With U.N. World Refugee Day (June 20) just around the corner, a new International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) report has just been released that details the dangers for Tibetan refugees transiting Nepal and for Nepal’s long-staying Tibetan refugee community.
The report for 2010, ”Dangerous Crossing: Conditions Impacting the Flight of Tibetan Refugees,” attributes these dangers to inadequate protections provided to Tibetans by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the government of Nepal, and to significant pressure from Nepal’s northern neighbor, the People’s Republic of China, to comply with its directives on the treatment of Tibetan refugees and their activities in Nepal.
In 2010, security along the Tibet-Nepal border, enhanced in preparation for the lighting of the 2008 Olympic torch lighting on Mt. Everest, was further entrenched. The numbers of Tibetan refugees successfully reaching the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathamandu, in sharp decline since 2008, were slightly higher than in 2009.
The Case of a Cabinet Member accused of murder, the Prime Minister, and counter aggression leveled at journalist Kanak Mani Dixit
June 13, 2011
Nothing has brought into focus Nepal’s permissive attitude toward corrupt officials more blatantly than Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s recent appointment of senior Maoist leader Agni Sapkota as Minister for Information and Communications. Sapkota is accused by a long list of human rights organizations as being a leading party to the murder of Arjun Bahadur Lama in 2005.
On May 24, in a letter jointly written by the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the groups urged Prime Minister Khanal to reconsider Sapkota’s appointment since criminal investigations were pending against him. They also strong objected to Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s maneuvering to withdraw human rights cases, including the case against Sapkota. The new home minister is also a senior member of the Maoist party.
The letter said in part: "The appointment of Sapkota, a member of the politburo of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), while he is under police investigation sends a strong signal of government indifference to such serious allegations and reinforces the culture of impunity in Nepal."
Earlier this week, June 5-6, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Kelly Clements visited Kathmandu to discuss humanitarian protection and assistance issues for Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees. This was her second trip to Nepal within the year.
In regard to Tibetan refugees, DAS Clements voiced her concern to Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara. She stressed her concern over Nepal’s failure to register Tibetan children born in Nepal after the 1990 census. Nepal has not conducted a Tibetan census since – two decades of inattention.
WHAT IS NEPAL’S STANCE ON TIBETAN REFUGEES AND TO WHAT EXTENT DOES IT CONCUR WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW?
The Economist has just published a fairly balanced summary of Nepal’s political situation as it stands at the beginning of the summer of 2011. It is by no means comprehensive: The Madhesi issue is completely ignored, for example. And its description of the Maoists’ commitment to a “competitive democracy” is unwarrantedly optimistic. But the article does manage to touch upon most of the other major issues, which hang over the country like a fan of freshly whetted swords.
A gaggle of protesters in Kathmandu, Nepal’s fume-filled capital, want a Himalayan summer to follow the Arab spring. Organised via Facebook, young and dapper professionals meet outside the Magic Beans coffee house to clap, call for a constitution and condemn the wretched performance of their country’s leaders. “Our politics is a kind of a disease,” one of them grumbles.