China Paying Nepal to Arrest Tibetan Refugees

The text is over a year old, but we need to remember and keep Tibet alive and fresh in our thoughts. By forgetting or turning our backs, we give China permission to continue erasing Tibetan believes and culture.

A document from Wikileaks last year sent by an unnamed political officer at the American Embassy in New Delhi on February 22, is based on conversations with two people whose names were also not revealed. It reveals the problem Tibetans face when crossing the border over to Nepal. The border is 1,414 km and with 34 major passes. Each year, dozens of refugees try to cross over, both via road and the snow-clad passes, facing grave threats to their lives.

The memo says that the reason the number of Tibetan refugees fleeing to India dropped dramatically since 2008 is because China is paying money to Nepal police to arrest them from the border areas. Titled “Update on Tibetan refugee flow”, the confidential memo says that each year, an average of 2,500 to 3,500 refugees from Tibet arrive in Dharamsala in northern India, where exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama has his government-in-exile. The sources said that from 1980 to November 2009, 87,096 refugees were processed by the Dharamsala reception centre for Tibetan refugees and 46,620 returned to Tibet after a short pilgrimage in India and an audience with the Dalai Lama.

In Nepal, China has stepped up “cooperation” on border security, training Nepal’s border forces to prevent “criminal” and “anti-China” activities.
Most of those who stay on in India are children who take admission in schools run by Tibetan Children’s Villages since the Chinese government doesn’t allow them to receive education the Tibetan way in China-controlled Tibet.

Both the sources highlighted to the political officer at the US embassy that, following the March 2008 uprising in Tibet, the number of refugees had “markedly decreased”, with only about 650 refugees arriving at the reception centre from April 2008 to March 2009.

One of the sources speculated that “Beijing has asked Kathmandu to step up patrols of Nepali border forces and make it more difficult for Tibetans to enter Nepal”.

The belief was reiterated to the official during a meeting in New Delhi where the source said, according to the leaked cable: “The Chinese government rewards (Nepali forces) by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China.”

Beijing says there are no Tibetan refugees, only illegal migrants, who should be dealt with severely.

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