On March 18, 2017 a 24-year old Tibetan man named Pema Gyaltsen (also known as Pegyal) self-immolated setting himself on fire, near Tsoga monastery in Nyagrong, Kham, eastern Tibet.
This is the 147th tibetan who died for self-immolation. Sources have said “he called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom in Tibet “
Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the Dalai Lama exhile in 1959 to Dharamsala, India, the lives of Tibetan refugees is just continuing being incredibly difficult and even more restricted than before.
Within the 474,000 square miles of the TAR,(Tibetan Autonomous region) Tibetans live in an condition of constant government overwatch and restricted movement, they are subject to arbitrary imprisonment and torture.
Their sovereign culture, religion, history, and language are being systematically and deliberately erased in what the Dalai Lama has called a “cultural genocide” at the hands of China’s Communist party. They cannot keep images of the Dalai Lama, speak in Tibetan, or can’t even travel outside their own villages.
Around 20,000 Tibetans live in Nepal. Many of them live in former detention camps that have transformed into permanent settlements. The largest communities in Kathmandu and Pokhara constitute up to 1000 people.
Since 1989, Kathmandu has not issued official documents to Tibetans. According to the UN Refugee Agency estimates, half of the refugees living in Nepal have no documents.
Without documentation refugees cannot go to school and also have difficulty finding work. Outside of the settlements some refugees have found a niche working in tourism or selling Tibetan souvenirs. There is also an industry developing weaving and selling carpets. But out of this they cannot work, or go to college, get a driver licence, open a bank account or travel outside Nepal But officially, Tibetans can work in these sectors only with the possession of a residence permit
There is no perspective in the country, especially for young people who are suffering under policies that are becoming fiercer. There is neither the possibility to integrate into everyday life in Nepal, nor to live with Tibetan identity.
Tibetans here are dehumanised, they live in a limbo with no way out.
The images I shot are taken in two refugees camps: Majnu Kha Tilla in North Delhi, India, a colony established in 1960 located between the Yamuna River and Delhi’s outer ring road, and Tashi Palkhiel, in the North of Pokhara, Nepal.