Druk National Congress of Bhutan
Restricted for Private Circulation Only
September- December, 2012
Druk National Congress demands the release of Political Prisoners
Mr.Tshewang Rizin Mr.Nidup Phuentsho Mr.Ugyen Dorji
The so called, ‘first democratic Government’ is coming to end after five years, while the very person who had raised his voice for democracy and human rights in the country continues to be behind bars. Over twenty people are imprisoned serving sentences ranging upto fifteen years. Mr. Tshewang Rizin, Honorary Vice President of Druk National Congress along with his son, Nidup Phuentsho, continues to be imprisoned. There are over hundred political prisoners in Bhutanese jails.
The police had caught Mr. Tshewang Rinzin in possession of Druk National Congress‘s literatures at Tanalung check post. During interrogation, he had defended that party literatures were freely available and found no harm in carrying and reading it. Police had subjected him to third degree treatment. Because of the brutal treatment, he stated in writings that he had lost faith and respect for the King. He therefore was convicted for treason because he spoke against King, one of the constituent of Tsa-Wa-Sum, i.e. King, People and Country, and a treasonable offence under the National Security Act, 1992. He was given life imprisonment. His son, Mr. Nidup Phuentsho was charged for being party to his father’s subversive activities. He was given 17 year’s imprisonment.
Ugyen Dorji, 52, is believed to have been transferred to Lodre Prison from Chamgang Central Jail and lodged with other common criminals. He is punished for staging a hunger strike during summer month demanding the release of inmates like him. He had been arrested on 4th August, 1998 along with Dorji Nidup, at Thimphu. The judiciary of the absolute monarchy hand down to him a 20 year 9 months sentence. His colleagues Dorji Nidup, 40 was given 20 years and 3 months and is believed to be at Chamgang Central jail.
The Druk National Congress demands that the Government of Bhutan release all political prisoners unconditionally.
First death Anniversary of Late President Observed
The members of DNC gathered at Boudhanath Stupa and offered butter lamps on 19th October and observed the first death anniversary of its Founding President, R.K. Dorji. The prayers were also recited.
The party President Kesang Lhendup said, “The death of Late R.K. Dorji reminds us of the impermanence of life. Our exiled life is also transitory vis-a-vis the anti-democratic regime of Bhutan. We should draw inspiration and recommit ourselves to the cause that is bigger than that of life of each one of us.”
The Late president R.K. Dorji expired on 19th October, 2011 at Sikkim,
Party members including the President, Kesang Lhendup lighting the Butter lamps.
Nepal Bhutan Relationship- Perspective
By Karma Dupthob
Bhutan and Nepal both nestled in Himalayan range and landlocked between two would be superpowers of tomorrow, China and India, lack a friendly relationship that one could describe as “excellent”, even though, both are culturally, religiously and socially in tuned with each other. The relation need to be strengthened at the people to people level. Unfortunately, both Governments are not enthusiastic in promoting the relationship at people to people level. Each needs the other for their own survival. Nepal is the birth place of our Fifth King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk who was born at Patan Hospital, Kathmandu - all the more reason for the Bhutanese to strengthen friendly relations between the Himalayan neighbors. The establishment of embassies in respective countries is vital in fostering a friendly relationship.
The recorded history of Bhutan dates back to the arrival of Guru Rinpoche from Nepal at Bhumthang in 747 C.A. to treat Sindu Raja. It would be fair to argue that the people of Bhumthang had knowledge of the geography, language, people and others necessary to reach Pharping, Kathmandu, to invite Guru Rinpoche. The Guru Rinpoche arrived at Bhumthang via Halesi, Illam, Sarbang and Zhamgang. Bhutan and Nepal however shared a very good relation with several reincarnates of the Zhabdrung. Many Newari artisans were brought to Bhutan. The Bhutanese historical records states that these artisans arrived in Bhutan in 1624-1625. Simtokha Dzong was supposed to be have been built by these artisans in 1627.
