08/08/2011, 00.00
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Nepal arrests Dalai Lama’s official representative

Thinley Lama was arrested after holding a press conference in which he called on Nepali authorities to respect the rights of the country’s 20,000 Tibetan refugees. He was released a few hours later. For years, Nepal, a traditional refuge for Tibetans, panders to Beijing’s wishes.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepali police last Friday arrested Thinley Lama (pictured), the official representative of the Dalai Lama, after he held a press conference in which he called for the rights of Tibetan refugees to be respected. In recent years, Nepal authorities have adopted a pro-Beijing policy and turned the screws on Tibetans despite their status as refugees.

Thinley, a Nepali citizen who heads the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Nepal, referred to four treaties signed between Nepal and Tibet as "sovereign countries" in 1645, 1789, 1792 and 1856, which were later abrogated.

He noted that based on past amicable relations with Tibet, earlier Nepali governments gave sanctuary to Tibetans forced to leave their homeland over the years, this despite the watchfulness of trigger-happy Chinese border guards.

He also raised the issue of discrimination against Tibetans in Nepal, including in employment and higher education, calling on the authorities to adopt laws to recognise their rights.

After his arrest, police interrogated Thinley. Tibetan sources said police “advised” him to take a low profile and let him go after eight hours when he signed a pledge to inform the authorities about his organisation’s future activities.

For years, China has been pressuring Nepal to stop “anti-Chinese activities” on its territory, claiming that Tibetans in Nepal are not refugees but “illegal immigrants”.

Recently, Nepal authorities have prevented the local Tibetan community from holding its celebrations and peacefully expressing its national identity. The authorities even intervened when Tibetans held religious services to mark anti-Chinese protests.

On 6 July, Kathmandu police warned Tibetans not to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Human rights groups have called on the international community to do something about the “persecution” of Tibetan refugees in Nepal.

Tibetan Buddhists and other countries oppose China’s plans to turn the Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini into a tourist a US$ 3 billion tourist attraction.
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See also
Beijing imposes harsh sentences on Tibetan monks and lama
Bhutanese PM in Nepal, deaf to appeal by 50,000 refugees
China and Nepal crackdown to mark the Dalai Lama’s birthday
Panchen Lama praises Beijing as arrests continue in Tibet
Nepali monks protest against oppression and for freedom in Tibet


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