Tibetan Refugee Crisis

Tibet’s refugee crisis was created when China annexed the sovereign nation of Tibet in 1950. Religious and cultural persecution of the indigenous Tibetan population followed Chinese occupation. As a result, tens of thousands of refugees have fled to the neighboring countries of Nepal and India.

Currently there is an estimated 20,000 Tibetans residing in Nepal. In recent years (since 2008), an additional 2,500-3,500 Tibetans have made the perilous journey, crossing the mountainous border from Tibet into Nepal on foot.

The Nepali government has authorized the save passage of Tibetans through Nepal enroute to India and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is tasked with monitoring, collecting data, and educating border security personnel on the safe passage afforded to Tibetans. Yet despite these safeguards, Nepali border patrols routinely deport Tibetan refugees back to the area controlled by China.

Life as a Refugee

While visiting one of Pokhara’s three Tibetan refugee camps, I met a man who was born in the camp and has lived there all his life. If he leaves the camp and obtains full Nepalese citizenship, he feels he will abandon his Tibetan identity.

If he remains as a refugee, he is only tangentially recognized by the Nepali government, which restricts his ability to travel throughout the country, limits his access to healthcare, and curtails his civil rights. While he remains in the camp, he is, in essence, state-less.

Refugees living in camps sell traditional Tibetan crafts, particularly beautifully hand-woven carpets, as well as jewelry in order to earn a living. Tourists regularly visit the camp markets to help support the refugees. Of course, I did my small part and shopped as well, buying a stunning red beaded necklace.

Helping Tibetan Refugees

The nonprofit organization, International Campaign for Tibet, monitors the situation of Tibetan refugees, gathering and disseminating first-hand information.

Want to help Tibetan refugees? Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Learn more about the issue by visiting the org’s website: http://www.savetibet.org/action-center/current-ict-campaigns/tibetan-refugees
  • Write your representative and support the bipartisan resolution 609: “A Resolution Expressing Support for the People of Tibet” co-sponsored by Representatives James Sensenbrenner and George Miller. http://action.savetibet.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5799
  • Sign up to receive the latest action alerts at: http://action.savetibet.org/signUp.jsp?key=3071
  • Donate to the organization. https://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6063/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=3196

Your donation will help:

  • Support the Dalai Lama’s efforts to establish peace and self-determination for Tibet.
  • Ensure safe passage and secure humanitarian assistance for Tibetan refugees.
  • Advocate for the release and humane treatment of all monks, nuns, and laypeople that have been detained.
  • Maintain political pressure on international governments to make real progress on Tibet.
  • Built long-term, worldwide support for the people, culture, and heritage of Tibet.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 and is filed under Social Issues.

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