09/12/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Kathmandu to expel anti-China Tibetan refugees

by Kalpit Parajuli
Nepal’s Maoist government heeds Chinese demands and publicly announces measures against pro-Tibet protesters. Anyone without a refugee certificate, which the authorities have not released at least since 1995, will come under tight controls and will be expelled from the country.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Panic is growing among the hundreds of Tibetans who live in Nepal without a government-issued refugee certificate. Nepal’s home affairs minister has announced his intention to subject all illegal immigrants to tight police controls and expel them if necessary. The measure could touch up to 30 per cent of the 20,000 Tibetan refugees living Nepal in four camps in Pokhara because they entered the country illegally or were never granted a refugee certificate.

Some sources say that Tibetans who entered Nepal before 1989 were given certificates. Others say that some were granted until 1995. None has been granted ever since.

The decision by Home Affairs Minister Bamdev Gautam appears to indicate that the small Himalayan nation is coming under increasing Chinese influence. Nepal’s government is under growing pressure from its neighbour to curb anti-China protests and withdraw protection from Tibetan refugees who found refugee in the Nepali capital.

Immigration officials yesterday handed over 106 pro-Tibet protesters to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) for verification of their refugee status. The former refused to co-operate with police during their interrogation to determine their status.

According to intelligence sources the 106 are from Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and took active part in demonstrations in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu which reached a crescendo in the days just before the Beijing Olympics. Nepali authorities had to deploy 400 police and security agents to contain the demonstrators.

Sources told AsiaNews that Nepali authorities are planning even more restrictive measures for Tibetan refugees. So far though, no details have been forthcoming.

The Home Affairs Ministry said that protests by Tibetan refugees are being fomented by US and European NGOs.

In this case too the government source did not provide names of the organisations targeted by the government but warned that in the future similar situations would no longer be tolerated.

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