Bhutan-Nepal friendly relations was further strengthened under the 3rd Desi Majur Tenpa. There exists records stating that the Gorkha Kings and Malla Kings of Kathmandu had gifted lands to build Drukpa Temples at Swayambhu and Boudha in addition to many others places at Yolmo. The Drukpa Gompa supposedly of Drukpa Kgyurpa linage exists even now at Swayambhu. Historians state that during the Nepal-Tibet war during Janga Bahadur Rana, the Trust lands and Gonpa were confiscated on the suspicion of Bhutan’s support to Tibet. It was reported later on that the misunderstanding was corrected. The late Kuzsho Tshechula of Bhutanese origin, who possessed Nepali citizenship, was a close adviser and confidante of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal. He was unofficial ambassador of Bhutan to Nepal. He was related to the family of Yab Ugyen Dorji - the father of the queens of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Siddha Shacha Shri’s disciple Lopen Sherab Dori had brought Kuzsho Tshechu to Nepal. The affairs of Drukpa temples were handed over to him. He had built his own monastery and higher learning centers at Swoyambhunath Stupa. The students, most of them who hail from Yolmo, are studying at Tango and Cheri Buddhist Higher learning Centre in Bhutan. These monk students are allowed to enter Bhutan without visas. They only have to show passport of Nepal. It seems Nepal-Bhutan relation was in decline during the times of Rana rule in Nepal. Nepal is an important pilgrimage site for Vajrayana practicing Bhutanese. The Boudhanath Stupa, Swoyambhunath Stupa and Namo Bodh in Kathmandu Valley and birth place of Buddha at Lumbini in Nepal, are important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, as are are pilgrimage sites at Halesi(Maratrika), Pharphing, Muktinath(Chu mi Jatsa), and Yolma. Bhutanese citizens could still make several pilgrimage trips even though the relations might have been strained between the two countries. No documents were required for Bhutanese to visit Nepal then. Relations between Nepal under King Mahendra and the third King of Bhutan were cordial.
The acting Prime Minister Lhendup Dorji and their associates had taken refuge in Nepal after they fled Bhutan in the 1964 political unrest. They also established business partnerships with members of the Nepalese Royal family. However, their political activities were toned down. In 1974, Former King, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev attended the Coronation of the 4th King at Thimphu. When Gyal Yum Kulde Phuentsho Choden went to voluntary exile in 1974, she was well taken care of by the King of Nepal whenever she was in Nepal. When Nepal King, Brendra proposed to create a peace zone in the Himalayan region, Bhutan was one of the strong supporters of his proposal. Diplomatic relations between Nepal and Bhutan were established in June 1983.
The relations between the two families of the two monarchies were excellent. The extradition of Mr. Teknath Rizal, Jogen Gazemere and Sushil Pokhel, political dissidents of ethnic Nepalese origin of Bhutanese Nationality, and wanted by the Bhutanese monarch to be extradited Bhutan, is proof of their friendship.
Democracy under the leadership of G.P. Koirala was ushered in Nepal in early 1990s. The unfortunate mass exodus of over hundred thousand Bhutanese citizens of Nepalese origin to Nepal occurred at the same time. Nepal provided refuge and protection to these Bhutanese citizens. The relations between two nations were strained. Several rounds of meetings between the two countries were held to resolve the refugee issue, but until now no single refugee has been repatriated. Bhutan blames Nepal’s political instability as the cause for the delay, while Nepal in turn blames Bhutan for their obstinate insincerity regarding repatriation. In the meantime, thousands of refugees are resettled overseas by the International Community in their attempts to resolve the long protracted refugee issue.
In 2003, Ashi Tshering Pem visited Nepal on the invitation of the then King of Nepal, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev as a guests of the Nepalese Royal family.
Jigme Y. Thinley, the current Prime Minister of Bhutan in, “Bhutan a Kingdom Besieged,” was critical of former Prime Minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala, and the prevalence of ‘political nexus between the dissident parties and political groups in Nepal.” In 2010, on the 13 day of the passing away of former Prime Minister, G.P. Koirala, Jigme Thinley arrived in Nepal to pay his respect and homage to the former Prime Minister on behalf of the people of Bhutan, sharing the grief of its neighbour. We want to see such gestures more often.
