Four Tibetans held during sombre Dalai Lama birthday in Nepal

July 6th, 2011 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 6 (IANS) Four people were arrested from the gates of a Tibetan school in Kathmandu Wednesday for trying to celebrate the 76th birthday of exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, taking to 16 the number of detentions by Nepal police in a bid to prevent public celebrations.

Hundreds of policemen as well as intelligence personnel fanned out since Tuesday night in the Swayambhu and Boudha areas of the capital, where the Tibetan diaspora in Nepal is concentrated, as well as the Tibetan refugee camp in Jawalakhel in Lalitpur city to prevent any public homage to the Nobel laureate.

From Wednesday morning, police forced close the gates of the schools and monasteries where the birthday was to be celebrated, leaving hundreds of Tibetans outside unable to participate.

At the Namgyal Middle School in Swayambhu, four people were arrested indiscriminately out of the nearly 800 who were turned away from the gates.

The birthday ceremony, a yearly event, was observed sombrely with officials elected by the Tibetan diaspora in Nepal reading out messages from the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan cabinet and parliament-in-exile of the Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala in India.

The crackdown started last month with police arresting nearly four dozen Tibetans. While most of them were released two days ago, 12 people are still being held by police for having tried to celebrate the birthday of another Tibetan leader, the Karmapa.

Kathmandu’s chief administrative officer Laxmi Prasad Dhakal had warned the Tibetan community in Nepal that they would not be allowed to take out public rallies or display the photograph of the Dalai Lama in any public place.

They were also warned not to fly the Tibetan flag and raise “Free Tibet” slogans.

Members of the repressed diaspora, whose cause has been taken up by a Nepali rights organisation, Huron, said they were stunned by the restrictions.

“The Dalai Lama’s birthday has always been a religious occasion,” said a Tibetan who did not want to be named. “There is nothing political about it.

“Yet there is a whole lot of suspicion from Nepal and pressure from China.”

This year especially, the birthday has been a critical occasion with the Tibetan diaspora getting a new representative.

Thiley Lama, the volunteer coordinator, is the first Nepali to have the responsibility. Lama assumed his duties last month.

On the other hand, Nepal now has a new Chinese ambassador.

Yang Houlan, the new envoy, has met Nepal’s Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, with both reaffirming their support to the One China policy and pledging to prevent anti-China activities in Nepal.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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