Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Nepal police seize ballot boxes in Kathmandu's Tibetan community for second time

February 18, 2011

ICT report, February 16, 2011

On February 13, 2011, Nepal police in riot gear shut down local
elections for the leadership of a Tibetan community group. The police
action was the latest police harassment of Nepal's long-staying Tibetan
community and underscores Nepalese authorities’ effort to prohibiting
what it perceives as "anti-China" activities by Tibetans in its
territory.U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global
Affairs, Maria Otero, who serves concurrently as the Special Coordinator
for Tibetan Issues, was visiting Kathmandu at the time. During her
visit, Otero met with Nepalese officials and reportedly expressed the
continued support of the U.S. Government for the safety and welfare of
Tibetan refugees in Nepal (see ICT report, 'High-level U.S. visit shows
commitment to Tibetan refugee issues in Nepal').

The community group, Chushi Gangdruk, principally looks after the
welfare of veterans of the Tibetan resistance force that battled the
Chinese People's Liberation Army from 1958 until 1974.

According to ICT sources in Kathmandu, on Sunday, February 13, Kathmandu
police raided three locations where voting for the leadership of Chushi
Gangdruk was taking place: Swoyambhu, Jawalakhel and Boudha.Regular
elections in the Chushi Gangdruk organization have taken place for many
decades, and members responsible for the elections worked with care and
discretion to avoid provoking authorities. Local police in Boudha who
checked on the gathering when voting began at 9:00 a.m. voiced no
objection to the proceedings.Nonetheless, around 10:00 a.m., a van
arrived at the voting hall carrying police wearing riot-gear, guns and
batons, and was accompanied by a truck that is typically used to take
people away for detention.

A member of the Chushi Gangdruk election committee was asked to explain
the gathering: "We are voting for our local community representatives so
that when someone is sick we can take them to the hospital or when
someone dies we can take the corpse to the graveyard.We help poor and
homeless people, and we clean the streets and look after the environment
in our community. We are refugees and not have such a government to look
after us.Only community members do these jobs.We are here today,
electing our community representatives in a democratic way."

A police officer involved in the raid told the members of Chushi
Gangdruk that Tibetan refugees are not allowed to hold elections for any
reason, and that the raid was ordered by the CDO (Chief District Officer).

At this point, it became impossible to carry on voting and a policeman
took the ballot box and walked away.When the police officer was asked by
the Tibetan election committee member if it would be possible to have
the confiscated ballot box returned, the police officer responded that
it would be impossible and that the box would be locked away along with
the Tibetan ballot boxes that were confiscated last year. Several police
officers stayed until 5:30 p.m. presumably to ensure that the election
would not resume.

In the two other locations, Swoyambhu and Jawalakhel, the voting had
concluded before police arrived at approximately 10:30 am.

On October 3, 2010, Kathmandu police confiscated ballot boxes and shut
down voting sites where members of Nepal's Tibetan community were
participating in primary elections for the Tibetan government-in-exile,
based in Dharamsala, India (see ICT report, 'Nepalese police seize
ballot boxes from Tibetan exile election').

Nepal's "one China policy" is frequently invoked by authorities as the
reason to shut down community activities in the Tibetan community that
had previously been allowed, such as the Chushi Gandruk elections and
celebrations of the Dalai Lama's birthday.Many Tibetans believe that
Nepalese authorities are working against them at the behest of the
Chinese government. The link between China's aggression against Tibetans
and Nepalese police actions has contributed to an environment of fear
and insecurity in Nepal's Tibetan communities. Only Tibetan refugees who
arrived in Nepal before 1989 are provided resident status by the Nepal
government, a classification that significantly limits their social,
economic, political and civil rights. As one Tibetan living in Kathmandu
told ICT, "Tibetans feel as though we are invisible, as though we have
no right to exist" (see ICT report, 'A fragile welcome: China's
influence on Nepal and its impact on Tibetans').

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Director of Communications, International Campaign for Tibet
Tel: +44 (0) 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank