DHARAMSHALA, November 24: News is now surfacing of yet another incidence of repatriation of fleeing Tibetan refugees by Nepali authorities to China occupied Tibet.
According to the Washington based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), Nepal forcibly returned a 20-year old Tibetan refugee back to Tibet from its border in September this year.
The youth named Tashi belonging to a nomadic family in rural Biru County, Nagchu, central Tibet is currently believed to be lodged in a prison in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
In a release dated November 23, ICT says that two of Tashi’s friends, who had made the escape from Tibet together and were later separated upon entering the Nepalese border, came to know of Tashi’s detention by Nepali police and his consequent handing over to the Chinese authorities.
“According to several sources connected to the incident, Tashi is now being held in detention in Lhasa,” the release said.
Expressing fear for Tashi’s safety, ICT noted that the forcible return or refoulement of refugees to a place where their lives or freedoms could be threatened “violates a fundamental norm of international law”.
“Returning of Tibetan refugees back to Chinese occupied Tibet is in contravention of established protocol between the government of Nepal and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that provides for the safe transit of Tibetan refugees through Nepalese territory and onward to India,” ICT said.
The two Tibetans, along with 23 other Tibetans detained during the same time for at least 12 days were later handed over to UNHCR, despite pressure from the Chinese embassy to return them to the People’s Republic of China.
In June 2010, Nepali authorities came under international criticism for forcibly returning three Tibetans, two monks and a woman to Tibet, who were later imprisoned for up to six months. The Tibetans were sent back in an extraordinary way, involving flying them back in a helicopter under the escort of a Nepali politician.
The revelation comes at a time when Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Narayankaji Shrestha is currently on an official visit to China occupied Tibet where he reportedly thanked the Government of China for its support and pledged to not allow any “anti-Chinese activities” on Nepali soil.
The Nepali delegation is slated to meet the governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Pema Thinley to prepare ground work for Chinese Premier Wen Jaibo’s visit to Kathmandu in December.