Nepali Police Seize Tibetan Ballot Boxes in Katmandhu

Nepali Police again seized ballot boxes as Tibetans voted to elect leadership of a community group in Swoyambhu, Jawalakhel and Boudha. The community group, Chushi Gangdruk, looks after the welfare of veterans of the Tibetan resistance force that battled the Chinese People's Liberation Army from 1958 until 1974.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero, who also serves as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, was visiting Kathmandu at the time.

A member of the Chushi Gangdruk election committee explained that they were electing representatives to serve people. “We are voting for our local community representatives so that when someone is sick we can take them to the hospital or when someone dies we can take the corpse to the graveyard. We help poor and homeless people, and we clean the streets and look after the environment in our community. We are refugees and not have such a government to look after us. Only community members do these jobs. We are here today, electing our community representatives in a democratic way," the member said.

Regular elections in the Chushi Gangdruk organization have taken place for many decades.

In October 2010, Nepal police under the direction of Home Ministry of Nepal confiscated ballot boxes filled with thousands of ballots from several polling stations in Kathmandu, disrupting the preliminary election of Kalon Tripa-prime minister and Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile

Nepal is home to about 20,000 exiled Tibetans who began arriving in large numbers in 1959 after the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against the Chinese delegates.

Nepal's major parties adhere to the 'One China' policy, regarding Tibet as an integral part of China and keeping Tibetan refugees in Nepal on a tight leash.

Approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees escape into exile annually, travelling through Nepal en route to Dharamsala in northern India where their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are based. However the number of the Tibetan refugees escaping from Nepal has decreased in the recent years following China’s growing influence in Nepal. Since 2008, Nepal has hardened its stance on the Tibetan refugees, a trend observed in the Himalayan country’s increasing ties with China.