FOUR ESCAPED TIBETAN CHILDREN DETAINED IN NEPAL


2003-12-10
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Group includes an eight-year-old child

Nepalese authorities have detained four Tibetan children who crossed the border from China seeking refuge, RFA's Tibetan service reports.

The four children, aged 8-15, are in police custody in the Tato Pani district of Nepal after crossing the border on Dec. 7, a local source told RFA.

The four�two boys and two girls�were arrested by Nepalese border police about eight kilometers inside the Nepalese side of the border. They were later transferred to the border immigration office, and then to the Tato Pani police station, the source said.

One of the children is a native of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, while another is from the Karze region of Tibet. The hometowns of the other two were not immediately verifiable, the source said.

Groups of Tibetans are frequently arrested for entering Nepal illegally. They are often on their way to the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and 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 UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Last month, however, Nepalese authorities released nine Tibetan men who crossed the border from China without travel documents two years ago, after an overseas Tibetan organization provided money for their fines. Children and a pregnant woman traveling with the same group had been released the previous year.

The UNHCR has helped other groups travel on to India. Around 35,000 Tibetan refugees have settled in Nepal, but the kingdom is careful to avoid angering Beijing and has refused to let the Dalai Lama visit.

The Dalai Lama, who has described Chinese policies in Tibet as "cultural genocide," has run a government-in-exile from India since fleeing Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize three decades later for his non-violent opposition to the Chinese presence in Tibet, says he wants greater autonomy, not independence, for the Himalayan region.#####

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