There is no independent monitoring of the Nepalese security forces on the border. Last year, CNN broadcast a video of unknown Chinese men in plain clothes harassing a CNN cameraman on the Nepalese side of the border while a guard stood by.
“We don’t really know what happens in border areas now,” International Campaign for Tibet researcher Kate Saunders said.
For China, the Mustang region is one of the most delicate border areas, given the history of the Khampa guerrilla resistance there and the flight through the kingdom in 1999 of the Karmapa Lama, who was secretly escaping to India from Tibet. The border now only opens on rare occasions for a market between Tibetans and local residents.
The people of Mustang could once cross into Tibet with a letter from the Nepalese king to make a pilgrimage to Mount Kailas, the holiest mountain in Tibetan Buddhist cosmology, but the Chinese cut that off 12 years ago.
“We’ve asked our government to try to reopen it,” Mustang Prince Jigme Singi Palbar Bista said. “Our people have always looked to the spiritual light of Tibet.”