The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Sunday, December 31, 2006

implement all solutions put forward by the UNHCR- Hari Adikari

Bhutanese refugees submit memorandum to PM

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Dec 30 - The Bhutanese refugees on Saturday submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, urging the latter to resolve the refugee crisis as soon as possible to prevent the situation from worsening into a state of permanent displacement.
Stating that the efforts made by the Government in the past to solve their problems have not been successful, the refugees today urged the government to find a permanent and long-term solution to refugee crisis.

In the memorandum submitted today, the refugees have said that the annual budget cuts by the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has further worsened their plight.

Likewise, the refugees also urged the PM to implement one or all of the solutions put forward by the UNHCR including repatriation, resettlement in a third country and settlement here in Nepal itself to seek a sustainable solution to the long-standing refugee crisis.

The memorandum was submitted today to PM Koirala by acting Director of the coordinating committee formed to resolve the Bhutanese refugee crisis Hari Adhikari and other camp secretaries.

More than 106,000 Bhunatese refugees have been living in the seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal for the past 15 years.

Posted on: 2006-12-30 02:03:15 (Server Time)

Wangchuck was the 'terrorist' involved in evicting the refugees- Rizal

Oli raises strong objection against Bhutan PM's remarks

Terming the remarks made by Bhutanese Prime Minister about refugees in Nepal as "serious and negative," Nepalese deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister KP Oli has raised strong objections.

Talking to Kantipur daily, Oli said, "Serious attention of Nepal government has been drawn by these remarks." He was referring to the remarks made by Bhutanese PM Khandu Wangchuk that repatriating Bhutanese refugees from Nepal would be like importing readymade terrorists.

Totally rejecting the remarks made by the Bhutanese PM, Oli said they were disrespectful of the whole issue and also of the bilateral relations. The Bhutanese PM had accused that majority of refugees languishing in camps in Nepal were engaged in Maoist activities. He had added that there could not be any dialogue with any refugee representative. Speaking in the Bhutanese parliament, Wangchuk also rejected Nepal government's assertion that the refugee issue was primarily an issue between Bhutanese government and its people.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement expressing surprise over the remarks. It has said that the Nepal government was regularly monitoring the refugee camps and that there is no intrusion by any untoward elements there.

Likewise, refugee leader Tek Nath Rijal, reacting to Wangchuk's remarks, said the latter, in fact, was the 'terrorist' involved in evicting the refugees. sd Dec 29 06

Friday, December 29, 2006

National Assembly strict yet positive on repatriation

Assembly discusses status of bilateral talks with Nepal

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 27 December, 2006 - Members of the National Assembly yesterday asked the government to strictly enforce the Citizenship Act after the foreign minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, briefed the assembly on the status of the Bhutan - Nepal bilateral talks on the problem of the people in the camps in eastern Nepal.

The Citizenship Act should not be diluted: Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk
After several chimis pointed out that the people in the camps were a threat to the security of Bhutan despite repeated efforts to solve the problems mutually the Speaker, Dasho Ugen Dorje, asked the foreign minister to brief the house on the progress of the talks.

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk informed the Assembly that the two governments had been meeting and maintaining contact regularly at the ministerial level to discuss the issue since the stalemate in the talks after Bhutanese officials were violently assaulted on December 22, 2003, in Nepal.

He said that he had met the Nepalese counterpart in September 2005 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to break the stalemate.

“Bhutan offered to take back those people in category 1 (C1) and category 4 (C4) from Khudanabari camp who choose to return to Bhutan,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.

The positions of the two governments on the people in the camps had been harmonised during the 14th meeting of the Nepal-Bhutan Ministerial Joint Committee (MJC) in Kathmandu in 2003. The MJC had categorised people found to be forcefully evicted from Bhutan under C1 and Bhutanese who have committed criminal acts under C4 category.

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that in November 2005, on the sidelines of the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka, Bhutan had proposed for the Joint Verification Team (JVT) members of the two countries to visit the camps to explain the terms and procedures to the people and to collect applications of those opting to return.

“To have a clear understanding, I proposed incorporation of clauses in a joint communiquè reaffirming the agreements reached in the joint ministerial committee on the terms and procedures, and on the visit of members of the JVT to the camp,” said the foreign minister. “The foreign minister of Nepal would not agree to the incorporation of such clauses in a joint communiquè or in any other written form. In subsequent written and telephonic contacts, the foreign minister of Nepal maintained this position and we could not reactivate the bilateral process.”

The foreign minister also informed the Assembly that the political changes in Nepal had also been an impediment to the smooth process of the bilateral talks.

In September 2006, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk met the present deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Nepal on three occasions in Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, and in New York.

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk informed the Assembly that in these meetings, the government of Nepal had introduced a new element stating that the problem was between Bhutan and the camp people and not between Nepal and Bhutan, and that Bhutan should talk directly to the people in the camps.

“The government of Nepal has even stated in the press that it would not abide by the past agreements reached between the two governments,” he said, adding that their latest position was that all the people in the camps have to be repatriated.

The Nepalese government also stated that they could only facilitate to resolve the problem, that they had only given asylum to the people on humanitarian grounds, and that the prime onus to resolve the stalemate was with Bhutan.

“The government of Nepal wants to make a fresh start, doing away with past agreements,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.

The minister said that Bhutan could not accept the Nepalese government’s new position. “The two governments had agreed from the beginning of the talks in 1993 that they were in the best position to find a solution to the problem through bilateral process,” he said. “The government of Bhutan and past successive government of Nepal had always reiterated their commitment to the bilateral process.”

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that it was not practical for the government to talk to the people in the camps because most of them were not Bhutanese.

“The camps have been infiltrated by Maoist elements and several radical parties like the Bhutan Communist Party, Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Bhutan Revolutionary Students Union have been formed with the declared objective of carrying out armed struggle to overthrow the government of Bhutan,” said the minister.

He added that it was the Nepalese government that established the camps and sought UNHCR assistance in 1991 when there were only 304 people claiming to be Bhutanese refugees. “Until mid 1993 all ethnic Nepalese claiming to be Bhutanese refugees were admitted into the camps without proper screening,” said the foreign minister.

The minister said that the involvement of the Nepalese government in the process was necessary as there was clear agreement on Category 2 (C2) where it says that people under C2 who do not wish to return to Bhutan would be given the option to apply for Nepalese citizenship. “Nepal has both moral and legal responsibility over the problem,” he said.

The new proposal, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said, was a step backward and could derail the bilateral process and would mean going back on all agreements reached between the two governments and undoing all that has been achieved in the past 13 years.

“Last October, a letter from the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Nepal reiterated their government’s stand,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk. “But I made it clear that the issue must be resolved through a bilateral process and in accordance with the agreements reached between the two governments.”

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk also informed the Assembly that the two governments had agreed to meet in Thimphu from November 20 to 23 this year, but the talks had to be postponed on the request of the Nepalese government.

The minister also expressed his concern on the infiltration into the camps by the Maoist elements and the formation of radical parties in Nepal. “A large number of people in the camps are supporting and joining the Maoist movement in Nepal. They are listed as both refugees and Maoist members,” he said. “Allowing the highly politicised camp people into Bhutan would mean importing ready made radical political parties and terrorists to duplicate the violence, terror, and instability the Maoists have unleashed in Nepal.”

The minister also expressed concern on the growing nexus between the militant elements in the camps and the Indian Maoists and Naxalities and insurgent groups who where flushed out of Bhutan in 2003.

“With the culmination of political reforms initiated by His Majesty the fourth King, it is critical for Bhutan at this delicate juncture to maintain its peace and stability to ensure a smooth new political system,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.

He said that it was wise for the Bhutanese government and people to uphold and enforce the Citizenship Act. “I agree with the chimis that the Citizenship Act of Bhutan should not be diluted as it is the only protection for the security and sovereignty of Bhutan.”

Alarmed and expressing their apprehension, several chimis said that the problems of the people in the camps should be solved based on the agreements and the resolutions of the past Assembly sessions.

The Samtse chimi said that even if people falling under C1 are ever repatriated, they should be punished according to the Citizenship Act of Bhutan. “The decision for awarding citizenship should be left with His Majesty the King,” he said.

The Bumthang chimi said that Bhutan had no business with the people in the camps. “We will follow the agreements signed between the two governments and the National Assembly resolutions,” he said.

Others submitted that the people should not be allowed to return at all.

The Punakha chimi said that there were rumors that these people would be allowed to return to Bhutan after 2008. “There is widespread talks that the people in the camps would be returning as if the Citizenship Act has been amended,” he said. “The government should strictly enforce the Citizenship Act of Bhutan.”

The foreign minister reassured the members that the talks would be carried out based on the agreements signed between the two countries, the Citizenship Act of Bhutan, Immigration laws, and the resolutions passed by the National Assembly of Bhutan.

“If the people are repatriated, they would have to deal with the Citizenship Act,” he said. “The two governments had agreed to respect each other’s laws.”

The National Assembly resolved that the issue be resolved bilaterally based on the agreements signed between the two governments, the Citizenship Act of Bhutan, and the resolutions of the National Assembly of Bhutan.

By Ugyen Penjore

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Adopt Multi-track Approach- Siwakoti

US - Last Stop for Bhutanese Refugees?
This is "an opportunity for the refugees who had been living a sub-human life for the last 16 years", U.S. Ambassador to Nepal James Moriarty said on a visit to one of the seven camps in southeastern Nepal in November. He reaffirmed the position set out by Assistant Secretary of State for Refugee Affairs Ellen Sauerbrey on Oct. 2 -- the offer to take in up to 60,000 refugees is a humanitarian one and not meant to absolve Bhutan for evicting the ethnic Nepalis, known as Lhotsampas.

But that will be the result, exiled leaders of opposition Bhutanese political parties and human rights groups have argued. The U.S. "on one hand is aware that (Bhutan's government) is a terrorist regime," says prominent Nepal-based leader Tek Nath Rizal. "But instead of pressuring Bhutan through (South Asia's superpower) India, they say 'we want to take you to America'...Knowingly or unknowingly the U.S. is helping the terrorist government in Bhutan", he added in an interview with IPS.

Some of the extremely influential exiled leaders have damned the U.S. proposal outright. Others like Rizal say they will accept "third-country resettlement" only as a last resort. First priority must be given to "repatriation" to Bhutan followed by settlement in Nepal or India, where another 15,000-20,000 refugees live.

But in the tidy camps with their dirt roads and long lines of tiny bamboo huts, it is hard to find anyone in favour of going to the U.S. or to the other countries that have reportedly also offered safe haven -- Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

"It's better to go back to Bhutan than to stay here," says one former farmer, 78, in Sanischare, the western-most camp, home to 21,000 people. "If I can't go to Bhutan I leave it up to the agencies (that support the camps) to decide," adds the man.

As he talks to visiting journalists, other residents -- men, women and children -- crowd around. Most identify themselves as the old man's relatives; all of them say they want to return to their homeland, even those hardly old enough to remember it.

