The Nepalese Minority in Burma

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Australian Fellow: How many Nepali people are there in Burma and how did they come to be there?
Nepalese Chap: We are half a million Nepalese people around Burma and generally we have been in Burma like two hundred years.
Australian Fellow: Two hundred.
Nepalese Chap: Some Nepalese; they have already been and some they came to Nepal as British mercenaries. They joined the British Army.
Australian Fellow: Mercenaries?
Nepalese Chap: Mercenaries. Yeah. Mercenaries. Fourth Rifle Gurkha Army.
Australian Fellow: Right.
Nepalese Chap: …was from Nepal and they settled in Burma and now they are third generation Burmese…
Australian Fellow: And your grandfather was a Gurkha?
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. He was a Gurkha
Australian Fellow: And he is still alive?
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. He is now ninety nine years (old) already.
Australian Fellow: Wow!
Nepalese Chap: And he is a hundred years (old) I guess. Yeah. He is a hundred years (old). He joined the army in the First World War.
Australian Fellow: In the First World War!
Nepalese Chap: Yeah.
Australian Fellow: Wow!
Nepalese Chap: In the First World War. After the First World War. He said like in 1917. 1927 he started to…
Australian Fellow: He joined?
Nepalese Chap: Yeah.
Australian Fellow: Right ok. When did Burma become independent from the British Empire?
Nepalese Chap: First we became independent from the British in 1945 but the Japanese ruled for two years and we fought the Japanese for two years and then we got independence from Japan in like (about) 1947.
Australian Fellow: Right ok.
Nepalese Chap: Like that.
Australian Fellow: Ok.
Nepalese Chap: Now our situation in Burma is not so good. The Nepalese people do not get a lot of respect because these Burmese people; they do not know who we are.
Australian Fellow: So there is a lot of negative discrimination.
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. Negative discrimination. If we go some place they think we are…They have a word that they use for us. It is a very rude word.
Australian Fellow: It is a Burmese word?
Nepalese Chap: It is a Burmese word. They think that we are “kalaa”.
Australian Fellow: Uh-huh.
Nepalese Chap: But we are not “kalaa”.. We are (ethnic) Nepalese. We are Gurkha. Gurkha. Nepalese. After independence the Burmese government said after independence we are Nationals in Burma.
Australian Fellow: You are Burmese Nationals. Burmese Citizens.
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. Burmese citizens. But now to get a citizen card it is really difficult.
Australian Fellow: Mm.
Nepalese Chap: If we go to …like…immig..what do you call it (immigration)?
Australian Fellow: If you want to emigrate?
Nepalese Chap: If we go and apply for our ID card..
Australian Chap: Uh-huh.
Nepalese Fellow: We have to pay a lot more.. than Burmese people.
Australian Fellow: Have to pay more. Ok.
Nepalese Chap: Not like a little more. Maybe fifteen times. Maybe fifty times.
Australian Fellow: Wow! That is terrible.
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. It is like that.
Australian Fellow: Have you been to Nepal?
Nepalese Chap: Me; not yet.
Australian Fellow: Uh-huh.
Nepalese Chap: Nepal and Burma do not have such a good relationship.
Australian Fellow: Right. Ok.
Nepalese Chap: So we don’t go so I have not been but my parents have been many times.
Australian Fellow: What is the Nepal Government’s attitude to the Nepali people who are living in Burma? Will they give them a passport if they go there?
Nepalese Chap: No. No. No. We are Nepalese and we speak Nepalese very well. If we go to Nepal we don’t have that many problems there but still immigration knows that we are from Burma and they are also like “Passport!” or whatever (?) but mostly sixty seventy per cent (of the time) we don’t have so many problems.
Australian Fellow: And your family is from eastern Nepal?
Nepalese Chap: Yeah. The very very east like very near to Burma. The very east of Nepal.
Australian Fellow: Do you still have family members that you have contact with in Nepal?
Nepalese Chap: My Mum’s side all are in Nepal now. My Daddy’s side are in Burma.
Australian Fellow: Right ok.
Nepalese Fellow: My mum’s side are in Burma. And all are (university) graduates, teachers, professors.
Australian Chap: Great. Thanks very much.
Nepalese Chap: You are welcome, Sir.