Druk National Congress of Bhutan
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DRUK NATIONAL CONGRESS CELEBRATES THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARTY’S FOUNDATION DAY
The members of Druk National Congress celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Party’s Foundation day at Kathmandu today. The customary suja desi was served. Coinciding with the auspicious day, a brief report to the Hon’ble Members of the Bhutanese Parliament and holders of Constitutional posts was unveiled. The report lists the denial of democratic rights to the people.
The report says, “Fundamental rights as enshrined in Article 7 of the Constitution exists only on paper so far. It hasn’t been recognized and enforced. Whether the Government/Executive is not recognizing the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution or whether it is the Judiciary/King’s inability to uphold the fundamental rights of the people, is a mystery. No one knows which of these two institutions is responsible for the continued curtailment of peoples’ rights”
“In DNC’s manifesto, way back in 1994, DNC placed utmost importance on our friendship with India, which should be a recognized part of our country’s foreign policy”.
The report urges Parliamentarians to deliberate for the resumption of the negotiation process that was initiated on 24th November, 2004, by the Secretary to His Majesty, Dasho Pema Wangchen, at the command of the fourth King, with late President of the Druk National Congress, Rongthong Kunley Dorji, at latter’s residence in New Delhi, India.
Kesang Lhendup, President of the Party, reminded the members and friends present during the celebration programme, that the struggle for inclusive democracy must continue with spirited commitment and devotion. The Party expressed its hope that Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, must counsel the Thimphu regime to move towards path of inclusive democracy during his two-day visit.
On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of DNC’s founding day, the Party offered its prayers for a peaceful and stronger democracy, and for the prosperity and sovereignty of Bhutan and our people.
The party was founded on the 16th June, 1994 by late Mr. Rongthong Kunley Dorji with the support of Bhutanese both inside the country and in exile.
DIPRO book on Tshewang Rinzin released
The Druk Indigenous People’s Rights Organization (DIPRO), a human rights organization released a booklet about Mr. Tshewang Rinzin, its Chairman who is in Chemgang Central Jail, Thimphu since 31st July 1998, appealing for his unconditional release. He was sentenced for life imprisonment because he advocated for the establishment of human rights and democracy in the then absolute monarchy.
Kesang Lhendup, President, Druk National Congress, in his forward in the book, writes, ”Mr. Nelson Mendela received enormous goodwill from all over the world, and people from all corners of world, including world leaders, pleaded for his release from imprisonment. Mr. Tshewang Rinzin, Chairman of Druk Indigenous People’s Rights Organization, who too is imprisoned for 18 years for demanding democracy, deserves the same gesture.”
He further appealed to the Government of India and the International Community to pressurize the Bhutanese Government to release Mr. Tshewang Rinzin unconditionally along with other political prisoners.
DNC congratulates new Indian Prime Minister
Druk National Congress sent a letter on the 30th May congratulating Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, and to the Bharatiya Janata Party for the victory in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
DNC appealed to the new Prime Minister to urge the Government of Bhutan to (a) release all political prisoners imprisoned during the period of absolute monarchy, and (b) initiate a process whereby all sections of political contributors, including the Druk National Congress and other exiled political parties, are included in the political process in Bhutan.
Dasho Penden Wangchuck has a history
Dasho Penden Wangchuck, Cabinet Secretary, who was recently suspended from the post of Cabinet Secretary for his recent involvement in corruption, has a history of corruption. His involvement of gathering and selling Tokey Gaiko to Chinese buyers was reported in social media. His conduit is the now disgraced Gelegphu Dungpa. There is word in the street that he had sold over a dozen Tokey Gaiko and has engaged villagers to capture this animal. Though Dasho Penden Wangchuck vehemently denies his involvement, however, he has a history of involvement in selling of animal products.
In 1998, when he was the Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongdag, there was the case of his involvement in the selling of ivory together with Gup Zangpo of Martshalla. During that time, the Sharchop uprising spearheaded by DNC had effected Samdrup Jongkhar and the Government’s clamping down had frightened the people of Martshalla to effectively challenge both of them or take them to Court. Besides, he later on became Secretary of the Home Ministry and his ivory case was buried completely.
In Bhutan, the network of monarchists are the ones who peddle drugs and banned animal products. Bhutan has now become the alternative route of smuggling ketamine drugs to Bangkok, Thailand and China. Among the red passport holders are the main smugglers of gold, drugs and animal products in and out of Bhutan. There are over 1200 red passport holders in Bhutan.
