The release of 250,000 cables, detailing foreign relations and policies around the world, have provided some of the most fascinating reading of recent times. At Free Tibet we have been appalled to learn from the cables that Tibetans are being forcibly returned to Tibet when attempting to flee via Nepal.
This news, exposed through a leaked cable from the US Embassy in New Delhi, revealed that the “Chinese government rewards Nepali forces by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China.” International law states that refugees must not be returned to their place of origin without procedural checks being carried out first. Consequently China and Nepal are complicit in a gross violation of international law.
The number of Tibetan refugees successfully fleeing Tibet for India has “markedly decreased” since April 2008. Prior to this the number of refugees arriving in Dharamsala, India, each year averaged between 2,500 and 3,500. However, this number dropped to 650 for the period between April 2008 and March 2009. China’s financial incentives have undoubtedly played a part in this decline.
The cables also shed light on the level of importance of Tibet to the Chinese administration. Chinese leaders worry that they could lose control of Tibet if they do not maintain tight control there, which would have both domestic consequences and could invite “unwanted interference” from India.
The cables also reveal that Hu Jintao is 'completely' in charge of China's Tibet policy. Hu took a particularly hard line when he served in Tibet as Party Secretary between 1989 and 1992 and is therefore unlikely to adopt a softer approach. However Free Tibet believes that this leaves government policy on Tibet open to change when President Hu steps down from office in 2012.