Nepal-Bhutan trade volume is increasing every year. There was a talk
of a trade treaty between the two countries which could be concluded
later this year.
Both countries are identical in their geopolitics and each others’
sovereignty, integrity and territorial independence are interlinked.
Each must look after each other in every respect. For that to be achieved,
people to people relations between two countries must be strengthened.
We hope this opens the eyes of policy makers of both countries to
explore avenues and strengthen mutual relationships
Om Pradhan’s distorted version on late DNC president
The series of accusations made against the late President of Druk National Congress, Mr Rongthong Kunley Dorji by Om Pradhan in his book “Bhutan: The oar of the Thunder Dragon” is uncalled for and is the distorted version of the real story.
The title “Rongthong Kinley Dorji’s dissidence - little to do with Southern Bhutan” itself is misleading. Here, Om Pradhan is trying to confuse the issue of democracy and human rights on the ethnic grounds. It is well understood by everyone that late Dorji and the Lhotsampas demand for justice and freedom of speech were squashed by the Royal Government of Bhutan and that same reason led to them being forced to leave the country.
Ever since the inception of the Druk National Congress, Mr Dorji had called for the establishment of genuine democracy under constitutional monarchy, and basic human rights in Bhutan, without discriminating the Lhostsampa minorities. In fact, he was elected as the Chairman of United Front for Democracy in Bhutan (UFD) by other exiled parties like Bhutan National Democratic Party, Bhutan’s Peoples Party etc. which were all led by Lhotshampa leaders.
Om Pradhan is trying to play the old game of divide and rule, but he should understand that people of Bhutan are not immature and that they know their history too well for him to re write the history again.
He further calls Mr Dorji a ‘socialite’ and his “keenness to join the prominent gambling circle brought him to Thimphu” in 60’s and 70’s. It’s a well-known fact that the then Thimphu’s “prominent gambling circle” comprised of the members of the Royal family and the Ministers, including himself. So, is he trying to tell the world through his book that these two categories of people were all big time gamblers?
He has also mentioned that Mr. Dorji came into close contact with the elite Bhutanese businessmen like Dasho Ugyen Dorji (Rimp) and Dasho Ugyen Dorji (former Speaker of the National Assembly), late Finance Minister Chogyal, late Lyonpo Sangay Penjore and others. Yes, Dasho Ugyen Dorji (Rimp) was the brother to the Queen mother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck , late Sangay Penjore was then the Finance Minister of Bhutan, but one wonders how is Dasho Ugyen Dorji (former Speaker of the National Assembly ) the elite businessman of 60’s and 70’s. He was neither the Speaker of National Assembly nor were his sister-in-laws then married to the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He was himself a budding businessman then like Mr Rongthong Kunley Dorji. Om Pradhan’s memory does seem to be short. Om Pradhan writes in his book that, when Bhutanese businessmen like Mr Dorji were “lavished” with loans and contracts, the Royal Government, including the courts showed “leniency” and generally “forgave” them in the “name of encouraging Bhutanese entrepreneurs.” And he further writes that in some cases, the Royal Government took steps to write-off loans. And that, Mr Dorji received lot of advantages like such, from the Royal Government up to the mid-1980s, but his troubles started after his coal mine “venture”.
There are many questions that trouble us, first of all, if the Royal Government and the courts were sympathetic towards “shrewd” businessmen like Mr Dorji, then why such sympathies were not shown after mid-1980s, and why was the coalmine the reason for his troubles?
Druk National Congress has answers for these questions. By mid-1980’s,
once small time business man named Ugyen Dorji was the talk of the
town as his daughters had married the fourth King of Bhutan. He started
showing his new found power and was interested in Mr Dorji’s
coalmine. Every possible step was taken by him, Major Pem Tshering,
who was then the Director of Industries and their group was called
to snatch the mine away from Mr Dorji. The new Queen, Ashi Dorji Wangmo
and her family paralyzed the day to day working of Mr Dorji and to
destroy his business and him as a person, he was arrested on fabrication
charges, tortured and finally fearing for his life he went into exile
to Nepal and formed the Druk National Congress party and the rest
is history as they say. And Om Pradhan himself knows this too well.