Local media has reported that some refugees who publicly welcomed the resettlement offer have been threatened, and leaders of the camp management committees who backed the idea were "fired" by the exiled leaders. But later, as the reporters walk through the dusty camp, a United Nations employee suggests that if given the chance to vote confidentially, about 70 percent of residents would choose third-country resettlement.

In an interview in Kathmandu, human rights activist Gopal Siwakoti agrees that 70 percent is a good estimate. A supporter of a "comprehensive solution" to the refugee problem, Siwakoti has joined hands with activists in India and Bhutan to press the three governments to focus on the humanitarian issue and resolve the stalemate -- Nepal and Bhutan have held 15 rounds of talks and failed, while India has refused to participate.

Bhutan and Nepal do not share a border. They are separated by Sikkim, a former independent state that is now part of India. When Bhutan's royal government expelled the Lhotsampas in 1990, the refugees first entered India before most returned to Nepal, their ancestral home.

In the 1980s, the northern-based Drukpa elite (ethnic Tibetans) who rule Bhutan as an autocracy accused the Lhotsampas of anti-nationalist activities and began to impose strict conditions. They changed citizenship rules, forced ethnic Nepalis to wear Drukpa dress, to speak their language (Dzongkha) and to stop practising Hinduism; eventually they were chased across the border.

The international community failed to address the issue, Siwakoti told IPS. "It has a moral obligation, but India has an official obligation, for two reasons: it has security and external affairs treaties with Bhutan, and because the refugees transited through India."

According to Rizal, a former senior civil servant in Bhutan who was jailed for 10 years, "Unless India gets involved in the talks, nothing will happen...Nepal should initiate India's involvement in the talks."

But while the South Asian giant's media, civil society and some politicians are starting to show interest, the government position has not changed. "India encourages the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to find the solution of the problem on their own," Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said on a visit to Kathmandu on Nov. 30.

Still, momentum seems to be growing toward a fundamental step that could break the deadlock -- refugee leaders and their backers accepting to detach repatriation from the resettlement option.

Siwakoti describes it as adopting a "multi-track approach": untie the human rights and humanitarian issues and pursue all options simultaneously instead of waiting for repatriation. "You can't make this whole population responsible for restoring democracy in Bhutan: they are refugees," he said.
But, added the activist, the refugees must be declared Bhutanese citizens before being resettled, so they can retain the option to return to the country.

The head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Nepal, Abraham Abraham, has a similar view. "The key (to an agreement) lies in understanding that you can't keep human beings in a camp situation for 16 years. In my opinion, the humanitarian considerations should prevail over political ones."

A first step is to "de-link" the options, added the UNHCR chief in an interview. "As things stand, it appears as if repatriation is holding hostage the other two possible solutions...You don't need to keep all the 100,000 people for the next 10 years (until repatriation is settled). You already have prospects for at least reducing the numbers in the camps now."

Rizal says he will not block refugees who truly want to resettle. "For the last 17 years my people have been fighting.If they are fed up I'll help them to go. But those whose family members are in Bhutan's jails or living there without citizenship rights and those who are in India separated from their families -- if they want to go back, the international community should not stop them."

The U.S. offer coincided with other significant events in 2006: April's 'people's movement' in Nepal, the popular uprising that united Maoist rebels and seven main opposition parties to oust the autocrat King Gyanendra; and the peace agreement signed between the Maoists and the new government.

That administration scheduled talks with the Bhutan government in November and December but both times they were postponed because of peace negotiations. "In my four years here, this is the first time I'm seeing such a genuine attempt (from Nepal's government) to try and resolve this problem," says Abraham. "What we need now is a clear policy decision from the Nepali government that includes resettlement as an alternative, with repatriation being the preferred solution," he told IPS.

A more urgent problem is feeding the refugees. The UN World Food Programme said Friday it will run out of food in January without donations for the two-year, 24-million-dollar programme that starts Jan. 1.

Source: IPS NewsMore

Camps have elements and radicals to overthrow the government of Bhutan- Khandu Wangchuk

No talks with refugees: Bhutan minister
A Bhutanese minister has told the National Assembly of the Bhutan that the government would not hold talks with the refugees since all of them are not Bhutanese.

During his address to the 86th session of the national legislature on Tuesday, foreign minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, who also holds the portfolio of prime minister, said, "it was not practical for the government to talk to the people in the camps because most of them are not Bhutanese," the online version of the government mouthpiece Kuensel quoted.

Refugee leaders have been demanding that the bilateral Nepal-Bhutan talks must end and the Bhutanese government must start negotiations with the refugees.

Wangchuk alleged Nepal of introducing a new element stating that the problem was between Bhutan and the refugees and not between Nepal and Bhutan, and that Bhutan should talk directly to refugees.

He also claimed that most people in the camps in eastern Nepal are members of the Maoist rebellion force.

"The camps have been infiltrated by Maoist elements and several radical parties like the Bhutan Communist Party, Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Bhutan Revolutionary Students Union with the declared objective of carrying out armed struggle to overthrow the government of Bhutan," said the minister.

During the sideline talks with the Nepali counterpart at UN general assembly session, "Bhutan offered to take back those people in category 1 (C1) and category 4 (C4) from Khudanabari camp who choose to return to Bhutan," the minister added.

As per the agreement reached during the 14th bilateral meeting in Kathmandu in 2003, people forcefully evicted from Bhutan are categorized C1 and those who committed crimes C4. ia Dec 28 06

WB faces reappearance of militant camps in Bhutan

Duggal for Jan visit to Bhutan

Express News Service

Kolkata, December 26: Union home secretary VK Duggal will be visiting Bhutan next month to discuss issues related to Indian militant groups setting up camps in the country.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had urged prime minister Manmohan Singh to resume joint operations with Bhutan afresh to force militants out of the country.

Addressing a press conference here, Duggal said: “A joint assessment will be made to take stock of the situation. Though we do not have confirmed inputs about militant camps in the country, we have come across some reports in that regard”.

Recently, the state, facing challenges from militant groups, began to suspect the reappearance of their camps in Bhutan.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

WFP needs money to feed Bhutanese exilees -Richard Ragan

‘WFP can no longer feed Druk refugees’
Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Dec 23 - The UN World Food Program (WFP) on Friday said it won't be able to feed Bhutanese refugees languishing in seven camps in eastern Nepal from the coming New Year because of lack of funding.
"WFP will no longer be able to provide full food rations to more than 106,000 Bhunatese refugees living in camps in eastern Nepal from January 2007, unless there is an immediate infusion of fund from the international donor community," WFP's Kathmandu office said in a statement.

"The donor community has always come through and provided critical assistance to the Bhutanese refugees since 1992 but no funds at all have been forthcoming for the next two-year program, which starts on 1 January 2007," the WFP office stated.

WFP is solely responsible for feeding all the refugees.

WFP's Country Representative in Nepal, Richard Ragan, said there has been no commitment made so far to support feeding of the refugees for the coming years. Ragan also said lack of financial support has put the health and safety of the refugees at serious risk. He appealed to the international community to respond quickly.

"Despite recent international media and donor attention on the Bhutanese refugee issue, it has not yet translated into the kind of financial support that WFP has received in previous years," Ragan said.

The lack of donor funds for this two-year, US$23.6 million dollar program means the WFP would not only have to cut food rations to the refugees, but at this critical time in Nepal's history, the threat of over 100,000 refugees losing access to food could have serious implications on the overall security situation in the country, Ragan said.

In this situation humanitarian assistance, like the food aid provided by WFP, is critical to fulfilling their basic needs, the WFP Kathmandu office said.

"As the international community lines up to support the peace process in Nepal, it is important that the donor community does not forget the needs of existing humanitarian crises like the Bhutanese refugees," said Ragan.

In addition to providing essential food items, WFP provides vitamin-fortified food to 3,000 pregnant and lactating women and young children, according to the WFP office. It has also been supporting income-generating activities aimed at improving the livelihoods of refugees as well as vocational training programs that help refugees become self-sufficient once durable solutions are found.

For the current year that ends on 31 December, support for the program has come from the European Commission (US$2.7 million), the United States (US$1.9 million), Nepal (US$150,000), Japan (US$20,000) and the private sector (US$8,000).

A further US$3.7 million was received in multilateral contributions. According to a WFP source, WFP spent about 9.3 million dollars in 2006 to feed the refugees.

Friday, December 22, 2006

National Assembly to talk on refugees.

86th National Assembly commences

22 December, 2006 - His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth Druk Gyalpo, graced the opening ceremony of the 86th session of the National Assembly, which began this morning in Thimphu.

In keeping with tradition His Majesty was received by the members and escorted to the Assembly Hall in a chipdrel procession for the marching and zhugdrel ceremonies.
The formal inauguration was attended by members of the royal family, senior representatives of all three arms of the government, members of the international community, and the public.

The event was broadcast LIVE on TV and radio.

Members of the Assembly welcomed the fifth Druk Gyalpo and paid tribute to the fourth Druk Gyalpo His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The Zhung Kalyon, Dasho Rinzin Gyeltshen, submitted the report on the implementation status of the resolutions of the 85th session in the morning session after the tea break. The report of the Public Accounts Committee will be presented in the afternoon.

Besides development issues the two week session which will also discuss on the Bhutan-China border talks and on the people living in the camps in Nepal.

The Judicial Service Bill of Bhutan 2007, the Immigration Bill of Bhutan 2007 and the Draft Labor and Employment Bill 2007 have been submitted for endorsement in this session. The session will end on January 8, 2007.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nothing compelled the King to give up his throne- The statesman

Bhutan abdication

The most arresting development in present day South Asia is King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan’s abdication from the throne in favour of his son. Suddenly, the region’s longest serving ruler, a popular and respected statesman, has quit the scene.
It has been an orderly transition, meticulously orchestrated, long anticipated but yet a shock and a surprise, for the King had been there for so long that the idea of someone else now taking over is not easily absorbed. Moreover, though the decision had been made known some time ago, the actual abdication took place rather earlier than anticipated. Typically of the former King, this extraordinary step was taken without pomp or self-congratulation: just a swift action when nobody was looking for it, leaving behind a slightly stunned populace.
Nothing compelled the King to give up his throne. He had reigned for thirty-four years, was fit and active, his people’s cynosure. Bhutan developed steadily under his leadership, transforming itself from a simple, remote society shrinking from the world into a more complex, self-confident realm capable of handling the external challenges it must face.

