Kai Müller and Martin Reiner of the International Campaign for Tibet submitting a petition to the Nepalese embassy in Berlin on June 20, 2013, World Refugee Day. (Photo/ICT)
DHARAMSHALA, June 22: Coinciding with World Refugee Day, Tibet campaigners in Germany on Thursday called on Nepal to respect the fundamental rights of Tibetan refugees living in the Himalayan country.
The International Campaign for Tibet submitted a petition to the Nepalese embassy in Berlin, signed by 5,000 supporters, urging Kathmandu to “respect the right to freedom of expression of Tibetans in Nepal, stop deportation of escaping Tibetans to Tibet, and provide a safe passage to Tibetans fleeing Tibet on their onward journey to India.”
In recent years Nepal has increasingly clamped down on the cultural and political expression of its Tibetan community numbering over 20,000. The country’s increasing dependence on China for financial aid has meant that the freedom of Tibetan refugees have been curtailed. Several Tibetans caught trying to escape Tibet through Nepal have been repatriated in recent years.
While thanking Nepal for offering protection to Tibetan refugees in the past, ICT expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of Tibetans in Nepal, caused primarily by “strong pressure from the Chinese government.”
Kathmandu, which officially follows the ‘one-China policy,’ has promised Beijing to prevent any anti-China activities on its soil.
“Nepal should not give in to this pressure and must comply with international human rights law,” Kai Müller of the ICT said. “The large number of signatories to the petition submitted to the Nepalese Embassy is an impressive sign of support for the Tibetan cause in Germany."
Earlier this year, on February 13, Drupchen Tsering, 25, who came into exile from Tibet, set himself on fire in Nepal's capital city Kathmandu protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. He passed away on the same day with 96 percent burns.
Druptse's body was then later declared "unclaimed" and was secretly cremated by Nepalese police at Pashupatinath cremation site despite repeated appeals and protests by exile Tibetans to hand over the body.
The global rights group, Human Rights Watch, in its annual report released in February cited that Nepal's failures on human rights included a lack of movement on measures to improve the rights of women, children, and Tibetan refugees.
HRW accused Nepal of increasing restrictions on Tibetan refugees under pressure from the Chinese government and noted that the country continued to deny Tibetans the right to openly celebrate their holidays, including the Tibetan New Year and the Dalai Lama's birthday.
World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations on June 20 to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
A UN report released ahead of World Refugee Day finds that we’re experiencing the worst refugee crisis in nearly two decades. More than 45.2 million people have been displaced from their homes because of conflict or violence, up from 42.5 million a year earlier, making it the highest number since 1994.