his opinion “they should not be allowed to participate in political activities.”

Speaking at the Kathmandu’s Reporter’s Club he said that the presence of UN officials at demonstrations “is a serious violation of the UN Charter.”

UN agencies’ staff was present at every demonstration,’ he noted. “I don't know what the purpose of human rights organizations in Nepal is. Are they here to supervise the human rights of Tibet?” he asked. Still Mr Zheng failed to explain in what way the presence of UN officials at peaceful protests is inappropriate.

Nepal’s Minister of Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AsiaNews not to expect “any change in the current Nepalese policy.” Still he added “we are equally committed to stop anti-China activities,” but we “are now very busy on national issues and we may rethink [the current policy] after the formation of the new government.”

Similarly Nepal’s Interior Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula explained that whilst the authorities have a right to arrest anti-Chinese protesters, the law does not give them the right “to send them to jail. So until a new policy [is adopted] we are compelled to release them in the evening.

For his part, Zheng said that “China would continue to help Nepal.”

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