A Buddhist kingdom

While doing so, it has maintained its distinctiveness as a Buddhist kingdom ~ the last of its type anywhere ~ and strengthened its national identity. It has opened up peacefully, at its own pace and in its own manner, choosing a form of development that has made it a byword for environmental sensitivity.
Traditional forms of governance have been modernized, the old order giving way to a new cadre of well-educated senior officials who can hold their own internationally. There have been some dark moments, notably the expulsion of persons of Nepalese origin from southern Bhutan, now refugees whose fate is yet to be resolved.
Nevertheless, overall this has been a period of sustained progress. Life has become better for the average person, who now has access to facilities and opportunities that were undreamed of only a generation ago. There is thus good reason for Bhutan’s people to laud their former monarch’s rule.
His abdication was no impulsive act. For a quarter of a century or more, the King had been shedding the absolute authority of his high position, devolving more and more power to the state structures set up for the purpose, pushing his officials to take more responsibility. He progressively gave up the prerogative of making appointments, entrusting the task to a state commission. District officials were invested with an authority they had never enjoyed in earlier years, initially with mixed results, as poorly trained and sometimes corrupt officials took advantage of the situation.
But things settled down. The National Assembly was strengthened and encouraged to keep an eye on the administration. The Ministers and their supporting officials became more prominent and were organised in a cabinet under a rotating Prime Minister. The law was codified and a proper Supreme Court established.
And when all these and other basic attributes of a modern state were put in place, a Constitution was drafted under which the monarchy itself would become a constitutional structure. This sweeping transition has been widely explained to the people of Bhutan, whose acceptance of the projected arrangements is crucial to their success.
After initial skepticism, for the King was the symbol and fount of authority of the state, it seems that there is now general acceptance of the radical changes proposed. The new Constitution is to come into force in 2008. It was believed that the abdication would take place around that time but the King obviously felt that there was no advantage in delay and that his son should have the exposure to the exercise of power that will make him a more confident monarch under the new constitution, while the former King removes himself from the political scene.
This systematic yielding of authority proceeds from a clear-eyed assessment of global trends. The twentieth century was not a vintage era for crowned heads, the 21st less so. The demands of democracy and peoples’ participation became irresistible, and at Bhutan’s border was democratic India to drive in the point.
The monarch, and his late father before him, realized early that Bhutan’s security and future prosperity lay in going with the democratic tide rather than resisting it. Few ruling monarchs worldwide showed comparable acumen. Yet Bhutan’s people were not yet politically aware, were attached to the monarchy with which they were familiar, so had to be led and persuaded to accept something different. It has taken many years but now, despite some uneasiness at moving out of the shadow of the only ruler most of them have ever known, everything suggests that the people of Bhutan are ready for the next phase in the transformation of their country.
Bhutan is held up as a model among India’s neighbours, a country with which India has an exemplary relationship. India has done much to develop and sustain this relationship. Jawaharlal Nehru himself went to Bhutan, at a time when the journey required days of travel on horseback. In Bhutan, he underwrote that country’s entire development plan and helped launch its modernization. Following Nehru’s lead, India has always tried to be generous and supportive, and has acquiesced in the gradual emergence of Bhutan from under its shadow.

Ties with India

The great disproportion in size and capacity between the two countries has not prevented the growth of close and harmonious relations. They have been able to collaborate on large hydro-electric projects that have transformed the relationship and given vast benefit to each, though initially some Bhutanese officials felt the projects were too big and would subordinate Bhutan’s interest to India’s.
Another critical development was the successful strike at armed camps set up in Bhutan by insurgent Indian groups. Such major actions were the hallmark of the King’s dealings with India, acting boldly and independently when the time was ripe, working with his large neighbour where common interests prevailed.
Bhutan’s new monarch is now on the throne, H.M. King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. He is very familiar with India, with a wide range of friends in this country and the benefit of a year at the National Defence College in New Delhi. He will preside over the transition to popular rule in 2008 under the new constitution.
At that time, a more clamorous Assembly may well emerge, more inclined to take a critical look at government policy, including relations with India. New Delhi can view the prospect with equanimity, for the India-Bhutan relationship has been well launched and remains in good hands.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Press release- APFA

Association of Press Freedom Activists
GPO 8975, EPC 2377 Kathmandu Nepal, Ph: 016219996 Email:

Dated: December 16, 06

Press Release

Bhutan witnesses one of the most emotional moments in Bhutanese history. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck has abdicated the throne on December 9, which was announced formally on Thursday, December 14. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has succeeded his father as the fifth monarch of this country. It has been claimed that he stepped down to make ways for the new king to get as much experience before the parliamentary democracy is formally established by 2008.

APFA-Bhutan here feel to point out that the reality is just opposite. During his 34 years of autocratic rule in Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck suppressed his citizens and is held responsible for gross violation of human rights and eviction of above one-lakh innocent citizens. Hundreds of citizens were tortured, killed, rapped and inhumanly treated in the jails by the Royal Bhutan Army he led. The limited rights granted to people during the reign of third king was seized and the national legislature made a rubber stamp. The state mechanism was turned into a personal propaganda machinery leading gross misuse of the national treasury for family luxuries.

He has abdicated the throne to prove himself to be democratic. The important point to remember for of his misdeeds is that all officials in Bhutan, who questioned his one-person authoritarian regime, are fired.

APFA-Bhutan believes that his abdication is just to blindfold international community about democratization and election propaganda slated for 2008. His abdication just indicates democracy passed to his son but not to general public. He is absconding from taking the responsibility of all the misdeeds carried out in his tenure by abdicating the throne before the problem is solved.

However, APFA-Bhutan considers this as a historic moment in Bhutan as well as a lesson to dictators of world. We also congratulate the His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck for succeeding his father. We hope that the long-standing refugee issue would find a better approach towards repatriation during his reign. We urged the new king to take initiatives for early solution of the crisis and establishment of people’s democracy.

Vidhyapati Mishra
General Secretary
Mob: 9803032106

Friday, December 15, 2006

An old story

Thailand swoons over Bhutan's spicy crown prince

PRINCE CHARMING: The kingdom was won over by the prince during a visit this month, but now a photo published of him with a mysterious woman has Thai police scrambling

Friday, Jun 30, 2006, Page 5

Bhutan's Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is seen arriving at an airport in Bangkok on June 11.

Handsome and well-mannered, the crown prince of Bhutan has become the talk of Thailand.

Women have swooned over the bachelor prince's shiny, neatly combed hair and easy smile. Front pages have featured him as "Prince Charming," and a poll named him the most popular of all 25 royals who visited Thailand this month to celebrate King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60th anniversary on the throne.

Now, a small scandal -- involving one woman in particular -- has spiced things up.

Among the many pictures of Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck that circulated around Thai Internet sites after his visit is one that has sparked an uproar.

It shows the 26-year-old prince staring into the camera, leaned in close to a smiling mystery woman. He looks relaxed, with his chin resting on the head of the woman, who is wearing a halter top and dangling earrings.

The picture has trees in the background, leading some to speculate it was taken in his Himalayan kingdom, and it suggests a close relationship -- which is precisely the problem.

In Thailand, a royal's private life is not for public consumption.

Thai media never intrudes on the personal life of the country's royals, who are respected with a genuine reverence. Much of the country is honoring 78-year-old King Bhumibol during this celebratory year by wearing yellow shirts every Monday, the color that symbolizes the day of the week he was born.

Out of respect for the Bhutanese prince, police this week called for a halt to the online distribution of the photo and are searching for the culprit who initially posted it. Questions have arisen over whether the picture was doctored, which police say would carry criminal charges.

Police have asked the Bhutanese Embassy, which declined comment, to help determine its authenticity.

Thai authorities say it's their job to protect Jigme, who returned to his Himalayan kingdom more than a week ago after visiting a Thai beach resort following the king's June 9-12 celebrations.

"This may violate the prince's reputation. It requires thorough and careful examination," said police Major General Prachin Waree of the national police force's cyber crimes unit.

One Thai-language newspaper splashed the image across the top of its front page on Tuesday, but apparently sought to deflect criticism with an accompanying banner headline that denounced the picture as "very inappropriate."

Online chat rooms are abuzz with criticism over the photograph's circulation, speculation that it's a fake and general disgust over the prospect of offending the Oxford-educated prince, who became a media darling during his trip to Thailand.

Much talk was generated by widely publicized images of the prince giving a "wai" -- the Thai greeting of palms pressed together with a head bow -- during his outings in Thailand. A sign of humility and respect, it showed his "charm and easy manners," the Nation newspaper reported.

As a result of all the attention, tourism from Thailand to Bhutan is projected to increase this year, said Somyos Limthongkam, vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.

"Ever since Prince Jigme's visit, TV, radio and newspapers have been talking nonstop about Bhutan," he said. "Many people are interested in traveling to the country -- and they're mostly women."
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Bhutan on the way of Srilanka

Bhutan's inheritance of loss

By Indian Express
Friday December 15, 03:59 AM
Bhutan has perhaps been the only South Asian country to be untouched by terrorism. Till the recent bomb blast in Phuntsholing. No known militant group so far has directly waged a campaign against the Himalayan kingdom. However, a host of Indian insurgent groups (IIGs) have been indignant ever since the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) flushed out in 2003 some 3,000 insurgents belonging to three different groups - ULFA, the National Democratic Front of Boroland and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation - that were operating from bases in southern Bhutan.
India, in fact, believes ULFA is at least back in the kingdom, which Bhutanese agencies deny. But it does seem the needle of suspicion this time is point at groups other than the ULFA, particularly on the displaced Bhutanese of Nepali origin who were evicted by Bhutan in early 1990s. The Bhutanese refugee crisis has taken many twists and turns. Several measures like the Citizenship Acts (1977) & (1985), Marriage Act (1980), and promulgation of Driglam Nam Za (code of social etiquette, 1989) were aimed at downsizing the ethnic Nepali influence.

There are around 106,000 refugees living in seven UNHCR camps in eastern Nepal. Protracted negotiations between Bhutan and Nepal for almost one and a half decades have so far failed to resolve the crisis. Intense political pressure and lobbying for the cause of refugees by Indian civil society and political circles have made the issue murkier. It is quite clear that the success of the Maoist armed struggle and retreat of King Gyanendra in Nepal have provided a fresh impetus to Bhutan's Nepalese to carry out a similar armed insurgency not only against Bhutan, but also against India.

Resentment is also growing against India for its indifferent attitude towards the problem. At a recent gathering, refugee solidarity groups gave a veiled warning, "The time bomb is ticking in the refugee camps and India will repent for its apathy towards the Bhutanese refugees should the youths in the camps decide to collude with the regional outfits, for example, ULFA, NFDB or KLO, in addition to Nepali Maoists." They have indicated that these desperate groups now have easy access to resources which were not available to them earlier. The recent bomb blast in Phuentsholing twin town is significant in this regard.

The US is the largest donor of UNHCR's humanitarian assistance to Bhutanese refugees. In an unprecedented development, the US in October announced it would take 60,000 refugees, giving the 16-year-old crisis a completely new dimension. The US offer comes as a major relief for Bhutan. But American calculations may be greater than simply resolving a minor refugee crisis. The US is expected to get a major footing in this strategically located patch between India and China.

The new development comes against the backdrop King Jigme Singye Wangchuck's reformist act that he would step down from power in favour of holding national elections and turning Bhutan into a parliamentary democracy by 2008. A Draft Constitution was circulated in March 2005 that would be put to a referendum. It reaffirms the 1985 citizenship laws that make it difficult for refugees, particularly those married to foreigners, to regain full citizenship rights.

