By Tenzin Sangmo
A Tibetan talks to RFI
DHARAMSHALA, May 29: The dismantling of a migrant camp with Tibetan asylum seekers by authorities in the French town of Conflans, 30 km from Paris have left many homeless, reports Radio France Internationale (RFI).
The Tibetan asylum seekers were until then living in an informal settlement with around 100 tents in the nearby woodland on the Bank of River Seine.
The rehousing of migrants could only accommodate 120 out of 200 Tibetans due to the shortage of beds in state-run hostels and lack of host families, leaving the remaining 80 to move on somewhere else.
Tashi, who claims he fled Tibet earlier this year said he made his way into neighbouring Nepal.
“From there he took four flights, walked for days and travelled for several hours in a car boot to reach France.”
Most Tibetans living in the camp reportedly expressed confidence that they will be given a ten-year visa that allows them to work but the challenge is to navigate through the massive amounts of paperwork in French, a language the Tibetan refugees are alien to.
A barge called “Je Sers,” a kilometre upstream, run by a Catholic charity has become an unlikely refuge for Tibetans and other refugees trying to familiarize their way through French bureaucracy.
“It is very important they learn how to be independent, and that they have something to do while their papers are processed,” explains Father Protais Kabila, a volunteer priest at the barge that also has volunteer French teachers helping refugees learn the language.
The human rights violations faced by Tibetans under China have resulted in many Western countries like Belgium, France, Germany, the US, Canada and Switzerland granting asylums.
All these countries now have sizeable Tibetan populations although the governments of these countries rarely challenge China on its human rights record in Tibet for fear of Chinese sanctions.