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Nepal alters policy regarding Tibetan exiles

  • Story Highlights
  • Nepal begins checking legal status of Tibetan exiles
  • Tibetan exiles protesting regularly in front of Chinese embassy in Nepal
  • Exiles have been asking for improved conditions since March protests in Tibet
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From Journalist Manesh Shrestha
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KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- The Nepalese government has begun checking the legal status of protesting Tibetan exiles -- an apparent change in policy, authorities said Thursday.

Until now, police removed the Tibetan protesters, held them in custody for a few hours and released them in the evening.

But 111 Tibetan exiles taken into custody on Tuesday and Wednesday for protesting in front of the Chinese embassy's visa office were handed over to immigration officials, police said.

"Our policy is not to let any activities against friendly nations," said Home Ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel Thursday. "Despite our continued warnings not to be involved in anti-Chinese activities they did not listen to us."

Immigration officials told CNN that the usual practice regarding Tibetans is to hand them over to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

A Tibetan activist said none of the 111 people have refugee status identification cards.

Nepal's policy is not to issue refugee status cards to those arriving after 1990. It maintains that Tibet is part of China.

Tibetan exiles have been protesting almost every day in front of the Chinese embassy offices here, demanding improved human rights in Tibet since the Chinese crackdown in March.

The exile community in Nepal numbers an estimated 15,000 to 20,000.

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