Bhutanese citizenship law, especially the number and the criteria for repatriation, could snowball into a major ethnic conflict and could very well parallel the Sri Lanka conflict. However, at the moment, options for the refugees are limited. Should they miss the US offer for resettlement, as one of the factions says, "they are doomed to become identity-less manual workers, hawkers or rickshaw-pullers pushing their progenies to a never-ending cycle of poverty". At the same time, relief for the Bhutanese government could also prove temporary. Remember it's been overseas Tamils who have largely sustained the ethnic movement, providing succour to the LTTE.

A new conglomerate of separatists groups and the possible nexus between Maoists and the Bhutanese refugees and their collusion with the IIGs seems to be taking serious shape.

The writer is a fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu

Monday, December 11, 2006

To US via Bhutan- Leaders

PM assures of repatriation to Bhutanese refugee leaders
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has assured Bhutanese refugee leaders that the new government would take stronger measures for repatriation of all refugees languishing in Nepal for the last 17 years.

During the meeting with the 7-member delegation of refugee leaders led by human rights activist Tek Nath Rizal Monday morning, Koirala said the government has repeatedly asked the Indian government for involvement in finding the solution of the crisis.

"We have repeatedly asked India for support, but it has been avoiding saying the problem was between Nepal and Bhutan," Rizal quoted PM Koirala as saying.

The delegation of the refugee leaders, including Thinley Penjor of Druk National Congress and Bala Ram Poudel of Bhutan People's Party, urged the Nepalese government to end bilateral talks with Bhutan and take necessary steps to get support from the Indian government for repatriation.

In the half-an-hour long meeting, home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who hails from Jhapa where the refugees are taking shelter, was also present.

Rizal quoted PM Koirala as saying that the Nepal government has not received any kind of formal application from the US or any other western countries for third country settlement of the refugees.

The US government has time and again expressed its willingness to take some 60,000 refugees to the US for settlement.

Two rounds of Nepal-Bhutan talks that were to be held after the formation of the new government in Nepal has been postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile reports said that refugees organised rallies in Beldangi camps in Jhapa on Sunday, making the international human rights day, demanding unconditional and early repatriation to their land. ia Dec 11 06

Kantipur Report
Nepal govt giving high priority to Bhutanese refugee crisis: PM

KATHMANDU, Dec 11 - Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Monday said that the Nepal Government attaches high priority to the Bhutanese refugee crisis.
Stating that the issue could not be resolved because of the fickle political situation in the past, the PM assured that the present democratic government has perceived this as a high priority issue.

PM Koirala made the comments today during a meeting with the refugee leaders who had called on the PM earlier today at his official residence in Baluwatar.

According to refugee leader Thinley Penjor, who was present during the meet, the PM assured that no stones would be left unturned in the resolution of the longstanding Bhutanese refugee crisis.

The refugee leaders said that they should be allowed to visit Bhutan one last time before the US resettlement the Bhutanese 60,000 refugees, Penjor said.

A seven-member team led by refugee leader Tek Nath Rijal had gone to Baluwatar to meet the PM today.

According to sources, the leaders demanded that they be allowed to go to Bhutan, arguing that if they were to be resettled in the US without once stepping foot in their homeland, they would become refugees of life.

Over a dozen foreign ministerial level discussions between Nepal and Bhutan in the past have repeatedly failed to resolve the long standing Bhutanese refugee crisis and the latest round of talks slated for November 21-22 failed to materialize.

As the undercurrent of the United States' offer made in October to resettle 60,000 Bhutanese refugees continues to further deepen the division in the refugee community, at least three other countries, including Austrailia, Canada and New Zealand have agreed with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to make similar offers in a "burden-sharing" effort.

Earlier this week, in an interview with ekantipur, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs KP Sharma Oli had said that Nepal government wants to hold final talks with the Bhutanese government to settle the refugee imbroglio.

"As the 15 rounds of bilateral talks between Nepal and Bhutan could not materialize, Nepal wants to hold next round of talks for a concrete decision on this issue," Oli said.

He said that Nepal Government wants a dignified repatriation and guarantee of a secured life in Bhutan is the desired solution to the refugee problem.

More than 106,000 Bhutanese refugees are languishing in seven UNHCR administered camps in eastern Nepal since past 16 years.

Posted on: 2006-12-11 01:06:14 (Server Time)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Government of Bhutan is not only undemocratic, it is racist and dictatorial in nature-Hariprasad Adhikari

Bhutan's Queens, Denmark And Refugees [ 2006-12-8 ]
By Hariprasad Adhikari
It is a well-known fact that the so-called constitutional reforms, such as writing of the constitution by the king, appointment of the chief election commissioner and other members of the commission, demarcation of the constituency of the lower house (National Assembly) and the registration of the voters from all the constituencies, are going on in Bhutan. In order to make the king's democracy successful, electronic machines were purchased and tentative dates for the so-called first general election were declared to be held in sometime in 2008.

Similarly, the National Assembly buildings for the upper and lower houses and a hostel for the members of parliament for both the houses are being constructed. Furthermore, the wide office and accommodation for the chief justice of the Supreme Court (who will stage-manage all the executive, judiciary and legislative activities of the king's democracy) are being erected. The expenditure for the so-called constitutional and judicial reforms, except for the construction of the parliament house and MP's hostel, are being borne by the countries of the European Union such as Denmark, the Netherlands and the like.

Interestingly, the countries of the European Union are also the pilots who generously provided relief materials and scholarships to the Bhutanese refugees and selflessly helped to advocate their cause everywhere at world forums. The ambassadors of the EU countries based in Kathmandu visited the refugee camps frequently since their establishment in the 1990s. Also, the EU generously passed a resolution in their parliaments indicating the main defects in the Bhutanese citizenship laws of 1985, which resulted in ethnic cleansing in Bhutan.

The EU nations are well aware that the allegations made by the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) that the "people in the camps are not genuine Bhutanese"is completely hollow and baseless. They know very well that the people in the camps have genuine documents and evidence to prove they are bonafide Bhutanese. For updates, the EU conducted several surveys through researchers in their universities. Moreover, the result of the first verification process carried out by the joint verification team of Bhutan and Nepal of Khudunabari (one of the Bhutanese refugee camps) helped them to understand the issue clearly.

Furthermore, Denmark during a round table meeting had firmly said that if the regime of Bhutan does not accept the demand of democratic reform, then it will be very difficult for Denmark to continue with its aid because the voters and taxpayers of the country do not allow help to non-democratic governments. Surprisingly, the Government of Bhutan is not only undemocratic, it is racist and dictatorial in nature and is run by the relatives and inmates of the king.

Be this as it may, Queen Ashi Dorjee Wangmo Wangchuk (actually the key player of King Jigme Singye's regime) was invited by the Queen of Denmark on an official visit. Queen Wangchuk is not only the queen, but the chairperson of the non-governmental organisation, Tarayana Foundation. It is likely that the foundation is funded by Denmark for the betterment of human beings irrespective of caste, creed and race. Therefore, it is possible that both the queens of Bhutan and Denmark might have discussed the matter relating to the Bhutanese refugees in the seven camps of Eastern Nepal, who have been suffering immensely due to the discriminatory policy of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The queens might have realised the efforts of many civilised countries of the West to repatriate the refugees to their homes.

Though it may sound very hypothetical, there is an incredible chance that the queens of Bhutan need some big platform to keep themselves alive politically in the country because the present privileges of the three queens (out of the four ) will begin to erode after 2008 when the fifth king of Bhutan will ascend the throne if the scheduled coronation is not withdrawn by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk.
Therefore, what is the harm if Ashi Dorjee Wangmo Wangchuk and her sisters rush in democratic politics? Why should she not be suggested to take confidence-building measures (CBM) to correct the wrong deeds carried out during the period of ethnic cleansing? Why not suggest her to relocate the people who have been settled on the land of the refugees in southern Bhutan and declare fair compensation to all those affected by the ongoing ethnic cleansing?

She can encourage the king to declare unconditional clemency to all and have all those Bhutanese who had been given citizenship identity cards in 1981-84 to be repatriated. She can ask the king to honour the Sukumbasi list prepared jointly by Dasho Stewang Penjore, Dasho Angay, Khandu Wangchuck, the present prime minister, and the screened list of the sukumbasis by Trimpons or Dragpons (Judges) Dasho R. N. Dhital and Dasho Pashang Tobge. She can keep the draft constitution as an interim constitution and arrange to accommodate the dissident voices and their presence in the making of a final constitution.

It is hard to understood how the proposed elections can be free and fair when 19 per cent of the total population, containing most of the ethnic groups, are not included or not allowed to get registered in the voters' list. Why have not the political parties formed in exile not been invited to be registered in the so-called first general election? Therefore, the need of the hour is to make arrangements to register the refugee population in the voters' list in the refugee camps if early repatriation is not possible.


There are plenty of examples of registering people in the refugees camps such as in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only were they registered, they were also allowed to vote from the camps. For this, the aegis of the United Nations could be explored. Otherwise, the so-called general election of Bhutan will be nothing but a well-known tactic of the RGOB, which has orchestrated one plot after another for more than a decade, to hoodwink or betray the well-wishers of the world as well as the citizens of Bhutan.

(Adhikari is a former National Assembly member of Bhutan)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Bhutanese teachers maintain standard of English in Jhapa Schools

Pressure to expel Bhutanese teachers [2006-12-07]

Damak, December 07: The Nepalese teachers working in the private boarding schools in Jhapa district have demanded that the school management should expel all the Bhutanese teachers working in the schools and recruit Nepalese in their place.

During a press conference here, the members of the Institutional Schools Teachers Union made this demand. Secretary of the union Lila Bhandari told reporters that private schools have been exploiting the teachers working in those schools.

They claimed that over 500 Bhutanese teachers have being working in various private boarding schools in Jhapa district alone. The organisation demanded that the Bhutanese teachers should be immediately expelled and the unemployed educated Nepalese people should be recruited as the teachers.

Exiled Bhutanese have been the major source of teachers for the private schools in Nepal for years. Several attempts were made to expel them but school managements denied replacing the Bhutanese teachers with Nepalese. The school authorities say, expulsion of Bhutanese teachers would hamper in maintaining standard of English in teaching.

Bhutan News Service

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Australian envoy visits Bhutanese refugee camp

Australian envoy visits Bhutanese refugee camp [ 2006-12-5 ]
DAMAK, Dec. 4: Australian Ambassador Graeme Lade has said that the Government of Australia would provide support as much as possible to resolve the problem of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

Speaking at a programme organised at the refugee camp in Beldangi-1, Damak of Jhapa district today, Ambassador Lade also gave assurances for Australian support to the proposal put forward by the Government of Nepal in order resolve the protracted problem of the refugees.

