News and Views on Tibet

Agreement between Nepal-China raises concern for Tibetan refugees

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Tibetan refugees being man-handled by Nepalese police in Nepal in March 2014 (Photo/AP)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, Sept 28: Following the meeting between Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, Beijing and Kathmandu have jointly issued a statement on Tuesday that emphasised Nepal’s renewed commitments to China over matters related to Tibet and Tibetans.

The joint statement between Nepal and China reflected the two country’s commitment to certain principles in their bilateral relations that pertain to Tibetan affairs which include boundary management and commitment to restrict anti-China activities in Nepal. The joint systems said that both countries will “undertake a joint inspection of the China-Nepal boundary” while recognising the significance of “law enforcement cooperation for the security of both countries”. It also emphasised the importance of “information exchange, capacity building and cooperation” to enhance the capabilities of their law enforcement institutions.

The move has raised concerns among advocacy groups, including the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). The advocacy group said it has the potential to endanger the safety of Tibetan refugees, including the few who manage to cross into Nepal, as it could lead to their potential deportation without adequate legal protection in Nepal. Furthermore, the agreement may also involve provisions that enable Chinese authorities to obtain information on fleeing Tibetans from the Kathmandu administration.

The advocacy group stressed that any agreement pertaining to boundary management or border security should take into consideration international humanitarian principles and the rights of refugees, including the ‘principle of non-refoulement,’ which prohibits the deportation of individuals to a place where they may face persecution or harm.

In recent times, the decreasing number of Tibetans escaping from Tibet through Nepal can be attributed to China’s intensified security measures along the border regions and its broader crackdown within Tibet as well as Nepal’s co-operation to restrict Tibetan refugees entering its boundaries. The influx of refugees from Tibet significantly decreased following the Chinese government’s response to the pan-Tibet protests in 2008.

The joint statement further reiterated Nepal’s commitment to “never allow any separatist activities against China on Nepal’s soil” indicating Nepal’s stance on not supporting or allowing any actions that would undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China’s statement stated that it “firmly supports Nepal in upholding its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”

Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is scheduled to visit Tibet, with a possible visit date of September 29, according to multiple sources. 

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