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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU1903
2002-10-01 01:08:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

CHINESE PRESSURE STIFLES TIBETANS IN NEPAL

Tags:   CH  NP  PGOV  PHUM  PREF  PREL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 001903 

SIPDIS

BEIJING PASS TO CHENGDU

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL/REIDEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2012
TAGS: CH NP PGOV PHUM PREF PREL
SUBJECT: CHINESE PRESSURE STIFLES TIBETANS IN NEPAL

REF: A. BEIJING 9871

B. KATHMANDU 1332

C. KATHMANDU 1694

D. KATHMANDU 1443

Classified By: Ambassador Michael Malinowski for reason 1.5 (b)(d)

--------
SUMMARY
--------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 001903

SIPDIS

BEIJING PASS TO CHENGDU

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL/REIDEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2012
TAGS: CH NP PGOV PHUM PREF PREL
SUBJECT: CHINESE PRESSURE STIFLES TIBETANS IN NEPAL

REF: A. BEIJING 9871

B. KATHMANDU 1332

C. KATHMANDU 1694

D. KATHMANDU 1443

Classified By: Ambassador Michael Malinowski for reason 1.5 (b)(d)

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) There have been increasing restrictions on the
Tibetan refugee community in Nepal. Celebrations and
cultural events have been canceled on short notice by
government authorities, press conferences interrupted by
police and the Office of Tibet Representative detained for
a day. Although many Tibetan refugees are still able to
enter Nepal and transit to India, post has received
credible reports of an apparent increase in refugees being
turned back at the border by Nepali immigration
authorities. The Government of Nepal (GON) has repeatedly
declared that they will have no tolerance for 'anti-China'
activities, and Prime Minister Deuba has confirmed that
Chinese pressure is behind the shift in policy toward
Tibetans. End summary.

--------------
"POLITICAL" EVENTS CANCELED;
MONASTERIES LEFT ALONE
--------------


2. (C) Kathmandu ref cables report incidents in which
Tibetan gatherings have been halted by police or canceled
by Nepali authorities with short notice to the
coordinators. Office of Tibet Representative Wangchuk
Tsering has directly attributed the incidents to Beijing,

SIPDIS
stating in a letter to the Embassy that the Tibetan
community has been "prevented by the concerned authorities
of Nepal from organizing any cultural or social gatherings
on numerous occasions because of China's interference."


3. (SBU) Tsering's assertions are supported by the common
theme of the canceled events: a link with the Dalai Lama or
the Tibetan government-in-exile. In April, a cultural
program sponsored by the Tibetan Youth Association to
celebrate the thirteenth birthday of the Dalai
Lama-recognized Panchen Lama was called off by police. In

July, three separate events planned for the weekend of the
Dalai Lama's birthday had to be canceled on short notice
when the GON issued an official order to the Radisson Hotel
not to accept any business from any Tibetan refugee groups
for the duration of the celebration (ref B). Earlier this
month, a Tibetan Democracy Day religious gathering was
interrupted by police, and Tsering himself was detained in
police custody for most of the day (ref C).


4. (C) Conversely, purely religious events such as
liturgical dances are allowed to continue with no
interference from the GON as long as they are confined to a
private location. Tibetan Democracy Day religious
ceremonies were allowed to continue, once they were moved
inside. "The monasteries are left alone," confirmed
Matthieu Ricard (protect), a French citizen and Buddhist
monk well-connected to the Tibetan community, "but when the
(Office of Tibet) Representative lifts his little finger,
if the government knows about it, they stop it."


5. (C) Tsering has characterized GON interference with the
Tibetans' freedom of assembly, which he says has been on
the rise for the past two years, as increasingly frequent,
persistent, indiscriminate and immediate; and he has
related statements from government and police officials
fingering China as the motivating force behind the
crackdown. His sources "say that the Chinese Embassy tells
them something, and it gets done," Tsering told PolOff in a
September 25 interview. "We have a religious activity or a
cultural event, but the Chinese Embassy tells the MFA it is
an 'anti-China' activity, and the MFA informs the
authorities that it must be stopped without looking into
the background."

-------------- --------------
PM, GON OFFICIALS CONFIRM CHINESE PRESSURE;
KING REITERATES NO TOLERANCE FOR 'ANTI-CHINA' ACTIVITIES
-------------- --------------


6. (C) The fingers pointing north are not simply a reflex
response. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba confirmed to
Ambassador Malinowski earlier this month that the GON is
under pressure from China about the Tibetans. Both UNHCR
and the Office of Tibet indicate that GON officials of
various ranks and positions have told them directly that
Chinese pressure is behind the shift in treatment of
Nepal's Tibetan community.


