Figure 6: Blockade imposed by RNA and other Forces under its Command as well as Maoist Rebel 10
Figure 7: Districts affected by strikes organized by CPN (Maoist), 11
Internal Safety and Safe Third Country Options 12
Table 1: Percentage of asylum granted people by nationality 16
Table 2: Trend of asylum seeking and asylum granting 16
Nepali Asylum Seekers in the US 17
Table 3: Nepali Asylum Seekers 17
Table 4: Asylum granted to Nepali (A trend 1996 - 2003) 17
Case Study 18
My Experience 19
People get displaced from around the world due to physical, political, social, cultural and economical hardship they face in their place and/or country of birth. The life threatening problems they face forces them to pushes them to a situation that has no choice then leaving everything they have and seek refuge. These difficulties to human lives can be either natural or human induced though mitigation of natural calamity has great role of political, social and economical forces of the society.
Being one of such displaced person, I decided to study on this issue. During my study, I found that, this issue can not be studied in complete by a person in my position both physically and academically. Thus, I decided to take only the country I fled and the country I took refuge. Still it is big subject as people from Nepal are seeking asylum in countries all over the world and the United Sates of America, as a champion of human rights and democracy, is receiving refugees/asylum seekers from all over the world. Consequently, I had to narrow down my study on people fleeing Nepal and seeking Asylum/refuge in the US. To clarify the subject I have looked at asylum policy and practices in the US and human rights situation in Nepal beyond my predefined parameter that I would look at the cases of people from Nepal seeking asylum in the US
Political Crisis in Nepal
Nepal never went through good records of human rights except brief period between 1950 and 1960 and another brief period of 5 years between 1990 and 1995. Illegal detention and extra-judicial killing were part of Nepal’s history since introduction Rana Regime in 18461. Excessive use of force by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (King’s Government) is peaceful protest organized by Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) played major role to push the country at present situation. We can easily access the situation when a 8 year old child, Anish Shakya, who was witnessing Maoist demonstration, shot dead by the police2 in 1992. Arbitrary detention and torture against Samyukta Jana Morcha (Parent party of CPN – Maoist and then third largest party in parliament of Nepal with 13 seats) was common immediately restoration of democracy.3
Maoist had put forth 40 point demands through a memorandum addressed to them prime minister Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba before lunching so called “People’s War” in 1996. According American Human Rights Activist then active in Nepal, Barbara Adams, the demands could be summarized as (1) Demands related to nationalism, (2) Demands related to the public and its well-being, (3) Demands related to people’s living.4 As prime minister rejected to accept the memorandum CPN (Maoist) started so called people’s war before the ultimatum date mentioned in the memorandum which lead the country to spiral violence and gross abuse of human rights from both sides of warring parties. According to different studies Maoist hold their control over 80% of Nepal, mostly rural area. Government has presence in only cities and district headquarters in the country.
Human Rights Condition in Nepal
On human rights condition, excerpts from human rights report of Nepal from US state department “The Government's human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses. The citizens' right to change the Government was provided for by the Constitution, although the ongoing insurgency prevented the holding of elections in 2002. The security forces used arbitrary and unlawful lethal force and continued to abuse detainees, sometimes using torture as punishment or to extract confessions. The disappearance of persons in custody was a problem. Prison conditions remained poor. Impunity remained a problem, although the military took some initial steps to penalize perpetrators in a few cases. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigated allegations of human rights violations and, while the Government has begun to pay recommended compensation to some victims, recommended disciplinary action against police seldom occurred. Arbitrary arrest and lengthy pre-trial detention were problems.”5describes better than I can do. The situation is so bad that words are not enough to explain.
