Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nepal police disrupt Tibetan community election

Kathmandu - Nepalese police seized ballot boxes in Kathmandu, preventing Tibetan exiles from electing a local leadership, a Tibetan advocacy group said Thursday.
Police shut down Sunday's election, which is held annually to choose leaders to take up responsibilities within the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
The police said the refugees were not allowed to hold elections.
It was the second time in four months that the Tibetans had been prevented from voting. In October, police also confiscated ballot boxes as Tibetans in Kathmandu voted for the Tibetan government-in-exile, based in Dharamsala, India.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal, according to government statistics, but thousands more live as illegal migrants.
Nepal has vowed repeatedly not to allow anti-China activities on its soil, saying it observes a "one China policy," which holds that Tibet is part of China.
It has rounded up Tibetan refugees on the streets of Kathmandu for demonstrating against China and marking the birthday of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.
China has stepped-up pressure on the Nepalese government to curb "anti-China" activities in Nepal since 2008 when Tibetan refugees living there staged protests against China in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games.
Sunday's move to stop the Tibetan elections was condemned by the United Nations, which has asked repeatedly that Nepal abide by a "gentlemen's agreement" between Nepal and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide safe transit to Tibetan refugees who wish to travel through Nepal to Dharamsala.

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