Nepal Retracts Permission for Tibet Monk’s Cremation

[The New York Times] KATMANDU, JULY 13: Under scrutiny from China, Nepal’s government announced on Sunday that it had retracted its permission to allow the cremation of a prominent spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism to be held on its territory.

The Nepali Embassy in India had issued a “no objection letter” allowing the body of Shamar Rinpoche, a high lama also known as the Shamarpa, to be taken to Nepal from India for the ceremony. But it reversed its decision after receiving directives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal’s capital, Katmandu.

Shamar Rinpoche, 62, died of a heart attack in Germany on June 11, and his body was scheduled to be brought to Nepal for cremation on Monday, in accordance with his wishes.

A spokesman for Nepal’s Home Ministry, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, acknowledged that the permission had been granted and then revoked. He said the “no objection letter,” as the permission is called, “was retracted after we came to know that Rinpoche was found possessing a Bhutanese diplomatic passport.”

Mr. Dhakal said Nepali law had no provision to allow for the transport of a foreigner’s body into the country. He added that pressure from China had played no part in the reversal.

Nepal, sandwiched between India and China, has long held to a “one China policy,” and officials, the police and political parties strictly prohibit activities considered to be “anti-China.”

Tibetan refugees in Katmandu were preparing for a rally in connection with the monk’s cremation. Tenzin Chokzin, a Tibetan refugee, said Shamar Rinpoche, a leader of one of the oldest branches of Tibetan Buddhism, had wished that the ritual be carried out in his own monastery in Katmandu.

A Buddhist scholar in Nepal, Sey Namkha Dorje, said he believed that Chinese officials had pressed Nepal to reverse its decision because they had heard that a representative of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, planned to accompany the body.

Born in 1952 in Tibet, Shamar Rinpoche was a frequent visitor to Nepal. Analysts said he had kept his distance from political protests related to Tibet, focusing his attention on religious and academic activities.

“In fact, the Tibetan community excluded him,” Mr. Dorje said. “It is unfortunate to politicize a dead man’s wish.”

The monk’s body was being held in the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute in New Delhi.


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