On the occasion, the Australian Ambassador also inspected the census and relief distribution works taking place at the camp.

He can be contacted atEmail:

Bhutanese exiles are on the verge to accept the proposal of America -Hari Adikari

Ethnic cleansing in Bhutan and US rehabilitation
By Hariprasad Adhikari

To put an end to this long agony, Bhutanese refugees called for the influential governments and bodies of the world with special request to India, as a leader of South Asia, to voice concern against such inhuman policies. But officials and leaders of either parties of the government or opposition did not show their interest publicly to help repatriate the Bhutanese.

It is a well known fact that the legal ethnic cleansing against the Bhutanese of Nepalese origin in their motherland Bhutan is in the peak of its sinister process and progress. Around 150 thousand people were evicted from their ancestral homeland (Bhutan) during the early 90’s and was compelled to seek international protection and support against the atrocities and injustice faced. Consequently, these people have been languishing in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Eastern Nepal under the supervision of United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

At the beginning in 90’s, these homeless Nepali Bhutanese tried their best to seek asylum in the adjacent provinces of Bhutan such as Assam and Bengal in India. Unfortunately, officially, these unlucky people were doomed from getting the opportunity to get refuge in their Devbhumi Bharat.

With a calculative design to commence the ethnic cleansing in Bhutan, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) began to provoke its citizens by imposing the code of conduct, the so-called discipline (Diglam Namja). The Code of conduct instructed behaviours as to how to speak with the Government official, what to wear and which language to speak so as to get distinguished as a Bhutanese from people of other countries of the world, how and what to eat (Arian or Nepali Bhutanese are restricted from having beef and pork traditionally in their culture but the served feast of government included these) etc. Further, married couples with either spouse from India or Nepal or abroad were restricted to live in Bhutan. They had to have a written order from the RGOB permitting them to reside. The sale and purchase of landed property were barred under different pretences. As a result, the common villagers began to feel unsecured and terrorised under the administration of RGOB and its newly enforced laws. Following these sufferings and on being summoned by Bhutan People Party (BPP) formed in exile at Siliguri Bairagipara of West Bengal, more than lakhs of people from entire southern Bhutan came into the streets to demonstrate against the RGOB’s inhuman policy. These protests became the launching pads for the RGOB to begin ethnic cleansing through martial law. The imposition of martial law on October 1990 is still a nightmare to the Southern Bhutanese.

As intended earlier, the RGOB enforced the scheme of “Volunteer Migration Form (VMF)”. Under this scheme, innocent people were summoned in the Dzongkhag (District administration office) and forced to fill the form at gunpoint, where the form stated that the people were also taking certain amount of their properties along with them as given by the RGOB. In case of non-acceptance of the government offer, the person concerned were warned to bear the whole responsibility of mishappenings during the patrolling by militia and army who were deployed to maintain the so-called law and order according to martial law.

Prominent people of the community were imprisoned and tortured with vigorous punishment such as beating by cane stick until he or she was unconscious or started to vomit blood from mouth. Arrested people were sent to construction sites to break big boulders and ordered to make gritty from them as was ordered to Nelson Mandela by the then racist government of South Africa while in his 27-year long prison during the period of apartheid. Such atrocities became normal routine for government all over South and Eastern Bhutan. Not only this, such was the hatred of RGOB that they did not prevent themselves from destroying material things of Southern Bhutan. For instance, houses in Lalai (attached to Bagmara village of Kokrajhar district in India) and Hillay village (attached to Mude village of same district in India) were burnt and other thousands of houses were ordered to be erased by the Chief District administrative officers in Sarbhang, Chirang and other parts of southern Bhutan. Later, many orphan children, victims of rape by army officials during eviction are born in refugee camps in Nepal. The horror of that martial law was similar to the trauma of separation of Pakistan from India in 1947.

Subsequent to eviction, the personal land of Nepalese Bhutanese has been distributed to those who were the supporters of the RGOB’s atrocities. The names of villages are changed to some other names meaningful to Drukpa language. For instance, village Lalai before 1990 is now (Umling), Danabari (Chhuja Gang), Surey (Jigmiling), Lamidara (Minte Gang) etc.

The King, during eviction of southern Bhutanese, acted in a similar fashion. He visited places to meet with people and told them not to leave the country. But, the next day the Dzongdah (chief of district) and the superintendent of police arrived with orders to evict the same people whom the king had met. That was the reality of making 150 thousand people homeless and stateless in 16 years.

To put an end to this long agony, Bhutanese refugees called for the influential governments and bodies of the world with special request to India, as a leader of South Asia, to voice concern against such inhuman policies. But officials and leaders of either parties of the government or opposition did not show their interest publicly to help repatriate the Bhutanese refugees to their mother land. They always made the pretext that the time has not come for the Indian leader to interfere and speak on the Bhutanese democratic movement. Consequently, though unwillingly, Bhutanese of Nepalese origin are on the verge to accept the proposal of America and English speaking country to resettle in the foreign lands to put and end to the humanitarian trauma of injustice.

(The author is a former National Assembly member of Bhutan and can be contacted at B 3/84, Bhutanese refugee camp, Khuduna bari, Jhapa, Nepal, e-mail-

Monday, December 4, 2006

the US option would be better than local integration- Kazi Gautam

Registration Of Refugees Will It Solve The Deadlock? [ 2006-12-3 ]
By Kazi Gautam
The much-anticipated re-registration of the Bhutanese refugees has eventually begun since mid-November, bringing in it a ray of hope among the refugees waiting to see a permanent solution to the crisis. To my mind, this can be viewed as having two objectives: to record the precise statistical data of the refugees and to find the actual data of those willing to opt for any one of the three options available for them. However, the latter motive is not stated directly. Here I feel it necessary to take a stance on the process at hand.


This is the only census and the registration conducted after 1990. So this move of the Nepal government and the UNHCR certainly wins plaudits and has been viewed with great �clat. Nevertheless, how far this would be practical is a question. Over 40,000 genuine Bhutanese are sheltering in various parts of India, and they are not registered in the refugee camps. Some of them do not have any supportive document to prove them Bhutanese.

The elderly members of some of the families have already expired. So interrogating about the house number, Thram number and the like to those who have been born and brought up in exile would not yield any fruit. What about those who possess nothing to prove their identity? Some extrinsic people have been trying to get registered in the camps off and on. One cannot refute that those non-Bhutanese might get registered as it�s easy to produce fake credentials.

The next point to be noted is the issuing of identity cards to the refugees. If only adults are provided with them, there might be a security problem to those who are below 18. I feel the aforementioned points deserve grave thought.

While the registration is going on, Bhutan is conducting a census in the country. It has also proclaimed that the refugees of category one and four would be accepted. India, which has always been indifferent towards the long protracted issue, pretending it to be a problem between Bhutan and Nepal, has shown some interest this time.

Sita Ram Yechuri, Indian CPM leader who was on an official visit to Nepal only recently, said that the refugee issue could be solved only with the active involvement of the Indian government. If India really becomes honest and pressures Bhutan to take back its citizens, there would be no need of the involvement of a third country.

Let us suppose, all the refuges are taken back. Can their rights be guaranteed? The draft constitution denies the citizenship rights of the southern Bhutanese. In August 2006, when a delegation led by Jim Kolbe from the United States met the king at Tashi Chho Dzong, the latter put forth the act of Driglam Namza and said, �One nation, one people concept is essential for the survival of Bhutan because it is very small to accommodate all.�

It is clear that he would never fulfil the demand of democracy and cultural identity. Unless a complete political change comes in Bhutan and the king becomes ready to accept the exiled people as first class citizens, and compensate the loss, repatriation becomes futile. In this scenario, the peace movement or armed struggle within the country becomes inevitable.

Besides repatriation, the US proposal of resettlement also deserves attention. If the first option fails, the US option would be better than local integration. Since some of the criteria of resettlement highlighted by Ellen Sauergrey, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration seem plausible, a haste judgement should not be made to discard it. The US package should be studied and then rejected or accepted, otherwise the refugees might be wasting some more decades in vain.

The UNHCR and Nepal should not expect to seek factual information from the refugees as regards their future plan through this registration. What plan do fate-stricken people have? Moreover, the study shows that when the movement began in the early 1990s, the people were politically unaware and they did not know what they were agitating for. Even the leaders were led astray. As a result they became refugees. Even this long stay in exile has not taught the commoners what they should look for.

Even after having lived in an internment for such a long period of time, the refugees have not been able to pluck up courage to speak any thing appropriate about their future. They are often intimidated and made to plagiarise others� views. Unless they are clearly told about the provision of the options at hand, nothing accurate will turn up.

So we hope the benefactor itself will come forward with a comprehensive way out, respecting the sentiments and the rights of the individual refugees as soon as the registration is complete without waiting for the scheduled bilateral talk, which is sure not to resume.

(Gautam is Editor in Chief, The Bhutan Reporter)

Bomb blasts in Phuntsholing

Four injured in Phuentsholing bomb blast
Posted on Sunday, December 03, 2006, @ 10:27:03 EST

3 December, 2006 - Four men were injured, three critically, in a bomb blast that went off around 6:30 yesterday morning in Phuentsholing town.

The blast took place near the Dharamsala building

Three of the blast victims are Indians working as cleaners and one is a Bhutanese working as a bank security guard.

The sweepers were said to be working while the security guard on his way to work when the bomb went off along the town’s main street near the building popularly known as the “Dharamsala” opposite hotel moonlit.

The Phuentsholing hospital’s superintendent, Dr. Rana, said that three of the victims were in critical condition and were taken to a hospital in Hashimara, India. The security guard was in coma, according to Dr. Rana.

“They were suffering from bone fractures on the legs and facial injuries. One had his fingertips severely damaged,” said Dr. Rana.

The blast had shattered the windowpanes of a building, the windshield and window glass of a maruti van parked nearby, and portions of the footpath and railing.

The victims were brought to the hospital by the police, city corporation and bank officials, according to hospital staff.

The Phuentsholing police are investigating the blast.

Friday, November 24, 2006

US firm on refugee repatriation -US Ambassador Moraiatry

US firm on refugee repatriation [ 2006-11-25 ]
DAMAK, Nov. 24: Ambassador of the United States (US) to Nepal James F. Moriatry said the US is committed to making refugees' repatriation strong and rightful.

"We are eager to share your sufferings", said US Ambassador Moraiatry while interacting with refugees in Beldangi, Damak, Friday.

He reiterated that the US government is ready to settle some 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in America.

The team of diplomats included US Ambassador Moriatry, Danish Ambassador Finn Thisted, Swiss Ambassador Dominique Dreyer, Delhi-based Second Secretary of New Zealand Embassy Tidi Dhiwas, Resident Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) Abraham Abraham and others.

The team led by US Ambassador Moriatry visited the spot of refugees' camp and various units of solar energy, health, food stuffs distribution and others run in the Beldangi of Damak.

