Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Dying in Thailand

Nepalis imprisoned in Thai jails have a dark and hopeless future. In an appeal letter to fellow Nepalis, they are asking for pledges of support to bring them back home. "The situation is grave for all of us. There is no medicine supply. We are given meagre meals. We may die if this continues," says the appeal letter signed by 45 Nepali inmates. Their desperation to return home is so apparent that they would rather spend the rest of their lives in Nepal's prisons than die in Thailand. "We will be indebted to Nepal's government if helps repatriate us from here," the Nepali inmates said in the letter.

Four Nepalis including Harka Bahadur Pun and Hari Bahadur Gurung have died inside the cells of Piset, Byangkwang and Lardyao jails in Thailand. More than three dozen Nepalis are serving long term jail sentences including life imprisonment. Bangel Ghale has been imprisoned for the last 21 years. All are accused of drug trafficking, but most say they were framed.

Most Nepali prisoners cannot afford medical treatment at the hospitals where they are asked to pay for the check-ups. The unhygienic conditions and inappropriate supply of bedding and clothing means their health is deteriorating. "We have to sleep on the floor all the time, with no bedsheets. They don't even provide us tooth pastes and soaps," says the letter.

The Nepalis in Thai prisons are now asking the Nepal government to sign an extradition treaty so they can come home. Several countries including Nigeria, Australia and Estonia have signed such treaties with the Thai government and were able to repatriate their prisoners. More than 300 Nigerians were able to go home last year, but the inmates say Nepal has so far shown no interest in this matter despite constant appeals to the Royal Nepali Embassy in Thailand.

"We had discussed with Law Ministry months ago, but there has been no progress so far," admits Madan Kumar Bhattarai, spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Meanwhile, the unit at MFA looking after South-eastern regional affairs is working on an extradition treaty. "This problem can't be solved easily. What we really need is a new law to look into this matter," says Hira Bahadur Thapa, at the MFA. The list of Nepalis who signed the appeal:

Santu Gurung, Ras Tamang, Nuri Sherpa, Ram Bahadur Lama, Singh Bahadur Tamang, Ang Kami Lama, Sanukaji Maharjan, Phey Tshering Tamang, Raj Kumar Gurung, Ram Lal Gurung, Mangal Bahadur Gurung, Buddhi Lal Tamang, Ghaman Tamang, Ramesh Kumar Tamang, Tulo Tamang, San Bahadur Tamang, Iman Gurung, Om Bahadur Gurung, Jiwan Thapa, Puskar KC, Ram Bahadur Gurung, Rosan Gurung, Arun Kumar Tamang, Beg Bahadur Tamang, Lok Bahadur Tamang, Podhe Ghale, Chandra Kumar Rai, Nar Bahadur Pun, Prakash Tamang, Tek Bahadur Ghale, Hir Bahadur Tamang and Prakash Karki, Sita Kumari Bista, Dauki Devi, Sita Rai, Nur Maya, Bem Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Yangki Sherpa, Kulaki Tamang and Maya Tamang.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)