ICT reports that we may have spoken too soon- apparently the group of refugees who crossed the border last week are being delayed now:
Human rights monitors and foreign diplomats in Nepal who monitor the situation for Tibetan refugees transiting from Tibet through Nepal are concerned for the safety of 23 Tibetan refugees in custody in Kathmandu, Nepal. The group of Tibetans has not been turned over by Nepalese authorities to the UNHCR, as per established protocols, and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has written a letter demanding that the Tibetans be released into Chinese custody for return to Tibet.
The 23 Tibetans were arrested by Nepalese police on September 11-13 after they crossed the border from Tibet, brought down to Kathmandu and turned over to Nepal’s Department of Immigration (DOI) in Nepal. They remain in the custody of the DOI, contravening established protocols that Tibetans crossing into Nepalese territory are promptly handed over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for processing and onward transit to India. The group includes eight minors (ages 13-17).
According to local sources who have interviewed them, all of the Tibetans appear to be legitimate refugees and have given reasons for escape that are consistent with thousands of other accounts over previous decades, including to see the Dalai Lama.
Under the established ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between the Nepal government and the UNHCR, Tibetans who enter Nepalese territory from Tibet are to be given over to the care of the UNHCR and expeditiously allowed to travel onward to India.
Tibetan refugees brought to Kathmandu are provided temporary refuge at the UNHCR-funded Tibetan Refugee Transit Center. Tibetans registered as “persons of concern” by the UNHCR enter a system administered by the Central Tibetan Administration through which they are placed in age-appropriate care and schooling or monastic institutions in Tibetan settlements throughout India.
Nepal should have just shunted them out quickly- the longer they sit there, the more interest their case will garner, and the more flak Nepal will receive from one side or the other depending on what their final decision is.