(TibetanReview.net, Apr02, 2014) – The situation for the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal has markedly deteriorated since China’s violent crackdown on protests in Tibet in 2008, said New York-based Human Rights Watch Apr 1 as it released a 100-page report on the issue. The report, titled as ‘Under China’s Shadow: Mistreatment of Tibetans in Nepal’, outlines the increasing restrictions imposed on Tibetans in the country as a result of strong pressure exerted by China.
The international human rights group urged Nepal to uphold its legal obligations towards Tibetans, especially those under the terms of a “Gentleman’s Agreement” signed between it and the office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Under it, Nepal had guaranteed to provide Tibetans who reach its territory from their occupied homeland a safe passage to India.
The report expresses concern that as a result of a massive Chinese security presence in Tibetan areas and increased cooperation between Nepalese and Chinese security forces in recent years, China has been able to stem the flow of Tibetan refugees escaping to Nepal. It notes that in 2013, fewer than 200 Tibetans were recorded as having fled their occupied homeland, far less than the pre-2008 annual average of more than 2,000.
The report says Nepal continues to deny at least half the number of Tibetans in the country, including all those born there, any kind of identity document, leaving them more vulnerable to increased surveillance, monitoring, and abuse by police or the criminal justice system. Besides, it is harder for Tibetans to obtain documentation that would allow them to go to school, seek employment, run businesses, travel abroad, or engage in other activities, the report adds.
The report also says there have been sharp increases in restrictions on public activities promoting Tibetan culture and religion, and routine abuses by Nepali security forces.
“While good relations with China are important, restricting basic rights crosses a red line. It not only undermines efforts to uphold a very fragile rule of law in Nepal, it also encourages politically motivated policing and impunity for abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.