After all, the very coal mines were with Om Pradhan’s family
over two decades paying a paltry royalty to the Government. Mr. Dorji
won the coalmine auction fair and squarely. For the readers, According
to Mr. Dorji, Mr. Om Pradhan is a point man of Ashi Dorji Wangmo’s
scheme of things.
Two Books by Rizal released
Mr. Teknath Rizal, President of People forum for Human rights Bhutan had published two books detailing his torture suffered while being imprisoned. One book is in Nepali while other is in Hindi. The testimonial of rape victims, the list of extra-judicial killings, list of rape victims and list of arrestees are appendixes in books.
Mr. Rizal says, twenty three years is very long time in man’s short life. Therefore, the book is an attempt on his part to acquaint and provide knowledge to the younger generation of Bhutanese who aren’t familiar with the Bhutanese crisis of the early 1990s.
Nepal government on loggerheads with UNHCR on CBDP
The Government of Nepal expressed concern over the UN agency’s claim of launching a Community Based Development Programme (CBDP) at various Bhutanese refugee camps in eastern Nepal. Nepal’s Ambassador to UN and other International Organisations, Shanker Bairagi, claimed that Nepal and the UNCHR had never agreed to launch the CBDP, as mentioned by the UN agency’s website.
UNHCR claims that the CBDP is a multi-year programme, jointly prepared by the Nepal Government, the UN country team, NGOs and other stakeholders, for refugees residing in Nepal. However, an official at the UNHCR in Kathmandu said the Nepal Government had only just endorsed the CBDP proposal.
The objective and motive behind conducting a CBDP is to locally integrate Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, which is not the government’s policy, they said. “Reading between the lines, the motive is to assimilate the refugees in Nepal,” said a Foreign Ministry official.
“Our principal position is that voluntary repatriation of refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour is the only lasting solution to this problem. We have conveyed this to UNHCR on many occasions. We have provided shelter to Bhutanese refugees on humanitarian grounds despite the fact that Nepal is not a party to 1951 Refugee Convention and its additional protocols,” said a senior Nepali diplomat currently serving at the UN.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha( GJM) swept the elections to the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal, winning all 45 seats. GJM Chief, Bimal Gurung took office as the Chief Executive Officer of the GTA. The Central Government would provide Rs 200 crore in the next three years, while Chief Minister, Mamta Banerjee announced that the State Government had sanctioned over Rs 100 crores for various development projects.
The formation of GTA had brought relief to the people of hills. Development is going to bring many economic benefits to the hill people and also neighbouring Bhutan. Over two thousand Bhutanese students are studying in GTA area.
The pace of economic development in the southern Bhutanese side is picking up and it needs stability and peace on the other side of the border to mutually benefit each other.
Bhutan had blamed the greater Gorkhaland as a reason to take extreme action against the Lhotshampa uprising in early 1990s. The unfortunate exodus of Lhotsampas has the sympathy of Gorkhalis of the hill region.
It is likely that the issue of Bhutanese people in refugee camps in Nepal and non-resolving of the issue will have a bit of distraction between the GTA and Bhutan relationship. The peace and economic prosperity of people on both sides of borders might shape each others’ policy.
SECURITY PROBLEM OF BHUTAN
Bhutan was always considered a peaceful tiny Dragon Kingdom on the foot hills of eastern Himalayas synonymously also known “Shangrila”. The country didn’t face external security threat after 1959s. The country did get submerged in internal political unrest in 1964 and 1974. In 1990, under the banner of the Bhutan Peoples’ Party (BPP), Student Union of Bhutan and Peoples’ Forum for Human Rights, a revolution took place in six districts in southern Bhutan demanding the citizenship rights of ethic Nepalese of Bhutanese citizens. Because of the political crackdown, a hundred thousand Bhutanese became refugee in Nepal.
