Tibetan refugees living in Nepal have been grieving over the recent bloodshed and crackdown by Chinese authorities in the homeland. They are also increasing their pleas for greater support from the international community to press for greater rights and religious freedoms from China, heavily curbed since it took control of the region in 1951.
Boudha Nath Stupa in Kathmandu, centre of Tibetans in Nepal
Tibetan monks chant prayers at a monastery in the central Nepalese city of Pokhara. It is a far cry from the monasteries in Tibet where monks face severe restrictions set down by Chinese authorities. There are some 20,000 Tibetan refugees living in Nepal. And everyday new refugees are arriving from Tibet.
The Lama -- or abbot -- of the Tibetan monastery in Pokhara, some six hours drive from Kathmandu, says the recent protests in Tibet came about from restrictions placed on the monks. Tibetans are afraid of the Chinese development of Tibet:
"The much claimed religious freedom the Chinese have claimed to have given to the Tibetans is not actually enjoyed by the Tibetan monks. It is because of the restrictions the Chinese have put on their religious freedom that have now compelled the monks to rise up against the Chinese."
Tibetans are afraid of China
D. Wangyal, a representative from the Tibetan refugee community in Pokhara, also believes the current unrest is due to the past six decades of China’s policies in Tibet:
"It’s the continuation of the resentment of the Tibetan people against the Chinese; not because Tibetans dislike Chinese but because the Chinese treated all Tibetans to hate them over the last 60 years. And the international community should see that in the proper context – and not regard this incident as an isolated case."
Tibetans living in exile have stepped up their campaign for China to renew the dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Refugee communities in Nepal have sent three petitions to the United Nations calling for the release of all political prisoners, an independent United Nations investigation of the crackdown and direct talks between the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the Beijing Government.
Doubts about international support
But Dolma Tsering, a businesswoman and social worker in Pokhara, raises doubts about the international support. Many Tibetan refugees fear that after the Olympics the global community will again overlook the human rights calls by Tibetans:
"Why don’t they support the Tibetan issue? Because there’s no oil in Tibet? Or is it that they don’t want to lose business contracts in China. So you know I think we need public support and internationally we need all governments to help if they really respect the human rights."
Tibetan refugees are continuing to stage protests outside of Chinese embassies throughout the world. In the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, protests are occurring almost daily but local authorities move in swiftly to disperse the protesters, with police wielding wooden batons and making dozens of arrests.
Tibetan refugees hope that despite China’s tough position, Beijing may be influenced by the international community to reopen the dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Only these efforts could reduce tensions and end the prospect of future violence in Tibet.