Tibetan exiles begin fast-unto-death in Nepal

July 29th, 2008 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 29 (IANS) Over two dozen Tibetan exiles who were stopped by the Nepal police from crossing into Tibet Tuesday began a fast unto death in Kathmandu valley, demanding an immediate dialogue between Beijing and their exiled leader Dalai Lama and asking for an immediate end to all repression in Tibet. Nine nuns and 17 monks began the protest in the Tibetan refugee camp in Lalitpur city, hours after they were released by the Nepal police.

They were part of the 30-member group that had begun a secret march to Tibet this month, travelling at night through mountains and deserted roads, with the goal of reaching Tibet and holding a demonstration there against the fresh Chinese crackdown in Tibet ahead of the Olympic Games next month.

The march was stopped by the Nepal police, who arrested the exiles at the Jalbire village, close to the Nepal border, separated from Tibet by the Friendship Bridge that remains under heavy guard to prevent Tibetans from escaping to Nepal or trying to enter Tibet from the Himalayan republic.

“We demand that China start immediate dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” a press statement issued by the protesters said.

“We also demand a halt to extreme political education and interference in Tibetans’ religious affairs by China that is the cause of the instability in Tibet.”

The exiles are calling for an end to all repression in Tibet, including end to torture and arbitrary detentions.

They are also demanding that a fact-finding mission be sent to Tibet immediately to ascertain the condition of Tibetans.

The protest comes soon after New York-based Human Rights Watch said Nepal was leaning on the Tibetan refugees at China’s behest.

Since March, when Tibetans worldwide remembered a failed uprising against Chinese invasion almost five decades ago, the diaspora has continued to hold demonstrations before the UN office and Chinese Embassy in Nepal.

Over 20,000 Tibetans who made Nepal their home after escaping from China-controlled Tibet, say the government of Nepal is tightening the screws on them to please Beijing.

Tibetans are not allowed to own any land or businesses or even register the birth of children, who become stateless from birth.

Attempts by the US to resettle 5,000 Tibetan refugees, who face deportation to China, were blocked by China with the Nepal government giving in meekly.

The rise of the Maoist party and their bid to form the next government is being watched with trepidation by the Tibetans in Nepal, who feel the closer links with China would lead to further crackdowns on them in Nepal.

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