Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan
Restricted for Private Circulation Only
January 15- February 15, 2011
Honorary DNC Vice-President to Ex-Drungpa Tshewang Rinzin
Tshewang Rinzin, 53, political prisoner serving life imprisonment
at Chamgang Central jail, Thimphu, for alleged treason, since his
arrest on 31 July, 1998 was awarded the Honorary Vice-Presidentship
of Druk National Congress on 17th December, 2010, for his recognition
and commitment to democracy, justice and human rights. The unanimous
decision on the award was taken during the Central Committee meeting
of Druk National Congress held on 1st December, 2010, at Kathmandu,
The National Assembly of Bhutan on 7th December, 2010,
endorsed the amendment in the Election Act that provides state funding
for the two existing political parties in Bhutan. It was unanimously
endorsed despite comical defiance shown by the opposition leaders
The issue of state funding of political parties was repeatedly raised in each preceding session of the National Assembly. The Chief Election Commission in past said, “The move by the Government to provide state funding for political parties is unconstitutional”.
The Constitution envisages a multiparty system, but the present action
by the Parliamentarians has virtually established the two parties
R.K.Dorji, President of Druk National Congresses, says, “This clearly shows the anti-democratic character and mal-intent of the Government and the Regime. Most of the prominent bureaucrats, particularly those partial to the Regime, were made to resign from the bureaucracy and establish the two political parties, one currently in Government and the other feebly in the opposition. It was evident right from the beginning that the Regime was orchestrating this to keep its grip on future politics and the political parties.
Despite the election fund previously allocated to contesting candidates,
the endorsement now to amend the Election Act to allow for the Government
to fund the entire activities of the two political parties, blatantly
displays the intention of the Regime to keep complete control of Bhutan’s
politics. The Parliamentarians flounder when it comes to addressing
people-friendly and pro-democratic policies, but they seem to take
no time to clear self-serving and pro-regime proposals. The King,
in his role as the protector of the Constitution and “democracy”,
should rightfully step in to veto this amendment. But then, will he,
when it suits his purpose or when he could be the one actually orchestrating
Wangdi, 30, a political prisoner serving a 25 year and 3 month sentence
at Chamgang Central Jail, Thimphu, since his arrest on 25th June,
1999, for alleged sedition, has been slapped with another seven years
and three months extension few weeks ago for allegedly maintaining
links with dissidents groups. A woman and a man have been also slapped
with imprisonment terms of 3 years and 9 years respectively. Both
were imprisoned for allegedly being Mr. Rinzin’s conduit outside
The Government of Bhutan’s action is a deliberate provocation
to the international community and the United Nation’s agency,
which on UN Human Rights Day, on 10 December had received a memorandum
from exiled Bhutanese throughout the world pleading that the UN office
pressure the Bhutanese regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally.
The Druk National Congress demands that the UN office in Thimphu and the International Committee of Red Cross, Delhi look into the matter and ensure the immediate release of the imprisoned woman and man, and the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Mr. Rinzin Wangdi at earliest.
The Forgotten People
The Bhutanese people are indifferent to when it comes to the “Gawang Lheme’s” (National Worker) plight. Most Bhutanese even don't know that these hard toilers found by the sides of roads in Bhutan are their fellow citizens. Most rather presume that these people are migrants workers from India. The Lhotshampas workers are presumed as the DANTAK workers and no one bothers to inquire into their hard lives. The Sharchopa workers, easily identified due to their national dress, are looked down upon by their own well-off ethnic brothers and sisters.
The national worker or Gewang Lheme, as we know, mostly belongs to the ethnic Sharchop and Lhotshamps communities. They are mostly landless citizens or driven out due to poverty. They live in wretched conditions without access to proper sanitation, water, health and education amenities along the sides of the roads. They are always on move from place to place along the roads. They are employed as labourers for the maintenance of roads. Their basic pay is said to be around Nu.3,000/- per month. With this meager amount they have to sustain their hard life. With the steady rise in food prices, they are hard pressed, yet none come forward to their rescue, including the Gross National Happiness enumerator, to measure their happiness.
National Minimum Wage (NMW) in Bhutan is fixed at Nu.100 a day in
2001. For a decade, there hasn’t been a single revision of the
NMW, while the civil servants and army personnel’s’ salaries
have increased substantially during the same time. It is high time
that these “forgotten people” dues are repaid. The National
Worker’s basic pay must be Nu.9,000/- per month and the NMW
must be fixed at Nu.300/- a day. The Government must take immediate
measures to enroll their children in schools and provide them basic
necessities like clean drinking water, sanitation, etc.
The Druk National Congress (DNC) expressed its heartfelt condolence
to the families of the victims of air crash in Nepal and vehicle accidents
inside Bhutan, that has claimed the lives of 30 people this December.
Only Royal NGOs in Bhutan
It is disheartening to observe that NGOs in Bhutan are either founded or run by members of the Royal Family or people well-connected with them. The work of the “Democratic Government” is not only overwhelmed by the Monarch, even his family members are at the forefront in restricting civil society.
The Bhutan Foundation based in USA is under the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Kesang Choden. Tarayana Foundation is under one of the Queen Mothers, Ashi Dorji Wangmo, and Bhutan Youth Development Fund is under another Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Pem. No one can cast doubts about their ability to raise handsome contributions and seek funds for the deep pockets of their respective NGOs when needed. In addition, the Princes and Princess are deputed as the King’s representatives in several non-governmental organizations.
Bhutanese citizens, still aspiring for a truly free and independent society, who wish to establish NGOs that can function freely and purposefully, are prevented from doing so, unless they agree to work under or in partnership with members of Royal Family. At present, there are some ten NGOs registered in Bhutan, and all of these organizations are either under the members of the Royal Family or partners in their activities.