Human rights abuses by government forces are described by reputed international organizations and media as below:
“Shanta Shrestha was reportedly arrested by the security forces at midnight on 31 May. Army personnel, some of whom were in civilian dress, surrounded her residence at Purano Baneshwar, Kathmandu, before entering and taking her away. Her current whereabouts are unknown, as is the reason for her arrest.Shanta Shrestha was an active campaigner during the pro-democracy movements in Nepal during 1950 and 1990. She is General Secretary of the Association for Promoting the Welfare and Honour of the Democratic Freedom Fighters (APWHDFF), a non-political forum established to honour the activists who were involved in the pro-democracy movements. She was also a founder member of the Nepal Mahila Sangh, Nepal Women's Association, which is affiliated to the Nepali Congress Party (NC)”6. – Amnesty International
“At least 18 people were shot dead in Nepal by members of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) in August. Reports of the massacre emerged on the eve of peace talks between the government and representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Ten days later, on 27 August, the seven-month ceasefire agreed by both sides collapsed. ......
.....Their hands were tied behind their backs. The soldiers searched the house, overturning cooking pots and breaking utensils, and found one 303 rifle, two pistols and 14 home-made grenades. An hour later the army marched the detainees to Dandakateri, about three hours' walk away. They allegedly made them stand in rows and shot them dead.”7– Amnesty International
“Since 1998, Amnesty International has received reports of 622 cases of "disappearance", hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions, thousands of arbitrary arrests and widespread torture by security forces. The organisation has also received numerous reports of abductions, torture and killings by the CPN (Maoist) and has frequently called on its leadership to end these abuses and abide by international humanitarian law.”8– Amnesty International
‘Bhim Bahadur Basnet is 60 years old and he is starting to doubt his faith. It is all because of the disappearance of his son, Keshab Basnet. The young man was arrested by police nearly two years ago near the family home in Bardia district, western Nepal. He has not been seen since.
"I pray to God all the time to bring him back," says Bhim Basnet. "I light candles and pray. But I wonder now if there is a God at all. My prayers remain unanswered." Keshab is one of hundreds of Nepali citizens said to be among the country's growing ranks of "disappeared". ‘9– BBC
‘“On a number of occasions, the Government used unwarranted lethal force against persons suspected of involvement in the "People's War" in the central part of the country. Launched in 1996 by UPF leaders Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the "People's War" is a self-declared Maoist insurgency.
In 1997 Amnesty International (AI) reported that police "have repeatedly resorted to the use of lethal force in situations where such force was clearly unjustified." AI's statement was based on an investigation of 50 killings committed by police, mostly in 1996.”
“In August truck driver Ale Tamang died as a result of torture while in police custody; in October 1998, Ganesh Rai died after being tortured by police while in custody”
‘.... “The insurgents were responsible for numerous abuses. Guerrillas, usually armed with homemade guns, explosives, knives, and sticks, attacked landowners, civilians, government officials, and government facilities in a number of districts”10.....’ – State Department, US Government
‘... “In July 1998, Amnesty International reported that Mohan Prasad Ali, a teacher from Dhakeri village in Banke district, was apprehended by police in June 1998. He has not been seen since. In November 1998 AI reported that government officials told members of a delegation that it sent to Nepal that UPF militants had abducted Mohan Prasad Ali.” ...
“The police caught up with them there. Six rebels unwisely took shelter in a house. The police set light to it. In the firefight that followed all the rebels were shot dead except one - 17-year-old Bhagwati Chaudhary. According to human rights agencies, after interrogating Chaudhary, they shot her.
That summary execution last month is just the latest example of extra-judicial killing in Nepal. Since 1996 the authorities have been struggling to contain a growing insurgency in the remote mid-west of what was once a peaceful Himalayan kingdom.
