Tibetans in Nepal Urged Not to Observe March 10 Uprising Anniversary
2020-03-06

The Tibetan Welfare Office in Nepal is urging Tibetan residents of the Himalayan country not to celebrate the March 10 anniversary of a 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, saying Tibetans must follow local laws to avoid a crackdown by police.

“Because the Nepali government tends not to allow Tibetans to observe the March 10 anniversary, we are asking all Tibetans to abide by the laws of the land,” the Welfare Office based in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu said in an announcement on Friday.

“Instead, Tibetans are encouraged to perform virtuous deeds by performing prayers and religious ceremonies on the anniversary date,” the Welfare Office, which is responsible for settling refugees and looking after the wellbeing of Tibetan residents of Nepal, said.

Speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service, Tulku Ngawang Choedrak—a settlement officer for the Choejor Tibetan Refugee Settlement in Kathmandu—said it is the Nepalese government’s policy to ban political activities by Tibetans deemed offensive to China.

“Nepali police have cracked down on Tibetan political activities for many years in the past,” he said.

“In the run-up to the March 10 anniversary, police are deployed to various Tibetan refugee settlements around the Kathmandu Valley to inspect and keep a watch on their activities,” Choedrak said, adding, “Security officials will also call on key figures in the refugee communities to ask about political events that may be planned.”

After consulting authorities, Tibetans are allowed to conduct religious observances, though, Choedrak said.

“They are more relaxed about anything related to culture and religion,” he said.

A tight grip on Tibet

On March 10, 1959, Tibetans in Lhasa rose up in protest of Beijing’s tightening political and military control of the formerly independent Tibet, sparking a rebellion in which thousands were killed.

Chinese authorities now maintain a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identities, and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Nepal cites its growing economic ties with Beijing, with promises of millions of dollars of Chinese investment in Nepalese development projects, in cracking down on Tibetan activities in the country, including elections in the refugee community and birthday celebrations for exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Lobsang Chopel for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.