DHARAMSALA, 23 Jan: Tibetans escaping Chinese occupation to or through Nepal have been dealt with a huge blow as it has been revealed that China and Nepal have indeed signed an agreement ”targeting Tibetans’’ secretly during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in October last year.
Ascertaining speculations about prospective Nepal-China agreements to curb the entry of Tibetans in Nepal, the two countries — Nepal and China — have inked a secret agreement to handover people entering illegally to each other’s country without enough supporting documents from their country of origin, reports Khabarhub, a Kathmandu-based news portal.
The revelation came from Nepal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali’s written clarification to the members of parliament in which the minister “has affirmed that Nepal and China have signed an agreement to handover the people, targeting Tibetans, entering each other’s borders without documents within 7 days of being taken under custody.”
The agreement, in fact, was signed by the foreign ministers of both countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in October, the report said and added that it is in violation of ” Nepal’s ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ with UNHCR which advocates the refugee’s rights to travel to a third country”.
According to the report, the agreement to tighten the noose on Tibetan refugees in Nepal “was the first point of the 20-point agreement signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal”. it will officially come into effect from February but “Nepal seems to be under influence to enforce it before time”.
Nepal is home to 13,514 Tibetan refugees. A large majority of them including those Tibetan refugees born in Nepal still remain undocumented and they often face restrictions from Nepalese authorities, particularly around significant Tibetan anniversaries.
Before Chinese President Xi’s visit to Nepal, it was widely reported that Kathmandu is being pressed to sign an extradition treaty with Beijing during his visit.
Condemning it, the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch then said that “extradition treaties are often a legitimate tool of international law enforcement, but sending people to a country where they are at risk of serious human rights abuses is a breach of international human rights law”.
Though Nepal is not among the 147 nations that have signed the United Nations Convention Relating to Refugee Status, which guarantees their refugee populations certain rights, the rights group said that Nepal can not sent back refugees to countries where they face threats to their life or freedom owing to several international legal obligations and bound by the principle of non-refoulement.