Authorities in Nepal have stepped up a crackdown on Tibetan refugees after one of them, a woman in her 30’s, attempted to burn herself on Wednesday to protest Chinese rule in Tibet.
The woman, who was not identified, poured kerosene over her body and was about to set fire to herself when her colleagues intervened during a protest rally at the Jawalakhel Tibetan settlement in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
At the rally organized as part of a three-day campaign to raise global awareness on alleged human rights abuses in Tibet, the refugees wrote an appeal letter in blood to foreign governments on the “desperate” situation in the region, participants said.
Nine Tibetan monks and one nun have self-immolated so far this year in Tibetan-populated areas in China in protest against Chinese rule following a crackdown on monasteries, harassment of monks, and other alleged rights abuses.
“To recognize the intensity of the sacrifice by one nun and [nine] monks in Tibet, we wrote an appeal with our own blood. We are going to present this appeal to all the embassies and other international organizations and everywhere,” said Nima, the vice-president of the Kathmandu regional Tibetan Youth Congress.
“One Tibetan woman attempted to kill herself by throwing kerosene on herself, but others intervened and stopped her from burning herself,” Nima said.
Lobsang Sangay, the head of Tibet’s exile government in India, told RFA on Tuesday that he has called on foreign governments and international organizations to send teams to investigate conditions in Tibet.
Appeals have also been sent to more than 20 world leaders to influence the Chinese leadership to resume dialogue with Tibetan leaders, he said.
Taken away from homes
Nima said that the attempted self-immolation incident has triggered a stepped-up crackdown by the Nepalese police.
The Nepalese authorities are targeting Tibetans in the Jawalakhel settlement, taking them away from their houses, eyewitnesses said.
“On Tuesday, Nepalese police detained 60 Tibetans, and again on Wednesday another 18 Tibetans were detained. However they were released later in the evenings of the day of their arrests,” one eyewitness said.
Nepal, home to around 20,000 Tibetan refugees, is under increasing pressure from Beijing to rein in the exiles.
The Nepal authorities have also been advised by the Chinese authorities against allowing any “anti-China activity” by Tibetans living in the country.
Many of the refugees arrived in Nepal following a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in which thousands fled south across the Himalayas.
Many still flee Tibet each year, hoping to transit Nepal to India, home of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.