Nepal halts Tibetans from celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday

Wednesday 10th July 2019 06:08 EDT

Kathmandu: Authorities of Nepal have stopped the Tibetan community from holding public events to commemorate the 84th birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, over security concerns. Amid China’s growing economic and defence ties with Nepal, the latter has been reported to have stalled a programme by Tibetan refugees to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 84th birthday.

To mark his birthday, Tibetan refugees and people of Tibetan origin planned to hold several events in the valley where they reside. The Nepal government beefed up security in areas inside the Kathmandu valley ahead of Dalai Lama's birthday, according to reports. Nepal is said to be home to about 20,000 Tibetans. Krishna Bahadur Katuwal, assistant district administrator of Kathmandu, was quoted as saying the government refused permission for Tibetans to mark the Dalai Lama’s birthday because “infiltrators” could create trouble. “There could be a law and order problem as infiltrators could organise demonstrations or try to self-immolate.”

The programme, according to security sources, was to be attended by senior diplomats from western countries, including the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Several western diplomats had expressed reservations over the move by the K P Sharma Oli government. "These diplomats have expressed serious concerns about the forced cancellation of the event, which is a severe violation of rights of people of the Tibetan community," a western diplomat said.

The Nepal government generally intervenes in events organised by the Tibetan community stating Nepal is committed to 'One China Policy'. The country, in the past has detained Tibetans on their way to India and later handed them over to Chinese authorities. Reportedly, airport immigration authorities in Kathmandu refused to admit a US citizen of Tibetan origin and deported him last month, reportedly at China’s request.

Many schools across Nepal were recently reported to have made it mandatory for students to learn Chinese. They were apparently lured by the Chinese government’s offer to cover salaries of teachers who teach Mandarin. India was miffed by the recent visit by the Nepal army chief to Beijing which saw the two sides agreeing to further “upgrade” military ties.

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