At least 1,500 people have been killed - and two thirds of the victims have died at the hands of the Nepalese police.11”.... ‘ – DAWN, Popular Pakistani News Paper
The human rights abuses by Maoist side are not less chilling than the ones from government side:
... “There's an unofficial curfew in Kathmandu, including Thamel, and an increasing amount of official curfews, often declared at short notice, in towns throughout the Kathmandu valley. Army and police checkpoints can slow travel, and there are reports that rebels threatening violence - and bandits posing as rebels using actual violence - are sporadically targeting travellers for revenue-raising purposes. The districts of Banke, Dang, Syangja, Surkhet, Rukum, Kalikot, Jajarkot, Rolpa, Salyan and Gorkha are considered especially dangerous.”12.... – www.whatsontheplanet.com a travel related website
“Last year, Maoists gunned down the chairman of the Association of the Victims of Maoist Violence, Ganesh Chilwal, in Kathmandu.
He was shot soon after the association led a rally in which the effigy of top rebel leaders was burnt in protest at the eight-year Maoist uprising that has left 9,000 dead.” – BBC
“In Dang district, an armed group of Maoist insurgents attacked at the peaceful programme carried out by pro-left People’s Front of Nepal (PFN) at Makundada of Dhikpur VDC on October 5. The insurgents hurled socket bombs near the venue of the PFN programme. Later on the insurgents came at the venue and took away the mike, banner and flags of PFN after they continued their programme ignoring the Maoists' intimidating tactics. Five PFN activists including its central committee member, Lekha Raj Regmi was injured in the attack13.” – Observer Research Foundation
“Earlier on Saturday, the rebels had killed three locals including an eight-year-old child, injured six others and abducted some 74 people who were participating in a meeting to set up a Retaliatory Committee against the Maoists.
“I have come to seek refuge under the security forces by leaving all my properties, except some food stuff,” said an elderly villager of Salleri-4.”14 – Kantipur Online
“Amnesty International strongly condemns the killing of journalist and human rights defender, Dekendra Raj Thapa, on 11 August 2004. He was abducted in Dailekh district on 27 June after being summoned by the CPN (Maoist) to discuss a drinking water project he had been managing. We note that the CPN (Maoist) has taken responsibility for his killing, and justified it by accusing him of spying for the security forces and acting as master of ceremonies at an event attended by the King of Nepal. We request further details as to the evidence on the basis of which he was accused of spying and the process by which the "charges" against him were proven. Amnesty International is also concerned that since his killing, other journalists in Dailekh district have reportedly been threatened and harassed by CPN (Maoist) members.”15– Amnesty International
“Jagatman Talchabhadel, Secretary of the Nawalpur Village Development Committee (VDC), Sindhupalchok district and President of the village sub-branch of the Nepal Red Cross Society, was reportedly abducted by CPN (Maoist) members on 15 July 2004 from the Nawalpur Bazar. Two other people, Badri Khatri, a Nepali Congress party member and village health worker, and Kadar Khatri another civilian, were reportedly abducted at the same time and all three were reportedly tortured before being taken away. At the time of writing their whereabouts remain unknown”16. – Amnesty International
Looking at the current situation of spiral violence of human rights by government forces and Guerillas of CPN (Maoist), it is difficult to anybody who wants to live and live peacefully has difficulty to remain inside Nepal.
Citing the situation of insecurity and uncertainty, Peace Corps, a US government volunteering project, has withdrawn its all of the volunteers from Nepal effective September 23, 2004. Peace corps has 42 years successful history in Nepal.17Likewise, in July 2002, the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) suspended their food-for-work supported development activities in Jajarkot and Mugu districts in mid-west Nepal after Maoist rebels looted food stocks provided by them. 18
If this happens to international bodies and organizations backed by the governments of powerful countries, everyone can imagine the situation of helpless Nepali people inside the country. This situation has made Nepal a place/country undesirable to live for foreigners as well as Nepali people.