Rizal brings out new Booklet in Dzongkha
Mr. Tek Nath Rizal, President of the Peoples forum for Human rights in Bhutan released a booklet in Dzongkha that chronicles his brief life history and how Bhutan as a nation is besieged by a corruption. The Booklet was released on the 14th of May, coinciding with Buddha Purnima, an auspicious day for Buddhists.
In the booklet, he pays respects to the first Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the father of Bhutan, for founding the nation we now know as ‘Bhutan’, and to the subsequent Monarchs for protecting and preserving our small nation as a sovereign country in the world. He has asked the people of Bhutan to have immense gratitude to Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, for extending financial assistance to Bhutan’s socio-economic development and progress. Bhutan is where it is now because of India’s assistance and friendship.
In the book, he says corruption was rampant during his tenure as Royal Advisory Councilor. He witnessed the embezzlement of developmental aid funds by the members of the Royal Family and the Council of Ministers, the exception being Lyonpo Tamshing Jakar. What he saw was that ministers were both businessman as well as public servants. Because of this duality of duties, all Governmental plans and projects were designs to benefit their company or their relatives in business.
He explains how the refugee crisis was created and the continual denial of justice to them.
He has appeal to every Bhutanese citizen to preserve and protect the independence and territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country so that it can bequeathed to future generations, as it had been handed by down by earlier generations.
Bhutanese delegates appraise Nepal’s Foreign Minister
At the end of the three day People’s SAARC convergence 2014, Mr. Pema Tendzin, Vice-President of DNC along with Mr. Tom Adhikari, former DNC member, on behalf of the entire Bhutanese Community in exile, requested the Foreign Minister of Nepal, Shri Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, to seriously take up the Bhutanese Refugee Issue with the Government of Bhutan during the forthcoming SAARC Summit to be held at Kathmandu, Nepal. The Foreign Minister agreed to take up the issue with his Bhutanese counterpart.
The Foreign Minister of Nepal was present at the closing session of People’s SAARC. He received the declarations of Peoples SAARC convergence 2014 from Dr. Sharba Raj Khardka (Convener, Drafting declaration committee), and Sharmila Karki, Convener, People’s SAARC organizing Committee. (PHOTO)
Indian P.M. visit to Bhutan
The Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi paid a state visit to Bhutan on 15-16 June 2014. Bhutan was made his first port of call after assuming office on 26 May, 2014.
Shri Modi inaugurated the new Supreme Court building and laid the foundation stone of the 600 megawatt Kholongchu Hydropower Project. India committed to provide Rs.4500 crores towards Bhutan’s 11th Five Year Plan. In addition, another 500 crores will go towards the Economic Stimulus Package. Modi announced the doubling of the Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship to Rs./Nu. 20 million per year. The Government of India would also provide grant assistance for the establishment of the digital section/ E-library in the National Library of Bhutan and in all 20 districts of Bhutan.
Bhutan and India agreed to strengthen the special bilateral friendship between the two countries.
American Bhutanese advocacy
The Congressional briefing on Bhutan took place on November 17th, 2014 at Washington DC. It was organized by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). There were 27 resettled Bhutanese delegates from 14 cities representing 10 different US states. Delegates presented issues on domestic and foreign policies, and requested the US State Department, Senate Officials and Congress members for their help towards finding a permanent solution to the protracted Bhutanese refugee problem.
The delegates met US State Department officials and appealed for international pressure on the Bhutanese government to repatriate all those refugees, who wish to return to Bhutan with honor, safety and dignity. They also sought the recognition of resettle Bhutanese refugees as Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB). About 80,000 Bhutanese refugees are resettled in America since the start of the resettlement process in 2007.
DNC writes two separate letters to Nepal and India
The DNC wrote two separate letters addressed to the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India, exhorting both leaders to engage with Bhutanese counterparts in bilateral talks at the sideline of 18th SAARC Summit in Nepal, to find a lasting resolution to protracted Bhutanese refugee crisis.
The letters states, “Nepal is a place where Bhutanese refugees found a home for last two decades. The responsibility falls on Nepal to bring an end to the Bhutanese refugee issue, but with dignified resolution.”
The letter furthers states, “Over a hundred thousand Bhutanese refugees are resettled overseas in eight countries, notably in the US, since the resettlement process initiated in 2008. There are several thousand refugees who want to return to Bhutan. The Bhutanese Government must be reminded that those refugees who want to return to Bhutan must be allowed to enter their country with dignity and honor. The third country resettlement program is drawing to a close. Therefore impresses upon both leaders to urge an initiation of the Bhutanese refugee repatriation process at the earliest.”
