The ICJ today called on the Nepalese Government to release the body of Tibetan Monk Karma Nyidon Gyasto to the Tibetan community to carry out his last rites in accordance with Nepal’s laws and international obligations.
“We are deeply concerned about this rejection of Nepal’s laws and its international obligations,” said Asia Director Sam Zarifi.
On 5 August 2013, a Tibetan refugee, Karma Nyidon Gyasto self-immolated at the Boudha Stupa, in Kathmandu. He was taken to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, where he was later declared dead. His body is apparently being held in the hospital’s mortuary.
On 12 August 2013, the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, registered an application to the Office of the Chief District Officer in Kathmandu to perform funeral rites. The Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office is acting on behalf of Gyatso given the lack of clear legal status of the resident Tibetan refugee community.
This is the second protest by self-immolation in Nepal. The first was in February 2013. In that case the government refused to hand over the body for funeral rites.
The refusal to hand over the body contravenes Nepal’s national laws.
The Interim Constitution, under Article 23 guarantees the right to religion, including the right to practice and perform religious rites.
Furthermore Article 17 provides that every community in Nepal has the right to preserve and promote its culture.
The action also contravenes Nepal’s international obligations.
Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides for the right to a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Furthermore, General Comment No 22 on Article 18 of the ICCPR states that this right includes ritual and ceremonial acts.
Under the Covenant, the Government of Nepal is obliged to respect and ensure the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan refugee community, who have a legitimate right to receive the body and hold a funeral according to their religion and culture.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director, (Bangkok), t: +66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org