China tightens screws on Nepal for 60th anniversary


Kathmandu : Under pressure from Beijing to prevent protests by Tibetan refugees on China’s 60th anniversary celebrations, Nepal Thursday began rounding up Tibetans here and sending them to detention centres.

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As the crackdown started on refugee leaders suspected of leading anti-China protests in the past, police arrested 45 Tibetans from different parts of the capital.

Though seven people were released, 38 were sent to various police lockups to prevent demonstrations before the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu and other public places. The detainees included eight women.

China also tightened its grip on visas to foreign tourists.

The Chinese embassy here has notified all tourist agencies that no visa will be issued till Oct 8. The embassy stopped issuing visas from Sep 26.

The northern boundary Nepal shares with Tibet, which China annexed in 1950, has also been closed, causing hardship for border townspeople who relied on Tibetan markets for daily provisions, private radio station Kantipur FM said.

The London-based rights organisation, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), said in a new report Thursday that intense security and control measures had been clamped in Tibet following a wave of protests that swept the plateau since March 2008.

In Lhasa and other cities, Tibetans have been compelled to take part in Communist China’s birthday celebrations despite widespread fear and tensions, ICT said.

There have been restrictions on foreign tourists seeking to visit Tibet.

While celebrating its 60th anniversary, China will be keeping a wary eye on the Dalai Lama, the last ruler of independent Tibet who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese annexation.

The 74-year-old Nobel laureate will be visiting Washington Oct 5-10 during which he will meet Congressional leaders and present the Light of Truth award to a group of Chinese who have spoken out on Tibet at great personal risk.

China calls the exiled Tibetan leader a separatist and has warned that the dialogues with him for an autonomous Tibet will bear fruit only if he shuts down his government-in-exile in India.