Agence France Presse: 2011-11-05
Washington: A US lawmaker has threatened to strip Nepal of its millions of dollars in US aid unless it permits refugees fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet to transit through the country.
Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into exile, but the country has increasingly cracked down on Tibetans’ movement and activities out of fear of upsetting its giant neighbour to the north.
Representative Frank Wolf, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee that determines US funding, said yesterday he would try to block funding to Nepal unless it grants exit visas to Tibetans who seek refuge in the United States. “We’re not just going to cut them, we’re going to zero them out,” said Wolf, a Republican from Virginia and outspoken critic of China. “If they’re not willing to do it, then they don’t share our values and if they don’t share our values, we do not want to share our dollars,” he told a congressional hearing on Tibet.
Wolf said he would propose the aid cutoff if Nepal’s record does not improve by the time the United States looks at foreign aid funding next year. Human rights groups have frequently accused Nepal of arbitrary arrests and harassment of Tibetans. In July, Nepal prevented its 20,000-strong Tibetan community from celebrating the birthday of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The United States has supported Nepal as it recovers from a decade-long civil war.
The US Agency for International Development says it sought $57.7 million for Nepal in the 2010 fiscal year and that its efforts to provide children in Nepal with Vitamin A have averted some 15,000 deaths a year.
( Tashi Dhundup responds to this comment in the section on Views)