The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
Click over the map to know the differences

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last stage of border demarcation with India

National Assembly: 11 June 2005 – On June 10 the National Assembly resolved that, with only 15 map strips left to be finalised along the Bhutan-India border, and most of the work having already been done, this final stage of the demarcation should be completed by 2006.Thimphu Chang and Kawang chimi had submitted that Bhutan, under the leader of His Majesty the King, shared very close friendship and understanding with the Indian leaders.
Although there were no problems at all between the two countries, he said it was important for the people to know the progress that had been made in the demarcation of the Indo-Bhutan border.
The Haa chimi agreed that, given the unprecedented friendship and understanding between the two governments, this was the best time to complete the proper demarcation of the boundary.
Dozin Batoo Tshering
The Wangduephodrang chimi said it was important that the border between Bhutan and India be clearly defined and finalised. He said that the militant problem had shown the importance of a clear border and pointed out that anti-nationals (ngolops) based in India could easily enter into Bhutan and create trouble if the border was not secure.
The Samtse chimi informed the Assembly members that the border issue was frequently discussed during the DYT meetings. After local leaders and the people on the Bhutanese side had reported encroachment from the Indian side, the Samtse dzongkhag officials conducted several meetings and consultations with their Indian counterparts.
The meeting resulted in the erection of boundary pillars and since the problem was solved within ourselves, and because we share such good relations with India, we did not even report it to the National Assembly, said the Samtse chimi. There was no reason for concern once the boundary pillars were erected.
The Trashigang chimi reminded the Assembly about a disagreement on the Sakteng and Tawang borderline which was reported to the 80th National Assembly. He said that survey officials from the two governments had inspected the area so, given the close friendship between the two governments, he hoped that the demarcation of the border between Sakteng and Tawang would be completed soon.
The Secretary for International Boundaries, Dasho Pema Wangchuk, informed the National Assembly that the boundary demarcation between Bhutan and British India had been started as a result of the 1865 Anglo-Bhutan war. The British had demarcated the boundary between Bhutan and the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim unilaterally at first and later in consultation with Gongzim Ugen Dorji.
After India won Independence in 1947 the two governments had decided that, with most of the boundary pillars either completely destroyed or damaged by floods and other natural causes over time, there was a need to re-survey the border with appropriate strip maps covering both sides of the border.
This task was carried out by Survey of India with a small team of surveyors from Bhutan under the control of the Commissioner of Southern Bhutan. The formal joint demarcation of the southern boundary was then initiated in 1963.
The demarcation of the BhutanIndia boundary, from Richela to Khaktang La, had been completed with strip maps and 358 main pillars, leaving out Sikkim and the eastern tri-junction. To make the boundary legal the boundary strip maps have to be signed at a plenipotentiary by the two governments. Twenty nine out of sixty boundary strip maps were signed.
In August, 2001, there were reports of encroachment because of missing pillars between Phuentsholing and Jaigoan towns. Fortunately the strip map for that segment had been signed by the two governments and the matters could be resolved by relay surveying and maintenance of boundary pillars with a 1.5-metre lane clearance on either side of the central boundary line.
To avoid such problems between two friendly people in the other sectors along the BhutanIndia border, an official level meeting in June, 2003, in New Delhi recommended that relay surveying and maintenance of boundary pillars along the entire border between Bhutan and India, based on the already agreed base maps in 1971 and 1972, should be carried out.
It recommended that the boundary on the Bhutan-Sikkim sector should also be demarcated, based on B J Goulds award, which had already been agreed between the two governments.
The government had approved the recommendation during the 241st Cabinet session held on December 19, 2003 and instructed the International Boundaries Secretariat to carry out and complete the boundary activities as soon as possible.
At an official level meeting between the two governments in Thimphu in February, 2004, 18 out of the remaining 31 strip maps which were ready for joint signatures were signed and the remaining 15 strip maps were now being finalised for signing, said the secretary. Since the official level meeting in June, 2003, in New Delhi, five technical level review meetings had been held by April, 2005, to monitor the progress of the ongoing activities and to plan for further necessary actions/programmes.
Dasho Pema Wangchuk said that the boundary demarcation work with India was going smoothly in an atmosphere of the excellent relations between the two countries and people. Both the countries were making every effort to complete the boundary demarcation by 2007.
His Majesty the King reminded the Assembly that most of the border between India and Bhutan was already demarcated during the reign of His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The fifteen areas left for demarcation – two on the Sikkim side, some in the south and about five areas in the east – had all been discussed with the government of India although the border pillars were not erected.
His Majesty advised that, with most of the work already done, the 15 remaining strips should be completed in 2006 and not 2007. As requested by the chimis His Majesty advised that the maps showing the details of the demarcation should be distributed to the members.
The National Assembly resolved that the border demarcation should be completed by 2006.

