Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A Tibetan Girl from India

Within the project #StatelessJourneys supported by the European Network on Statelessness, we talked to a Tibetan girl from India:

"I was born in the city of Dharamshala in India where I have lived all my life with my parents and my sister and brother. We are originally from Tibet. My parents fled from Tibet to India when they were young. There is a large Tibetan community in Dharamshala and our government in exile is situated there. We do not have Indian citizenship. We only have an identity certificate that we call a yellow book. We also hold a Tibetan green book that is issued by the Central Tibetan Administration. That document, the green book, is like a passport, but we cannot travel with it and it is not useful outside of our community. We do not have any other documents and we have never tried to obtain Indian citizenship. 

My life in the city was peaceful. Our community is very strong, and I had everything that I needed in Dharamshala. I did not go outside of the city often. My father is a Tibetan language teacher and my mother is a housewife. I finished high school and wanted to find a decent job, but it was not possible. Since I am Tibetan, I am not allowed to work in any government service of India, and it would be difficult for me to find a job outside of Dharamshala.

When I decided to flee from India, my parents supported me. My father bought a false passport for me. It was a Thai passport. From India I flew to Turkey. I was lucky not to get discovered by the border police. I stayed around 15 days in Istanbul, preparing for the next move. I knew that I would need to cross illegally other borders. Sometimes during the journey I travelled by car with other refugees, but most of the journey we walked. From Turkey, together with a group of refugees from different countries, I continued to Greece. We crossed the border unnoticed. I stayed in a smuggler’s house in Greece around one month. After Greece I went through Albania and Kosovo and in a couple of days I ended up in Serbia. But I do not plan to stay long here. I will continue my journey in two or three days. 

Once we entered Serbia, in the small town Prokuplje, the police caught the group I was travelling with. They took us to the police station. The police officers did not speak English well, but we somehow managed to communicate. They took our fingerprints and photographed us. They asked me where I was from. I told them that I was Tibetan. They were confused. One of the police officers opened the Google maps on his phone and I guessed from his gestures that he wanted me to show my place, so I pointed to Purang in Tibet where my parents were born. They were looking at the map for a while. They also asked me about my age. I remembered that my smuggler had told me that it was always better to tell that you were underage if you wanted to get a better treatment. So I lied. The police gave me a document that was written in Serbian and I was not able to read it. Later I was told that I could request accommodation in a refugee reception centre in Serbia. When we left the police station, we continued towards Belgrade.

In Belgrade, while I was sitting in a park where a lot of refugees gathered, I met someone from Praxis. She gave me the information about Serbia, the services I could get and explained the meaning of the police document that I had received after entering Serbia (it was a certificate on the expressed intention to seek asylum). That document contained my personal data and the information that I had Chinese nationality. With this document I can sleep legally in a hostel for two nights, which I am planning to do. 

I do not know exactly which border I will try to cross next. My aim is to reach Germany. I have a lot of friends there. I will get all the relevant information about legal residence in Germany from my friends and on Google. I left India to be able to do more with my life. I love music and I play the drums. I hope that in Germany I will reach my dream and play music."

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