(TibetanReview.net, Jan26’21) – Nepal has claimed to protect from refoulment and “treat well” the around 20,000 Tibetan refugees living in the country without any official status when the issue was raised at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The occasion was the 37th session of the UN rights body’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which began on Jan 18 and which examined Nepal’s third report on Jan 21.
During the session, which was held online in view of the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the lack of status for Tibetan refugees living in Nepal was among the issues raised at the hearing.
In particular, the United States delegation urged Nepal to “register and verify” all Tibetans “followed by the issuance of identity documents with the formal rights to work and access to services”. However, there was no answer from Nepal on this issue.
Nepal was also asked to “implement” and uphold its Gentlemen’s Agreement with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and ensure “safe passage” of Tibetan new arrivals “through its territory” and “implement any legal agreements with China consistent with the principle of non-refoulment”.
Mr Shanker Das Bairagi, a delegate from Office of Prime Minister and Council of Minister of the Government of Nepal, has said his government ensured the principle of non-refoulment.
He has also claimed that refugees in Nepal were “treated well” on the basis of Nepalese “humanitarian tradition”, adding Kathmandu will “continue to display” the humanitarian tradition.
And Mr Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affair, has expressed commitment to address the genuine concerns and the implementations of UPR recommendations in a “coordinated, cooperative and result-oriented manner.”
Under pressure from China, as well as by way of reassuring Beijing, Nepal cracks down severely on Tibetans whenever they are deemed to carry out perceived anti-China activities, such as celebrating the birthday of HH the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader who has lived in India since China completed its full annexation of Tibet in 1959.