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Nepal alters policy regarding Tibetan exiles

September 12, 2008

By Journalist Manesh Shrestha

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- The Nepalese government has begun checking 
the legal status of protesting Tibetan exiles -- an apparent change in 
policy, authorities said Thursday.

Until now, police removed the Tibetan protesters, held them in custody 
for a few hours and released them in the evening.

But 111 Tibetan exiles taken into custody on Tuesday and Wednesday for 
protesting in front of the Chinese embassy's visa office were handed 
over to immigration officials, police said.

"Our policy is not to let any activities against friendly nations," 
said Home Ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel Thursday. "Despite our 
continued warnings not to be involved in anti-Chinese activities they 
did not listen to us."

Immigration officials told CNN that the usual practice regarding 
Tibetans is to hand them over to the United Nations Refugee Agency 
A Tibetan activist said none of the 111 people have refugee status 
identification cards.

Nepal's policy is not to issue refugee status cards to those arriving 
after 1990. It maintains that Tibet is part of China.

Tibetan exiles have been protesting almost every day in front of the 
Chinese embassy offices here, demanding improved human rights in Tibet 
since the Chinese crackdown in March.

The exile community in Nepal numbers an estimated 15,000 to 20,000.
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