Bay Area Friends of Tibet


Press Release

Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Tibetan Youth Congress

August 21, 2003

Contact: Sandy Garson, 771-2113


San Francisco, CA - In an unprecedented breach of international law, eighteen Tibetan refugees, including eight minors, were deported by Nepalese authorities to occupied Tibet early Saturday morning. The refugees, who had been detained in Kathmandu since April 15, 2003, were loaded into a Chinese embassy vehicle and sent towards the Nepal-Tibet border. Eyewitnesses reported that the refugees, several of whom are reportedly sick, were in great distress and calling out to observers for help.

Bay Area Tibetans and their supporters will stage a demonstration on Monday, June 2, 2003 from 10am to 12pm in front of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to express their outrage and to demand the release of the refugees into the custody of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"These Tibetan refugees are in grave danger and will likely face imprisonment and brutal torture in the hands of the Chinese government," said Topden Tsering, President of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress. "We are here today to demand that China release the refugees immediately into the hands of the UNHCR. The world will not stand for such gross violations of international law."

Between 2500 and 3000 Tibetans escape the oppression of Chinese-occupied Tibet via Nepal annually. Since about 1990, the Nepalese government has been party to an informal arrangement with UNHCR and the Tibetan Government in Exile's office in Kathmandu that should protect Tibetan refugees transiting through Nepal to India. In recent months, this agreement has been breaking down and arrests of Tibetans passing through Nepal have become more commonplace.

Yesterday's deportation marks the first time Chinese authorities have intervened to remove Tibetans from Nepalese jails. The refugees were handed over to Chinese authorities despite diplomatic interventions by the US government, European governments and the UNHCR.

"This is an appalling precedent," said Tashi Tsering of Tibet Justice Center. "We will not sit idly by while the Chinese government kidnaps Tibetan refugees from Nepalese jails so they can face further imprisonment and torture in our occupied homeland."

Although it is not certain, increasing pressure on Nepal could be linked to the visit of a Tibetan delegation, now in Beijing.

Photos of the deportation and an audio clip of refugees being forcibly removed from the jail are available upon request. Please contact Chenee or 510-486-0588.

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