Hundreds of police in riot gear gathered around key Tibetan centers such as monasteries and schools in order to prevent Tibetans attending the anniversary event, held at Samtenling monastery yesterday morning.
Beginning at 3 a.m. on March 10, more than 1,000 police were reportedly deployed in an effort to stop the Tibetan community in Kathmandu from marking the anniversary, which marks the beginning of the Tibetan uprising in Lhasa, although armed conflict between Tibetans and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had been well underway in eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) since 1956.
Nepalese police can be seen kicking and beating unarmed Tibetan demonstrators who took to the streets in video posted on Euronews.net and on the website of the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. The Telegraph cited local media reports that at least 15 people were detained and 20 injured in the day’s altercations. A Tibetan residing in Kathmandu told ICT that the environment was “tense,” adding that “people were incredibly nervous; it was terrifying.” In an additional incident, several Tibetans, including a monk, were witnessed being beaten severely by Nepalese people, not police, near the Boudha stupa.
“The abusive actions taken by Kathmandu police and tolerated by Nepalese authorities against a peaceful gathering of Tibetans are clear violations of universally recognized rights and Nepalese law. The Nepalese people and the international community should be deeply troubled by the influence that Beijing, a well-documented rights abusing regime, is exercising on Nepalese authorities for its own political ends and against the interests of the people, including openness and good governance in Nepal,” said Mary Beth Markey, ICT President.
In the morning of March 10, police interrupted the reading of the Dalai Lama’s annual March 10 statement (see: www.dalailama.com) in an effort to put an end to the event. Police withdrew only after repeated requests by local human rights monitors.
Police also blocked the gates at several Tibetan schools earlier in the day in order to prevent students from attending the demonstrations.
On Wednesday Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists issued a statement calling on Nepalese authorities to abide by its international obligations and its own domestic laws in its treatment of the Tibetan community. Highlighting the issues of “preventive arrests and policing restrictions on demonstrations and freedom of movement that deny the right to legitimate peaceful expression and assembly during anniversaries and festivals marked by the Tibetan community,” the groups cited the strong pressure Nepalese authorities receive from the Chinese government.
Beijing presses Nepalese officials to prevent or put an end to any activity Beijing deems to be “anti-China.” (ICT reports, Dangerous Crossing – 2009 Update and An uncertain welcome: how China’s influence impacts Tibetans in Nepal)