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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Nepal deports Tibetan refugee ahead of China envoy visit

March 2, 2008

Kathmandu, March 2 (IANS) In an unprecedented move, Nepal's
multi-party government ordered a raid on a centre for Tibetan refugees
and deported one of them to appease China that is sending yet another
team to Kathmandu to strengthen its grip on Prime Minister Girija
Prasad Koirala. China's Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei arrives
here Sunday, heading a nine-member delegation for the seventh round of
bilateral consultations with Nepal that will focus on developing
warmer diplomatic ties and greater cooperation.

During the meet that opens Monday, the Chinese minister will also
deliver a policy statement on Sino-Nepal relations and cooperation.

To ensure a smooth visit for He, Nepal police last week raided the
Tibetan Refugee Reception Center in Kathmandu, which is funded by the
UN, in an unprecedented violation of the "gentlemen's agreement" with
the world body.

The centre, funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and run by
Lutheran World Federation, acts as a transit point for Tibetans
fleeing from China-controlled Tibet Autonomous Region and trying to
reach their exiled leader Dalai Lama's seat in Dharamsala town in
India.

On Feb 23, a posse of 50-60 armed policemen raided the centre late at
night to arrest 27-year-old Tsering Dhundup, who had escaped to Nepal
from Qinghai province in Tibet and was seeking to flee to India.

Nepal police arrested the fugitive on the allegation by China that he
had run away after stabbing a Chinese man in Tibet, and handed him
over to the Chinese authorities.

In the past, acting on the behest of China, Nepal closed down the
office of the Dalai Lama's representative in Kathmandu and had
deported at least two groups of Tibetan fugitives to China.

However, this is the first time that it raided the centre.

The New York-headquartered pro-Tibet organisation International
Campaign for Tibet (ICT) expressed grave concern at the incident.

"We are alarmed by the intimidating nature of the late-night police
raid on Tibetan refugees who are vulnerable to scare tactics, having
just escaped repression in Tibet," said Mary Beth Markey, ICT vice
president.

"The show of force was likely staged for a Chinese government
audience, which apparently determines Nepal's policies with regard to
Tibetans."

ICT said the situation indicated the increasing vulnerability of
Tibetans in Nepal due to Chinese influence on Kathmandu.

In 2005, Nepal also closed down the Tibetan Welfare Office in
Kathmandu established in the 1960s.

Last month, Nepal's Supreme Court ruled against the registration of
the Bhota Welfare Society, a Nepalese run NGO intended to provide
community and humanitarian services to both long staying and newly
arrived Tibetan refugees in Nepal.

The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu had opposed the registration,
accusing the NGO of being an operation of the "Dalai clique".

Around 2,500 to 3,500 Tibetans make the dangerous crossing through the
Himalayas into exile in Nepal and from there to India, each year.

A high percentage of the new refugees are children sent by their
parents to study in Tibetan exile schools due to inadequate or
unaffordable schools in Tibet, and monks and nuns seeking to practice
their religion in exile due to persecution in Tibet.
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