Radio Free Asia – by Lobsang Gelek
More than 5,000 Tibetans refugees live in limbo after Nepal stopped issuing ID cards in 1995.
Uzra Zeya, the U.S. special coordinator for Tibetan issues, met with Tibetan refugees in Nepal as well as government officials during a recent visit to Kathmandu in the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in a decade, sources in the Himalayan country told RFA.
Zeya, who also met with Tibetans in India on her trip, reportedly discussed the refugees’ undocumented status during the meeting. In 1995, Nepal stopped issuing refugee cards for Tibetans who flee across the border from their homeland, which has been under Chinese control since 1951.
Nepal is seen by China as a partner in its Belt and Road Initiative to boost global trade through infrastructure investment, and Nepal’s government has cited promises of millions of dollars of Chinese investment as a reason for restricting Tibetan activities in the country.
Zeya’s trip from May 20 to 22 was intended to “deepen cooperation on human rights and democratic governance goals, and to advance humanitarian priorities,” the State Department said on its website.
“Zeya met with Tibetans in Jawalakhel where they raised the problems they are facing in the absence of proper documentation in Nepal … and deteriorating human rights conditions,” a Nepalese journalist told RFA’s Tibetan Service on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
The lack of proper identification cards for the refugees is a result of pressure from the Chinese government, Vijay Karna, Nepal’s former ambassador to Demark, told RFA.
“More than 5,000 Tibetan refugees and their families are facing problems regarding their refugee card. Resolving this issue would also be of huge significance to the Nepalese government,” he said. Click here to read more.