Kathmandu ignores European Union, denies rights to Tibetans living in exile
by Kalpit Parajuli
In a statement, the European parliament calls for free elections among Tibetan refugees. Nepali authorities refuse request in order to uphold economic agreements with China.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The government of Nepal has turned a deaf ear to the European Union’s request to ensure voting rights of Tibetan refugees in exile. The European parliament on Thursday issued a statement after France called on Nepali authorities to uphold the democratic rights of the Tibetan people to elect a new government-in-exile. However, for Nepal allowing Tibetans to vote and freely demonstrate would be a violation of its economic agreements with China.

There are some 20,000 Tibetan exiles in Nepal. Most of them escaped their homeland after China’s invasion in 1950 and the Dalai Lama’s flight in 1959.

At present, police authorities are arresting and torturing refugees to prevent them from voting for the government-in-exile. On 13 February, police stopped Tibetan community elections. Storming polling stations in full gear, they seized ballots and other election material.

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament says that Tibetans have a right to participate in democratic rights and that this is a “fundamental right of all citizens that must be upheld, protected and guaranteed in every democratic state”.

The statement notes that the Nepali government, under intense pressure from the Chinese government, has restricted the Tibetan community from taking part in the election to choose the new prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile.

The European parliament has also called on Nepali authorities to refrain from preventive arrests and restrictions on demonstrations and freedom of speech. It also asked Nepali government to include such rights and to ensure religious freedom in Nepal's new constitution, due to be enacted by 28 May 2011.

“The government is ready to ensure all kinds of rights and abiding by the international laws except we can't go against 'One-China Policy,” government spokesperson Ganga Lal Tuladhar said. “We are only concerned about anti-China activities and activities against our neighbours that are also against our foreign policy."

Nepal’s economic and trading ties with China have grown since the fall of the monarchy in 2006 and the rise to power of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal and the Unified Marxist–Leninist Party.

The new government has reached agreements with China to allow Nepali workers in Tatopani, on the border with Tibet, in exchange for greater controls over Tibetan exiles.

Recently, china has sent humanitarian aid and military assistance to the Nepali military worth US$ 13 million.