Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan
Restricted for Private Circulation Only
November 26- DECEMBER 12, 2010
PM assures Nepal's support to the democratic struggle in Bhutan
The caretaker Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, on 10th August, 2010, said that the Government of Nepal would always extend its support to the democratic struggle of the Bhutanese citizens.
"We are always of the opinion that there must be genuine democracy in Bhutan", PM Nepal told a delegation of the Druk National Congress (DNC) Bhutan, headed by its President, Rongthong Kunley Dorji, who met him. "Nepali people have deep sympathy for the suffering of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal," he added.
PM Nepal further said he was happy to meet with Mr. Dorji, who is in Nepal after 13 years of confinement in India. "I congratulate you in your freedom" PM Nepal told Dorji.
Dorji informed the caretaker PM that Bhutanese leaders were working
to establish a contact office in Kathmandu, and expected cooperation
from Nepal to run the office.
Strategic coalition announced; R.K.Dorji to shoulder leadership
On 26th August, 2010, major political parties of Bhutan based in exile announced the unified democratic movement under Rongthong Kunley Dorji, President of Druk National Congress (DNC). Mr. Teknath Rizal, Chairman of Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee (BMSC), Mr. Balaram Poudyel, President of Bhutan People's Party (BPP) and Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal, Executive Chief of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) were present during the joint announcement.
The breakthrough was achieved on 22nd August 2010, at a meeting with participation of four leaders. The leaders charted five points to carry out the activities of the Movement.
The five points are :
1. The exiled political parties and the exiled Bhutanese must be permitted to participate in the forth-coming elections.
2. The Bhutanese refugees must be repatriated with honour and dignity, and must be allowed to participate in the political process. To call upon the international community to pressurize Bhutan to take back its citizens.
3. The immediate unconditional release of all the political prisoners in Bhutan who have been in prisons since the early 1990s.
4. To promote and strengthen the existing bonds of friendship at the people to people level among the citizens of Bhutan, India, and Nepal, which hasn't been promoted to the desired level thus far.
5. To extend thanks to the international community and all well-wishers of the Bhutanese democratic struggle and seek continued support and solidarity.
This Coalition was unlike past as there was no formation
or name of organization. Mr. Rongthong Kunley Dorji will lead the
movement and he will be supported by other three leaders towards the
realization of five points.
of the newly-formed Alliance
The Alliance has entrusted me to lead a unified democratic movement. Our activities will be peaceful. All we want is constitutional rights which are guaranteed to us by the Constitution of Bhutan, promulgated in 2008. We will keep the Government of Nepal informed and also seek their assistance and support in our initiatives. A delegation of the Alliance will also meet the Government of India sometime in December, to seek assistance to facilitate our repatriation and safeguard our democratic rights in Bhutan. We will urge the Government of India to assist us, because the Government of India is the largest donor to Bhutan, and Bhutan and India also enjoy excellent friendly relations. India in fact has the responsibility to facilitate our repatriation and reconciliation so that its friendly neighbouring country, Bhutan, is not plunged into instability and unrest. The delegation will meet the International Community to garner support and to pressure the Government of Bhutan to accede to our demands.
This Alliance is essentially beyond the realm of refugee camp politics. The follower of Bhutanese refugee’s issues would note that there are some 52 organisations in the Bhutanese refugee camps alone. What is confounding is that individuals of one organisation would also be holding seats in more than three other organisations as well. In spite of such confusion, I would welcome any organisation that feels they were left behind by the Alliance. However, merely declaring interest to join the Alliance won’t do. Those interested to join must demonstrate their commitment and ability to contribute to the Alliance before joining.
The Alliance wants to make certain other matters clear. First, to our Bhutanese brethren inside Bhutan, we want to bring caution to the misinformation by some with vested interests to interpret our work as negative. Our work is to strengthen the sovereignty, democracy, independence and peace in Bhutan, not the contrary. We want to reiterate the respect we have for the institution of Monarchy. We however, want democratic rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Bhutan. Every Bhutanese must recognise the fundamental truth that democracy is the right of the public and not just the right of a single individual. Democracy is for everyone - students, teachers, civil servants, the army, farmers, businessmen and others, and also for the King himself! In short, every citizen needs democracy in their life to lead a life of honour and dignity. We know that democracy in the real sense is still absent in Bhutan. Therefore our efforts to seek democratic rights granted under the Constitution of Bhutan.
