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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

UN 'concerned' over Nepal's repatriation of Tibetans

July 29, 2010

By Claire Cozens
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
July 28, 2010

KATHMANDU -- Nepal has forcibly repatriated three
Tibetan refugees, the United Nations said on
Wednesday, adding it was "extremely concerned" by the move.

The UN refugee agency said it had written to the
Nepalese government about the incident in early
June, details of which were published in a report
by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

Two of the refugees -- a Buddhist monk and a
young woman -- are now in jail in Tibet after
they were detained in western Nepal and taken by
helicopter to the border, where they were met by
Chinese security forces, the ICT said.

Theirs is the first such case to be reported
since 2003, when 18 Tibetans, some of them
children, were detained by Nepalese police and
sent back to China in a move that sparked international condemnation.

"Three Tibetans were forcefully returned to China
from Nepal in early June 2010. It is a very
serious issue and we are extremely concerned,"
Nini Gurung, spokeswoman for the UN refugee
agency in Kathmandu, told AFP by email.

Thousands of Tibetans used to make the difficult
and dangerous journey to Nepal every year,
fleeing political and religious repression in China.

They have traditionally been given safe passage
through Nepal under an informal agreement between
the government and the UN refugee agency put in
place in 1989, when Nepal stopped giving them refugee status.

They are then given UN assistance to travel on to
India, where the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

But their numbers have fallen sharply since March
2008 riots in Tibet led China to strengthen
border security and increase pressure on
authorities in Nepal to stem the flow of refugees.

"Nepal is duty-bound under its own agreement with
the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) to
ensure the safe transit of Tibetan refugees
through its territory," said ICT president Mary Beth Markey.

"We urge the Nepal government and the UNHCR to
work together to investigate this incident,
including China's extra-territorial role, and to
adopt remedies that prevent future occurrences of
refoulement (forced return) from Nepal."

A spokesman for the home ministry in Nepal
declined to comment, saying he had no information
about any such incident, which involved two
Tibetan monks living in a monastery near the border and a 22-year-old woman.

China is a major donor to Nepal, and news of the
forced repatriations followed reports of a new
aid package designed to help its impoverished
neighbour improve border security.

The governments of the two countries will set up
a joint mechanism to help share intelligence on
"anti-China activities" in Nepal, the Kathmandu
Post daily reported, following a meeting of security officials in Kathmandu.

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