The team returned to Kathmandu on Friday evening.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Helping exilees to seal their conceal

UNFPA provides male and female condoms for refugees in Nepal

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Nov 23 - As part of global agreement to address the reproductive health information and service needs available to refugees around the world, the United Nations Population Fund-UNFPA Nepal handed over some 7,00,000 male condoms and 5,000 female condoms to the UN Refugee Agency for its refugee programme in Nepal, in a function in Kathmandu on Thursday.

“I wish to express my deep appreciation to UNFPA for this important contribution for the betterment of reproductive health of the refugees in Nepal,” a press release from UNFPA quoted Abraham Abraham, UNHCR Representative in Nepal, as saying. “What we all need is a healthy population capable of making strides to achieve higher standards of human development. Understanding that prevention is better then cure will avoid a miserable future for individuals, communities and nations,” added Abraham.

Stating that the UN refugee agency together with UNFPA is aiming at increasing awareness surrounding new methods of family planning and protection against sexually transmitted infections and HIV in refugee settings in Nepal, the release added, refugees are in precarious social and economic situations and need to be better informed about the available options to delay, space, and limit births as well as to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

“Enabling access to male and female condoms is a key component in ensuring that every community and every person has the necessary tools to make informed choices and empowered decisions,” the release quoted Junko Sazaki, UNFPA Representative to Nepal, as saying. Sazakit stressed, “And ensuring availability of female condoms is especially critical for women’s health and development as it enables them to control their fertility and to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.”

The Female Condom represents the only single barrier method preventing both pregnancy and infection that women can initiate, and in some ways control. It gives women more negotiating power in sexual decision-making and, in the long term, can contribute to their empowerment.

Ensured access to reproductive health services and commodities added to access to proper information has the potential to reduce poverty and hunger, and avert maternal and childhood deaths in refugee communities.

Stating that reproductive health is a right; and like any other rights it applies to refugees, the release said, UNFPA and the UN Refugee Agency are committed to improving the reproductive health and rights of the refugees of Nepal.

Posted on

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nepal asked to delay the talk to Bhutan

We are for Dissolving the refugees: says Boucher

I am hopeful but I am also realistic, says Boucher
Nepal news:

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, has said that though he is hopeful about the current peace process bringing in political stability in Nepal, he is also 'realistic' about it.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher (File Photo)
"Maoists have to give up weapons; send their forces to cantonments; end harassment, coercion, beatings and the efforts they make to keep political parties out of villages," Boucher said when asked if the current peace process would restore political stability in the country.

Addressing a press conference at the capital on Thursday evening, Boucher said, "We want to see the peace process work. We pledge our full support."

On the issue of Maoists joining the government, Boucher said that the US will find ways to continue its support to the people of Nepal on economic recovery, health and education. He said that the Maoists could need to completely renounce violence if they want to come off the US terrorist list.

Asked if the US government was prepared to deal with the Maoists, he said, "We are fully prepared to deal with them as a political party once they start behaving like one."

For now, he said, "We haven't seen them change their behavior. We haven't seen them act like a political party. So, its not a time to deal with them."

Boucher said that the Maoists should not go on a half foot when it comes to renouncing violence. He regretted that 'Prachanda still talks about reserving the right to raise weapons.' "You don't walk into parliament with guns in your pocket," he said.

In response to a question how the US finds the agreement on arms management whereby the Maoists get to keep the key of the single lock under which their weapons will be stored, Boucher said, "I don't think it's the matter of keys. It's the matter of intention." He, however, hastened to add that he has full confidence on the UN's ability and expertise on this matter.

On the issue of monarchy, Boucher said, "The King's action last year and his unwillingness to reconcile with the political parties damaged his reputation and his role." He said the US would support whatever decision the people of Nepal make regarding the fate of monarchy.

Regarding the issue of Bhutanese refugees, Boucher – who arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday from Bhutan – said, "We are in favor of repatriation for those who qualify. We are in favor of third country resettlement for those who make this choice. Above all, we are in favor of resolving this issue."

The US government had recently said that it was willing to resettle up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. This US comment has triggered a controversy among the refugees with some welcoming the offer and others terming it as a move that could derail the process of repatriation.

This is Boucher's second visit to Nepal after the April change. He is currently on a tour of South Asian countries. He will leave for New Delhi on Friday.

During his stay in Kathmandu, Boucher met with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, senior officials, and chief of army staff, among others. sd Nov 16 06

Related News

Nepal - Bhutan Talks Postponed Again

The Himalayan times; Kathmandu, November 16

The 16th foreign minister-level talks between Nepal and Bhutan over the refugee issue have been postponed again.
The talks were scheduled to be held on November 21-22 in Thimpu after the talks originally scheduled to be held in Kathmandu earlier in November were postponed on Bhutan’s request.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs KP Sharma Oli confirmed the postponement. Oli was talking to newsmen after his meeting with the EU Troika. The talks will now be held sometime in December even though the venue and dates for the talks were yet to be fixed.
While the talks were postponed for the first time on Bhutan’s request, this time the talks were postponed because of Nepal’s political situation, Oli said.

LWF Welcomes Resettlement Option for Bhutanese Refugees

LWF Welcomes Resettlement Option for Bhutanese Refugees--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From "Frank Imhoff"
Date Thu, 16 Nov 2006 09:17:09 -0600

LWF Welcomes Resettlement Option for Bhutanese Refugees "Resettlement Does Not Extinguish Refugees' Right to Return Home"

GENEVA, 16 November 2006 (LWI) * The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomes recent indications by several countries of openness to receiving Bhutanese refugees for resettlement, but stresses that resettlement does not exclude repatriation to Bhutan.

"The LWF would * like to underline that acceptance of third country resettlement does not extinguish the refugees? right to return to the homes in Bhutan from which they were obliged to flee,? LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko says in a statement issued today, 16 November.

The LWF Department for World Service (DWS) program in Nepal has been supporting over 100,000 refugees from Bhutan in refugee camps in eastern Nepal for more than 15 years. In accordance with the refugees' expressed wishes, the LWF has consistently pushed for their repatriation to Bhutan. The Government of Bhutan, however, has so far failed to accept any of the refugees back.

In his statement, Noko reiterates that Bhutan "has a moral and legal responsibility to repatriate the refugees" in conditions of safety and dignity, and to restore the properties they were forced to abandon.

The United States of America and a number of other countries have recently confirmed that they are willing to accept significant numbers of the Bhutanese refugees for resettlement. Noko expresses his gratitude to these countries and the LWF's satisfaction that "after so many years of living in limbo without any durable solution on offer," the refugees will finally have the opportunity of considering an option for their future. He also states the LWF's expectation "that no political or practical obstacle will be placed in the way of the refugees? consideration of third country resettlement as a viable option."

The LWF/DWS work in Nepal focuses on the empowerment of the most disadvanta ged and vulnerable groups in the country, including humanitarian support and advocacy for the rights of the Bhutanese refugees living in the camps. (326 words)

The full text of the LWF statement follows:

LWF Statement on the Resettlement of Bhutanese Refugees

For more than 15 years, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has been supporting the more than 100,000 people who were obliged to flee from their homes in Southern Bhutan and to take refuge in Nepal. The LWF believes that the refugees were forced to leave Bhutan because of their ethnicity. The LWF has always held the view that Bhutan has a moral and legal responsibility to repatriate the refugees. It is to the discredit of the Government of Bhutan that it has not fulfilled - or even accepted - this responsibility towards its own citizens. The LWF takes this opportunit y to renew its call to the Government of Bhutan to receive the refugees back in conditions of safety and dignity, and to restore to them the properties they were forced to abandon.

At the same time, after so many years of living in limbo without any durable solution on offer, the LWF is pleased that those refugees who wish to consider the option of third country resettlement will, it seems, finally be given the opportunity to do so. The LWF would also like to underline that acceptance of third country resettlement does not extinguish the refugees' right to return to the homes in Bhutan from which they were obliged to flee.

The LWF is very grateful to those countries that have already given generous indications of their willingness to accept refugees from Bhutan for resettlement, and to the Government of Nepal for its many years of patient hospitality to this community. We trust that the Government of Nepal will further extend its cooperation to the refugees so as to ensure that those who wish to accept third country resettlement may do so without hindrance or undue delay. The LWF hopes that no political or practical obstacle will be placed in the way of the refugees' consideration of third country resettlement as a viable option.

For its part, the LWF will do everything in its power to ensure that the refugees are able to exercise a voluntary choice as to whether they wish to accept third country resettlement, to facilitate the implementation of their choices, and to continue to support their rightful claims to return home to Bhutan.

Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko General Secretary The Lutheran World Federation Geneva, 16 November 2006

* * *

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of 66.2 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF?s information service. Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

* * *

LWI news online:

LUTHERAN WORLD INFORMATION P. O. Box 2100 CH-1211 Geneva 2 Switzerland

Tel.: +41/22-791 63 69 Fax: +41/22-791 66 30 Editor?s E-Mail:


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूको विगत, अमेरिकी रहर र यथार्थता

भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूको विगत, अमेरिकी रहर र यथार्थता

कैलाशकुमार सिवाकोटी
नोभेम्बर, १५

१२ वर्षमा खोलो पनि फर्किन्छ भनेको जान्ने बुझ्ने भएदेखि नै हो । तर यो खोलाको पौराणिक नियम दोस्रो प्रजातन्त्रसँगै जन्मिएको भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूका लागि लागू हुन सकेन । थाहा छैन-अन्यौलताको चिसो छिँडीलाई कहिलेसम्म चुमिरहनुपर्ने हो भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूले ! हल्लैहल्लाको यो धर्तीमा भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूबारे अमेरिकी सहायकमन्त्री एलेन सरबेरीले रोपेको-निराशाको आहालमा चुर्लुम्म डुबेका भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूलाई तीनदेखि चार वर्षभित्रमा अमेरिका नयाँ आश दिन चाहन्छ । मानवीयताको मात्रालाई ध्यानमा राखी यस प्रत्यनमा ६० हजारसम्म शरणार्थीहरू अटाउँने छन् भन्ने आशयको पछिल्लो हल्लाले कतै भूटानको विगतलाई छोप्न थोरै भए पनि भरथेग गर्ने त होइन ? इतिहास ओझेलबाट केही हदसम्म भए पनि उम्कन सकोस् भन्ने यस लेखको आसय हो ।

विषय प्रवेशः

रगत र पसिनाले अर्जेको उर्वरभूमि भूटानी सरकारलाई दानबकस दिएर, पारिवारिक मायाममता बिरक्तिएर वा कुनै पनि प्रकारको रहर र लहडको पछि लागेर अपमान, पीडा र अमानवीय सास्तीको भारी बोकेर नेपाली बगरमा थन्किन र अर्काले खटाएको मानो खान पक्कै पनि भूटानीहरू नेपाल छिरेका होइनन् । यसको पछाडि तीतो र अति अकल्पनीय एवम् पीडादायी व्यथाले बास गरेको छ । पछाडि फर्कदा थाहा हुन्छ, अतीतको गर्भमा लुकेको रमाइला र मिजासिला भूटानीहरूको रमाइलोपछिको नरमाइले र नमीठो कहानी !