We want to reassure our friendly neighbour India, that we will always
value the excellent friendly bonds existing between us. We are optimistic
that the Government of India will hold talks with the Government of
Bhutan to enable us to return to Bhutan and lead a life of democracy
loving citizens in Bhutan. We are also optimistic that the United
Nations Organisation, democracy loving citizens and the democratic
countries of the world will support our initiatives.
This is a good news. Even though the agreement to work together under the leadership of Mr. Rongthong Kinley Dorji by the President of Bhutanese Movement steering Committee (BMSC) Mr. T.N. Rizal who was once esteemed as supreme leader of the Bhutanese movement, the President of National Front for Democracy- Bhutan (NFD-Bhutan) cum President of Bhutan Peoples’ Party (BPP) Mr. Bala Ram Poudyel and the President of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) Dr.D.N.S. Dhakal, was not received with euphoria by many of the Bhutanese refugees. Yet it is felt the effort and spirit is still there to fight the injustice of the Druk regime led by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk and now by his son, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk. The reason for the indifference of the people to unification is that such unifications in the past have failed to deliver and fulfill the peoples’ aspirations, which finally led refugees to resettle in third countries. However, this unification under the leadership of Mr. R.K. Dorji, who spent almost three years in Tihar jail in Delhi and 12 years under movement restriction in Delhi, till the Bhutan Government withdrew the case on October 2009 for being unable to produce concrete reason and proof of its allegations to the Delhi High Court, is expected to achieve the goal of repatriation and establishment of peoples’ democracy and not abort it like past consolidations.
With the passage of time, I hope the leaders have matured and realized their follies of dirty politics of, “I am right and you are wrong” notion and hereinafter truly dedicate and commit to work under the leadership of R.K. Dorji. This is one and probably the last opportunity for the political aspiring leaders to showcase their determination to fight for justice to the physically, mentally, psychologically, economically and socially wounded refugees and fellowmen inside Bhutan. This is the litmus test to prove to the grass roots people that they are working selflessly with honesty and sincerity and devoting their heart and soul for the greater cause, than imposing self-importance and self-benefits. This is also the golden chance to absolve all past mistakes by demonstrating selfless sacrifice and rising above any vested interests and ego. Unless there is strong support and execution of the leader’s plans by the co-friends, the leader alone cannot do anything, which was as in the past. Inter-rivalry, jealousy and malice were so rife among the Bhutanese Parties/ organizations, that the greater enemy, instead of the actual rival - the Druk Regime, was among ourselves. One would breathe sigh of relief and relish with delight if his/her antagonist’s plans were thwarted. It is hoped that such attitudes are a thing of the past, and this unification is formed out of genuine feeling of need and not as an eye wash. It is firmly hoped that Mr. R.K. Dorji will get full support, especially from the three leaders, and would not be marooned in maelstrom of delusion.
There is a saying “better late than never”. Though late, hope the Alliance is formed on a sound bedrock and not crumple down like a sand house. People still pout their lips and are skeptical while reflecting back on such numerous unifications and say “it is just old wine in a new bottle.” Therefore, this is a challenge to negate the disapproving skeptics by properly charting plans, programmes and strategies and expediting rightly. The people have high expectations from the leadership of Mr. R.K. Dorji and hopes that he lives up to the peoples’ aspirations with a peaceful, assertive movement, that downsizes the monopolistic rule of the Wangchuk dynasty in the name of pseudo Democracy and gain the trust and confidence of all Bhutanese either in exile or living inside Bhutan. We hope that true peoples’ democracy is established and enables people to rejoice ever lasting peace and prosperity.
Statement of Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal
Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) calls upon the Government of Bhutan to come forward to solve the political and refugee problem in Bhutan with sincerity and purpose. The party demands that the resettled refugees be granted non-resident Bhutanese status and willing refugees are repatriated to Bhutan. This is the only way forward to an amicable solution to this protracted problem.