Figure 1: Children killed by Both Government and Maoist in 2003
Figure 2: People killed by both state and Maoist in 2003
Figure 3: Gross Human Rights Abuse, People killed by RNA after arrest
Figure 4: Internal Displacement 200319
Figure 5: Internal Displacement 20
Internal Displacement: A search for safety
The internal displacement is high in the districts where Maoist insurgency us in its peak. The districts that are completely under Maoist control (Far Western and Far northern ones) and the districts mostly under Government Control (Districts near to Kathmandu) has less number of people displaced due to sense of security and assurance that people may not be sandwiched in cross fire between Maoist Insurgents and Government Secretary Forces under command of Royal Nepal Army. The other factor to reduce displacement from remote districts is inaccessibility to the outer world from those districts. For example to go out of Darchula district of far western region there is only one exit that goes to Neighboring Indian territory, similarly some people from some of the northern districts can only go to Tibet and this map does not represent displacement beyond boarder. Some of the districts like Mugu, Jumla, Dolpa, Rolpa, Rukum etc. which are under Maoist Control have higher number of displacement probably due to people's rejection to autocratic rule of Maoist or may be due to unbearable government embargo.
The main reason of people fleeing Maoist affected area is forced recruitment of youths in their party as full time party worker, part time party worker and militia. According to Nepali news papers thousands of youths are being recruited forcefully.21 They fear persecution if they do not join Maoist and they sure that they will be persecuted if they join Maoist.
Finally it is enough to quote “According to a 2002 report on conflict-induced displacement commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Displacement, many displaced Nepalese are from relatively well-off strata of the population, such as landlords, party workers, security personnel, and teachers—all targeted by the rebels.
Figure 6: Blockade imposed by RNA and other Forces under its Command as well as Maoist Rebel 22
Nepalese security forces have also displaced many civilians through food blockades and the torture and killing of persons suspected of aiding the rebels, according to Amnesty International.”23from a report by United States' Committee for Refugees.
Regular strikes (strikes are generally considered curfew imposed by rebels) organized by Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) and other organizations affiliated to it makes people's life more vulnerable to lethal risk exposing them to either Maoist Rebels or Royal Nepal Army and Security Forces under its command or both when people must go out to look for basic need like food and medicine. Numbers of killing by both sides increases during general strikes and curfews imposed by government forces. Most of the districts are facing perennial curfew imposed by government forces. To have a closer look on curfews we have to consider the following quote from a website that issues travel information. And this is not an incident but regular phenomenon in Nepal. Moreover, we can add the names of almost all of the districts as especially dangerous districts.
Figure 7: Districts affected by strikes organized by CPN (Maoist), 24
The districts under complete Maoist control have less frequent clashes than the district under government’s control. Maoists have overrun headquarters of Dolpa district in September 200025, Jumla district in November 200226 and Mugu districts on November 1, 200427. According to BBC's Daniel Lak, Humla district is already under Maoist control28. Government side lost several lives of its army men in Rolpa once and again and have no control in the district29. It appears that districts under either Maoist control or heavy Maoist influence suffer less frequent clashes.
Figure 8: Frequency of clashes based on political divisions of country30
Internal Safety and Safe Third Country Options
Previously, India used to be safe for political asylum seekers and people displaced due to internal conflicts. Most of the leaders of currently ruling party, Nepal Communist Party (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and one of the major democratic party in Nepal, Nepali Congress had spent considerable time of their life in India during their struggle against autocratic Panchyat System. But the situation has changed now. Nepali government and Royal Nepal Army has considerable influence over Indian policy that they can extradite anybody they want from India though there in now extradition treaty between these two countries.
... “Delhi Police has started collecting personal details of Nepali visitors here as more and more people displaced from the current conflict in Nepal have begun to arrive here for jobs and safety.
The police has made "identification certificate" compulsory for Nepali in order to stay in hotels or to apply even for menial jobs in the city, said Pradeep Khatiwada, first secretary at the Royal Nepalese Embassy” ...31
Similarly, CPN (Maoist) has such a strong presence in Indian that no anti-Maoist can feel safe in India. CPN (Maoist) is working in close coordination with Indian communist rebels.32 There are speculations that so called ‘people’s army’ military wing of CPN (Maoist) is providing military training to different Indian rebel groups and enjoys extensive support from Indian rebels.
