Teenagers have spent months in Shigatse detention center

Four Tibetan youngsters handed over to the Chinese authorities by Nepal after crossing the border illegally have remained in a detention center in the Tibetan town of Shigatse since their arrival in August, RFA's Tibetan service reports.

The boys, one of whom has been confirmed as 15 years old, were "put in a Chinese vehicle and sent to Shigatse," according to a reliable source who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals. "They are still detained at the detention center in Shigatse."

The four youths were arrested after crossing the border into Nepal at Tatopani and handed back to Chinese authorities at Dram between Aug. 1 and 4.

The Nepalese government routinely deports Tibetans crossing its borders without documentation, in spite of assurances to the U.S. Congress to the contrary.

In a letter dated Aug. 18, the Director of the Tibetan Reception Center in Kathmandu confirmed that: "The Nepalese police personnel and the immigration office at Tatopani border jointly deported four Tibetan refugee children to Tibet."

In addition, RFA has learned that a witness, Tashi Dolma, the cousin of 15 year-old Norbu Tsering who was among the four deportees, testified at the Reception Center about the deportation of her cousin along with three other Tibetan youths.

Local residents have also confirmed to RFA that they witnessed the deportation of Tibetan children in early August.

Several groups of Tibetans have been arrested for entering Nepal illegally. They are often on their way to the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where the Tibetan exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, lives with the rest of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

In May, Nepal expelled a group of 18 Tibetans, returning them to China in the face of widespread criticism and appeals from the European Union, the UNHCR, and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Earlier this month, the authorities in Nepal arrested a group of 11 Tibetans, including three children and a woman, for illegally entering the country. The Tibetans crossed the border in the northwestern district of Jumla earlier in the week without travel permits. They had intended to travel to the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, in the southwest of Nepal, a police spokesman said.

The UNHCR, which is investigating the case of the 11 detainees, has helped other groups travel on to India. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Tibetan refugees have settled in Nepal, but the kingdom is careful not to anger Beijing and has refused to let the Dalai Lama visit.


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