The Party also calls upon all Bhutanese organizations and individuals working in exile, to work under the leadership of Sri R.K. Dorji, President of Druk National Congress, with the objective of establishing an inclusive democracy in Bhutan.
BNDP believes that Bhutan will have to overcome the mindset of narrow
ethnicity and religion as the identity of a nation state, and boldly
move forward to play a responsible role in building a secure Bhutan.
Bhutan must take recognition of the fact that the changing global
scenario in economics and politics, and the increasing role of Asia
in geo-politics, while designing its internal and external policy.
The Party believes that time has come for Bhutan to solve all pending
problems and give an acceptable solution to all stakeholders.
still a dream
On 25th August, 2010, I had a meeting with Mr. Teknath Rizal, Mr. Balaram Poudyel and Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal at Kathmandu. Senior members of Druk National Congress were also present. During the discussion, a revival of United Front for Democracy (UFD) came up. But, Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal suggested that further formation of organizations or revival of old ones will not serve any purpose given the present situation, in addition, he opined that DNC already has its office at Kathmandu and therefore must take the initiative to lead the consolidation of the democratic movement. His suggestion was accepted by Mr. Rizal and Mr. Poudyel. We agreed on five points to carry out our activities. I accepted their request in view of dramatic changes that has unfolded inside our country.
So far, opposing views of respective organizations have been the main drawback of our democratic movement. Though my confinement in Delhi restricted physical contact with fellow refugees, I have raised refugee issues at appropriate forums, along with the demand for the establishment of democracy, which was my Party's fundamental demand. Respective leaders, owing to local compulsions, campaign more on refugee issues, even though all wanted democracy to be their priority.
The pressure from UN, International Community, and India, along with our pressure, compelled King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, on the occasion of Bhutan’s National Day celebrations at Tashi Yangtse District, on 17th December 2005, to proclaim that Bhutan would transform into a Constitutional Monarchy. The bureaucrats and ignorant people consider the present “Democracy” to be a gift granted by the King. The truth is that our efforts with help of India and the International Community brought “Democracy” in Bhutan. Who primary wants democracy? Given its track record, is it likely that the regime would ever want democracy and share its powers? Only the suppressed and the opposition want democracy, in order to bring people-friendly governance and redress injustice.
The Fourth King had drafted the Constitution beforehand. He handpicked 39 members of the Constitution Drafting Committee in 2001, to eyewash the International Community that the Constitution is being drafted. He then unveiled the Draft Constitution to the public on 25th March, 2005. On 9th December, 2006, the Fourth King abdicated the throne and appointed his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, as the Fifth King. The father and son duo toured twenty districts, portraying it as a consultation exercise on the Draft Constitution. The people who would have knowledge about the constitution were not consulted. Ignorant and innocent people were assembled. These people pledged to King that the Draft Constitution is okay.
Thereafter, the country geared up for the general elections to be held in 2008. The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) registered only two parties, contrary to Constitutional provisions. Druk Phuentsum Tshogpa (DPT) under Jigme Thinley and People's Democratic Party (PDP) under Sangay Nidup were registered. Both leaders are relatives of the King. In addition, the ECB brought out a stipulation that candidates required a formal university degree as the prerequisite eligibility to be a Member of Parliament. At that time, eligible candidates with degree holders who were henchman of the regime were just enough for two parties. The third Party led by Mr. Sigay Dorji was rejected by the ECB. The King feared that a multiparty system will end his power. The King was amenable to either Jigme Thinley or Sangay Nidup becoming Prime Minister.
During the debate in the Parliament on the promulgation of the Constitution, Members of Parliament demanded amendments to a few provisions in the Constitution. The request was sent to King, but he rejected it. Thus, the King's Constitution was adopted in totality on 18th July, 2008. The Druk National Congress also submitted suggestions for improvement in Draft Constitution. The DNC’s suggestions were abandoned.
