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Tibetans condemn Nepal for disrupting exile-prelim elections

October 5, 2010

Tenzin Tsering
October 4, 2010

Dharamsala, Oct. 4 -- Tibetan exiles and activist
groups around the world have strongly condemned
Nepal for what they see as "the height of
kowtowing" to China, after Nepalese police forces
disrupted the Tibetan preliminary elections on Sunday.

As hundreds of Tibetan residents of Nepal went to
cast their ballots to nominate candidates for the
post of Tibetan Prime Minister and the Tibetan
Parliament-in-exile, Nepalese police arrived in
full riot gear at the three polling booths in
Kathmandu, the region's capital, and ransacked
the polling booths. The police took away ballot
boxes an hour before the voting was to complete.

Tibetan youth activist group Students for Free
Tibet (SFT), and the regional Tibetan Youth
Congress (TYC) of New York and New Jersey, will
hold "Give Back Our Ballot Box!" protest at the
Nepali Consulate in New York City on Monday.

"We strongly appeal to the Government of Nepal to
reverse this blatant violation of human right of
the Tibetan people in Nepal and to respect the
basic fundamental rights of the Tibetan people
for peaceful assembly and right to vote. We also
urge the international community including the
United Nations to intervene on this issue
immediately," said Tsewang Rigzin, President of
Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest Tibetan
non-governmental organization seeking complete independence from China.

Nepal, which is home to some 20,000 Tibetans has
since 2008 hardened its stance on the Tibetan
refugees, a trend observed in the Himalayan
country’s increasing ties with China.

"I am sure the people of Nepal are shocked in the
way their leaders unleashed this ’goond’ act by
robbing ballot boxes from Kathmandu Tibetans
yesterday in broad daylight," Tibetan poet and
independence activist Tenzin Tsundue said, while
calling the act shocking and condemnable. "Nepal
cannot get away with this 'goonda giri.' We want
our ballot boxes back. Nepal must remember our
centuries old brotherhood and not get carried
away by Chinese candies or bullets. Nepal must
remain strong when its freedom and democracy is
being tested both internally and externally," he added.

According to Jamphel Choesang, Chief Election
Commissioner of the Tibetan exile government in
exile, "Tibetan government representative Mr
Thinley Gyatso had duly informed and obtained
permission from the district authority for the election process."

Despite this, Nepali security forces under the
direction of the Home Ministry of Nepal arrived
in at least two polling booths, at Boudha and
Swyambhu and confiscated the ballot boxes, the Election Commissioner added.

"We condemn this heinous act of repression by the
Nepali authorities which tramples on the Tibetan
people’s democratic right to freely elect their
political leadership. Tibetans in Nepal have for
decades participated, unimpeded, in the exile
Tibetan democratic process and should be allowed
to continue doing so," Tenzin Dorjee, Director of
SFT, said in a statement to the press.

Tibetans in Nepal expressed shock and a sense of
helplessness at these latest anti-Tibetan actions of the Nepali police forces.

"We were in shock. We could not do anything.
Where I was voting at Boudha, it felt like a
battlefield when Nepalese police armed with guns
and batons arrived at the polling booth. One
Tibetan man jumped across the wall to avoid
arrest. He had tried to prevent the police from
confiscating the ballot boxes," said Tenzin
Namgyal from Boudha, who couldn’t cast her vote.

In July, Nepal -- which constantly assures China
of its commitment towards ‘One China’ policy --
had banned the birthday celebrations of the
Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama. A month earlier,
it had forcibly handed over three fleeing Tibetan
refugees to Chinese authorities.

China recently announced it would give Nepal’s
Ministry of Home Affairs US $1.47 million (10
million Yuan) every year to strengthen its
security apparatus to curb "anti-China activities" on its soil.
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