The regime didn’t recognize that internal threat to country would come from the burgeoning refugee population. The regime deliberately delayed any resolution of the refugee issue. Frustration, dejection, desperation and inspiration of political revolution from the host country, Nepal, the Bhutan Communist Party(Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) was formed on 22 April, 2003 to initial the ‘people’s war.” Thereafter, many secret organizations like Bhutan Tiger Force and United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan came into being. Of recent another organization called Bhutan United Socialist Democratic Party (BUSDP) has been formed and started ‘stated activities’ inside Bhutan since 8th July 2012, killing one Royal Bhutan Army sergeant and injuring three and planting several bomb blasts in three places within the country. The objective of spreading physical and psychological fear in the minds of Bhutanese people is underway.
Also an external threat has emerged after the operation “All Clear” in 2003. For at least a decade, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NFDB), and Kamtapuri Liberation Organization (KLO) have made use of Bhutanese soil for their hideouts. In 2002, a reported that the two Assamese outfits, ULFA and NFDB, had combined strength of 5,000, while the KLO had less than 500 in Bhutan.
The Indian establishment alleged that these groups were working in connivance with several officers and personnel of the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bhutan Police and high level district officials, in order to ensure constant flow of rations to operating bases of militants in Bhutan and had used the Bhutanese diplomatic pouch for transfer of funds to their office bearers in Southeast Asian countries. The regime is alleged ‘to utilize the militant infiltrations as a bargaining chip to discourage India from supporting any pro-democracy movement in Bhutan and to maintain a neutral stand on Bhutanese refugee issues. In 1997, it tried and to pressure India to extraditing United Front for Democracy (UDF) leader, Rongthong Kunley Dorji. Everybody knew the Bhutanese regime’s overt and covert support to Indian rebels inside Bhutanese. The regime was eventually forced to flush the rebels out of Bhutan in 2003 with active military support from the Indian Army in 2003. The flush out operation was swift. Some 90 militants were reported killed, with a smaller number of casualties among the soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army. The ULFA termed the flush out as the Bhutan’s betrayal. Ulfa’s adviser and ideologue, Bhimkanta Buragohain’s article in 2010 on Telegraph newspaper reveals how they were betrayed. The historical people-to-people relationship and the good neighborliness between Bhutan and Assam down through the centuries suffered setback.
Since the operation, no Bhutanese vehicle ply freely as it used to be on the road in India especially on the tertiary roads connecting highways. The Bhutan Government has sought security escorts from the Indian security forces to reach one end of Bhutan to another. The Indian security forces Sema Suraksha Bal (SSB) provide security and escorts Bhutanese vehicles every day from main exit points to and from Indian highways. There is also report of time to time kidnapping and murder of Bhutanese on Indian soil. This security problem is going to remain perennially as Bhutan shares a common border of about 665 km and major area with the Bodoland of Assam and ULFA.
Exclusive Interview With Mr. S.B.Subba
Mr. S.B.Subba was born in a village Gairigaon in Chirang district. He later on resettled at Daifarm, Samdrup Jongkhar. He did his class X from Paro Central School, class XII from Sherubtse College and completed his B.Com from the Government College, Chandigarh, Punjab University. After coming to exile, he heads the Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB). After the start of third country resettlement in 2008, his organization is only the functioning human rights organization in the country and exile. He shares his view with The Bhutan Today on the hosts of issues affecting the Bhutanese exiles.
When did you join the service of Bhutan Government? What were your responsibilities in Bhutan and the work experience?
I joined government service in the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) in 1983, after passing the Royal Civil Service Commission examination as a trainee officer. As a research officer, I was entrusted to look after the currency department and was responsible for the issue of currency, printing of currency notes, maintaining currency circulation in liaison with all banks of Bhutan and maintaining books and accounts. I worked for four and half years.
What made you leave your country? Do you regret leaving the country then?
