The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bhutan’s rights record silent on refugees

SWANSEA, DEC 03 - Dozens of Bhutanese refugees resettled in Europe are scheduled to protest against Thimpu’s atrocities against ethnic minorities in front of the UN office in Geneva on Friday. Bhutan presents its human rights report for Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

The refugees say they will submit reports on Thimpu’s continuing violation of human rights to the Council’s working group on UPR.

Bhutan’s own human right report submitted for review makes no mention of refugees. However, the OHCHR report expresses concern over discrimination of people of Nepali origin.

“This is an international forum and we don’t want to give Bhutan a free pass,” said Ram Bahadur Karki Chettri, one of the organisers of the protest. He hopes this review will begin the accounting process of Bhutan’s human rights.

Under UPR, the Council is mandated to review the rights record of all member-states every four years. The rights situation is assessed on the basis of the national human rights report prepared by member-states, reports of independent rights bodies and information and testimonies provided by all stakeholders including non-governmental organisations.

Bhutan is likely to defend its record highlighting the recent stride from absolute monarchy to a democracy. Thimpu is sending a 12-member delegation.

The refugee delegation, meanwhile, says it will draw the Council’s attention to the disfranchisement of 80,000 citizens still inside Bhutan during the 2008 parliamentary elections on grounds of ethnicity. They argue that Bhutanese of Nepali origin still inside Bhutan will be forcefully evicted if the world doesn’t speak up now.

More than 20,000 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in Western countries so far, out of which more than 600 are in Europe. About 90,000 still remain in refugee camps in Nepal

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