Nepal bans protests ahead of Tibetan revolt anniversary
With less than a fortnight left for the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against China, Nepal, home to thousands of Tibetans, has declared a ban on protests by the diaspora.
The district administration in Kathmandu, which last year witnessed continuous protests by Tibetans for almost eight months, has prohibited all protests near the Chinese embassy and its visa office from Saturday.
The indefinite curb extends to all areas within 200 metres of the Chinese embassy.
In 2008, when Tibetan protests grew stronger after Beijing got to host the Olympic Games, the Chinese embassy witnessed a series of unprecedented demonstrations by Tibetans including monks and nuns.
The protests at times grew violent due to police intervention, causing the US to condemn the excessive use of force by Nepal.
Now, with March 10 coming closer, China fears a resurrection of last year's tumult or worse.
On that day in 1959, Tibetans rose in revolt against Chinese forces. However, the uprising was put down, leading to the flight of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to India.
Every year, Tibetans worldwide remember the day with protests and prayers.
This year being the 50th anniversary of the rebellion, the protests are likely to be more intense, especially since China has declared the day a public holiday to be celebrated as the "Emancipation of Serfs".
Nepal's move comes after three quick visits in a row by Chinese delegations from Beijing to Kathmandu to ensure there are no embarrassing protests this time.
The new government of Nepal is ruled by the former Maoist guerrillas, whose cadres regard themselves disciples of Mao Zedong and therefore think they are close to the communist republic in spirit.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has vowed that his government would uphold the One China principle that regards Tibet as an integral part of China.
He has also assured the Chinese delegations that Nepal would not allow its soil to be used for anti-China activities.
In a few months, Prachanda is scheduled to visit China again, his second trip to that country since taking office in August. He is expected to finalise or sign a new treaty of peace and friendship with China.
Since the Maoists came to power in Nepal after winning an election in April, security forces have been keeping a tighter watch on Nepal's northern border with China.
In the past, Nepal allowed itself to be used as a transit for hundreds of Tibetans, including women and children, trying to flee to Dharamshala in India, the seat of the Dalai Lama's "government in exile".
However, since last year, the number has decreased drastically, with less than 100 successful flights a month now.