US seeks `free passage to India` for Tibetan refugees in Nepal

The United States has expressed concern over problems being faced by Tibetan refugees in Nepal, as it asked Kathmandu to provide the Buddhist community "free passage to India" as per global human rights obligations.

Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 21:39 PM IST

Kathmandu: The United States has
expressed concern over problems being faced by Tibetan
refugees in Nepal, as it asked Kathmandu to provide the
Buddhist community "free passage to India" as per global human
rights obligations.

Maria Otero, US Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs Maria, raised the problems being faced by
the exiled Buddhist community in Nepal during a meeting with
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal yesterday.
Otero, who also serves as the Special Coordinator for
Tibetan issues, underlined the need for the government to
treat Tibetan refugees as per international human rights
obligations.

"We made it clear that this is an important issue for
us and that we are concerned about. And we will proceed to
look at it very carefully," Otero was quoted as saying by the
Republica newspaper today.
The US called on Nepal to honour the UN-brokered
"gentlemen’s agreement" on Tibetans fleeing their homeland.
She raised the issue of free passage for the refugees from
Tibet.

"There is a stable practice while dealing with Tibetan
issues which ensures providing them free passage to India,"
the US envoy was quoted as saying by the Kantipur online.
She highlighted the problems faced by the Tibetans
here, according to Milan Tuladhar, Prime minister?s foreign
relations advisor.

"We will deal with the issue taking into account the
concerns of our immediate neighbours -- China and India," the
prime minister was quoted as saying by Tuladhar.

Earlier the top US official visited Tibetan Reception
Center in the capital and met with Tibetan refugees, some of
whom are awaiting clearance for going to Dharamshala, where
their spiritual leader Dalai Lama is based since fleeing from
his motherland in 1959.

Nepal is home to around 20,000 exiled Tibetans and the
capital has been the scene of several anti-China agitations
for freedom and human rights in Tibet.

Theses protests have been a source of embarrassment to
the government here, which wants strong ties with China.

Nepal supports "one-China policy" that views Tibet as
an integral part of China. It has repeatedly assured its giant
northern neighbour that it will not allow its territory to be
used against Beijing.

Despite tight security enforced by the Nepalese and
Chinese government in the border areas, every year some 2,500
Tibetans cross the border on their way to meet the Dalai Lama

Over the last several years, Nepal has stepped up
security and warned Tibetans exiles against organizing
protests against China in the country.

However, Nepal has been under pressure from Western
nations to allow these protests.

PTI