While atrocities from RNA are common phenomena, CPN (Maoist) holds almost 80% territory of Nepal. Besides that, the rebels have strong presence in the places where RNA has its hold. This situation makes difficult to survive for pro-Maoist, anti-Maoist and general citizen who are leveled as pro or anti Maoist for no reason.
“Last year, Maoists gunned down the chairman of the Association of the Victims of Maoist Violence, Ganesh Chilwal, in Kathmandu.
He was shot soon after the association led a rally in which the effigy of top rebel leaders was burnt in protest at the eight-year Maoist uprising that has left 9,000 dead33. “
“A group of Maoists shot Debendra Raj Kandel, former minister of state for home, at his own residence at Ekantakuna, Lalitpur at around 7 p.m. Friday, eyewitnesses said at 7:45 p.m.34”
When there is no security to Chairman of Maoist Victim’s Association, to human rights activists and social workers and to former minister, no place in Nepal is safe to those who are against Maoist atrocities and for those who are against brutality of RNA. As the result of this situation, many Nepali who are able to leave the country are seeking asylum worldwide and USA can not be the exception.
Asylum in the U.S.
USA, as renowned protector of human rights and democracy, is and has been a desired place to seek asylum for many people displaced due to internal conflicts and many freedom fighters fighting abusive governments that exist in many countries around the globe. One of the many reasons of choosing the US as final refuge may be economic but always the main reason has been the freedom they can exercise in the US. Moreover the respect of human rights from the US Government and the sense of protection people feel in the US bring asylum seekers from all over the world to the US. The following excerpts from the website of the State department are useful to understand US law on asylum and refugee protection:
‘Who is Eligible for Asylum in the U.S.
Asylum is a form of protection that allows eligible refugees who are physically present in the United States to remain in the United States. Conditions for granting asylum are described in Sec. 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Asylum may be granted to a person who is determined to be a “refugee” within the meaning of Sec. 101(a)(42) of the INA. The Act defines "refugee," in part, as any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The INA also prohibits the granting of asylum to certain individuals, even if they are refugees. Broadly put, these prohibitions are based on persecution of others, serious criminal activity, threat to U.S. national security, and firm resettlement in a third country.
The Role of the U.S. Department of State in Asylum The Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL/CRA) is responsible for asylum related matters in the Department of State, but does not make determinations on eligibility for asylum. Applications for asylum in the U.S. are adjudicated by the Asylum Division in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and, for aliens who are in removal proceedings, by Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals within the Department of Justice. DRL/CRA prepares responses to information requests on country conditions relevant to specific asylum claims and coordinates responses to overseas document verification requests. The Department of State responses and document investigation results are then used by Immigration Judges, USCIS asylum officers and DHS Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) trial attorneys in the litigation and adjudication of asylum applications’.35
A portion of section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which deals on asylum and refugee protection, is copied below to make understanding rules on asylum easy.
‘Sec. 208.(a) Authority to Apply for Asylum.-
(1) In general. - Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien's status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 235(b).
(2) Exceptions. -
(A) Safe third country. - Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an alien if the Attorney General determines that the alien may be removed, pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, to a country (other than the country of the alien's nationality or, in the case of an alien having no nationality, the country of the alien's last habitual residence) in which the alien's life or freedom would not be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and where the alien would have access to a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalent temporary protection, unless the Attorney General finds that it is in the public interest for the alien to receive asylum in the United States.
(B) Time limit. - Subject to subparagraph (D), paragraph (1) shall not apply to an alien unless the alien demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the application has been filed within 1 year after the date of alien's arrival in the United States.
(C) Previous asylum applications. - Subject to subparagraph (D), paragraph (1) shall not apply to an alien if the alien has previously applied for asylum and had such application denied.
