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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

THE TIBET ISSUE: Interview with Home Minister of Nepal

September 22, 2008

http://www.mikeldunham.blogs.com/


DUNHAM: Last week it was announced that Tibetans who do not have 
refugee certificate (RC) cards face deportation. It's reported that 
those Tibetans who are currently detained at the Tibetan Reception 
Center - those who lack RC cards -- will be sent on to India. Does 
that mean that India has been designated as the standard destination 
for Tibetans without legal residence status, or is it also possible 
that Tibetans could be deported to China sometime in the future?

HOME MINISTER GAUTAM: Nepal is a country that has a very close and 
friendly relationship with both of its neighbors, India and China. We 
have enjoyed this relationship for a long time. From the very 
beginning, we have not let anyone use Nepal territory as the base for 
anti-Indian or anti-Chinese activities. Nepal has always been 
consistent in honoring this policy. We will continue to do so.

Regarding the Tibetan refugees: They have been living in Nepal for a 
long time. We have provided them with identity cards. However, we 
cannot continue to keep all the Tibetans who arrive in Nepal as 
refugees.

The Nepalese government recognized those who came at the beginning, 
especially those who arrived during the 1960s, as refugees. We have 
limited capacity to take care of refugees, so it must be limited to 
those who are recognized as refugees. All other Tibetans who come to 
Nepal, we hand them over to the UNHCR and, in turn, the UNHCR takes 
them to India. Once in India, the UNHCR coordinates with the Dalai 
Lama's office in Dharamsala, where they will be settled. We do not 
send them to India ourselves.

In the recent past, [since March 2008] Tibetans in Nepal have become 
involved in many activities [that have been problematic to the 
Nepalese government]. We told them that, while they are living in 
Nepal as refugees, they should honor the law of the land. We told them 
that they were not allowed to be involved with whatever they desired. 
We made ourselves clear on that point.

If they break the law, we arrest them and hand them over to the 
refugee camp and warn them against getting involved with such 
activities again.

Regarding the Tibetans who lack RC cards: They cannot be involved in 
any unlawful activities. If they do so, they are abusing the Nepalese 
government's friendliness and openness, which the government has 
extended to them.

If they are involved in such activities, we have been arresting and 
handing them over the UNHCR. We arrested those who were protesting in 
front of the Chinese embassy and then we talked to them. It was at 
this time that we discovered that none of them were refugees living in 
Nepal. As a result, we handed them over to the UNHCR. That is what we 
did.

We have not arrested nor deported any Tibetans to China. We will not 
deport them to China.

DUNHAM: In the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese 
and Nepalis very effectively sealed off the northern border of Nepal 
in an effort to prevent movement between Tibet and Nepal. Will the 
northern border of Nepal remain sealed now that Olympics are over?

HOME MINISTER GAUTAM: We tightened the Nepali-Chinese border because 
of the Beijing Olympics. Chinese officials closely monitored all the 
border points. At the request of the Chinese government, Nepal also 
tightened those border points.

Some people tried to disturb the march of the Olympic torch to the 
summit of Mt. Everest. In order to prevent that from happening, it was 
necessary for us to tighten security measures.

But it will not remain like that forever. We are in the process of 
easing those measures.

The Nepal government will request that the Chinese government do the 
same on their side. Some of the border points have already returned to 
normality. For example, the Tatopani border point, the border in 
Mustang, and in Humla [a northwestern district] have become very easy 
[to cross]. The Nepalese government sincerely hopes that, soon, all 
the border points where there was public movement along the Nepali-
Chinese border will be as before [the Olympics].
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