KATHMANDU, Oct 24: A senior US official has said that the Tibetan community in Nepal is facing restrictions in Nepal due to the increased influence of China in recent years.
In her written statement before the House of Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific on Tuesday, Acting Assistant Secretary Alice G Wells, who heads the Bureau of South and central Asia, said Nepal had increased restrictions on the Tibetan Buddhist community, including preventing public celebration of the Dalai Lama's birthday.
“As Chinese influence has grown in Nepal, so has the Government of Nepal's restrictions on the Tibetan community,” she said.
Acting Assistant Secretary Wells also showed concern that recent online media regulation and other directives could provide foundation for the government to restrict freedom of expression in Nepal.
“Although recent online media regulations and other directives could provide the foundations for restrictions on freedom of expression, the Government of Nepal has responded to public concern by working to align legislation with constitutionally guaranteed rights,” she said.
Wells, however, said that Nepal has a recent history of free and open media and citizens as well as its independent press often express critical opinions in print and electronic media without restriction.
In regard to US assistance to Nepal, Secretary Wells said that US is working with the government of Nepal to advance its transition to federalism by building the capacity of the national and local governments to become more transparent and accountable.
“The United States continues to provide financial assistance for the preservation and restoration of religious sites that have historical or cultural significance – including Buddhist shrines and Hindu temples – and the continued promotion for religious tolerance,” she said. Wells noted that Nepal is making progress in its democratic journey, including improving the lives of its citizens and protecting political rights.