(D) Changed conditions. - An application for asylum of an alien may be considered, notwithstanding subparagraphs (B) and (C), if the alien demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Attorney General either the existence of changed circumstances which materially affect the applicant's eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing the application within the period specified in subparagraph (B).’ 36
Though the government, law and people in the US are positive to asylum seekers who are at real risk of loosing their freedom and their life and in need of protection, sometimes, filing for asylum in the US can be double jeopardy. Most of the asylum seekers loose everything they had in their country during fleeing from their country including, travel documents, relevant papers and contacts to their relatives and friends, it would be hard to convince immigration officers and judges that they are in real need of protection. This may cause suffering instead of protection as it happened to Sonam.
‘ Sonam fled Tibet for Nepal so that she could freely practice her religion and become a Buddhist nun. In Nepal she joined a convent, but then abruptly left it because she feared authorities would send her back to Tibet.
Sonam arrived at Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport in August 2003, traveling on a false passport. She was jailed on arrival and her application for parole was denied, despite the fact that a U.S. citizen, an expert on the plight of Tibetan nuns, visited her in prison and was willing to vouch for her.
On Nov. 18, an immigration judge ruled that Sonam was entitled to asylum, but as she was being congratulated, she was handcuffed and returned to prison while the U.S. attorney general contemplated an appeal of the decision.
On Dec. 18 an attorney filed that appeal; Sonam remains in jail.
Such treatment of people who seek asylum in the United States has increased following the administration's launch of its "war on terrorism" after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, says a new report by the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), which recently changed its name to Human Rights First.
"It has become increasingly apparent that the absence of essential due process safeguards in the asylum detention system has left asylum seekers at the mercy of a new approach: routine, and sometimes blanket, refusals to release asylum seekers rather than meaningful assessments of the need for detention in each individual case," according to "In Liberty's Shadow: U.S. Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Era of Homeland Security." ‘.......37
Despite of the risk of being put in jail and being deported to the country where their life is at risk, the number of people seeking asylum in the US is growing every year. Total 65153 cases were received in by immigration courts nationwide in 2003. Out of these cases 46441 were affirmative (applied for asylum by completing an application form) and 18642 were defensive (requested fro asylum during removal process)38. The tables below show trends asylum in the US:
Table 1: Percentage of asylum granted people by nationality 39
Percentage of Total
Table 2: Trend of asylum seeking and asylum granting 40
According to Human Rights First (Previously Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights) the US laws on refugee protection and asylum may be turned to negative direction soon. As published in it’s website “Following the elections, a small group of Senators and Representatives has resumed work to reconcile the very different versions of the 9/11 legislation passed by the Senate and House earlier this fall. The House-passed bill includes measures that would do great harm to those seeking refuge in this country. On November 8, Senate negotiators made a new proposal to their House counterparts that would eliminate the most egregious provisions. Negotiations are expected to continue through the “lame-duck” session of Congress. Even if these provisions are not included in the 9/11 bill this year, we remain concerned that House leaders will continue their attempts to advance provisions that target refugees and torture survivors in the next Congress, beginning in January 2005”41
United States of America is one of the major donors of United Nation High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) and one of the nine countries that hold major part of refugee resettlement (accept the refugees who are not able to return to their home country) program of UNHCR .42
Nepali Asylum Seekers in the US
Nepal used to be a peaceful country till 1996. In February 1996, Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) started its so-called people’s war that aim to overthrow monarchy and establish communist state. At the beginning, they were a small group active in few district of the country. Thus, there was no political crisis and no internal conflicts. The number of Nepali asylum seekers (based on this conflict) remained zero till 1997. As the conflict took its momentum, people started being displaced and number of Nepali asylum seekers grew rapidly. The figures tabulated below show the trend that directly related to the level of conflict in that country.