Assembly calls for proper investigation into JVT attack and action against perpe

10 July 2004 – 82 National Assembly:
The emotions were high, the views
strong, and the questions
demanding as the 82nd session of the National Assembly discussed the December 22 attack on the Bhutanese members of the joint verification team in eastern Nepal. With the bilateral process stalled after several significant steps had been taken to translate the talks into action, the future looked uncertain at best.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk: we share the peoples shock and anger

On July 7 and 8, more than 40 chimis took the Assembly floor with passion as they voiced the concerns of the people from the 20 dzongkhags. The unanimous view was that the vicious attack on innocent Bhutanese officials was unacceptable, the Nepalese government had to investigate the incident and punish the culprits, the royal government must explain its responses and the actions to the people, the bilateral process must be discontinued, and that Bhutan should not accept a single person from the camp.
The first step was to discontinue the bilateral process and ask the government of Nepal to clarify unanswered questions and to take measures that needed to be taken. Surely Nepal has laws against such crime, said the Tsirang chimi. So where is the legal action?
Many chimis said that Nepal must, at least, provide an explanation to a crime where innocent and senior officials were injured in the course of their duty which was to help solve a serious problem. The unwarranted attack was a humiliation of the Bhutanese officials and an insult to Bhutan.
The Punakha chimi described it as a case of sheer negligence where there was no security arrangement in a delicate situation. The Samdrup Jongkhar chimi added that the attack was obviously pre-planned since it was carried out at a time when the military operations against the militants were taking place.
Punakha chimi: sheer negligence
The government of Nepal must cooperate since it happened in Nepal, said the Samtse chimi who also expressed his doubt whether the problem would ever be solved because leaders like G.P. Koirala himself were involved in the uprising in Bhutan in the 1950s.
The Bumthang chimi said that Bhutan and Nepal were two close neighbours and it was, therefore, unfortunate to see the absence of security that led to the attack on the Bhutanese officials.
The Dagana chimi said that the government of Nepal should formally accept, in writing, the full responsibility for the safety and well being of the Bhutanese officials before re-starting the verification work.
The Trashigang chimi said that, as far back as 1991, when there were only a few thousand people His Majesty had asked the Nepalese prime minister not to encourage people claiming to be Bhutanese refugees to come to the camps in Nepal. Now the problem had grown to this dimension. The Nepalese government still seems to be supporting these people, he said.
Chimis from Bumthang, Sarpang and the BCCI said that the verification process should be stopped immediately. The people in the camps left Bhutan on their own free will and they have now attacked Bhutanese officials who were working to find a solution to the problem, said the Sarpang chimi. The people of Sarpang dzongkhag request the government to stop the verification immediately.
The Bumthang chimi pointed out that, as the people in the camps were linked with the Maoist rebels in Nepal, there was no benefit in conducting verification.
The Paro chimi said that the Bhutanese JVT members could be attacked again if they proceeded with the work without proper security arrangements.
Assembly members also asked to be briefed on the real cause of the incident and the course of action the government had taken after the attack. The public of Chang and Toep geogs of Thimphu would like to know why only the Bhutanese officials were assaulted and what course of action is being taken by the government, said the Thimphu chimi.
The Dagana chimi said that the two governments should explain the course of action that was being pursued and the success in bringing the criminals to justice.
Describing the incident as a betrayal of trust and faith, the Punakha chimi said that the people wanted to know the governments plans on the bilateral process. The Bhutanese people will never forget the incident, particularly because we were going through a period of serious security threat to our country, he said.
He said it was not acceptable that the incident was being deliberately underplayed. We would like to know when the culprits will be brought to justice and what the government is planning to do about the bilateral process, he said.
The Chukha chimi said no one would believe that the government of Nepal had been unable to find the people who assaulted and injured Bhutanese officials. The criminals must be brought to justice immediately.
The chimis of Haa, Sarpang, Mongar, Bumthang, Lhuentse, Trongsa and Gasa said that, just as the National Assembly had consistently maintained, the people in the camps in Nepal should not be allowed to return.
Our government has tried to show magnanimity and compassion by seeking a durable solution to the problem, said the Trongsa chimi. The assault and abuse of the Bhutanese officials have surpassed all boundaries of civil behaviour and decency and was an insult to our country. The ngolops in the camps in Nepal must never be allowed to return.
The Chukha chimi said it was obvious that the unprovoked act of violence against the Bhutanese officials was premeditated. The public of Chapcha and Gelling geogs express their indignation over the humiliation and violence inflicted on our officials and request the government to stop the bilateral process.
How can we allow people linked with the Maoists to come into our country? said the Paro chimi. Having personally experienced insufferable agony during the ngolop movement in the 1990s when they killed and terrorised our people, I cannot stand the thought of even one of them coming back, said the Haa chimi.
As a former member of the JVT who had worked in the verification in the Khudunabari camp, the Samtse Dzongda said that the condition in the Nepal camps was better than in the rural parts of the region. They received rations without having to work, they had access to good medical facilities, education centres up to high school, and other vocational facilities.
