Why can't Nepal become part of China?
NepalTibetans are getting fewer
It is like a never-ending dance of pilgrims and tourists who move from morning to night around the huge stupa of Boudhanath on the outskirts of Nepal's capital Kathmandu. At the top of the huge white hemisphere of the shrine, the Buddha, whose eyes look in all four directions, seems to be watching what is happening.
But it is mainly police officers who have their eyes everywhere. The large houses and many shops around the stupa testify to the hard work and success of many Tibetan refugees in Nepal who have settled here since 1959. There are splendid Buddhist monasteries up into the hills to the north. But for a few years now the tide has been slowly but surely turning for the worse for the Tibetans in Nepal.
Karma Khangkar was born in Tibet and was still a child when he came to Nepal with his family:
"When we fled to Nepal in 1959, we first lived in the mountains. Some of us went to India to get an education. Then we returned to Nepal. Until 2008 there was no intimidation on the part of the Nepalese authorities. But now there are peaceful gatherings of Tibetans are a problem; we should not even celebrate the New Year or the Dalai Lama's birthday.
I am sure this is being done under pressure from China. More and more Tibetan refugees are also being sent back to the border. Even Tibetans with Chinese identity cards who had previously been allowed to trade in the border area were locked up on their return and later deported. The situation of the Tibetans in Nepal and Tibet is very frightening. "
The reception center for Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu is sealed off like a high-security wing. Before 2008, interviews with newcomers weren't a problem. Pictograms now indicate that neither cameras nor microphones are allowed here. In the past 2,000 to 3,000 came a year, now there should be around 50 who make it here despite the tightened border security.
The refugees are isolated and are not allowed to leave the center. The reason: in 2013 one of them burned himself in front of the stupa in Boudhanath. When Tibetans tried to visit him in the hospital, they were beaten and temporarily arrested. Tseten Norbu, a man in his 60s and 50 years in Nepal, is concerned about the growing influence of China in Nepal.
"Sometimes this increasing interference is difficult to grasp. During the visit of the governor of the" Tibet Autonomous Region "to Nepal, the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu asked the Nepalese government to give it a list of the names of all Tibet activists and their exact program.
On the other hand, all authorities entrusted with the security of the country in Nepal were invited for training in China, not one or two, but ten, 20, 30 people.
In the border areas, more precisely in 14 or 15 districts of Nepal, the Chinese government distributes food such as rice, sugar and oil to the local population, who are of Tibetan origin. China has really developed a very special program for the Himalayan region. "
"Just don't be alarmed"
About 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu, a trade route through the Mustang area has linked the southern Himalayas with Tibet since ancient times. Since there has been a drivable slope here, mules as transport animals have become increasingly rare. The Tibetan refugee camp Cairu is located on the banks of the Kali Gandaki, which has dug a deep gorge between two eight-thousanders. It was built for 300 refugees in the early 1970s. Today 225 Tibetans live here. The camp is about 120 kilometers from the border in the north. Norbu Phüntsok is the leader.
"At the moment we are not worried that the Chinese will get this far. There are two large garrisons between the Lower and Upper Mustang and two strong Nepalese militia units. We do not hope that China will invade here illegally."
The Kingdom of Mustang was Tibetan until it was conquered by Nepalese troops at the end of the 18th century. For fear of China making claims to this area, Mustang was closed to strangers until 1992. In the meantime, Chinese goods are competing with the Nepalese with dumping prices. Norbu Phüntsok feels the changes. The Chinese are becoming more and more present in Nepal, but the motto among most Tibetans is: Just don't be alarmed.
"At a meeting the other day, the district governor of Unter-Mustang assured me that as long as we obey the law, he won't cause us any problems. Otherwise Nepal will get into trouble, he said. The Chinese government requires Nepal to subordinate the Tibetans To keep control.
On the other hand, Nepal receives international criticism when the police take action against the Tibetans. Therefore, we Tibetans, Nepalis and Chinese have to understand and hold back. "
With the ousting of the last Nepalese king in 2006, the Tibetans lost an advocate. In addition, there have long been no working governments in Nepal. The country is in a transition period with great instability.
China uses this situation and tries to influence the politicians in Nepal and the population. Just like the other big neighbor, India. In return for good behavior, there is ample help from both giants to improve the infrastructure. Sushil Pyakurel is Nepali and was chairman of the National Human Rights Commission for many years.
"China knows exactly what it is doing and does everything it can to achieve its ambitious goals. The hydropower projects go to India, everything else, such as road construction, is taken care of by China. Both countries help us not out of pure friendship, but because they distrust us and also watch each other.
We live in a dangerous region here in Nepal and must therefore behave extremely wisely. "
It is becoming increasingly rare to see young Tibetans in the area around the stupa in Boudhanath. The descendants of the refugees from that time no longer receive any identification papers from the Nepalese authorities. Those who can look for happiness elsewhere, in the USA or Australia, for example.
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