Table 3: Nepali Asylum Seekers 43
Table 4: Asylum granted to Nepali (A trend 1996 - 2003) 46
Asylum Granted Cases
Capabilities of Immigrants Can be Helpful to Economic Development
It is possible to find your taxi driver or bar tender in the bar you visit frequently be rocket scientist or PHD holder and professor of Social studies from any of the developing countries of the world. To find cause of people immigrating to the US, their expectation before coming to the US, the dream they brought here and the reality they faced after coming here, I have interviewed some immigrants recently just to find this fact. All of my interviewees were entered in the US within past 8 years and they all were from developing countries. My questions to each of interviewee were:
(1) When did you came in this country? 2) What were you doing professionally or educationally before you come?( 3) What were economic conditions like your country? Politicaly, social were there other conditions that you are want to mention. (4) What would your future have looked like if you had stayed in your country? (5) What Pushed or pulled here? (6) How has your life been since you arrived? And (7) how were your expectations different from the reality you found?
As answers from each of the interviewed person were similar in sense if not in words in terms of the expectations they have before coming here and the situation they faced after coming here, I didn't include the repeated answers or outcomes of the interview. Thus, summary of responses from each of the interviewee is narrated in the succeeding paragraphs.
Mr Ramesh from Nepal was a reputed Civil Engineer in his country is currently working as bar tender in one of the bars in Greenwich Village. Talking to me he expressed his dissatisfaction on his current condition in the US. But, he is not satisfied with the situation of his country either. Though he is hopeful that eventually situation will improve in his country, he is tired of mounting number of people killed by both Maoist and Royal Nepal Army. He said his social status in future would be good if he remained in his country but he feared his life and fled the country. He is here due to internal conflict in Nepal. When asked about life in the US since he arrived, he said “It is not satisfactory as expected. Though economically it is better than in my country, the life here is frustrating as I did not get here what I professionally deserve. Education I earned back home didn't work here and I am working under supervision of someone less qualified than me just for peanuts if I compare myself to my coworkers.” But he feels secured here.
He sees big difference between reality in the US and his expectation when he was in Nepal and says “There is big difference between reality in the US and our expectation while leaving our own country. We think that everybody is equal in the US as the US is Champaign of human rights and democracy. But when I came here I didn't feel the same. There are two types of people in the US, immigrants and non immigrants. Immigrants loose everything they earned in their country and start new life from zero. Their university degree, sometimes, counted below GED. Their professional capabilities are under-estimated and they get less pay compared to their non-immigrant counterparts. This situation is really frustrating.”
Kamal was University Teacher in Nepal. He immigrated to the US in 2000. Currently he is working as jeweler in one jewelry repair store in Diamond street Manhattan. The story, the frustration, aspirations he has are similar to those Ramesh has. Both of them face same fate. They are highly qualified but not recognized by US system. Their safety in the US, both physically and financially, is at the cost of their qualification and their social status.
Nara Bahadur was a simple Government officer in Nepal and has different story than Kamal and Ramesh. He fled Nepal in 2002 amid Maoist threat to his life. Now he is safe making better money then he was making in Nepal, but he has left his wife and children behind. He is happy in his income and safety but worried about life of his loved ones who are still in Nepal.
My study revealed that most of the immigrants here are well educated and able to do better jobs than their US educated counterparts but are not recognized by the US system, thus, forced suppressed their capabilities. If US government brings some regulation that helps to recognize the capabilities of qualified immigrants, it would help to improve US economy and culture.
I am one of many Nepali displaced due to internal conflict. I was social worker dedicated to human rights, women rights, social justice and democracy. Due to my opinion and activities, I had to go through such incidents that my life was in risk. I was victimized by Maoist Insurgents and couldn’t get protection from the government forces. Though I loved my country a lot, I had to flee my country. I fled in October 2001 and sought for asylum in the US.
I am happy that I got asylum, which means safety, here. But I left my children in Nepal and always worried of their life. I got a bit frustrated about immigration file processing in the US. Asylum was granted to me in October 2002. I immediately field for my children’s immigration papers. I know they are insecure there. But I am waiting for their case getting approved for more than two years without any result.
