Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Amendment allows exiled Tibetans permanent status

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government will draft an amendment to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) that would allow Tibetans living in Taiwan without legal status to obtain permanent residency and submit it to the Legislative Yuan for review next month, Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commissioner Kao Su-po (高思博) said yesterday.

“The Immigration Act must be amended to resolve the residency issue for Tibetans living in the country [without legal status],” Kao said during the commission’s end of year press conference yesterday.

“The commission and the Ministry of the Interior reached a consensus in a meeting yesterday [Thursday] on how we will draft the amendment. The proposal will be reviewed in a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 8 and then sent to the legislature for review,” Kao said

A clause will be added into the Immigration Act to make Tibetans a special case when granting permanent residency.

More than 100 Tibetans living in Taiwan without legal status have been staging a sit-in demonstration at Liberty Square since Dec. 9 asking the government to grant them asylum.

Many of them crossed through the Himalayas to Nepal and India before coming to Taiwan on forged Nepalese or Indian passports.

As the revision may take some time to be implemented, the commission has also agreed to issue the Tibetans temporary alien resident certificates before they receive permanent residency.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Kao and the Tibetans on Thursday during which the refugees were presented with two options — either the temporary alien resident certificates or that they stay in detention centers or shelters run by selected non-governmental organizations while the amendment is being passed.

While temporary alien resident certificates allow the Tibetans to reside legally in the country but do not grant them the right to work, “all 104 of them chose option one,” Kao said.

Although the option comes with the condition that the Tibetans end their sit-in protest and leave Liberty Square, the Tibetans have decided to stay put.

“We will stay here until we get our temporary alien resident certificates in our hands,” a Tibetan on the square, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Taipei Times.

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