He had seen seven political parties and 14 political organizations in the camps in Nepal. The main objective of the people in the camps was to form their own government if they were ever allowed into Bhutan, he said. One of their main goals was to change the Citizenship Act and other laws of Bhutan.
Responding to the chimis the foreign minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, said that he shared the shock and anger over the brutal and unprovoked attack on the Bhutanese members of the JVT. We fully understand the indignation of the Bhutanese people and commend our officials for their dedication and courage in discharging their duties despite the risks, he said.
The minister, who took the floor on two consecutive days to answer queries, provided a background of the entire problem and reported, in detail, all the actions taken by the government in the aftermath of the violent incident in Nepal.
He traced the origins of the camps to January, 1991, when the first group of people claiming to be refugees were allowed to enter Nepal. Bhutans attempts to prevent the establishment of camps and facilities that might attract the poor masses in the region were ignored. It was only in July, 1993, that proper screening procedures for people claiming to be Bhutanese refugees were introduced. Until then the screening of such people were given to the people in the camps who were themselves claiming to be refugees. Once proper screening procedures were introduced there was a dramatic drop in the entry of people into the camps. He then explained the bilateral process as the two governments met in July, 1993, and established the ministerial joint committee (MJC) that had, over the years, achieved several significant steps towards a durable solution to the problem.
The MJC had categorised the people and harmonised the positions of the two governments on each category, established the joint verification team (JVT), and agreed that the solution would be found within the framework of the laws in the two countries. The JVT started work at Khudunabari camp in March, 2001, and the results of its work was confirmed during the 15th MJC held in Thimphu in October, 2003. Among several significant decisions taken by the MJC, it was agreed that the repatriation of those found eligible would begin in February, 2004.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that the attack on the Bhutanese members of the JVT took place when the JVT returned to Nepal for the final assignments mandated by the MJC. At Khudunabari camp, on December 22, the Bhutanese officials, having already expressed their security concerns in writing to their Nepalese counterparts, began their briefing. About half an hour into the briefing they were attacked by the people in the make-shift hut, joined by most of the 12,000 people outside who also stormed in.
One Bhutanese official collapsed on the floor after he was struck on the head. The crowd punched and stoned the Bhutanese officials and beat them with bamboo sticks. After three officials were injured and the Bhutanese vehicles damaged, they managed to escape to the Lifeline Hospital in Damak town. In the early hours of December 23 the Bhutanese officials left Damak on the instructions of the royal government which had arranged an Indian security escort from the Nepal border to Phuentsholing.
What happened on December 22 was a failure of the Nepalese government to honour its responsibility towards the safety and security of the Bhutanese officials, said the foreign minister. But we are proud of the courage, dedication, and dignity with which our officials conducted themselves and appreciate the understanding with which their family members endured the constant worry over their safety.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuck submitted to the Assembly a detailed report of the actions taken by the government after the incident.
The government was, at that time, pre-occupied with the military operations. On being informed of the attack the foreign ministry issued a press release and the foreign minister called his counterpart on the same day to express his regret over the incident and to explain the withdrawal of the Bhutanese officials. The government had raised the issue with the Nepalese leaders during the 12th SAARC summit in January and the two foreign ministers met again at the BIMST-EC meeting in Thailand in February.
The foreign minister said that he had conveyed to his Nepalese counterpart that the December 22 incident was very serious as the Bhutanese members of the JVT could have been killed. The Bhutanese people were shocked and angered by the incident and could not understand the violent behaviour of the people in the camp when the process had reached the last stage and could only be of benefit to them. He expressed his conviction that the incident was pre-planned and premeditated and not provoked as it had been alleged by groups in Nepal with vested interests. The terms and conditions read out at the camp were not new because copies had been handed over to them as far back as June.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that he had expressed his surprise and regret that an enquiry, that should have been a normal step, had not been initiated. He requested the Nepalese government to conduct a thorough enquiry into the incident, to punish the perpetrators, and to put in place safety and security measures before resuming work.
The last time our officials had been lucky to escape with their lives but the same cannot be taken for granted in the future, he said. Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that the Nepalese foreign minister had expressed his regret over the incident and also his doubts whether an investigation would be of any use. While there was no communication from Nepal for the next two months the Nepalese media had described the incident as a minor scuffle and the international community raised concerns about the stalled bilateral process.
We have always maintained that we are committed to the bilateral process and the agreements reached during the 15th MJC meeting are a clear confirmation of our seriousness in seeking a lasting solution to the problem, he said. If our officials had not been attacked the repatriation would have started in February. We said that, if the international community was interested in helping the resumption of the talks, they should ask Nepal to act on our request to investigate the incident, to take action against the perpetrators, and put in place adequate security measures.