The health of democracy in a country can be measured by the relative size and quality of its civil society. The Royal family’s inroads into Bhutan’s NGO world is an attempt to project the existing farcical democracy as genuine democracy to the outside world, while the real reason is to keep a firm Royal hold on development funds and curtail NGO activities.
Municipal Election on January 21, 2011
The deliberately delayed local government election
is now all set to be held on 26th January, 2011. But first, the Government
has directed the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) to conduct the
elections to four municipalities. These are Thimphu, Gelegphu, Phuntsholing
and Samdrup Jongkhar. The ECB has issued a directive that exiting
municipal and town committees shall stand dissolved on 21st December,
Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement crosses the 40,000 mark
The UNHCR marked the 60th Anniversary on 13th December, 2010. The
UN Agency announced that the resettlement of Bhutanese refugee to
eight resettlement countries has reached the 40,000 mark. The resettlement
program started in 2008.
On the occasion of the 62nd Human Rights Day on 10th December 2010,
Bhutanese citizens settled in various countries in the west, including
United States, Canada, England, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway,
New Zealand, Australia and in Nepal, submitted petitions to UN office
in their respective areas, urging it to use its good offices to affect
the release of all Bhutanese political prisoners.
Many experts, according to their own reasoning, have written historical accounts of Bhutan. I will not be critical of their work, but want to add my own perspective on the history of our country.
Our country, Druk, had a 38,000 square mile landmass situated between Tibet in north and India in south. Some experts claim that natives of Bhutan originally migrated from either Burma or Tibet. To us, we have come from neither place. Our country existed as long as the Kamrup province of Assam and our roots are from Kamrup, Assam. The People of Eastern Bhutan share remarkable similarities with Bodos and Assamese. On the other hand, the eastern people also share some similarities with ethnic Burmese, but it is absolutely wrong to conclude that the eastern people’s roots are from Burma. The eastern people believe that they have descended from Aryan roots of India. In the west, the Naglong community share remarkable similarities with Tibetans. However, the Naglong community has inhabited the western region from time immemorial, like their eastern counterparts. When our country “Druk” was craved out, the north of our country became Tibet.
The eastern people inhabited the deep forests of the eastern Himalayas. The people worshiped nature, like big trees, stone etc. Some concluded that Bon culture arrived to these places from Tibet. We refute this inference. In history, all over the world, such practices were prevalent. If this argument is to be taken forward, then the Tibetan Bon culture must have spread to Africa as well.
There were already Buddhist temples in Bhutan before Guru Rinpoche’s visit. The Sindu Raja invited Guru Rinpoche to Bhutan in the 7th century. He blessed, strengthened and spread Buddhism in the country. Thereafter, several Buddhist sages visited Bhutan and strengthened Buddhism.
Buddhism grew strong in Tibet, various sects of Buddhism reached western
Bhutan. There was no strong king or chieftain. These religious lams
established their mini-theocratic estates. Phajo Dugum Zhipo of the
Drukpa Kagyurpa sect reached the west and established his estate.
Lam of some five different sects had established their estates in
western Bhutan. In the east, only the Nyingmapa sect flourished. Each
lam with their distinct sect, ruled the country for some five to six
hundred years. For example, some eight such kings ruled in Eastern
From the arrival of Zhabdrung Nagwang Namgyal in 1616, to 1907 - almost 291 years, our country was ruled under the Cho-Sid-Nid System established by the Zhabdrung. Drukpa Kagyurpa was made the predominant religion in the country. He named the country “Druk”, thus the inhabitants “Drukpa”. Thereafter our country was known as Druk. The earlier name, Lhomon, disappeared.
From the time Trongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wandchuck, ascending the throne of Bhutan as its first hereditary monarch in 1907, his decedents right up to the 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, has ruled our country for 103 years.
Both the 1st King, UgyenWangchuk, and the 2nd King, Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country efficiently. Both didn’t differentiate between the peoples on religion grounds. Instead, the Ka-Nying tradition was promoted, persevered, and it flourished. People served the nation by paying taxes in kind. Large scale development programmes were absent. However, both repaired old monasteries and dzongs. Some roads and bridges for the efficient communication of government and people were constructed. The country was peace and stable.
3rd King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, became King in 1952. He discontinued
the old traditions and systems. From 1953, the country under him saw
monumental changes. At the winter capital, Punakha, he assembled the
representatives of the people of Lho Mon Kha Zhi and initiated the
first National Assembly session in 1953. He declared that our country’s
policies would be formulated after the discussion with the peoples’
representatives. His very first work was the decree that all the people
of Bhutan are equal and subjects of the King. He abolished the serf,
slavery and caste system.
Anti-Proselytization Law Adopted
The Bhutanese Parliament on 20th November, 2010, passed the anti-Proselytization
law. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion as a fundamental
right, but also defines any act of coercion and inducement as an offence.
In consonance to this provision, the lawmakers amended the penal code.
The offence of proselytization is classified as a misdemeanor and
invites maximum of three years of imprisonment.
On 13th October 2010, Karma Thegsum Dechenling Monastery
at Barshong, Khaling, was consecrated. Ashi DekiYangzom Wangchuck,
Home Minister, Minjur Dorji, the Chairman of the Royal Privy Council,
Lyonpo Chenkyap Dorji, the Cabinet Secretary, Dasho Tashi Phuntsho
and Thrangu Rinpoche were present during consecration ceremony. This
must be viewed as a positive move by the Government.
Mr. R.K.Dorji’s interview with Mr T.P.Mishra, Bhutanese Media Society, is reproduced below:
The institution of democratic set up has up in Bhutan. We irrespective
of our stay in exile or inside country must struggle together to bring
genuine changes tearing current façade of “democracy”.
Change is inevitable in life. But we must work together to bring this
inevitable changes favorable to us.