In what appears to be a growing trend, Chinese border police have deported to Nepal two groups of Tibetans who had sought to re-enter Tibet, some in hopes of reuniting with family members, according to Tibetan and Nepalese sources.
One group of 11 men was forced over the border to Nepal on Aug. 29, while a second group of four men and one woman was sent back on Aug. 23. All had been held by Chinese police at a detention center in Shigatse, Tibet, after being detained at border crossings with Nepal at Dram, Nangpa La, and Nyalam.
Six of the men in the first group are married and have children living in Tibet, sources said.
On their return to Nepal, both groups were taken to the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center in Kathmandu with the assistance of United Nations refugee workers.
After a short stay at the refugee center, the group of five who were sent back to Nepal on Aug. 23 paid fines and were released, and have now traveled into India, sources said.
One, a businessman, had left Tibet earlier in the year to attend religious teachings given in India by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The others—three men and a woman—had lived and studied in India for several years, and had attempted to rejoin their parents and families inside Tibet.
The group of 11 who were sent back on Wednesday, though natives of Dingri county in Tibet, are now stateless, having had their residency papers for Tibet confiscated by Chinese police at the border with Nepal.
Move kept secret
Speaking to RFA from the refugee center in Nepal, one of the men said that their forced return to Nepal came as a surprise.
“Initially, they kept our deportation very secret. [The Chinese] didn’t say anything to us in Dingri or Shigatse,” he said.
“Then, at Nyalam, the Chinese police informed us that they were carrying out official orders from the Tibet Autonomous Region to return us to Nepal.”
“They didn’t give any reason for confiscating our Chinese personal identity papers,” another returnee said. “They just said that those were not going to be of any use to us.”
The men are now worried about trying to cross again into Tibet without papers, and feel they have been left in a limbo, several said.
In June, Chinese border police forced back into Nepal a group of Tibetan pilgrims seeking to re-enter Tibet after confiscating their Tibetan residency permits and detaining them for a week, also in Shigatse.
About 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal, and Beijing is becoming more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict their activities and to help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border.
Reported by Thupten Sangyal and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.