The Constitution was promulgated in 2008. The people of Bhutan are still denied their fundamental democratic rights. Almost three years have passed, yet the Local Government elections have not been conducted. The King feared that the conducting of Local Government elections right after the general elections would wreak his grand design. Now the ECB has brought out educational stipulations for candidates for the LG elections as well. The examination of candidates was held last month. The grass root leaders with deep knowledge and experience are denied participation. Democracy is the freedom of choice. Politicians don't require book-knowledge. For politicians, the public should be the examiner not the ECB.
People continue to say that the Fourth King granted democracy to people. If so, why is democratic rights enshrined in Constitution still denied to the people? Why is the King still the whole and sole decision maker, as in the past? Is it enough for the international community to see Bhutan’s name changed to "democratic Bhutan” and the conducting of "general elections", for Bhutan to qualify as a democratic nation? If so, then why such a big fuss about Burma being undemocratic. The international community must pressure the Bhutanese regime to institute genuine and participative form of democracy. The next general election is due on 2013. We expect that a repeat of 2008 is avoided.
The Aggrieved Parties
When we announced the formation of an alliance last August, there were suggestions coming from organizations and individuals expressing their support, but some also criticizing their exclusion. I found no reason at that moment in extending specific invitation to those aggrieved parties.
In the capacity of Chairman of the United Front for Democracy, I went to Delhi in 1997, to seek Indian assistance for the establishment of democracy in Bhutan and the repatriation of refugees. I was arrested on the basis of an extradition request from Bhutan. I was not arrested for any personal or private reason, but for working towards the establishment of democracy in Bhutan and seeking the repatriation of refugees. I received moral support from BNDP and majority of the refugee community.
While I was undergoing acute mental stress from the developments, my subordinates, led by Cheku Drukpa, Narad Adhikari, Jigme Jamtsho, Karjay and Gup Khilla rebelled against me in 2001, and issued a statement of my farcical dismissal in press. Farcical because three-fourths of the Central Committee members of the Party have remained by me and had accepted my leadership. A majority of refugee community supported me. The Party head office at Kathmandu and Delhi remained with me. Only the Kakarvita branch office got separated. Thereafter, the turncoats fabricated allegations in local newspapers about my role and my Party members' hand in the murder of Mr. Budhathoki, the President of BPP. Besides, they also alleged that I was a Bhutanese Government intelligence agent. Further I was also alleged to be an Indian intelligence agent. Their objective was to discredit my Party, assassinate my character and expedite my extradition. Their activities supported the Bhutanese Government. They forcefully carry out correspondences in my Party’s name. They had only engaged in local camp politics and bickering. These very people are now criticizing their exclusion in new alliance. Should I be needed to extend a red carpet invitation to them? For the last 13 years I had to endure harsh confinement in Delhi. They left me in lurch when I needed their support most.
Mr. Teknath Rizal reached Nepal in 2003 after being released from a ten-year inhuman incarceration in Bhutanese jail. He took up the reign of the Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee and formed the Human Rights Council of Bhutan, to work towards finding a resolution to the Bhutanese refugee imbroglio. Thereafter, he became the Chairman of the Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee. He couldn't realize the objectives of the Organization due to lack of strong support from his colleagues. He has aligned with me. He continued to give me assistance and support.
Our activities will be carried out through peaceful means. It is our responsibility to work towards the amelioration of aggrieved Bhutanese whether they are living in Bhutan, Nepal, India or elsewhere in world. So far there is no overt opposition inside Bhutan. Even though People's Democratic Party is the legally recognized opposition party in Bhutan, it is not working like one. Hence, we will take up the responsibility of the opposition that will work for the betterment of our people and strengthening of inclusive democracy in our country. Besides government we expect the people and civil organizations of Nepal will support our struggle.
Victimization of Teknath Rizal
Tek Nath Rizal was born in 1947 at Lamidara, Chirang Distrct in Bhutan. At the age of 27, he became a member of the National Assembly. His served the public sincerely. His hard work, sincerity and integrity earned the respect of public and King. The King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, had reposed his faith and confidence upon him, and he was rewarded with his appointment as a member of the Royal Advisory Council in 1984. When corruption scandals erupted in the country, he was assigned the task to lead the Audit Committee. His findings indicted eight Dzongdas – Chief District Administrators. Eight Dzongdas were either terminated from service or sentenced to imprisonment. Their relatives were entrenched in influential positions of the government and very unhappy with Mr. Rizal.
