Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Nepal arrests 6 fleeing Tibetans

Phayul[Tuesday, January 04, 2011 14:18]
By Kalsang Rinchen

Dharamsala, January 4 – The Nepalese police have arrested six Tibetans -- four men and two women -- Sunday night from Sindhupalchowk district near its border with Tibet as they were entering the country, media reports said.

The six did not have any travel documents, and were arrested around midnight on Sunday, police said Monday.

The group was handed over to immigration authorities for investigation and necessary action, they said.

This is the first arrest of escaping Tibetans in the New Year after the whistleblower website Wikileaks showed an unnamed source as telling American officials that "Beijing has asked Kathmandu to step up patrols of Nepali border forces and make it more difficult for Tibetans to enter Nepal".

The leaked cable revealed that "The Chinese government rewards (Nepali forces) by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China."

Hundreds of Tibetans risk their lives by making dangerous journey across the mountainous border into Nepal every year. Nepal, which has no asylum laws, had recently beefed security along its border with Tibet making it hard for Tibetans to escape.

According to media reports from Nepal, China has lately asked Nepal to deploy around 10,000 security personnel along the Sino-Nepal border to guard against fleeing Tibetans and infiltration into Tibet, according to security sources. Beijing has also assured all possible assistance needed to make the arrangements.

Past estimates suggest between 2,500 and 3,000 Tibetans escape Tibet and enter Nepal each year on their way to the seat of Tibetan Government-in-Exile here in north India. The number has slowed down dramatically since 2008 after Nepal beefed up security along its border with Tibet following 'Chinese pressure'.

In the past, there have been several arrests of Tibetan refugees from various border districts of Nepal but they were ultimately handed over to the UN refugee agency after being kept in police custody for some time. Nepal has handed some of the fleeing refugees to Chinese authorities last year, prompting international outcry.

Acting under heavy Chinese influence, the Nepalese government has over intensified its security to prevent Tibetan activists from taking part in peaceful demonstrations on its soil.

Nepalese government came under strong criticism for its handling of protests by Tibetans in 2008 when Tibetans in Kathmandu staged continued protests against the crackdown of Tibetan protesters in Tibet by Chinese security forces. 

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