Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal face restrictions on their religious freedom from Nepalese authorities under pressure from the Government of China, according to the State Department’s annual report on International Religious Freedom.
The report, which documents violations of religious freedom around the world from June to December 2010, documents harassment and intimidation of Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal, including police presence at religious gatherings and interventions to stop certain religious ceremonies.
“Nepal gets generally good marks for its record religious freedom and tolerance, but with the notable exception of the restrictions on Tibetan Buddhists. On this, the finger is pointed squarely at Chinese interference in Nepal’s internal affairs,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “It is regrettable that some Nepalese authorities, under pressure from China, have sullied Nepal’s millenia-old spiritual traditions and history of religious co-existence, by restricting the ability of Tibetans to worship freely.”
The report finds that, “the Government of China reportedly pressured the government to prevent Tibetan Buddhists’ protests against China’s policies in Tibetan areas, including religious restrictions… Intimidation against the Tibetan community continued [during the reporting period]… The government canceled or limited numerous Tibetan gatherings, including those commemorating religious events.” It cited several examples, such as Nepalese government authorities preventing a celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday.
The State Department also reported that, “under general political pressure from the Chinese government to restrict or prevent passage of Tibetan new arrivals through Nepal, three Tibetans, including one Buddhist monk, were forcibly returned to China,” despite an agreement between the Nepalese government and the U.N. refugee agency to provide for safe transit of Tibetan refugees. Tibetans forcibly returned across the border can be subject to torture.
The report noted that the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu has “repeatedly protested the government’s disproportionate response to peaceful protests by Tibetans.”