US raps Nepal for attacks on Tibetan protesters

May 1st, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 1 (IANS) The US, one of Nepal’s major donors, Thursday rapped the Girija Prasad Koirala government for using excessive force on Tibetan protesters, saying the Himalayan nation should respect the rights of the diaspora. American Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell called on the prime minister Thursday ahead of her journey to Washington for consultations over the new political scenario in Nepal after the crucial election last month and the stunning victory of the former Maoist guerrillas.

She conveyed the US government’s concern about the treatment of Tibetans by Nepali authorities, becoming the first envoy to do so since the diaspora began their protests against events in Lhasa nearly two months ago.

“She urged the prime minister to ensure that the right to peaceful protest was maintained and that the human rights of Tibetans in Nepal are respected,” a statement issued by the US Embassy here said.

Tibetans, including a large number of women, monks and nuns, have been regularly holding demonstrations before the UN headquarters in Kathmandu and the Chinese Embassy, asking Beijing to stop its crackdown on Tibetans and for an independent investigation into the situation there.

Though several rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned the use of force against the unarmed protesters by Nepal police, there has been no respite.

While the rights groups say it is a fundamental right of the refugees to hold peaceful demonstrations, Nepal has been under tremendous pressure by the Chinese government to put an end to the demonstrations.

Angered by the continuation of the protests, the Chinese government has sent at least three delegations to Koirala in the past one month to seek a promise that Nepal would not allow its soil to be used for anti-China activities.

Bowing to the protests, Nepal this year took the unprecedented step of banning all expeditions to Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak, till May 10 to ensure that the Olympic torch ascent to the summit is not marred by pro-Tibet protests.

Last week, also for the first time, Nepal deported an American climber after security forces stationed at the Everest base camp to stop anti-China protests ferreted out a “Free Tibet” banner in his backpack.

The US censure is likely to trigger angry remonstrations from China, who recently objected to a French MP meeting Tibetans in Kathmandu and expressing solidarity with them.

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