By Choekyi Lhamo
Tibetans protesting at Chinese Consulate in Kathmandu being manhandled by Nepalese police (2012) file
DHARAMSHALA, NOV. 21: US Congressmen, led by James P. McGovern and Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, have urged the Nepal government to protect the human rights of Tibetans under Nepalese jurisdiction. In a letter addressed to Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki, the Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to the United States, they have urged Nepal to respect and protect the rights of the Tibetan refugees in the Himalayan region, especially in the light of the improving ties between China and Nepal.
Along with the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, members of the US parliament including Eliot L. Engel, Michael T. McCaul, David E. Price, Vern Buchanan, Pramila Jayapal and Steve Chabot signed the letter addressed to the ambassador.
Tibetan refugees in Nepal being manhandled by Nepalese police
The members of Parliament acknowledged the urgency to address these issues in order to curb the unfair treatment of Tibetans living or exiled in Nepal, their official statement said, “Mr. Ambassador, these recent news items have deepened our long-standing concern for Tibetans in Nepal, who are now living under increasingly stringent restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression and are often denied the documentation needed to attend school, seek employment, run businesses, or travel abroad. Nepal’s stated determination not to allow any “anti-China activities on its soil” cannot justify restrictions on fundamental, civil and political rights. Nor is it tenable that many Tibetans who fled to Nepal after 1989 are essentially stateless, whereas those Tibetans who arrived between 1959 and 1989 were recognized and registered as refugees by your government. However, since 1989 that has not been the case- a situation that increases Tibetans’ vulnerability to mistreatment.”
The letter stated the deportation of 6 Tibetans from Nepal to Tibet on September 5, the prospect of an extradition treaty between Nepal and PRC, and the recent crackdown on Tibetan elderly homes prior to Xi Jinping’s Nepal visit. It called out the deportation to be a violation of a long-standing “Gentlemen’s Agreement” between Nepal and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Moreover, in mid-October, Nepalese police cracked down on the Tibetan community by closing monasteries, preemptively detaining a number of Tibetans, locking down the Jawalakhel Tibetan refugee settlement and closely monitoring Tibetan homes for the elderly.
The controversial extradition treaty between China and Nepal is still yet to be signed but it has been laden with positive connotations of agreement between the two parties. It has been a cause of concern for Tibetans since China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to India and Nepal. They have shared their concerns over the mistreatment of Tibetan refugees and its implication on the Tibetan diaspora living in Nepal.
Since the official roll-back of Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill, Tibetans living in exile have been concerned with the treaty being signed between the two parties concerned. The mistreatment of Tibetans in Nepal has been noted for a long time as they have been barred from participating in any political activities, especially on the Tibetan Uprising Day (10th March), and also recently banned them from celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday (6th July) this year.