Despite self-styled Tibet freedom fighter Jeff Greenwald's assertion (#151) that Ethical Traveler has called off the tourism boycott, I notice that he is giving interviews to all and sundry saying it is still on. In Ethical Traveler's own website, it doesn't appear that the boycott has been witheld. Ethical Traveler should clarify this issue and Greenwald should stop contradicting himself in his media appearances.
Tshering Lama, Seattle
. Jeff Greenwald has specifically "withdrawn" his boycott of tourism in Nepal in a letter to you (#151), but he is still giving interviews to the San Francisco Chronicle (29 June) advocating the boycott. As has been explained by other contributors to your paper, sanctions would make life worse in Nepal for Tibetans. Your readers have also pointed out the severe costs to the Nepali economy will hurt the ordinary people (Nepalis and Tibetans alike) who depend on tourism. Greenwald has accepted these, so why does he keep giving more interviews calling for a boycott?
Janet Simmons, email
. I agree that a tourism boycott of Nepal may hurt ordinary Nepalis more than sending the needed message to Nepali policy makers concerning their attitude towards Tibetan refugees ('Tibet,Tibet', #150). However, it may be simplistic to look at the problem merely as the case of the refoulement of 18 Tibetans.
As someone who has been monitoring Nepali and Tibetan issues I know we need to take a broader perspective and see what the solution is. On the whole, Nepal has been good to the Tibetan refugees, providing over 20,000 of my brethren with home and space when they needed it the most. Even today several thousand Tibetans continue to live and prosper in different parts of Nepal, many even contributing significantly to the country's economy. Nepal has been expecting Tibetans to follow the laws of the land and that is something that Tibetans understand and appreciate.
There are two aspects to Nepal's attitude towards Tibetans. First is the treatment of Tibetans escaping from Tibet along the Nepal border. While several thousand Tibetans have enjoyed Nepali humanitarian assistance and have been able to live in freedom in Nepal as well as in other parts of the world, there have been cases when escaping Tibetans have undergone problems, including physical abuse, monetary coercion and deportation. Thus, the recent refoulement of the 18 Tibetans was part of what some feared might become a trend.
Second is Nepal's attitude towards Tibetans legally residing in the country. The problem arose several years back when a section of Nepali bureaucrats started clamping down on lawful activities of the Tibetans in Nepal. What hurt the Tibetans the most was when the Nepali authorities did not permit them to even observe traditional and customary festivals like the birthday of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan National Day. In fact, such bans have been sources of concern for a large section of Nepal's Buddhist population who are ethnic Tibetans. The Tibetan psyche was hurt when representatives of the Dalai Lama in Kathmandu were even detained without any provocation in the past when Chinese leaders visited Nepal.
Tibetans have always been aware of the pressure on Nepal as a result of being sandwiched between two Asian giants. They are not asking Nepal to either perform or permit political activities, which will place the country's security and stability at risk. Although Nepal is not a party to the UN convention relating to the status of refugees, it has been providing a safe haven to Tibetans, and this should be continued.
I do not subscribe to the theory that the international outcry "will spark new tensions between the Nepali and Tibetan communities". The tension has already been there for so long. It is only that the Tibetans have been understanding of Nepal's situation that they have not been making a big case so far. The writers only need to talk to ordinary Tibetans in Nepal privately and informally to see how they feel about the situation.
The recent international outcry is not solely on account of the deportation of 18 Tibetans but symbolises the concern of well-wishers of the Tibetan people at the negative aspect of Nepal's treatment of Tibetan refugees as a whole. This is the time for introspection to see if part of the blame is not with the Nepali official attitude towards Tibetans. Tibetans are victims in the current development and should not be blamed for seeking external support.
As a country having historical and traditional links with Tibet, Nepal can contribute significantly in enabling Tibetans to reside lawfully and in freedom in Nepal. Already there are signs of Tibet-China detente with envoys of the Dalai Lama visiting China. As and when there is a solution to the Tibetan issue, Tibetans on the other side of the border will remain forever grateful to the assistance rendered by Nepal and its people.
Bhuchung K Tsering,
. The lack of protests in Nepal against the deportation of the 18 Tibetan refugees is appalling. There have been protests in the west, but what about protests from our own leaders and the general public? All the actors in our Nepali stage have profited from refugee status at one time or the other. Imagine what would have happened if the Indian authorities had bundled up King Tribhuban, and had sent him back in 1950. If the Nepali Congress and the leftist leaders had been handed over to the Panchayat regime from their sanctuary in India? If the Nepali Maoist leaders in India gathered together and turned over to Kathmandu? Or even if all the Nepalis working in India or abroad as economic refugees were sent back? The country is going through difficult times now. But the utter lack of humanity exhibited by our leaders in throwing out the refugees shows a lack of moral fabric. Perhaps it is this lack of basic morality that is at the root of what is wrong with this country's rulers.
. I was shocked to read that Ethical Traveler has announced a tourism boycott of Nepal. This it totally unacceptable and it will make a huge negative impact to Nepal. Nepal's main source of income and employment is the tourism industry, and a proposed boycott will hurt a lot of people. Nepal has been giving refuge to Tibetans and Bhutanis even though most Nepalis live below the poverty line.
A boycott will never solve the problem. Why doen't Ethical Traveler take action against China-the ultimate guilty party here? Is it because China is a powerful country?