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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > June
Press Statement
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 2, 2003


Nepal: Expulsion of Tibetan Refugees

On May 31 in Kathmandu the Government of Nepal turned over to representatives of the Peoples Republic of China 18 Tibetan asylum seekers, including minors, to be forcibly repatriated to China. The United States deplores this outrageous development. This action not only violates international norms and practices regarding the humane treatment of asylum seekers, but also tarnishes Nepal’s long-standing and well-deserved reputation for tolerance and hospitality. In the past, Nepal has demonstrated its respect for the rights of asylum seekers by granting access to “persons of concern” by local representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Our Embassy in Kathmandu has informed the Nepalese Government at the highest level of our concern about this specific incident. The status of Tibetan refugees in Nepal is a long-standing issue that is often raised in Kathmandu. Senior U.S. officials recently met with Nepalese and Chinese officials in Washington to stress our views on this issue. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has said the forcible return of the 18 Tibetans to China without a status determination constituted a refoulement (forced return), which is clearly contrary to international norms. We condemn the behavior of Nepalese officials and Chinese diplomats for their role in forcibly returning the asylum seekers to China. We call on Nepal to return to its previous long-term practice of allowing Tibetans to seek protection in Nepal for onward resettlement.

Released on June 2, 2003

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