(Tashi is a Tibetan in exile, and an independent researcher.)
Keeping in mind the increasingly kowtowing behavior of the Nepalese polity in terms of its treatment towards the Tibetans in Nepal, the recent remark by the US lawmaker Frank Wolf ( For Details refer to the press release in the News Section of this edition) to cut off aid to Nepal will surely be welcomed by the Tibetans and their supporters with great hoopla. But even though it is an encouraging remark nonetheless, it might prove imperative to greet it with guarded enthusiasm. It is urgent to understand or to question in that regard, what outcome such a caveat will receive.
If we were to look back, beginning 2008, despite intense pressure from the International diplomatic communities and media outcry, the Nepalese Government went on nonchalantly to break the skulls of the Tibetan protestors and in between orchestrated the closure of two important and indispensible Tibetan community related offices vis-à-vis Tibetan Reception Center and the Tibetan Welfare Office that has been in existence for the last several decades. Not to mention the spree of clandestine and arbitrary house arrest that followed. These were already in addition to the deportation of around fifteen Tibetans in 2003 which was another milestone of easing up to the Chinese by the Nepalese Government. Despite such an outpour of public brick batting, if the Nepalese Government had wittingly continued to do the status quo, to what consequence this latest ultimatum of Representative Wolf will bear fruit remains fanciful.
The important thing to consider would be what such an ultimatum would do to the already deteriorating situations of the Tibetans in Nepal, both the residents and the ones fleeing through Nepal for that matter. For one, instead of easing up the situation it might prove otherwise, resulting in the already emaciated but now provoked law enforcers of Nepal to wield their batons upon the Tibetan recipients more forcefully. Another point to consider would be what effect it will have on the general psyche of the ordinary Nepalese citizens who are either ill-informed or unaware of the Tibetan issue in general. There is a possibility that their lackadaisical understanding of the Tibetan situation might simply turn into hate. Add to that the reaction of the Nepalese officials, who even though might portray a benign face officially, but in private might simply make the procurement of any kind of official documents by the Tibetans even more harder.
Let’s now turn to Representative Frank Wolf. Is the congressman serious or is it just a lone man’s cry with the rest of the legislators shrugging their shoulders in non-commitment, for unlike the Chinese where there are no two opinions in dealing with the Tibet situation, the American policy does not enjoy such a unified stand. And even if Congressman Wolf is serious, keeping in mind the divided opinions among the American Congressmen regarding the Tibet situation, this warning might not amount to much. In such disparity, wouldn’t it be more effective if the pressure were induced from the Indian front, keeping in mind the ‘erstwhile unacknowledged influential sway’ the Indian polity has on the Nepalese domestic politics. And wouldn’t it make even more sense, if the purpose is to aid the Tibetans in Nepal, to play the hardballs with the Chinese directly by employing the age old diplomatic card of ‘carrot and stick’.
But all these might not necessarily call for Nepal to be complacent. Even though the Nepalese Government has quickly forgotten the role Tibet as a country played in their admission into the United Nations, it is high time that Nepal should for their own good begin to stand upon their own mettle. It should begin to resist the bullying from both from the Chinese and the Indian side. Even though maintaining friendly diplomatic relation is important, it doesn’t call for the Nepalese Government’s complete prostration to the Chinese. Even though this warning might not prove in the flow of the funds from the U.S. to be deficient, the Nepalese Government should not take this warning on face value nonetheless. With the declining image of Nepal in their treatment of the Tibetans, it is a bad news already that such an ultimatum came from the US and it might do good for the Nepalese Government to stop their tomfoolery and straighten up their act, especially, when so much of a hullabaloo has been created for the attainment of a Republic, where freedom of speech, assembly and expression are the guiding principles.