Friday, June 11, 2010

Nepal in fresh Dalai Lama row

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Indo-Asian News Service
Kathmandu, June 11, 2010

As Nepal stepped up its crackdown on Tibetan refugees under pressure from China, the ruling alliance was left red-faced after its MPs were found to have gone on a junket to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's seat in India to meet top leaders and attend the self-styled Tibetan parliament in exile.

Two lawmakers from the Nepali Congress, the biggest party in the coalition government, and a third from Terai party Madhesi Janadhikar Forum were part of the delegation from Nepal taken to visit Dharamsala town in northern India.

Nepali MPs Harshajit Lama, Lalita Kingring Magar and Om Prakash Yadav on Thursday met the Dalai Lama's "prime minister" Samdhong Rinpoche, and attended a dinner hosted by the Tibetan government in exile.

On Friday, they are scheduled to attend the ongoing session of the Dalai Lama's parliament in exile.

The visit has triggered a stinging row with the opposition Maoist party saying it violated the "One China" policy of Nepal which regards Tibet as an integral and inalienable part of China.

The Maoists are also alleging that the visit is tantamount to supporting the "Free Tibet" protest movement by Tibetan refugees which the Nepal government has been trying to suppress on China's command.

The new row comes a year after six Nepali MPs visited Dharamsala and met the Dalai Lama in June 2009.

It stung China into seeking an explanation from the Nepal government, which tried to hush up the matter by saying the MPs had not been fully informed about their itinerary.

One of the MPs told IANS that it was a purely religious visit for her as she was a Buddhist and revered the Dalai Lama as the leader of all Buddhists.

Under pressure from Beijing, Nepal in 2005 closed the office of the Dalai Lama's representative in Kathmandu and it has not been allowed to re-open officially since then.

Nepal has also beefed up patrols on its northern border adjoining Tibet to foil Tibetans from escaping to India via Nepal.
In 2008, in an unprecedented move, Nepal put a temporary curb on climbing Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, to prevent anti-China protests at a time Beijing was hosting the Olympic Games.

Nepal also prevents Tibetans from celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday in public and does not invite the Nobel laureate to the annual Buddhist meets it holds in Lumbini in southern Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha.


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