Royal Annuities Bill still elusive
Article 2, Section 13 of the Constitution states that, “The Druk Gyalpo and the members of the Royal Family shall be entitled to : (a) Annuities from the state in accordance with a law made by Parliament”. The 14th session of the Second Parliament concluded on December 8, 2014, and yet there were no talk of drafting a Royal Annuities Bill in sub-committees or standing committee in the respective Houses of Parliament. The lack of this crucial bill after eight years of the promulgation of the Constitution, means, the Bhutanese public still doesn’t know where and how these expenses are paid for. The royalties neither have income generation work nor have business and yet have grand and extravagant marriage ceremonies, indulge in foreign trips, etc.
It is imperative that the Parliament enacts Royal Annuities Bill at the earliest so that the people know how much of the tax payers’ money is spend for the upkeep of the Monarchy.
Hydro Project Commission Scam
The Indian media Enertia and the media in Bhutan jointly reported how Bhutan Venture Trading (BVT), a company, earned commission from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), an Indian Public sectors unit (PSUs) company, in collusion with each other. The apparent corruption practice is visible since there is no Indian law that allows for a government company, like BHEL, to hire a local commission agent for a bilateral project bid already being given to it without any competition by the two governments. In addition, the Bhutan Finance Ministry circular prohibits the appointment of any middlemen or agents in the case of tendering.
The involvement of high-ranking officials from Bhutan and India is mentioned in the papers. Mr. Sangay Wangchuk is the owner of BVT. Incidentally; Mr. Sangay Wangchuk is the husband of Her Royal Highness, Ashi Chimi Yangzom. He was previously involved in an infamous purchasing of 15 Chinese city buses for the Thimphu Municipality in 2010.
The BHEL won the contract for Mangdechu Project and Punatsangchu II Project for the supply of electro-mechanical equipment worth around Nu 16 billion. The BVT commission totals around Nu 240 million. Many alleged that Mr. Sangay Wangchuck violates the propriety associated to a husband of a Princess. The matrimonial relatives of the Monarch are abusing the laws of the nation for their personal benefit. The most notable being the father of the four Queens, Ugyen Dorji who abused his position as the father-in-law to fourth King, and became one of the wealthiest businessmen in Bhutan.
DNC urges that the Anti-Corruption Committee investigate the alleged corruption and book all Bhutanese culprits including the members of Royal Family if they are found guilty.
Indian President visits Bhutan
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, paid a state visit to Bhutan on 7-8 November, 2014. It was a first state visit by an Indian President to Bhutan in 26 years.
The President of India inaugurated the Jigme Wangchuck Power Training Institute, a Nu. 337 million Government of India-assisted project and signed several MoUs of bilateral cooperation in the field of education. Both Governments also reiterated their existing commitment to the 10,000MW initiatives under joint venture model.
During the President’s state visit, both countries agreed to further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between India and Bhutan.
Bhutan Human rights review
The Bhutan Human rights record was reviewed on April 30, 2014 at Geneva under Universal Period Review (UPR), under Human Rights Council (HRC) working group. Bhutan had received 163 recommendations, supported 109, and noted 54.
At the review, the Bhutan was reminded by the several countries that it should initiate the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees.
Bhutan stated that it is committed to constructive engagement with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations. However, it added in order to give meaningful effect to any international obligations, it first had to build the necessary social, political and legal institutions, as well as develop the capacity of the country before assuming these responsibilities.
The Bhutanese delegation was led by Mr. Damcho Dorji, Home Minister.
DNC wrote to H.E. MS Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to intervene to seek the release of all Bhutanese political prisoners who have been imprisoned in Bhutanese jails from the pre-democracy period.
Kidnapping in Southern Bhutan
The eight people were kidnapped from the Indo-Bhutan border in 2014. They were released after paying a ransom. According to security officials from India, the kidnappers were said to be from National Democratic Front of Bodoland (I.K.Sogbijit) faction. This outfit has appealed to the Tshering Tobgay government on 16 July, 2013, to disclose whereabouts of the outfit's leaders who went missing after "Operation All Clear" in 2003.
