By Tendar Tsering
The Tibetans, mostly in their teens, come out of the department of Immigration, Kathmandu, Nepal, 22/09/2011
DHARAMSHALA September 22: Twenty three Tibetans detained since September 11 in Nepal for "illegally crossing" into the country have been released Thursday into the care of the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees after protests from rights groups.
Following a huge international outcry over Nepal's delay in handing over 23 Tibetans Nepal has upheld the "Gentlemen's Agreement" under which the Nepal government would hand over Tibetans who enter Nepalese territory from Tibet to the UNHCR.
The Nepalese border police arrested 20 Tibetans on September 11 at Bajura district, western Nepal and 3 Tibetans on September 13 from Barabise, Sindupalchowk district, north-central Nepal.
Rights groups claimed that the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has written to Nepal government demanding that the Tibetans be released into Chinese custody for return to Tibet days back.
Tibetan exile rights groups had urged the Nepal government to respect the U.N. Torture Convention, which bans the forcible return of a refugee to a country where there is a credible fear that torture could be employed.
Tibetan right activists allege that Nepal's delay in releasing the Tibetans to UNHCR was caused by China's interference and feared that the Tibetans might be repatriated. The activists however welcomed the move.