China demands tough punishment for Tibetan protesters in Nepal

May 12th, 2008 - 7:52 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 12 (IANS) Enraged by daily protests by Tibetans in Kathmandu since March, China Monday said the Nepal government should adopt “very severe punishment” for the ringleaders and emulate India’s example in arresting them. “The government cannot arrest them in the day and release them at night,” Chinese ambassador to Nepal Zheng Xianglin said at a press conference here, staunchly defending China’s annexation of Tibet and accusing the UN, “so-called” human rights organisations and Tibetans’ exiled leader the Dalai Lama of trying to foment a separatist movement.

“It’s a drama … by a handful of people who are manipulated by political parties,” the envoy said. “People demanding (improved) human rights in China (neither) know what real human rights are (nor) respect them.”

Zheng said China had a different definition of human rights.

“There are nearly 200 countries in the world,” he said. “You can’t use a universal standard to judge any individual country.

“Human rights is to meet the basic needs of living. China’s biggest human right has been to emancipate Tibet from old serfdom.”

Defending China’s annexation of the erstwhile Buddhist kingdom of Tibet in the 1950s, Zheng said at that time one million Tibetans lived as serfs and slaves.

“That time was even darker than the Middle Ages of Europe,” he said. “Now things are 1,000 times better.

“At that time, there were no schools. Now there are over 100 schools in Tibet. At that time, the average age (of mortality) was 38. Now it has increased to 67.”

Rejecting claims by human rights organisations that Beijing was conducting genocide in Tibet and destroying the religion and culture of Tibetans, the envoy said there were about 1,700 religious places in the region with over 46,000 monks and nuns.

“People can use the Internet in Tibetan and SMS in Tibetan,” he said.

Zheng said the Nepal government should clarify what the Tibetans residing in Nepal can do and can’t.

While they should be allowed to carry on with their religious and cultural practices, Zheng said they should be stopped from taking part in any political activity.

He also urged severe government action against the followers of the Dalai Lama in Nepal who, he said, were carrying on with their separatist activities though the Nepal government closed down their office nearly three years ago.

Lauding the Indian government’s steps boosting security during the march of the Olympic torch through India Last month and the arrest of Tibetans before visits by Chinese leaders, Zheng said Nepal should also follow suit.

The US and UN came under severe criticism for alleged interference.

Alluding to the American ambassador’s recent meeting with Nepal’s Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to officially express the US government’s concern at the brutal suppression by Nepal’s security forces of Tibetans’ freedom of expression and right to protest peacefully, Zheng said it was a gross violation of the UN charter.

“Foreign countries can’t interfere in the behaviour (sic) of a sovereign country,” he said.

Zheng also expressed concern at the presence of UN agencies at the protests.

“Are they in Nepal to supervise human rights of Tibetans?” he asked.

The envoy also delivered a tough warning to the protesters, saying their goal was doomed to fail.

“The purpose is to exert pressure on the central government but it is useless,” he warned.

“The country is witnessing great changes. Thousands of Tibetans (abroad) are applying for visa to meet their relatives and work in China. Most Tibetans living outside China don’t follow these separatists. It is not the right way and is meaningless.”

Zheng also said his government will strongly oppose the offer by the US government to resettle vulnerable Tibetans refugees in Nepal in the US.

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