The Songtsen Brikuti School in Boudhanath in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu where the Tibetan community was scheduled to celebrate the 81st birthday of the Dalai Lama was swarmed by Nepalese police early this morning, disrupting the celebrations and even detaining close to 30 Tibetans including the Tibetan Settlement Officer. The celebratory event has now been forced to cancel.
The developments come as a surprise move by the police considering the fact that proper permission had earlier been granted by concerned Nepalese authorities for the celebratory function, according to a source who wish to remain anonymous. The source further adds that, “the Police have threatened the Tibetan people to leave the venue immediately or else face detention.” Currently, the detained Tibetans are being held at the Brikuti Mandap police station in Boudha area.
The Nepalese police, as seen in photos and videos circulating on social media sites, were blocking the main gate to the school and were seen nudging and shoving Tibetans instructing them to abandon the event. Pema, a Tibetan youth living in Boudha who was at the venue spoke with Phayul about the situation and described the incident as “hellish”. “Anyone who is wearing Tibetan dress or wearing monastic robes is detained in the vicinity. We were merely celebrating the birthday of our beloved leader, it is not political. Besides, the same police were smiling and accepting our help and donations during the earth quake last year when Tibetans and Nepalese people were working together for relief efforts in the aftermath. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion has turned into a sad one,” Pema lamented.
The birthday celebration is an important date in the calendar for the Tibetans and more so for the Tibetan refugees who are increasingly targeted by the police under pressure from China.
The itinerary for this year’s celebration were organized and prepared since months ago; the stage, the program itself, an opera performance, cultural performances and food and assortments have all gone waste, said a Tibetan. The same source added, “The cost of the event estimated to at least 10 lakh rupees have all gone to waste but more importantly the psyche of the Tibetan people will never be the same again. We now feel suffocated with the kind of restrictions meted against us.”
Nepal which is home to more than 20,000 Tibetans who either came across the border or were born to settlers, are finding it hard to sustain a free and normal existence. The Nepalese government’s treatment of the Tibetan refugees has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years with China pumping in cheap interest loans and relaxed FDR (Foreign Direct Investment) schemes in exchange for its will to be imposed. China’s FDR in Nepal has shot to $128 million in 2015 up from $24 million in 2014 besides perks such as a fleet of Mercedes SUVs.
The Nepalese government has publicly spoken on the issue when Nepal’s foreign minister, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, earlier during a visit to Beijing in March, said that they, “will never allow any forces to use Nepali territory to engage in anti-China activity.”
With China gaining the upper hand in controlling the moors in the tiny Himalayan nation replacing India with the promise of riches, the Tibetans who set foot on Nepalese soil decades ago are once again subjected to thinly veiled wrath of China.