The discriminatory policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan made me leave the country. I left the country voluntarily in protest of the discriminatory policies of the Government targeted specifically towards Nepali speaking southern Bhutanese and human rights violations of all Bhutanese. I do not regret because I got the opportunity to learn more about our own people, serve them and got exposure to regional and international forum and politics. I met and interacted with numerous international dignitaries and Indian politicians, parliamentarians, prime ministers, human rights activists and social workers, which I would have missed if I had stayed in Bhutan and become s “yes-dasho man”. One thing I regret is I missed and still miss my family, despite whatever people think and say. When I left Bhutan, my son was four and half years old and daughter was just three years. As a father I could not give them proper love and care and bring them up, and as a husband I could not stay around my wife and give all the love, affection, comfort and compassion and left them to fend for themselves.
How was your experience in India and Nepal in early stages of Bhutanese movement? Was there any incident that is worth remembering your lifetime?
I have loads of memorable experiences in India and Nepal in early stages of Bhutanese movement. When I first left Bhutan on 23rd August 1990 and stepped in the soil of India in Assam with little knowledge of people and the geography, I was confused with the memory of my children and the hardship my wife would have to face in one hand, and where would I go and what I should do on the other, because I did not have much knowledge of people who left earlier. Yet I was determined that life should go on despite the challenges. I came to Garganda, the centre of the movement pioneered by Bhutan peoples’ Party (BPP), Peoples’ Forum for Human Rights (PFHR) and Student Union of Bhutan (SUB) with three other friends with a promise to work together, live together and die together. They are now resettled to America and I do not know what they are doing. In Garganda, the atmosphere was completely different and disappointing than I thought. Everything was functioning ad hoc basis and at whims of a few so called leaders. I sensed a non-congenial situation and the leaders’ lack of proper planning, programmes and strategies. It was sort of a high fi movement. Any one raising questions would face dire consequences. Youths were mavericks with no proper leadership and guidance. Anti-social activities were on the rise and nobody had control.
In Nepal, HUROB was formed under my chairmanship and had taken over the responsibility of taking care of the desperate refugees forcibly evicted by the Bhutan Government and arriving in Maidhar. It was the worst situation without any assistance from anywhere. Some of us used to go to the villages in Jhapa begging for food for our people. Whatever, we got, we distributed with a small tobacco container. It was miserable to see 48 children die in a day that we marked “BLACK DAY” because of inadequate medical facilities and food. On the other hand, thousands of people were arriving like zombies with mental and psychological trauma and Indian forces were loading them in the trucks and dumping them at Indo-Nepal border. We heaped a sigh of relief only after UNHCR took over the situation in 1992. After the arrival of UNHCR, everything was taken care of and we were relieved of all tension and worries. Therefore most of the post arrival refugees did not face any difficulties and had no experience of real sufferings as refugees.
As a Chairman of Human Rights Organization of Bhutan, what would you say are the basic human rights violation in Bhutan?
There is no human right at all in Bhutan. The democracy in Bhutan is pseudo democracy. The election is just an eyewash for the international community. In the name of democracy the king Jigme Singye Wangchuk has consolidated absolute power. The King is all in all. There is no freedom of speech and expression. No freedom of religion. There is no right to nationality and citizenship. People are still living with census category of F1 to F7. Police clearance is mandatory even for admission of children in schools. There are about 80000 Lhotsamapas, the relatives of the refugees who are living as stateless persons without identity as a Bhutanese. The teaching of Nepali language is banned. Christians are persecuted.
Bhutan has adopted its Constitution in 2008 guaranteeing fundamental human rights constitutionally. Do you think Human rights records have improved thereafter?
There is no improvement of human rights even after adoption of the Constitution. It is there just as a statement. There are hundreds of political prisoners still languishing in various prisons without trial and some serving long sentences just for their raising voice for democracy and human rights, and some for opposing the government policies which are anti-people.
In the run up to 2008 first “democratic elections”, HUROB claimed Bhutanese security officials killed, tortured and arrested many people accusing them of being Maoist rebels. How many of them were killed and what has happened of the arrestee?
