Nepal frees Dalai Lama's envoy but threat deepens

Thiley Lama, who is officially known as the volunteer coordinator of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Kathmandu, formerly part of the office of the Dalai Lama in Nepal, had to sign an undertaking that he would inform the local administration before his office organised any formal programme.

Lama, the first Nepali to hold the post, had to also agree verbally that he would register his office as an NGO.

The Nepali authorities have been refusing to allow the office to be registered. Prior to 2005, it was part of the Dalai Lama's office. Both were closed down under the then king Gyanendra's orders as the king sought to obtain Chinese support for his bid to grab power by staging a coup.

Though in October 2005, the home ministry registered the Bhote Welfare Society, it was de-registered the following year on the orders of the Foreign Ministry.

Since then, Western governments have been asking Nepal to register an alternative Tibetan office to partner with the UN refugee agency so that Tibetan refugees transiting through Nepal every year can be provided urgent humanitarian assistance and the long-staying Tibetan refugee community social service.

Thiley Lama was arrested after his maiden press conference in Kathmandu Friday where he asked the government of Nepal to resume issuing identity cards to Tibetan refugees.

He also refuted reports in the Nepali media that his office was involved in a recent case of providing fake documents to two youngsters so that they could leave Nepal with false passports.

Police seized copies of the press statement, detained his aide, Jampa Dhundup, and questioned two Tibetan reporters who had attended the meet.

"The temporary detention took place in an atmosphere of continued insecurity for Tibetans due to the Chinese government's influence on the Nepalese authorities and its insistence that no 'anti-China' activities be allowed in Nepal," said the New York-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

"Once again, the Nepal authorities have departed from reasonable behaviour to satisfy Chinese-driven paranoia about Tibetans in Nepal," said Mary Beth Markey, ICT president.

Markey said Lama's comments at the press conference were responsible and measured, and an attempt to set the record straight on false allegations against his office that have appeared in the Nepalese media.

"He made sensible recommendations to the Nepalese government about addressing real issues in the Tibetan community that are fully consistent with those repeatedly made by foreign embassies and international organisations in Kathmandu," she added.

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