7. (SBU) King Gyanendra clearly stated Nepal's stand on his
state visit to Beijing in July. "(Nepal) will not allow
the emergence of elements running against the development
of Nepal-Chinese ties," he was quoted as saying in the
local press. "It will not permit within its borders any
activities that undermine China's interests." Newly
appointed Chief of Army Staff Pyar Jung Thapa reiterated
the statement this month. The crux of the problem,
according to most Embassy sources in the Tibetan community,
is that the GON is applying too sweeping a definition to
"anti-China" activities, probably at the behest of Chinese
officials and possibly in an effort to support the
"one-China" policy.


8. (U) In July, for example, police closed down a press
conference organized by a Nepali Buddhist organization to
refute a widely publicized statement by the Dorje Shugden
Society that the Dalai Lama was a terrorist and that
Tibetan monasteries in Nepal were used for "anti-China"
activities (ref D). Police interrupted Tsering as he read
a prepared statement contradicting the claims, arresting
two organizers and halting the conference. Newspaper
reports stated that police had acted on a warrant issued by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and two high-ranking GON
spokesmen attributed the incident to support for the
"one-China" policy.

--------------
CHANGES AT THE BORDER
--------------


9. (C) Additional problems exist at the China-Nepal
border. Refugees arriving at the Tibetan Reception Center
(TRC) have reported increased Chinese security at the
border, including undercover immigration officers dressed
in village clothing as well as armed patrols. Many state
that they were stopped by the Chinese on their first or
second attempt to cross into Nepal and either imprisoned
for a short term or sent to forced labor for up to two
years.


10. (C) In addition to increased Chinese security, the
Embassy received reports earlier this year that Nepali
border guards were handing Tibetans back to the Chinese,
despite a "gentleman's agreement" with UNHCR that would
allow them to freely transit to India. According to Roland
Weil (protect), UNHCR Protection Officer, sporadic reports
have come from refugees arriving at the TRC who claim to
have been turned around by Nepali immigration officials on
their first try. Initial news came from sympathetic police
at border posts who phoned UNHCR offices to report that
they had "had to" turn Tibetans over to Chinese
authorities.


11. (C) Weil does not believe the GON has issued a
comprehensive order to turn people back, since police still
occasionally escort groups of refugees to the TRC, and he
added that no new reports of forced repatriation have been
received since early this year. "That doesn't mean it
doesn't happen, however," he cautioned, stating that
information flow from the border has been hampered by the
destruction of communication infrastructure. "Police can't
call us even if they would want to, and we can't call them
to ask what has been happening."

--------------
PROPAGANDA IN THE PRESS
--------------


12. (SBU) In early September, a series of editorials by the
usually well-respected Kathmandu Post editor-in-chief
Yubaraj Ghimire were published following a trip to Tibet
for Nepali journalists sponsored by the Chinese government.
From the opening line, the intent of the articles was
clear. "China values Nepal's unequivocal support on the
one-China policy," the first article began, before
launching into a catalogue of possible benefits of
cooperation, ranging from increased cross-border tourism to
Chinese investment in Nepali industry and even the
possibility of linking Nepal into railway service to
Shanghai. Further articles stated that "even if the Dalai
Lama decides against getting back to Tibet... the Chinese
government seems determined to protect (his position as
religious leader) in deference of the religious faith and
wishes of the Tibetans." But despite the parroted prose,
the series captured the current situation in microcosm:
struggling Nepal can benefit from a cordial relationship
with China, and China's cordiality apparently has a price.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


13. (C) In general, agreements between the GON and UNHCR
are still functioning as intended, and the GON's
relationship with the Tibetan community is tolerant on a
day-to-day basis. However, Chinese pressure is changing the
nature of that relationship. Though it is unclear whether
the pressure is coming from the Chinese Embassy in
Kathmandu or from the central government in Beijing, the
effect is the same: freedom of expression and freedom of
assembly have been compromised and a long-standing
agreement with UNHCR appears to have been unilaterally
altered by the GON. The Embassy has raised this issue at
the highest levels of the government, including with the
Prime Minister, and will continue to stress the value that
the USG places on individual rights.
MALINOWSKI