KATHMANDU — China pays Nepalese police to arrest Tibetan refugees as they cross over the border to escape persecution, according to US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.
One cable, sent by an unnamed officer at the New Delhi embassy in February, quoted a source saying that China "rewards (Nepali forces) by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China."
"Beijing has asked Kathmandu to step up patrols... and make it more difficult for Tibetans to enter Nepal," one of the embassy's sources said in a cable released Sunday.
A spokesman for the Nepalese police in Kathmandu denied the allegations, calling them "baseless."
"We arrest those who enter Nepal illegally and hand them over to Nepal's immigration authority," the spokesman told AFP.
Thousands of Tibetans used to make the difficult and dangerous journey to Nepal every year, fleeing political and religious repression in China.
They have previously been given safe passage through Nepal under an informal agreement between the government and the UN refugee agency put in place in 1989, when Nepal stopped giving them refugee status.
They are then given UN assistance to travel on to India, where the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama lives in exile.
But their numbers have fallen sharply since March 2008 riots in Tibet led China, which is a major donor to Nepal, to strengthen border security and increase pressure on authorities in Nepal to stem the flow of refugees.
Lobsang Choedak, a spokesman for the Tibetan movement in exile based in north India, confirmed that the number of refugees had declined drastically since the Tibet unrest in 2008, but would not comment on the bribery allegations.
Nepal reportedly forcibly repatriated three Tibetan refugees in July, attracting condemnation from the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
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