Nepal ramps up control on Tibetan refugees, develops database in a surveillance bid
[Wednesday, March 13, 2019 17:51]
By Tenzin Dharpo

Nepalese police manhandling peaceful Tibetan protestors in kathmandu. Photo- Reuters
Nepalese police manhandling peaceful Tibetan protestors in kathmandu. Photo- Reuters
DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 13: In what is seen as a bid to control and monitor the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal, the government there is reportedly in the process of developing a database of Tibetans in the country.

The Kathmandu government has begun collecting details of Tibetans and recording the same on software, reported earlier last month. The report did not elaborate on the purposes of the database.

The Nepalese government which is known to be strong ally of China and under its lucrative patronage has attracted scepticism on the issue with observers saying that the database will serve to monitor the Tibetan community and curb anti-china activities at Beijing’s behest.

Experts also say that the database will limit the number of Tibetan refugees fleeing Tibet through their border. Measures such as this will further choke crucial routes of Tibetan refugees who are already disadvantaged by the Chinese government pushing for joint security patrols along the Nepal-China border points. Increasingly militarised borders and strict deportation practices, among other factors, have meant that the number of Tibetans crossing into exile has dwindled drastically over the years.

According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, less than 50 Tibetans crossed into exile and reached Dharamshala, the exile seat of the Tibetan government in exile in the year 2017. In 2018, only 80 Tibetans have arrived in 2017, a senior Tibetan official from the CTA said.

Despite being one of the 147 nations that have signed the United Nations Convention on the protection of Refugees which guarantees refugee populations certain rights, Tibetans refugees and their children who were born in the country remains undocumented pushing them to the fringe of the society as far as basic rights are concerned.

Nepal which is home to more than 20,000 Tibetans who either came across the border or were born to settlers, are finding it hard to sustain a free and normal existence. The Nepalese government’s treatment of the Tibetan refugees has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years with China pumping in cheap interest loans and relaxed FDR (Foreign Direct Investment) schemes in exchange for its will to be imposed.

Nepal stands to gain lucrative investments from the booming Chinese market. In the tourism sector alone, Chinese investors committed over $8.3 billion to several tourism-related projects in the coming years, during the Nepal Investment Summit held in Kathmandu in March 2017.

However, human rights experts and international communities have pointed that such gains are secured on Nepal’s harsh treatment of the Tibetan community there and at the cost of human rights for them.

The Nepalese government has publicly spoken on the issue when then foreign minister of Nepal, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, during a visit to Beijing in March 2016, said that they, “will never allow any forces to use Nepali territory to engage in anti-China activity."