US presses Nepal to provide ‘safe passage’ to Tibetan refugees
Amid complaints from Tibetan exiles that they were dealt harshly by the government, the United States has urged Nepal government to ensure that Tibetans refugees taking shelter in the Himalayan nation are dealt as per the international refugee laws.
Visiting US Department of State Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy R Sherman, on Thursday asked Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai to provide necessary documents to Tibetan refugees to help them lead a “life of dignity and purpose” and provide ‘safe passage’ to those who want to go to India and elsewhere as per the ‘gentleman agreement’
reached in the past.
Every year, hundreds of Tibetans arrive in Nepal sneaking across the hilly trails of the northern border mainly to go to India to meet their leader Dalai Lama or to flee to western countries including the US. Nepal has also been hosting some 20,000 Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet after their unsuccessful Tibetan uprising against Chinese rulers in 1959.
Addressing a press meet before wrapping up her two-day visit to Nepal on Thursday, Sherman said she discussed with Prime Minister Bhattarai about the concerns of Tibetan refugees to ensure that they have proper identifications so that they can lead a life of dignity and purpose here in Nepal. “We also discussed making sure that documents are quickly put together to support refugees who are legitimately visiting United States.”
Sherman said that lack of proper documents had made Tibetan refugees living here face problems while trying to find job or higher education or travel abroad. “We did talk with the prime minister about identity cards and documentations for Tibetan refugees,” she added.
Sherman had held a meeting with the representatives of Tibetan refugees living here in Kathmandu on Wednesday and listened to their concerns. “I really felt that the prime minister understood the issue.
I am sure the issues will get resolved,” she further said.
The issue of Tibetan refugees has come into the lime light lately after the refugees started staging ‘anti-China’ demonstration in Kathmandu since March, 2008, marking 50th anniversary of their failed uprising against Chinese rulers in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Concerned over security stability in the TAR due to activities of Tibetan refugees, People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been exerting pressure on Nepal to effectively curb the activities of Tibetan refugees and treat the Tibetans sneak into Nepal illegally as ‘illegal immigrants’.
Sherman arrived in Kathmandu on second leg of her tour of South Asian countries after India. The visit of Sherman marks the highest political visit from Washington since the visit of then Secretary of State Colin Powell to Nepal in January 2002. She is the third highest-ranking official at the US Department of State.
- Asian Tribune -