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Dharamshala: Nepal's Tibetan population, which currently numbers 20,000, has urged the government of Nepal to address the rights of all refugees in their new Constitution. The Constitution is set to be released on August 31.

According to a report by Zee News, head of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office (TRWO) in Kathmandu Thiley Lama made the appeal to the government.

The appeal came after eight people, called "Tibetans" by the media, were arrested in the past few weeks for attempting to get fake Nepali passports or use fake documents to travel abroad. After investigating the identities of those arrested with the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan Reception Centre in Kathmandu and the Tibetan refugee camp in Boudha, Lama claimed that the eight were not actually Tibetans.

Tibetans are now urging the government to begin issuing identity cards again to Tibetan refugees living in Nepal. Currenty, Tibetan refugees living in Nepal do not have rights. They can legally be refused such basic services as registering their children at hospitals, opening bank accounts and attending school. Also, at this time they are not allowed by the government to work or run businesses.

Because of pressure from the Chinese government, Nepal stopped issuing identity cards to Tibetans in 1998. China says the Tibetans living in Nepal are not refugees, but illegal immigrants. Also due to pressure from China, the TRWO was shut down by the Nepalese government in 2005.

The government of Nepal technically allows the safe passage of Tibetans traveling from Tibet into India. According to Phayal, however, Wikileaks revealed earlier this year that China has financially rewarded Nepali security officials who arrested Tibetans trying to enter Nepal.

In addition, Nepal blocked a program offered by the United States in 2005 to resettle Tibetan refugees in the US, also because of opposition by China.

"We request the government of Nepal to clearly address all refugee issues in a uniform manner in the new constitution," Lama told Zee News.

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