अमेरिकी लियो ई रोजका अनुसार-सत्रौँ शताव्दीको उदयसँगै तिव्बती लामा ङवाङ् नामग्याल धार्मिक षड्यन्त्रको सिकार भए र उनी तिव्बत छोडी भुटान हानिए र भुटानमा धार्मिक एकीकरणको मियो समाएर शक्ति एकीकृत गरी पहिलो धर्म राजा बने । बिसौँ शताव्दीको आरम्भसम्म उनका उत्तराधिकारीको भुटानमा राइँदाइँ चल्यो ।

नामग्याल सन् १६२४ मा गोरखा, त्यसको केही समयपछि मकवानपुर र १६४० ताका कान्तिपुर छिरेपछि अप्रत्यक्षतः त्यसबेलादेखि नै भूटानी र नेपाली ओहोरदोहोरको चक्कर चल्न थालेको हो । भनिन्छ-त्यसताका कैयन नेपाली व्यापारीहरू नामग्यालको भूटान लहसिएका थिए रे ! २० औँ शताव्दीको जन्मसँगै नामग्याल वंशीको ठाउँ नामग्यालका उत्तराधिकारीले नै पन्लप पदवी दिई भुटानको पूर्वी क्षेत्र टङ्सा हेर्न खटाइएका उगेन वाङचुक बेलायतको सहयोग र समर्थनमा भूटानी राजाको ताज पहिरिन भ्याए । डिसेम्वर १७, १९०७ मा राजा बनेका वाङचुकले आफ्ना उत्तराधिकारीलाई पालैपालो गरी सिंहसानमा बसाले । वर्तमान भूटानी राजा जिग्मेसिङ्मे वाङचुक सन् १९७२ मा गद्दीमा उक्लेका हुन ।

नेपालीहरू कसरी भूटान छिरे भन्ने सम्बन्धमा अर्को पनि स्वादिलो कहानी छ- उगेन वाङचुकको उगेन दोर्जी नामका एकजना कालिम्पोङेसँग सन् १८९० देखि सम्बन्ध साह्रै मजाले झ्याङ्गियो । वाङचुकलाई राजा बनाउँन दोर्जीले जानेबुझे र हुनेसम्मको कुनै कसर बाँकी राखेनन् । त्यसबापत उनले कोसेलीस्वरूप दोर्जीलाई गङजीम (प्रधानमन्त्री सरह) को कुर्सी जिम्मा लगाइदिए । दोर्जीको कालिम्पोङे नेपालीहरूसँग राम्रो चिनजान र हेलमेल भएको कारण दक्षिण भूटानमा कालिम्पोङका चिया बगानमा कार्यरत नेपालीहरूलाई बोलाएर भने-बाबुनानी हो यही माटोमा बस, खनजोत गर, कर तिर । त्यसताका दक्षिणी भूटान दिउँसो अँध्यारो र औलोको कारखाना थियो । नेपालीहरूले त्यस अनकण्टार क्षेत्रको मर्मत गर्न थाले । कालिम्पोङे दोर्जी नेपाली संस्कृति, रीतिरीवाज र परम्परासँग परिचित भएका हुनाले नेपाली जाति र उनीबीच सम्बन्ध गहिरिदै गयो, तर उत्तरका डुक्पाहरूसँग भने मायाममता र सम्बन्धको लहरो तन्किन सकेन । पछाडि तिनै डुक्पाहरू प्रशासक र सरकारका प्रतिनिधि बनेर थिम्पुमा आफ्नो रवाफ देखाउन थाले । सन् १९८० को दशक पूर्वसम्म भूटानको राजनीतिमा विभिन्न उलटपुलट र उथलपुथल भए । राजाकै निर्देशनमा प्रधानमन्त्रीलाई सुँइक्याउने कामसमेत भयो । दक्षिण भूटानले केन्द्रीय शासनको स्वाद पनि चाख्यो, तर झण्डै सय वर्षको अवधिसम्म नेपालीहरूमाथि कुनै झमेला आइलागेन । बरु नेपालीहरूले राखेको नागरिकता र सरकारी नियुक्क्तिलगायतका मागहरू भूटान सरकारले बिनाआनाकानी पुरा गरिदियो । नेपाली भाषा सरकारी स्कुलमा पढाइन थाल्यो, दसैंजस्ता राष्ट्रिय पर्वहरू विदा दिन थालियो, आन्तरजातीय विवाहलाई पुरस्कृत गरियो, तर खुसी र हर्षको आयु लम्बिन सकेन । स्थितिले एकाएक कोल्टे फे-यो ।

सन् १९८५ पछिका दिनहरू नेपालीका लागि अभिशाप बन्दै गए । अनिवार्य रूपमा जोङखाभाषा सिक्नैपर्ने, बख्खु लगाउनै पर्ने नियम बनाइए । भकाभक मन्दिरहरू भत्काउन थालियो, नेपाली पुस्तक जलाइयो । नेपाली भाषालाई घोषितअघोषित रूपमा प्रतिबन्ध लगाइयो । विद्यालय, अस्पतालहरूमा ताला ठोकिए । सरकारी सेवाबाट नेपालीहरूलाई बर्खास्त गर्न थालियो । डुक्पा सँस्कृतिको संरक्षण गर्ने, विदेशबाट भित्रिएको आधुनिकतालाई नाकबन्दी लगाउने नाममा नेपालीका घरघरमा गएर टेलिभिजनहरू फुटाउन थालियो । १९९० को मध्यदेखि त भोटेहरूको अत्यचार यति चुलियो- नेपाली छोरीचेलीहरू बलत्कार गर्ने, यातना दिने, हत्या गर्ने, डरत्रास, धम्की दिने, मध्यरातमा आएर सताउने, जेलमा लगेर कोच्ने, नागरिकतालगायत अन्य कागजात लुटने, घर भत्काउने, आगो लगाउने, लुटेरा, देशद्रोही, आतङ्कारीजस्ता उपाधिहरू दिने लगायतका गतिविधि एवम् घटनाहरू त सामान्य र दैनिकी कार्यजस्ता बन्दै गए ।

किन मच्चाइयो यत्रो बबन्डर ?
भूटानमा नेपालीहरूको जनसङ्ख्यमा वृद्धि हुँदै गएपछि डुक्पाहरूले आफूलाई अल्पमतमा परेको महशुस गर्न थालिसकेका थिए । कतै नेपालीहरू बहुमतमा पुगेर हाम्रो अस्तित्व बिलाउने त होइन भन्ने शङ्काले उनीहरूको मनमा डेरा जमाइसकेको थियो । सन् १९७३ को सिक्किमको घटनाले उनीहरूको शङ्कालाई मलजल गर्ने र टेवा दिएको थियो, जतिखेर सिक्किमे नेपालीहरूले राजा चोग्याललाई सत्ताबाट खेदाएका थिए । यसै वास्तविकतालाई ओकल्दै वर्तमान राजा जिग्मेसिङ्मे वाङचुकले एकपटक भनेका थिए-आउँदो १०, १५ वा २० वर्षमा भूटान भूटानीहरूको देश भएर रहने छैन । भूटान नेपाली राज्य हुनेछ-सिक्किमजस्तै । यसरी नेपाली मूलका भूटानीहरू भूटानी शासकहरूको लागि टाउकोमाथि झुण्डिएको तरबार बनेर रहेको भान भयो । यसको उपचारका लागि माथि भनिएझैँ भूटानी सरकार एकातिर दमनको खेती गर्न थाल्यो । अर्कोतिर ऐनलाई जङ्गली तरिकाले खारेज गर्ने, संशोधन गर्ने, नयाँ बनाउने कामहरू भकाभक हुन थाल्यो । नागरिकता ऐन, १९८५, विवाह ऐन, १९७७, डि्रग्लाम नाम्सा, १९८८, मालपोत तिरो अभिलेख, १९७७ र त्रिमसुङ चेम्पो, १९९१ आदि कानुन तर्जुमा गरियो ।
नागरिकता ऐन १९८५ ले नागरिकता ऐन, १९५८ र ७७ ले प्रदान गरेका सारा नेपाली मूलका भूटानीहरूको सारा अधिकारलाई निल्ने काम ग-यो । यस ऐनले १९८५ पूर्व र यसपछिका नागरिकतासम्बन्धी पुरै प्रमाणपत्र र अभिलेखहरू गैह्रकानुनी घोषित ग-यो । भूटानी अधिकारीहरूले ती प्रमाणपत्र र अभिलेखहरूलाई आफ्नो कब्जामा लिन थाले । विभिन्न सात प्रकारमा नागरिकहरूलाई विभक्त गरियो । साताभित्रमा देश छाड्ने आदेश दिइयो । नेपाली भूटानीहरूका लागि मात्र लागू हुने विवाह ऐन १९७७ घाँटीको गलगाँड सावित भयो । कुनै विदेशीसँग विवाह गरेवापत उसले पुरस्कारस्वरूप बढुवा रोक्का हुने, छात्रवृति नपाउने, तालिम आदिबाट बञ्चित रहनुपर्ने अवस्था एकातिर सिर्जना भयो भने अर्कोतिर छ पुस्तासम्म विवाहवारी नचल्ने हुँदा विवाहको सम्भावना साह्रै कम भएर गयो । यदि विदेशीसँग विवाह गरेको खण्डमा छोराछोरीहरूका लागि नागरिकता दुर्लभ जन्तुजस्तै बन्ने भयो । डि्रग्लाम नाम्सा, १९८८ ले नेपाली भूटानीहरूलाई यस्तो एउटा बन्धनमा ल्याएर बाँधिदियो, जसअनुसार उत्तरी भूटानका डुक्पाहरूको खानपान, रहनसहन, रीतिरीवाज जस्ताको तस्तै शिरोधार्य गर्नुपर्ने भयो । मालपोत तिरो अभिलेख, १९७७ मा गरियो । दक्षिणी भूटानी नेपालीको मेलोमेसो नै खेती भएको हुँदा वुक्षारोपण नीति, सुरक्षामामिला, विवाह आदि कारणबाट प्रत्यक्ष/अप्रत्यक्षतः पटकपटक असर पारेको थियो । त्रिमसुङ चेम्पो-१९९१ मा निर्मित यस कानुनले निरङ्कुश राजतन्त्रको रखबारी गर्दछ । यस कानुनले विशेषतः राज्य, सरकार र राजपरिवारको धज्जी उडाउनेलाई मृत्युदण्डसम्मको सजाय दिने प्रावधान छ । स्वविवेकमा प्रयोग हुने यस कानुनअनुसार कुनै नेपाली भुटानबाहिर गयो भने उसलाई र उसको परिबारलाई दशा लाग्यो भन्ने जाने हुन्छ । ऊ अराष्ट्रिय तत्वमा रूपान्तरित गरिन्छ ।
यसरी नेपालीहरूमाथि अत्याचारको सङ्गीन रोप्नुपछाडि माथि उल्लेख गरिएझैँ एकातिर भूटानी नेपालीहरू राजपरिवारको ज्यादत्तिप्रति धनुष्टङ्कार भएर निहुरिएनन्, सलामी ठोकेनन्, कतै यिनले पछाडि गएर भूटानलाई झ्याप पार्ने त होइनन्, कतै हाम्रै बसाइँ नै उठाउने त होइनन् भन्ने लगायतका शङ्कास्पद कार्यहरूलाई आधार बनाइयो । सिक्किमको घटना आगोमा थप पेट्रोल सावित भयो । १९८१ को जनगणनाले भूटानी शासकको धनु हल्लिन थाल्यो, किनकि जनगणनाले नेपालीहरू बहुमतमा रहेको देखायो । यस जनगणनालाई गुपचुप राख्न भूटानी सरकारले धेरै कसरतहरू ग-यो र सालाखाला जनसङ्ख्याको तीन प्रतिशत नेपाली रहेको भनी नाटकको सम्वाद प्रस्तुत गरियो । पुनः भूटानी सरकार १९८८ जनगणनाको ढ्वाङ गरी बहुमत नेपालीलाई अल्पमतमा पार्ने तानाबानामा लाग्यो । यसैको परिणाम हो, माथि उल्लेख गरिएको नेपाली भूटानीमाथि भूटान सरकारको ज्यादत्ति र निर्मित कानुनहरू । यसअलवा अर्को एउटा यथार्थता-एकताका अनकण्टार र औलोको मुहानको रूपमा परिचित दक्षिणी भूटान हराभरा भयो । नेपालीहरूले प्याङ्खर भूमिलाई उर्वरिलो बनाए । हेर्दै लोभलाग्दो ! अन्तत त्यो भूमिमा पनि भूटानी सरकारको आँखा लागेको हुनसक्छ ।
भूटानी सरकारको तानशाही प्रवृतिले सीमा नाघ्न थालेपछि भूटान पिपुल्स पार्टीले १९९० को अन्त्यतिर त्यसको विरोधमा प्रदर्शनको आयोजना गर्यो । त्यो प्रदर्शन भूटानी सरकारका् लागि बलिरहेको आगोमा घिउ बन्न पुग्यो । अन्ततः नेपाली भूटानीहरूले कि जेलमा आराम गर्नुपर्ने, कि आन्दोलनको आँधीबेहरी सिर्जना गर्नुपर्ने, कि खुरुक्क देश छोड्नुपर्ने भयो । नेपाली भूटानीहरू एकीकृत रूपमा एउटै विकल्पमा अगाडि जान सकेनन । लगभग अढाइ लाख नेपालीहरूले अन्तिम विकल्प रोज्न पुगे, जुन भुटान सरकारले चाहेको थियो । जसमा भारतको आसाम, सिक्किम, पश्चिम बङ्गाल आदि क्षेत्रतिर लागे भने लगभग लाखको हाराहारीमा भारतको जबरजस्तीको कारण नेपाली भूमिमा प्रवेश गरे ।