The NDFB (Songbijit) outfit is in dire need of funds as it has suffered a reverse in the wake of army operations against them. They now see the kidnapping of Bhutanese citizens as a means to mobilize their funds. Bhutanese citizens living in Sarbang District are in fear and several wealthy people have migrated to Northern districts like Thimphu, Paro and Haa. Many people are in fear to travel through Indian highways. The people of Bhutan are having to undergo such trauma since Bhutan does not have its own lateral highway connecting the southeast and southwest of Bhutan.
Central monastic Body modus operandi in conversion
Bhutan is a Buddhist country and Article 3 of the Constitution gives prominence to Buddhism. Article 7, section 4, of the Constitution, under Fundamental Rights, states “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to belong to another faith by means of coercion or inducement”. Conversion by way of inducement, coercion or force, is outlawed. However, the Central Monastic Body continues to abuse its position and engages in taking over of monasteries and gomdeys of the Nyingmapa sects by converting them into Drukpa Kagyurpa.
The Nyingmapa Khenpos are initially accorded the recognition by the Je Khenpo. When that Khenpo goes into retreat, his replacement is appointed by the Central Monastic Body with the argument that the Khenpo received his title from Je Khenpo, the head of Central Monastic Body and is under authority by His Holiness. This modus operandi is practiced by the Central Monastic Body.
Mr. Karma Rangdol, Lama Neten of Tashigang Rabdey and Lama Neten of Lhuentse had vowed to convert Sharchok Kholo Tsip Gye (six eastern districts) into Drukpa Kagyurpa. In fact, all six eastern Bhutan districts have Drukpa Kagyurpa centers, but their influence is confined so far to the Dzongs. The majority of Eastern Bhutanese are followers of Nyingmapa sects.
The Central monastic body under the leadership of Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choda must be reminded that their actions are creating disharmony in Bhutan. They should respect the traditional faith of people.
DNC wishes Former King on his Birthday
The Druk National Congress extended best wishes to His Majesty, the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, on the occasion of his 60th birth anniversary on November 11, 2014.
DNC added, “Our Kingdom is embarking on a new vibrant journey, and the institution of inclusive democracy is the need of hour. Besides, the lingering political problems that had ensued during Your Majesty’s reign are yet to be resolved. We do expect that reconciliation and an amicable political solution can be achieved.”
The Fourth King was born on November 11, 1955 at Dechencholing Palace, Thimphu.
Nepal and Bhutan talks on Refugee issue
Nepal and Bhutan held bilateral talks at the sidelines of SAARC Summit that was held on November 26-27, 2014 at Kathmandu, Nepal. They held talks on Bhutanese refugee issue.
The Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, requested his Bhutanese counterpart, Tshering Tobgay, to take initiatives to repatriate Bhutanese refugees who have been living in Nepal for the last two decades.
"It is their inalienable right to return to their homes. So I request you to take special initiatives to repatriate them. This issue should not affect bilateral relations," said the Nepalese PM.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister replied that it was a complex humanitarian issue and the ongoing process for resettlement should not be stopped.
Both leaders had met three times and the bilateral talks on the Bhutanese refugee is stalled since December 2003.
King speaks against Corruption
King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck reminded that corruption, if uncheck, will be an obstacle to the development of the country. He said this in his National Day celebration address at Kanglung, Tashigang.
“The highest probable risk to development that I foresee is corruption. Our national development efforts will be hindered by unchecked corruption”. he added.
The King said that no one can be above the law when it comes to corruption. He warned the people about the threat from ignoring corruption.
Critics are unanimous in that it is commendable that the King has raised the issue of corruption. However, they are skeptical whether the King will be able to translate the words into action by taking stern action against high-ranking officials, including his family members, if they are guilty of corruption. Bhutan has had a history of burying corruption cases when high level people were involved. In addition, the guilty are granted royal pardon.
In Bhutan, state resources and natural resources are exploited for personal benefits by colluding with members of Royal family and high-ranking government officials.
Chief Justice retires
The Chief Justice of Bhutan, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgay, retired on 14th November, 2014. He was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on February 2010. Section 6(a) of Article 21 of the Constitution states that “The term of the office of the Chief Justice of Bhutan shall be five years or until attaining the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier”. Lyonpo Sonam Tobgay became 65 on November 15.
Prior to being appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he had served as the Chief Justice of the High Court from 1991 till 2009. His notable contribution is the bringing out the Draft Constitution of Bhutan.
He is succeeded by Dasho Tshering Wangchuk, who was appointed to the post by the King on 28th November 2014.