The Nepalese foreign minister had called on April 5 to propose a ministerial meeting preceded by a meeting of senior officials. Bhutans foreign minister responded on April 12.
I made it clear that, given the seriousness of the incident and the strong public concern in Bhutan I would not be in a position to propose a resumption of the process without the Nepalese government investigating the incident, initiating legal action against the perpetrators, and putting in place adequate security measures, the minister informed the Assembly.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said that the Bhutanese embassy in New Delhi had received on May 12 the Report of investigation of the incident at Khudunabari camp on December 22, 2003, forwarded by the Nepalese foreign minister. But the report contained a number of factual inaccuracies and fell far short of Bhutans requests. The report states that no individuals could be identified as being responsible for the incident, it alleges that the attack was provoked by the Bhutanese officials, and also calls on the royal government to further relax the terms and conditions, said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk. It seems to be the conclusion of the investigation report that beating up the Bhutanese officials should lead to further relaxation of Bhutans terms and conditions under its citizenship laws.
Bhutanese members of the JVT, meanwhile, had expressed their dismay at the callous attitude of the Nepalese government. Apart from the fact that the terms and conditions had long been known to the camp people who had not complained about them in the past, there had been many tactics to intimidate the Bhutanese officials. They were harassed at the market, they were threatened at night, even with decapitation, and there had been aggressive strikes in front of the office of the Bhutanese verification team.
The foreign minister said that, despite the severe shortcomings and inaccuracies in the report, the royal government had indicated to the Nepalese government that, in the interest of moving the bilateral process forward, the report could be considered positively if Nepal deleted the unacceptable reference to the relaxation of the terms and conditions pertaining to the citizenship laws. The two governments had not only respected each others terms and conditions in the past, the investigation was meant to identify and take action against the perpetrators so the issue was out of context. It also sent the negative message that the attack and beating of Bhutanese officials would lead to further relaxation of the terms and conditions of the Citizenship Acts.
Nepals foreign minister had said that he understood Bhutans view but would need to consult his government. Meanwhile the government changed and he said that the response would have to be given by the new government. The foreign minister said that the government was still waiting for a reply from Nepal and was now seriously concerned about the political and security situation in Nepal.
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk informed the Assembly that there were other developments that might have serious implications on Bhutans security. A Bhutan Gorkha Liberation Front and a Bhutan Communist Party had been formed, the latter with links to the Maoists in Nepal. The Maoists were recruiting people from the camps and some of them had even taken part in attacks in Nepal. More than 2,000 of them had moved into India and could be close to the Indo-Bhutan border. These people posed a serious threat to Bhutans security.
On our part the royal government will abide by all the agreements we have reached with Nepal to find a lasting and durable solution to the issue of the people in the camps, said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk. This includes our commitment to take back all those people in the camps who have been found to be genuine Bhutanese refugees. In carrying out the discussions and agreements with Nepal we will, as in the past, continue to be guided by our national laws, the Citizenship Acts, and the resolutions of the National Assembly.
Many chimis expressed their views and concerns after the foreign ministers report. They submitted that the Nepalese governments first report was completely unacceptable. It was not possible that the Nepalese government could not identify and take legal action against the criminals in Khudunabari camp.
On the related developments, including the movement of people outside the camps, several chimis said that it was time for Bhutan to be aware of the implications and take necessary measures to ensure that Bhutan does not face Maoist problems as in Nepal.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dasho Ugen Dorje, noted that the Assembly had witnessed an outpouring of anger and indignation from the chimis over the assault on the Bhutanese members of the joint verification team and it was clearly a priority issue for the Assembly. The foreign minister had submitted a detailed and clear explanation of the actions taken by the government.
The National Assembly of Bhutan recorded its appreciation and commendation to the ministerial joint committee and the Bhutanese JVT members for their dedication in discharging their work and their loyalty to their nation.
While the relations between Bhutan and Nepal had greatly improved and the bilateral process had made significant achievements in 15 rounds of talks since 1993, the process had stalled at a critical stage, just before repatriation could take place. The next step was not clear because of the instability of the Nepalese government and its preoccupation with the Maoist problem.
Under the circumstances it was vital that the two governments thoroughly discuss the issue and make sure that the necessary measures were taken to prevent such an incident from ever occurring again. This must be finalised before the bilateral process resumed.
The Speaker also noted that the government should continue to strictly adhere to the resolutions of the National Assembly, the Citizenship Acts of Bhutan, and the laws of the land.

