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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Nepal still forbidden domain for Dalai Lama

July 9, 2010

July 8, 2010

KATHMANDU -- He commiserated with the people of
Nepal over the massacre of its royal family in
2001 and still earlier, helped the government of
Nepal see an end to fierce guerrilla warfare
against its powerful northern neighbour. But
despite his real – though unacknowledged –
contribution to peace in Nepal, the Dalai Lama,
Buddhism’s most famous disciple alive, remained a
pariah in the birthplace of the Buddha with his
followers not allowed to pray for his long life
and health on his 75th birthday on Tuesday for fear of angering China.

"Over 350 Tibetans were detained by Nepal police
while trying to attend the prayer meeting today
on the occasion of His Holiness’ 75th birthday,"
said a doleful Tibetan journalist, who declined
to be named. "There were extraordinary security
measures to deter Tibetans from attending the
mass meeting and we were not allowed to pray at
the traditional public Buddhist places like
Boudhanath, Swayambhunath and Pharping."

To underscore its distance from the Dalai Lama,
the caretaker government sent instructions to the
parliament secretariat, asking the 601 members of
parliament not to attend the subdued ceremony
that was held at the Jawalakhel Tibetan refugee
camp in Lalitpur district. The order came after
Nepal’s President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, and
Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala earlier this year
accepted invitations to attend celebrations at a
Buddhist monastery but were hurriedly forced to
cancel them after a red-eyed Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu objected fiercely.

However, though none of the Nepali MPs attended
the nearly three-hour prayer meeting, three of
Tibetan People’s Deputies, members of the Tibetan
parliament in exile, came to offer their
allegiance and best wishes to the Nobel laureate
and a message from the Tibetan cabinet based in
Dharamshala was read out. Two former members of
Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission were
also present and one of them, Sudip Pathak, said
the Dalai Lama should be allowed to visit Nepal on purely religious grounds.

Lumbini in southern Nepal, the birthplace of the
Buddha, remains one of the most venerated sites
for Buddhists and though the Dalai Lama has been
known to be eager to visit the shrine, he has not
made any move for fear of being rebuffed. Though
living less than an hour’s flight away from
Lumbini, the exiled Tibetan leader visited it
only once in 1987 after an extraordinary gesture
of goodwill shown by the then king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah.

The north of Nepal, adjoining Tibet, had remained
restive since the 1950s after China invaded and
captured Tibet, forcing the Dalai Lama, Tenzin
Gyatso, to flee secretly to India after a failed
uprising by Tibetans in 1959. Tibetan warriors,
trained by the CIA and India, continued to resist
Chinese occupation by making quick attacks from
Mustang in northern Nepal. The resistance stopped
after the Dalai Lama, realising the futility of
the forays, sent word to the loyal Khampa warriors to end the guerrilla war.

The gesture saved Nepal from China’s wrath and
possible retaliation and King Birendra allowed
Tibetan refugees to proceed to India through
Nepal without harassment. He also allowed the
Dalai Lama to pay a low-key visit to Lumbini.
However, things changed drastically after
Birendra’s successor, his brother Gyanendra,
sought to seize absolute power with China’s
blessings. King Gyanendra caused the closure of
the office of the Dalai Lama’s representative in
Kathmandu and sought to shut down a centre for Tibetan refugees as well.

Ironically, Gyanendra himself fell from grace in
2006 and his birthday that year faced almost the
same crackdown that greets the Tibetan leaders
with the new government as well as diplomats
based in Nepal boycotting the event. Today, four
years later, the deposed king has been reduced to
a tax-paying commoner who will celebrate his 63rd
birthday quietly at his private residence in
Kathmandu on Wednesday while the Dalai Lama’s
birthday continues to be celebrated around the world.
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