NYT editorial urges Nepal to cease China-influenced mistreatment of Tibetan refugees

Tibetan Buddhist nun detained by Nepalese police during protests as the Chinese Olympic flame reached Lhasa, Tibet.

Tibetan Buddhist nun detained by Nepalese police during protests as Chinese Olympic flame reached Lhasa, Tibet

The repression of Tibetan refugees by authorities in their temporary Nepalese home, and Chinese influence in provoking it, has garnered serious international condemnation this month, including a New York Times editorial this past Sunday. The Times’s editors referenced findings detailed in a Human Rights Watch report released in late March, entitled Under China’s Shadow: Mistreatment of Tibetans in Nepal.

“In effect,” they said, “Nepal has turned itself into a partner of China’s anti-Tibetan policies.” They cited evidence in the HRW report of Nepalese authorities keeping Tibetans under surveillance; obstructing peaceful assembly, including private cultural gatherings; conducting arbitrary arrest and detention, with little effective oversight; harassing pro-Tibet NGOs; forcibly returning some Tibetans to China, with the risk of abuse and torture in custody; and denying Tibetans basic freedoms and opportunities while in Nepal, a country with which they share an ancient relationship based in their Buddhist culture.

Acknowledging the significance of the economic incentives China holds out to impoverished Nepal, the Times editors nevertheless conclude that “[Prime Minister Sushil] Koirala and Nepal’s Constituent Assembly should move quickly to guarantee resident Tibetans legal status that respects their basic rights, and to treat Tibetan refugees in accordance with Nepalese and international law. Without these steps, Nepal’s struggle to achieve lasting democratic governance will remain woefully incomplete.”

Read the full editorial here, and see Human Rights Watch’s reportage on the issue of Tibetans in Nepal here.