New Tibetan refugee coordinator urges restraint in Nepal

KATHMANDU: With a new leader taking over Tibetans' government in exile from August and a new voluntary coordinator appointed in Nepal for the welfare of Tibetan refugees in the Himalayan republic this month, Dharamshala is urging for restraint and a halt to activities that can annoy China.

Last Friday, the Tibetan community in Nepal received the new coordinator with 55-year-old Thiley Lama succeeding Thinley Gyatso. Appointed by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Lama is the first Nepali coordinator for Tibetan refugee welfare. 

The new incumbent says he will be focusing on two major tasks. 

"Dharamshala has recognised the One China policy that acknowledges Tibet ," Lama told TNN. "We are urging all Tibetans in Nepal not to take part in any anti-China rhetoric or hold demonstrations before the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu." 

Lama said the Tibetan community had been infiltrated by elements who were behind the anti-China tirade in Nepal that triggered retaliatory action by Nepal's government and caused untold hardship to Tibetan refugees. 

The other major task is to assess the current hardship faced by Tibetans in Nepal, especially who do not have the identity cards issued by the government recognising them as legitimate refugees and allowing them to stay on in Nepal. Tibetans without these Refugee Cards (RCs) are not allowed to register marriages, birth of their children, open bank accounts, run businesses or obtain travel documents. 

Once the assessment is complete, the community will submit a memorandum to the government, asking for help over things that will not affect Nepal's relations with other countries. "The basic needs are food, clothing and shelter, human rights and cultural rights," Lama said. "We are not making any political demands." 

The community will also have to undertake a survey to ascertain the number of Tibetans without RCs. In 2009, CTA had assessed that there were a little over 13,000 Tibetans in Kathmandu with over half of them not possessing RCs. 

While Lama assumed his responsibilities from last Friday, considered an auspicious day by Tibetans, the new Tibetan prime minister in Dharamshala, Lobsang Sangay, will assume office from August 8.

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