माथिको तस्वीरले स्पष्ट देखाउँछ-भूटानी शरणार्थी समस्या प्रजातन्त्र र मानवअधिकारसँग गाँसिएको छ । समस्यालाई निकास दिनको १५ औँ वार्तारूपी झाँकीहरू प्रस्तुत भइसके पनि कुनै माखो मर्न सकेको छैन । निश्कर्षमा भन्नुपर्दा वार्ता भुराभुरीको टोपी लुकाइ खेलजस्तै नै रह्यो । भूटानले आफ्नो छलकपटको उत्कृष्टता राम्ररी प्रदर्शन ग-यो, तर नेपालले केवल भूटानकै छलकपटमा मुन्टो हल्लायो । त्यसैको परिणति अहिलेको जटिल अवस्था हो । स्थिति यो रूप लिइरहेको अवस्थमा अमेरिकाले ६० हजार शरणार्थी आफ्नो देशमा लैजाने हल्ला चलायो र आधारको रूपमा मानवीय पक्षलाई उभ्याइयो । जबकि अहिलेसम्म नेपाल सरकारलाई यस सम्बन्धमा न कुकुनै आधिकारिक जानकारी छ, न कुनै दिन बसेर भलाकुसारी नै भएको छ, न शरणार्थी प्रतिनिधिहरूको मतलाई समावेश गरिएको छ, न भारत र भूटानसँग बसेर गरिएका प्रयत्नहरूको सूची नै बाहिर निकालिएको छ ? नेपालले ससम्मान स्वदेश फिर्तीको विकल्पलाई भरपर्दो समाधानको रूपमा उभ्याएको भनाइ उपप्रधानमन्त्री तथा पराराष्ट्रमन्त्री केपी ओलीले शरणार्थीका प्रतिनिधिहरूसँग कात्तिक १६ को भेटघाटमा भएको कुराकानीले पनि प्रष्ट्याउँछ ।

अतः प्रजातन्त्र र मानवअधिकारलाई पछाडि धकेली निरङ्कुशतालाई अगाडि उभ्याएको विकल्प समस्याको सक्कली निराकरण हुन सक्दैन । सतही गृहकार्यको आधारमा निदान गर्न खोजिएको समस्या त्यति सोझो छैन, जति सोचिएको छ । समस्याभित्र गुजुल्टाहरू प्रशस्तै छन् । अमेरिकी घोषणा सिकन्दरको गाँठो छिनाल्ने तरबार बन्ने कुरामा यत्रतत्र शङ्कका बाक्ला मुस्लाहरू मडारिएका छन । समाधानको गोरेटो खन्ने नाममा यस प्रयत्नले निरङ्कुशताको धुवाँमा गुम्सिन पुगेका भुटानका बन्दीहरूको थप अवस्था के होला ? केहीहरू मात्र शरणार्थी हुन सक्छन्, बाँकी सबै अपराधीहरूको जुलुस हो भन्ने विगतको भूटानी भनाइलाई यस भनाइले अनुमोदन गर्दैन र ? यस कदमले शरणार्थीहरूबीच जन्मने घृणा र आक्रोशको सिकार बन्नबाट प्रजातान्त्रिक र मानवअधिकार आन्दोलन जोगिन सम्भव छ ? के यो बाटोबाट परिवारका सदस्यहरू ओल्लो क्षितिज र पल्लो क्षितिजको रहने अवस्थालाई नकार्न सकिन्छ ? मानवीय संवेदनाको पुराण हाल्नेले प्रजातान्त्रिक र मानवअधिकारका मूल्यामान्यतालाई रेटन मिल्छ ? जबकि प्रजातन्त्र र मानवअधिकारको न कुनै सीमा हुन्छ, न कुनै रङ, न वर्ण...। यस्ता धेरै उत्तरविहीन सवालहरू छट्पटाइरहेका अवस्थाले स्वदेश फिर्तीको बाटो खन्ने थप प्रत्यन्त गर्नुपर्छ कि ! किनकि बाहिर आकर्षक र सस्तो देखिए पनि अन्ततः यो बाटो जिग्मे र जिग्मे प्रवृतिको लागि बाँदरलाई लिस्नो बन्ने प्रशस्त सम्भावनाहरूलाई काँधमा बोकेको छ ।




Nepal govt, UNHCR conduct Bhutanese refugees census

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Nov 15 - The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Nepal government began conducting census of the approximately 106,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal on Wednesday.
According to sources, the joint government-UN census started earlier today at 10 from the Beldagi-1 camp in Jhapa.

The census will be collecting all relevant details from refugees living in the seven camps in Jhapa and Morang district.

According to the UN refugee agency, the census team was made up of UNHCR-trained persons who will conduct the interviews in close co-operation and collaboration with the officials of the Nepal Government to both count and update basic bio-data and profile of the refugees.

This census is being conducted to correct the inconsistencies of the previous census and update the data since the last census and will incorporate all details of the refugees including their health and education situation.

After Beldagi-1 the census team will head for Khudanabari, Timai, Beldangi-2 and Mornag's Sanischare camp.

The refugee agency’s newly developed proGres software will be used to log an accurate record of the number of refugees and to collect other related information.

Previously, UNHCR Representative in Nepal, Abraham Abraham, had said that a reliable census data would help the Nepal government and UNHCR to provide better protection, security and support to the refugees on the basis of improved documentation on “who is who” and “who is where” to be able to respond to individual needs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A useful visit

15 November, 2006 -Resolving the issue of the people in the camps in Nepal would be good for Bhutan and Nepal and for the people in the camps said the Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr. Richard A. Boucher, who is on a three-day visit to the kingdom from November 13 – 15.

Prime minister Khandu Wangchuk and Mr. Richard A. Boucher

Mr. Boucher said that the US government had made it clear that they would resettle more than 50,000 people in the camps in Nepal in the US.

“We want to contribute as we can and our offer to take 50,000 or more people is a part of that and we look for cooperation between Nepal and Bhutan and there are other countries that are willing to help out as well,” said Mr. Boucher.

However, Mr. Boucher pointed out that resettling the people in the camps in Nepal might take longer than just a few months because getting on the path to settling it was the hardest thing. “But once we get started with the resettlement we can know if we are headed in the right direction and eventually finish it.”

He said the progress of resettlement of the people in the camps depended, to some extent on the discussions between Nepal and Bhutan, besides what the United States could do or how soon it could be organised.

“We also need to work with the United Nations and the Nepalese government in actually setting up and moving these people,” Mr. Boucher told Kuensel.

Mr. Boucher said that he would be visiting Nepal on his way back and would discuss the same issue with the Nepalese government.

Mr. Boucher who received an audience with His Majesty the King yesterday said that the United States supported Bhutan’s move towards democracy and it admired the process Bhutan was going through to establish a stable basis for government through the use of democratic norms and participation by the people.

“You are going about this carefully but in a determined manner and that is all to your credit,” said Mr. Boucher. “We look forward to the success of this project.”

Mr. Boucher also met the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister and other senior government officials and discussed the country’s economic changes and how the country was going to develop, the role of tourism and private sector and the contribution of hydropower.

Although no formal diplomatic relations existed between the two countries the Assistant Secretary said that he saw a lot of potential areas of cooperation. “Whether economically or in terms of democratic process or disaster relief, wherever Bhutan needs our contribution we can do things to expand the relationship.”

Mr. Boucher said that he wanted to visit the country to find out personally about the circumstances and the plans and developments in the country.

“It was quite a useful visit and a learning experience,” Mr. Boucher told Kuensel. “I hope we have found ways that the United States can offer our support, encouragement and any expertise we have as you go through all the changes ahead.”

The Prime Minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, said that during his meeting with Mr. Boucher, they discussed the issue of the people in the camps in Eastern Nepal, on bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest.

He added that the visit would further cement the growing interaction between Bhutan and the United States.

By Samten Wangchuk