Kathmandu, 5 August 2011.
Editors’ Note: The Nepalese police arrested Thinley Lama for holding this press conference.
As we know, for the last few days we have seen reports in the media about Tibetans who sought refuge in Nepal. In order to clarify some issues and also to tell the media world about the problems faced by the Tibetan refugees, I have invited you for this conference.
We all know very well that historically Nepal and Tibet, currently ruled by China, enjoyed a close relation economically, diplomatically and culturally from the ancient period. As two sovereign nations in the history, Nepal had signed numerous agreements. During modern period, three major Nepal-Tibet treaties of 1789, 1792 and 1856 A.D were signed which is a fact in the history. In fact the marriage of Nepalese princess Brikuti of Patan to the king Songtsen Gampo of Tibet sealed our relationship further not only as neighbor but our ‘Samdi’ marriage relationship.
After China and India signed Panchasheel treaty in 1954. Nepal not only recognized Tibet as the autonomous region of China but also abrogated all the privileges and rights enjoyed by Nepal in Tibet. These facts are engraved in history and nobody can change them according to will.
Based on close historical relationship, Tibetans who had to leave their country were given political refuge by the then Government of Nepal and allowed to settle here. In spite of our country being landlocked and with limited resources, we supported the Tibetan refugees and this gesture is internationally appreciated even today. During this critical time in the history of our nation and during half a century we provided the exile community with emotional support for which they are always grateful to Nepal Government and the people of Nepal.
After coming into exile, Tibetan Welfare Office has been established as a non political, nonprofit social organization and actively working to help the Tibetan refugees and to reach their voice to the Nepal Government. Tibetan Welfare Office’s aim is not against any individual, society or any country. It only aims to be a coordinator between the Tibetan refugees and Nepal Government and to acquaint the Tibetan refugees with the law of the land and also provide various protections guaranteed by the international organizations for refugees (Ali, i.e UNHCR).
Earlier, Nepal Government used to give Refugee card (RC) to refugees but this facility discontinued with the last grant of IC officially being in 1998. Children who have attained the maturity period and many children who are born and bought up in Nepal could not get IC. With the result these people have no means to introduce themselves in Nepal and could not get driving licenses, travel documents and all other basic facilities of livelihood. Therefore, we appeal to the Nepal Government to continue granting RC to the genuine refugees.
There is a large number of Tibetans born and brought up in Nepal. RC helps them to stay legally only. Beyond that they are not allowed to engage themselves in legal business, seek higher education opportunities and any other legal rights. It is fact that such rules not only stop them from making any economic and social contributions to the community and the country but is a waste of precious human resources.
We appeal the Nepal Government to allow RC holders to do business, open industry, give opportunity for employment and allow them to establish non political, nonprofit social organizations. We also request the Government to draft necessary laws to address the problems faced by the Tibetan refugees in Nepal for inclusion in the new constitution of Nepal.
For the last many days Nepali national media have reported that Tibetans have acquired fake Nepali passports and the Tibetan welfare office issued birth certificate signed by Trinlay Gyatso to Tenzing(15 yrs) and Chering Lhamu(12 yrs) vide certificate number OT/KM/11/7100 on Feb 8 2011. Newspapers also reported that the Tibetan refugee office in Boudha also gave necessary recommendation letter. The two persons have been arrested at the Tribhuvan international airport while trying to travel abroad.
It is a fact that normally this office issues birth certificates, marriage certificates and necessary recommendation letters to bonafide Tibetan refugees of Nepal after ascertaining facts from Tibetan Refugee Centre and all other concerned offices.
Accordingly, this office enquired about the two persons in question with the Tibetan refugee centre, Refugee office at Boudha and found no record of such certificates being issued. We made further enquiry with the office of Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala and found no record. Therefore, we want to inform you that the documents produced by them are fake and Mr Tenzing and Miss Chering Lhamu are not Tibetan refugees.
We are serious and alert on the issue of non Tibetan refugees obtaining documents meant for Tibetan refugees. This is the only official organization that looks after the welfare of the Tibetan refugees in Nepal and we request all concerned to inform us in future if anybody is taking advantage of making such fake documents.
This episode has surely harmed the image of Tibetans who are living with dignity in Nepal and scattered all over the world professing their livelihood peacefully and preserving their religion and culture. Hence while we strongly wish to state that the current media reporting is baseless but request all Nepali media to tell the truth and truth only.
We are always ready to extend necessary cooperation with all concerned about the welfare of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. We expect the same cooperation from Nepal Government, international organizations, human rights groups, intellectuals and all communities of the Nepali public.
Thinley Lama, Chief Coordinator