Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Thomas Mann opened the Meeiting and introduced a short film showing the incident at Nangpa-La, on the border between Tibet and Nepal, on 30 September 2006, when a 17 year old nun was shot dead by Chinese border guards. A mountain climber who happened to be there made the amateur video, and it showed the event in very graphic details. There was also a short conversation with a Tibetan refugee who was hiding in a tent because it was not safe to continue.
Thomas Mann then introduced Birgit van de Wijer, who has travelled extensively to Tibet and Nepal, and stayed some time at the Reception Centre in Kathmandu. She had some photos and text that the TIG could watch on her laptop.
The Nepalese authorities last year closed the original Tibetan Welfare Office in Kathmandu, the official office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, intended for those refugees who travel over the mountains in order to reach Kathmandu. Eventually it was re-opened under another name - the Tibetan Institute.
Ms de Wijer explained that the original Reception was very overcrowded as so many new refugees arrived. People slept in corridors, verandas even outside. Conditions were very primitive. Eventually refugees would travel on to other destinations in Nepal and India, but the Reception is a vital link in the chain.
Many families sent their children on their own to reach Nepal and India, and often the children arrived with bad frostbite and fingers and toes damaged. The Lutheran Church has a Centre in Kathmandu and gives a lot of support to refugees. Copies of Mrs de Wijer's book, "Child Exodus from Tibet", translated into English, were available, and it is also being translated into other languages. Another publication was available, "Dangerous Crossing: Condititons Impacting the Flight of Tibetan Refugees, 2006 Report", published by ICT.
Thomas Mann reminded the Group of the Tibetan Congress to be held at the European Parliament at its plenary session in November of this year. This Congress is open to members of National Parliaments, Tibetan Support Groups and other orgainsations. It is being supported by ICT. The Congress will be an excellent opportunity to invite Professor Samdhong Rinpotché and other members of the Tibetan Government in Exile, also perhaps representatives of the World Wildlife Organisation and other environmental agencies.