There is no exact number of deaths as it was neither made public
by the Government nor by the BCP-MLM, but definitely about a dozen
Maoist cadres were killed and about 50 were arrested and still serving
Bhutan and India along with International Community consider Bhutanese refugee issues as a humanitarian issue and not a political issue. As a human rights activist, do you subscribe to their view?
I do not subscribe to their views. Firstly, it is systematic ethnic cleansing of the Royal government of Bhutan (RGOB) initiated by the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Secondly, the Sharchops and Lhotsampas had to flee the country for fear of persecution for demanding democracy and human rights. Their view is based on RGOB’s version and not on the analytical study of the situation and the extent of atrocities meted out to the people.
You consider third country resettlement offer a Hobson's choice thrust unto the people. What is the best solution to refugee issue in your opinion?
The 8 core countries for Bhutanese refugees and UNHCR cheated us. When series of discussions were held on third country resettlement, we were assured that the three options – 1. repatriation 2. resettlement, and 3. local assimilation will be implemented simultaneously. In practice now only resettlement is going on since 2008, and more than 75,000 refugees are resettled. Whereas not a single Bhutanese is repatriated, giving clean chit to Bhutan government for all its misdeeds, despite verification of refugees in Khudunabari camp by the Joint Verification Team (JVT) of Government of Nepal and Bhutan and even finding 75% Bhutanese under the strictest scrutiny by the Bhutanese team. Therefore, for fair justice to the refugees, repatriation is the best solution as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 that anybody has the right to leave his/her own country and return.
Nepal is undergoing a major political transformation. Will that transformation impact the struggle of Bhutanese people for human rights and democracy? What is the possibility of support from regional ethnic groups, particularly the Kirat community?
Any changes in Nepal have not and will not affect the Bhutanese movement. We have seen and felt the diplomatic ingenuity of Nepal to deal with the astute Bhutanese counterpart. When the whole country and all the Nepalis could not do anything to help our movement. When the Kirats have not been able to fight for their own cause, it is immature to think of getting help from them. Also it should not be our motive to mobilize sectarian help. It should be from all Nepalis.
What is your word of advice to the Bhutanese people who have gone abroad and those who have continued to remain behind?
Please do not forget the pain and trauma that we have undergone in the camps for decades because of the tyranny and inhuman action of the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk in the comfort and luxury of life. We are fighting for a cause and we are not illegal economic immigrants as Bhutan Government alleges and forget everything if we get square meal. Take the example of Tibetans and other refugees around the world and how they are fighting. For those people remaining behind, be optimistic. Live with positive thinking and one day we shall overcome.
Any additional message you want to convey to Bhutanese refugee community.
Wherever one may be, please keep in touch. Do not forget so easily
the sufferings in the camps and elsewhere for no mistakes of ours.
Let us be always united in thought, mind and action. Although unity
is anathema to Bhutanese refugee community, yet let us keep our effort
alive so one day good sense may prevail and we all together become
a strong force to challenge and uproot the Wangchuk’s tyranny
and establish rule of law in the country and fulfill the aspirations
of the people of Bhutan to enjoy ever lasting peace, prosperity and
harmony. Keep on raising the Bhutanese refugee issue and problem faced
by our people inside Bhutan and rights of our return, just as the
Tibetans do wherever possible, which is lacking in our community
Refugee cards for census-absentee Bhutanese issued
The Nepal government had issued refugee cards to 1,800 Bhutanese,
who missed out on official recognition of refugee status provided
after a census held some five years ago.
Ghimire said the taskforce comprising of assistant Chief District Officers (CDOs) of Jhapa Yogendra Dulal and Morang Gopal Parajuli had invited applications from those seeking refugee status from various camps in Jhapa and Morang districts. "We received applications from 2,106 persons seeking refugee status. While 132 did not turn up for the interview, 174 others were found not genuine," he said.
Surprisingly, the taskforce has brought out many discrepancies in
its award of refugee card. Many genuine Bhutanese were classified
as, “not genuine”.