Kathmandu, April 1 (IANS) Nepal has imposed increasing restrictions on Tibetans living in the country as a result of strong pressure from China, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
The new Nepali government should make it clear to China that it will accept Tibetans who flee persecution as refugees and will not restrict basic rights of peaceful expression, assembly and association, it said.
A 100-page report by the rights body shows that Tibetan refugee communities in Nepal were now facing a de facto ban on political protests, sharp restrictions on public activities promoting Tibetan culture and religion, and routine abuses by Nepali security forces.
These include excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment in detention, threats and intimidation, intrusive surveillance, and arbitrary application of vaguely formulated and overly broad definitions of security offenses.
"The situation for the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal has markedly deteriorated since China's violent crackdown on protests in Tibet in 2008," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Nepal is home to a sizeable Tibetan community and has long played a crucial role as a haven and gateway for Tibetans fleeing repression in China.
In 2008, China responded to large-scale popular protests on the Tibetan plateau by initiating a sustained crackdown, ramping up efforts to prevent Tibetans from escaping to Nepal, and increasing efforts to silence Tibetan communities abroad, in particular in Nepal.
As a result of a massive security presence in Tibetan areas of China and increased cooperation between Nepalese and Chinese security forces in recent years, China has been able to stem the flow of Tibetan refugees escaping to Nepal.
In 2013, fewer than 200 Tibetans were recorded as having fled China, as compared to a pre-2008 annual average of more than 2,000.
Partly as a result of the increasing cooperation between Nepal and China's border security forces detailed in this report, there are concerns that Nepal may at times forcibly return Tibetans to China, the report said.
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