Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The Nepalese government has decided to withhold documents, and even the status of "refugee" to Tibetans who arrive on its territory from China. Although for decades Kathmandu has been the traditional "corridor" to Dharamsala - the Indian city, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of the Dalai Lama - pressure from Beijing has convinced the government to make a U-turn. Human rights activists complain: "Refugees have been sold out in the name of the economy".
Shes Narayan Poudel, chief
of the National Commission for the
Coordination of refugees, confirms: "We have decided to no longer provide
identity cards to Tibetan refugees. If we continue to recognize them as such, we will face new waves
of immigration. And we have no
more space." Without official recognition, the refugees in Nepal
are not allowed to move from relief camps, much less work. There are about
20 thousand Tibetans in the
country, spread across 21 centers.
An anonymous government source said: "The Chinese government has exerted a lot of pressure on the Nepalese to stop this practice. According to Beijing, these people cannot be considered political refugees because there is no religious or ethnic repression in Tibet. China also wants Nepal to deport those who see asylum".
According to several human rights activists, the question is purely economic. Right now Kathmandu is pursuing a policy of rapprochement with China after years of cooperation with India and do not want to irritate the new potential partners. However, the situation of Tibetans in Nepal and this government's decision has provoked outrage from civil society.
Human rights activist Subidh Pykurel says: "The government should treat equally all those who seek protection. Without documents, the refugees have been living under a sort of house arrest and that's not right". University lecturer Kapil Shresth adds: "The worst situation is that of parents, with papers, who have children without papers. You cannot ignore international law, the government needs to rethink this decision."