Nepal: Re-Open Offices of Dalai Lama
February 3, 2005
by Center for Religious Freedom
Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom today called on the government of Nepal to immediately re-open the office of representatives of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, and the Tibetan Refugee Welfare office in Kathmandu.
The closure appears unconnected to King Gyanendra’s move earlier this week to dissolve parliament, or to the wider political crisis surrounding the ongoing Maoist insurrection.
The office of the Dalai Lama’s Representatives has been operating in Nepal since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in the wake of a failed uprising against Chinese Communist occupation. The Refugee Welfare Office, also operating since 1959, has served more then 20,000 Tibetan refugees who have left the Himalayan region.
“Many of these refugees escape persecution in China, risking their lives and braving dangerous terrain with the hope of greater religious freedom in Nepal,” said Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea. “This is a terribly disheartening development.”
Reports from the head of the Dalai Lama's office and Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office say that Chinese pressure prompted Nepal to order the closures.
“There is absolutely no justification for the closure of either of these offices,” said Ms. Shea. “It appears that Nepal’s actions are an extension of China’s repression at home. The government should immediately reverse this decision.”
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