Over 8,000 Tibetans arrested in Nepal in four months: report

July 24th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 24 (IANS) Over 8,000 Tibetans were arbitrarily arrested by Nepal’s security forces at Beijing’s insistence in just four months since March to stifle anti-China protests in the Himalayan nation, an international rights organisation said. “Nepal’s government is turning the screws on peaceful Tibetan protesters at the behest of China,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the London-based Human Rights Watch that Thursday released a report documenting numerous violations of human rights by the Nepali authorities.

“How can a government that came to power on a wave of public protests justify crushing peaceful protests by Tibetans?”

The 60-page report, “Appeasing China: Restricting the Rights of Tibetans in Nepal”, documents excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, sexual assault on women and unlawful threats of deportation.

It also documents harassment of foreign journalists and human rights defenders.

Nepal, which borders the Tibetan region of China and is home to approximately 20,000 Tibetan exiles, refugees and asylum seekers, has seen numerous protests since March 10, “Tibetan National Uprising Day”, the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan rebellion against China’s rule in Tibet.

Protests in Kathmandu intensified in reaction to the Chinese government’s violent suppression of protests in Tibet and neighbouring provinces in China.

Nepali authorities made at least 8,350 arrests of Tibetans between March 10 and July 18, the report said. Few of those arrested were provided with a reason for their detention, and virtually all were later released without charge.

Many detainees, including those who suffered injuries while being arrested, were provided limited or no medical care. Threats of violence, sexual intimidation and deportation to China by the police were used to deter future demonstrations.

“Kathmandu has provided a home for Tibetan exiles for decades,” said Adams. “That is now under threat as Nepali authorities cave in to pressure from the Chinese government.”

China’s ambassador to Nepal, Zheng Xianglin, has publicly exerted China’s influence on the Nepali government through strong and frequent statements, calling for the arrest of protesters and urging the government to take strong action.

The unusual number of statements from Nepali leaders reiterating the ban on “anti-China” activities suggests increasing pressure from Beijing, the report said.

“China has long claimed that the bedrock of its foreign policy is ‘non-interference’ in the internal affairs of other countries. Yet it has directly called for the Nepali authorities to crack down on peaceful protesters,” said Adams.

“Beijing’s attempts to export its persecution of Tibetans across the Nepal-China border should stop immediately and be strongly resisted by the government of Nepal.”

Human Rights Watch is urging the government of Nepal to respect the fundamental rights of Tibetans to engage in peaceful assembly and expression, and to end the arbitrary arrest, harassment, and mistreatment of those who do so.

It is also asking the Chinese government to cease its public and private pressure on the Nepali government to violate the rights of Tibetans.

This year, in an unprecedented move, Nepal blocked the way to Mt Everest at China’s request so that the Olympic torch rally to the 8,848 m peak would not face any anti-China protests. Nepal also deported a climber found to be carrying a “Free Tibet” banner and banned him from climbing any peak in Nepal for two years.

China is also trying to unite Nepal’s communist parties in the hope of creating a powerful organ like its own communist party that could take stronger steps to stop protests in Nepal unlike the present democratic alliance.

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