Compared to the situation of my interviewees, my situation is not much different than theirs’. I feel that I could have been in better position if my experience in Nepal as social worker and human rights and women rights activist. I share the frustration with Ramesh and Kamal as my qualification being not recognized though I understand that the language barrier and the socio-economic and cultural differences between my country Nepal and the US has to do something on being our qualification not recognized.
Similarly I share the frustration of Nara Bahadur that my kids are also in big risk in Nepal waiting for their papers to be accepted. But, while Nara Bahadur is satisfied with his income level and the type of work he is doing, I am not satisfied with my work condition and income level.
Except Immigration system, I find everything in the US running smoothly. I feel that it is a land of opportunity but there is dog eat dog situation. Any immigrant in the US is in tougher competition than in his/her country. Thus, we have to prove ourselves as a best competitor to get better opportunity. Thus, unlikely to my interviewees, I am studying hard to prepare myself qualified for better position in American job market.
Nepal is in worst crisis of her history and people are suffering a lot. It looks like Buddha and Gandhi lost significance in South Asia. Thus, India is indirectly participating in this crisis. The government of India is donating war equipments to the Government which is taking the government of Nepal away from the peaceful solution. Similarly, financial interest of powerful countries like Belgium, the US and UK also playing negative role in this crisis. I strongly believe that selling weapon and providing military assistance to the parties involved in the conflict will not bring peace and if peace is not restored as soon as possible, more human rights violation and genocide likely to occur.
As a result, Nepal and India are unsafe to Nepali who oppose military solution of the crisis and want to live peacefully. Emigrating from their country to anywhere in the world is only option remained with peace loving people of Nepal.
Amid this situation, Nepali people are fleeing the country everyday and seek asylum around the world. People from Nepal who seek asylum in the US are very small minority compared to those staying in Europe as refugee and those displaced internally. If the situation continues, it doesn’t take long to fall Nepal in humanitarian crisis similar to the recent crisis of Sudan. Hence Nepali people want to request all of the countries of the world and the UN to help Nepal find peaceful solution of the crisis instead of fueling the conflict directly or indirectly.
Fortunately, US legal system and attitude towards asylum seekers is providing chance to displaced Nepali live safe and better life compared to their country people still living in Nepal. We have no words to thank America for the help and hospitality. But our goal is not to remain in the US indefinitely but to wait for an environment that helps us to return and live peacefully in our motherland.
1 Nepal ko Rajnaitik Darpan Bhag 1, by Grishma Bahadur Devkota, Sajha Prakashan, Nepal -1983
11http://www.dawn.com/2000/07/04/int11.htm (DAWN is a prestigious Pakistani News Paper which is famous for its sharp and fearless journalism.), http://www.asyl.net/Magazin/Docs/docs-13/l-22/l7323nep.htm (Luke Harding for the Guardian – Police accused of dirty war against Nepal's Maoist guerrillas)
18 http://www.gvnews.net/html/DailyNews/alert885.html,The Global vision News Network is built upon the reporting of more than 325 in-country news organizations that have joined forces to give a native voice to global news. Their "inside-out" perspectives differentiate News Network content from the world coverage of the more mainstream news organizations.
31http://www.db.idpproject.org/Sites/IdpProjectDb/idpSurvey.nsf/wViewCountries/22AAC9D894B5028BC1256EF200455974 (This article is from database of IDP Project Database. Global IDP (International Displaced Person) Project is advocacy organization working for international displaced people or refugees. Global IDP is working in Nepal for protection of people internally displaced due to internal conflict.)
32 They have formed an organization of South Asian Rebels called CCOMPOSA in the initiation of CPN (Maoist) and majority of members of CCOMPOSA are Indian communist groups. For further detail see http://cpnm.org/new/ccomposa/ccomposa_index.htm