100 Tibetan exiles have been arrested in Nepal after staging a demonstration near the Chinese Embassy visa office. This follows the arrest of 400 protesters on Monday. Human rights activists have criticised the heavy-handed tactics of the Nepalese police against Tibetan refugees showing solidarity with the anti-China protesters in Tibet.
Human rights activists have condemned Nepal's heavy-handed police tactics
It was the first time the Tibetan exiles in Nepal had targeted the Chinese embassy since their protests began in mid-March.
They had concentrated their efforts on refugee areas and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal.
However, on Monday over 400 protesters were arrested as they staged their protest near the UN. So, the Tibetan exiles changed tactics.
On Tuesday, they gathered outside the Chinese Embassy visa office in Kathmandu. Many refused to budge when the police came and over 100 were arrested.
The UN Human Rights agency has warned it is illegal to arrest the Tibetan protesters without charges. It has also spoken out against the police’s heavy-handed tactics. The police reportedly used teargas and bamboo batons against protesters.
Witnesses report they saw monks being beaten to the ground before being detained. The monks said they were protesting out of solidarity with the people in Tibet. They called on China to enter dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
Against human rights
The UN office for human rights also voiced concern that some people had been arrested late on Monday evening on the streets of the capital on the basis of their appearance and the assumption they held certain political opinions.
Richard Bennett, the representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal said that the mass arrests without charges went against the spirit of democratic society governed by human rights and the law.
However, the Nepalese government has made very clear it will not tolerate any anti-China protests by Tibetan refugees.
Nepal recognises Beijing’s “One China” policy, which maintains that Tibet and Taiwan are indivisible parts of China.
A home ministry spokesman reiterated this position on Tuesday and said any anti-China activities on Nepalese territory would be prevented.
20,000 refugees in Nepal
20,000 Tibetan refugees have been living in Nepal since the Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
Many chose to show their solidarity with the people of their homeland when another campaign against Chinese rule was launched from Tibet’s capital Lhasa almost two weeks ago.
The Chinese authorities cracked down heavily on the campaign and the Tibetan government-in-exile in India says at least 140 protesters have been killed.
Beijing claims the death toll is considerably lower. It has promised to crush the unrest that has now spread from Lhasa to other parts of China where there are Tibetan communities.
Beijing is also bracing itself for more protests across the world as the August Olympics approach. Some human rights organisations have called for a boycott of the Games.
But the head of the German Olympic Sports Association, Michael Vesper, didn’t believe this would be constructive: “A boycott would help nobody but it would harm the sportsmen and women who have waited years for the chance to participate in the world’s most important sporting event.”
“Such a boycott would be pointless,” he added. “That’s why it makes more sense to concentrate on dialogue and reaching an understanding. If China doesn’t try to solve this conflict peacefully, if it doesn’t promote human rights in Tibet, it takes the risk that a shadow will be cast on the Olympic Games. And that can’t be in the interests of the Chinese leadership.”
With the whole world’s eyes on China and Tibet at the moment, the balancing act Beijing has to play is a very dicey one.