US lawmaker warns to stop millions of dollars in US AID if crack down on Tibetans’ movement continues in Nepal

File Photo: 2009
File Photo: Guardian 2009

A US lawmaker threatened to strip Nepal of its millions of dollars in US aid unless it permits refugees fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet to transit through the country, according to an AFP report.

The warning comes few days after Nepal’s riot police arrested at least 35 Tibetan refugees from pro-Tibet demonstration in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur on Tuesday.

The Tibetan exiles were held while demonstrating by performing prayers in the memory of the late monks who lost their lives during the free-Tibet movement.

Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into exile, but the country has increasingly cracked down on Tibetans’ movement and activities out of fear of upsetting its giant neighbor to the north, the report said.

Representative Frank Wolf, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee that determines US funding, said he would try to block funding to Nepal unless it grants exit visas to Tibetans who seek refuge in the United States.

“We’re not just going to cut them, we’re going to zero them out,” Wolf, a Republican from Virginia and outspoken critic of China, was quoted as saying by AFP

“If they’re not willing to do it, then they don’t share our values and if they don’t share our values, we do not want to share our dollars,” he told a congressional hearing on Tibet.

Wolf said he would propose the aid cutoff if Nepal’s record does not improve by the time the United States looks at foreign aid funding next year.

Human rights groups have frequently accused Nepal of arbitrary arrests and harassment of Tibetans. In July, Nepal prevented its 20,000-strong Tibetan community from celebrating the birthday of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The United States has supported Nepal as the Himalayan nation recovers from a bloody decade-long civil war.

The US Agency for International Development says it sought $57.7 million for Nepal in the 2010 fiscal year and that its efforts to provide the developing nation’s children with Vitamin A have averted some 15,000 deaths a year.

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