Nepal has ordered the closure of the local office of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and a welfare centre that helped refugees fleeing Tibet, saying they did not have a licence to operate, officials said.
Tibetans who have been running the offices in Kathmandu for over four decades said the Nepali government had acted under pressure from Beijing, which has in the past accused these establishments of anti-China activities.
Nepal, home to more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees who left the Himalayan region after the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, considers Tibet a part of China.
“We don’t recognise the Dalai Lama nor his representative office in Nepal,” a Nepali foreign Ministry official said.
Both the offices were asked to close for failure to fulfil local laws that require any office to register with the government.
“The local administration served a notice on them to close because they were not registered,” the official said.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Nepal does not allow Tibetan refugees to organise any political activity that could jeopardise its ties with Beijing, a key aid donor and a major trading partner.
“I believe the closing down of the Dalai Lama’s office is under pressure from China,” Wangchuk Tsering, the representative of the Dalai Lama in Nepal, said.
US based Human Rights Watch urged Kathmandu to allow the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office to reopen and continue assisting thousands of Tibetans who still flee their homeland and arrive in Nepal every year.
Many Tibetans risked their lives fleeing over the Himalayas and often suffered from frostbite and other life-threatening medical conditions, the rights watchdog said.