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Nepal yet to react to US diktat on Tibetan refugees

Free Tibetan Protestors detained by Nepal Police in this undated picture. (Reuters)

N24, KATHMANDU: Nepal is yet to react to US appeal that Tibetan refugees be treated well and given identity papers stopped since 1989.

The issue was taken up by Under Secretary for political affairs Wendy R Sherman with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Kathmandu last week.

There are nearly 20,000 Tibetan refugees staying in the country.

Sherman had told Bhattarai to provide the refugees necessary documents like identity cards so that they can lead a life of “dignity and purpose”.

Since Nepal had stopped issuing identity papers long back hundreds of Tibetan refugees have taken birth and grown up in Nepal without the right to travel, work and seek higher education.

“We also discussed making sure that documents are quickly put together to support refugees who are legitimately visiting the United States. I really felt the Prime Minister understood the issue and am sure it will get resolved,” Sherman had said during a media interaction.

The US official also asked Nepal to provide safe passage to Tibetans fleeing their homeland and making way to Dharamshala, the seat of the Dalai Lama in India.

Although Nepal had earlier agreed to allow transit of Tibetan refugees to India, it stopped honouring the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ following the Chinese crackdown in Tibet in 2008.

Under pressure from its northern neighbour and citing its One-China policy, authorities in Nepal arrest Tibetans entering the country and hand them over to Chinese or UN authorities.

According to estimates, nearly 2500 to 3000 Tibetans fled to India via Nepal every year prior to 2008. But since March 2008, the figure dropped to less than 1000 annually.

Tibetan refugees in Nepal also witness curtailment of freedom of expression as police impose restrictions on demonstrations and sometimes detain demonstrators.

But despite Sherman’s optimism on Bhattarai resolving the problems faced by Tibetan refugees, it is unlikely that the present regime in Kathmandu will do anything to upset China by granting documents to these exiles to make their lives easier.

Published Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 | 01:26 AM

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