At that time, the citizenship crisis hit the Lhotshampa community. Mr. Tek Nath Rizal and Upadhya held discussions with Lyongpo Om Pradhan, who urged them to submit an appeal to the King. They, along with 32 Lhotsampa officials submitted a petition to King on the citizenship issue. The King dispatched an investigation team to Chirang to authenticate the claim.
At that time, Dago Tshering was the Deputy Home Minister. His brother, Dago Sitha, was one of the Dzongdas who had been sentenced to three imprisonments as a consequence of Rizal's finding. Dago Tshering had bided his time to exact revenge on Teknath Rizal. He seized the opportunity. He instructed Chirang Dzongda, Dorji Wangdi to engineer a public contradiction to Rizal’s claims in front of the King’s investigation team by threatening the local people into making false statements to the contrary. Under threat and fear, the people disagreed with the claims made in the petition and thus Rizal was victimized.
After release from jail in 1999, he tried to stay at Thimphu and at Phuentsholing, but couldn't stay. He shifted to Siliguri and New Delhi, but once again, he faced similar situation. He entered Nepal in 2003. He resumed the human rights campaign. He met Rongthong Kunley Dorji, the President of Druk National Congress on 12th August, 2010, at Kathmandu. He avowed to work for human rights in Bhutan and extended his support to Mr. Dorji's unified movement.
India drops extradition proceedings against Rongthong Kunley Dorji
April, 21, 2010: The extradition proceedings against Mr. R.K. Dorji, the President of the Druk National Congress, finally ended on April 20, with the withdrawal of the case by the Government of India. The counsel of the Union of India submitted in the Delhi High Court that the Royal Government of Bhutan preferred not to pursue the extradition of Rongthong Kunley, and therefore withdrew its extradition request.
Mr. Dorji was arrested on April 18, 1997, by the Government of India, at the behest of Royal Government of Bhutan to have him extradited to Bhutan. Mr. Dorji was in Delhi to garner support from the Government and the people of India for the Bhutanese peoples’ struggle for the establishment of democracy and human rights in Bhutan. He was imprisoned for 14 months at Tihar jail and released on bail on July 12, 1998. However, his bail condition prevented him from leaving Delhi without permission, and he had to report to the local police station twice a week.
Back in Bhutan, on May 18, 1991, R.K. Dorji had been arrested and tortured for fifty days on charges of treason for being involved in the pro-democracy movement. After his release, he fled to Nepal for the fear of re-arrest, torture and elimination. In August 1991, the Government of Nepal granted him political asylum. On June 16, 1994, at Kathmandu, Nepal, he formed the Druk National Congress, a political party, to work for the establishment of democracy human rights in Bhutan under Constitutional Monarchy.
His extradition case in India, which began on July 1, 1997, at the Patiala House Court and shifted later to Tis Hazari Court, had been proceeding at a snail’s pace, with the Union of India unable, apart from its first witness, to produce any of its other designated witnesses even after 11 years. To thus expedite his case, Mr. Dorji had submitted a petition in the Delhi High Court on October 22, 2008, requesting the Hon’ble Court to quash the extradition proceedings. On April 9, 2009, the counsel of the Union of India submitted to the Tis Hazari Court that they were no longer able to produce its second witness. After the 13th adjournment/hearing on R.K. Dorji’s petition at the Delhi High Court, the extradition proceedings finally came to an end on April 20, with the Delhi High Court’s order.
After the Delhi High Court’s judgement, R.K. Dorji expressed his satisfaction at the outcome. He said this was a victory not only for himself but also for the people of the Bhutan and India, and democrats the world over. He said that this judgment conclusively proved the politically motivated allegations against him were false, and that his faith in the Indian Judiciary was finally vindicated.
