Deportation of 122 Chinese set for today

Kathmandu, January 7

China is sending two chartered aircraft to Nepal tomorrow to ferry 122 of its citizens who were arrested in Kathmandu on suspicion of committing cyber and financial crime. This is the first time such a large number of foreigners from the same country are being deported together.

Of those being deported, 42 will depart Kathmandu via China Eastern Airlines at 5:15pm and 80 will leave the capital at 5:45pm via China Southern Airlines, according to high-level sources.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal also confirmed the arrival of two chartered Chinese aircraft tomorrow.

“They will leave Kathmandu between 4:00pm and 6:00pm. But we do not know why they were chartered,” CAAN Spokesperson Raj Kumar Chhettri said.

The government will hand over the arrested Chinese to Chinese government officials tomorrow at Tribhuvan International Airport, Department of Immigration Director General Eshwor Raj Poudel told The Himalayan Times.

But the handover has raised eyebrows of human rights activists.

“The government does not seem to have conducted a proper study on whether the rights of those who are being deported will be protected in their home country,” said Charan Prasai, a human rights activist.

“Since there is no transparency in the process of sending the Chinese to their home country, this is extradition on the pretext of deportation. A sovereign country like Nepal should not have followed China’s instruction blindly,” said another rights activist Kapil Shrestha.

The 122 Chinese were arrested on December 23 on suspicion of using social media to swindle money from rich, single and divorced Chinese women, running an illegal online gambling racket, operating Ponzi scheme and blackmailing Chinese by hacking their private information from phones and computers.

Since Nepal Police did not conduct investigation into these purported offences, the District Administration Office, Kathmandu, ordered their release on Sunday after imposing a fine of Rs 1,000 each for ‘indecent behaviour’.

They were booked for ‘indecent behaviour’ as some were found engaging in activities that breached the terms and conditions of their visas, while others were not even in possession of their passports. Police later handed the arrested Chinese over to the Department of Immigration.

The DoI today imposed a fine ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 on each of the Chinese and banned them from travelling to Nepal for four years.

Thirty-four of the 122 Chinese had valid travel documents (30 passports and four other documents). They were fined Rs 1,000 each for engaging in activities restricted by Nepal’s immigration laws. The remaining 88, who immigration officials said did not have valid travel documents, were fined Rs 2,000 each.

The DoI has issued travel documents to 122 Chinese after collecting the fine. “Travel documents to deport those arrested back to China were prepared after verifying they were Chinese citizens,” said Poudel.

Poudel added, “We had asked the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu to send copies of passports of those who did not possess travel documents to confirm they were Chinese citizens. We then prepared their travel documents.”

Nepal Police had officially said it seized 67 passports when the Chinese were arrested from nine different locations in Kathmandu. But a section of Nepal Police say 102 passports were confiscated during the time of the arrest.

This implies that 72 Chinese, whose passports have been seized, are on the run. It is not known why there is no uniformity in the number of passports that have been seized. Police did not clarify this issue to The Himalayan Times.