Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Yesterday, World Refugee Day, thousands of Tibetans who had fled to Nepal stayed at home fearing government repression. "We are not free to take part in the demonstrations," said Tsering Dolma. "When police realise we come from Tibet, they move to arrest us." Concentrated in the capital, Nepal's 22,000 Tibetan refugees complain about the authorities' repressive attitude.
AsiaNews went to meet the small Tibetan community of Bauddha. Lama Dawa, a Tibetan Christian, told us that "Refugees from other countries, such as Bhutan, are free to work and have normal rights. We instead cannot even profess our faith; we are scared. This is why we decided not to manifest."
China's growing influence in Nepal is at the root of the government's harshness against Tibetan refugees. Since 2006, the year when the monarchy gave up power, Maoists have been on the ascendancy, leading Nepali foreign policy to undergone a dramatic shift towards Beijing.
On 18 April, during a meeting with Chinese President XI Jinping, Nepali leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal praised the alliance with the People's Republic, saying that "national stability and integrity of both countries will not be compromised in the name of religious freedom and human rights."
Nepal is home to about 70,000 refugees, mostly from Bhutan, Tibet, Somalia and Nigeria.
Nepali Home Ministry spokesman Shankar Koirala said his country does not deny refugees' rights but is against using Nepali territory against other nations.
"We have good political and diplomatic relations with China," he said. "Tibetans are free to demonstrate but not against Beijing. This is why we monitor them."