South Asian Rally for Bhutanese repatriation
The People of South Asia demanded of the Bhutanese Government to repatriate its citizens. A one-day seminar on Bhutanese issues was organized at Birtamod, Jhapa, Nepal, by the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and the Bhutanese Elderly Refugees Repatriation Committee, as an extension of People’s SAARC 2010 Delhi.
Bhutanese delegates had earlier attended the People's SAARC 2010, Delhi, in which people from eight SAARC member nations assembled.
“So far, the King of Bhutan along with his relatives has introduced their own brand of democracy. Mixing this brand of democracy with “Gross National Happiness” and serving this cocktail to western and south Asian countries meant the larger issues of human rights and genuine democracy in Bhutan and the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees are specifically neglected", said Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal, Acting Executive of Bhutan National Democratic Party, during the inaugural session of People's SAARC.
He further added that the Delhi High Court’s judgment freeing Mr. R.K. Dorji, the President of Druk National Congress on April 20, 2010, is a victory for Bhutanese democrats and a clear sign of the Bhutanese movement progressing towards national reconciliation and repatriation.
IBFS rejoices the release of R.K. Dorji
Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society has expressed deep satisfaction on the end of an unfortunately long trial against the democratic mass leader and President of Druk National Congress, Rongthong Kunley Dorji. It has congratulated Shri Dorji and his supporters for their courage and conviction, as well as success in their resistance to injustice by patiently cooperating with the Indian Courts for 13 long years.
The Society further added, “the decision to withdraw the case against Rongthong Kunley Dorji will prove to be a great step forward for creating a stronger bond of friendship between the people of India and Bhutan. But it has to be furthered by complementary steps so that there is a strengthening of democracy in Bhutan and the return of several thousand refugees to their mother land.”
The Society hosted a dinner on 25th April, 2010, to honour the efforts of advocate, Mr. V.K. Ohri and rejoice Mr. Dorji’s freedom.
Mr. Anand Swroop Verma, the former president of Bhutan Solidarity Group, who was instrumental in getting a stay order against Mr. Dorji’s deportation from the Delhi High Court in 1997, was also present during the dinner.
Mr. Dorji expressed his gratitude to the Society and the friends of Bhutanese democrats. He said, “the first hurdle has been cleared. I will now require all your guidance and assistance to achieve inclusive democracy in Bhutan and everlasting friendship with the people of India”.
Inaugural meeting at upgraded office
The upgraded office of Druk National Congress at Kathmandu, held its inaugural meeting on 9th November, 2010. The office located near the historical Boudha Stupa provided serene and spiritual ambiance to leaders’ discussions.
Mr. Teknath Rizal, Dr. D.N.S. Dhakal and DNC members were preset during the discussion. Rongthong Kunley Dorji chaired the meeting.
The leaders discussed strategies and prioritized the movement goals.
The issue of inclusive democracy, repatriation and participation of
exiles political parties' were discussed. Strategies to sustain the
movement was also discussed.
Copy of Letter sent to King of Bhutan by IBFS
24th May, 2010
We want to extend our gratitude to Your Majesty’s Government for withdrawing the unfortunate extradition case against the democratic leader and the President of the Druk National Congress, Shri Rongthong Kunley Dorji, on 21st April, 2010. The Executive Committee of the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society, in its meeting of 21st May, 2010, thoroughly deliberated the extradition case of Mr. Dorji, and its ultimate withdrawal. The Society concluded that the path towards a new chapter of cooperation and constructive reconciliation for building a healthy democratic order and peace in Bhutan is open. The Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of India must use this opportunity.
Mr. Rongthong Kunley Dorji is a democratic leader who has always promoted the cause of democracy and human rights. In view of Bhutan instituting a democratic system of government, it is logical that the Royal Government of Bhutan allow Mr. Dorji and those of his party members who are presently in exile, into the country without any preconditions. They must be allowed to participate in the democratic process of Bhutan so that they can contribute towards the building of a healthy democratic order in Bhutan. We believe that the Government of India will also most certainly facilitate and assist the reconciliation process.
We will be happy to extend our full cooperation to Government of Bhutan and the Government of India in creating a new chapter of people to people cooperation.
Prof. Anand Kumar