Unraveling of A Livelihood
Nepal is home to the world’s second-largest Tibetan exile community after India. Buddhist prayer flags flutter along Kathmandu’s alleyways and in its markets. Some of the world’s most celebrated stupas — whitewashed temples resembling enormous birthday cakes crossed with spaceships — draw Buddhist monks and nuns and foreign tourists to the city’s crowded squares. Recordings of the Buddhist mantra “Om mani padme hum,” played by shopkeepers, echo through the narrow streets.
Since a wave of protests against Chinese rule that began in Tibet in March 2008, Nepal has been under increasing pressure from Beijing to take sterner measures against pro-Tibet demonstrations here, according to diplomats, government officials and human rights workers. A recent press statement by Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs appears to support the tougher stance: “Nepal stands firm not to allow any external forces to use its soil against its neighbors and it sticks to its One China policy.”
China accuses the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist spiritual leader, of trying to split Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India, has said that although he desires greater autonomy for Tibet, he does not advocate independence.