National Assembly endorses ongoing verification process

As the National Assembly moved into its third week of deliberations the peoples representatives asked the government to explain the purpose and progress of the verification process. They expressed their concern over rumours and speculation that the government might allow some of the people who had left Bhutan after committing a range of anti-national and seditious activities to return.
BCCI Chimi

The Samtse chimi said that the people did not want the noglops to return because they had left the country after destroying schools, BHUs and bridges, and committed acts of violence, including murder. He said that, after rejecting the repeated pleas of His Majesty the King himself not to leave the country, they were now accusing the government of having evicted them.

The Samdrup Jongkhar chimi said the basis of the joint verification process must be the distinction between genuine and false refugees. How can you be a refugee if you have sold your land, house, animals, and all other property and left a country out of your own free will ? he asked. Who are these people we are supposed to be verifying ?

The Sarpang chimi said the people in the camps in Nepal were ngolops bent on sowing seeds of discord and disharmony. The Chhukha chimi said they were suffering the consequences of their own decisions.

The Haa chimi submitted that the government should not even consider repatriating people who had left under such circumstances. We have not forgotten the unpardonable acts committed by them against the people and the nation, he said. How can the government even consider the return of such people ?

The Dagana chimi reminded the Assembly that the government must adhere to the previous resolutions, the thrimzhung chenmo, and the citizenship and immigration laws of the country while deciding the fate of the people in the camps in Nepal.

Besides appealing to them directly, His Majesty the King had even abolished goongda woola and rural taxes for the southern dzongkhags to make them stay, the Mongar chimi said. People who had emigrated from Bhutan on their own free will can never be accepted as refugees.

The Paro chimi said that it was important to take note that the people who had gathered in Jhapa, Nepal, were not Bhutanese refugees as claimed by them. The Wangduephodrang chimi said that the ngolops had left, knowing they would find a place to stay in Nepal. The Nepalese government should not have invited them in the first place, if they did not want to keep them, he said.

The Gasa chimi said the camps in Nepal consisted of two kinds of people : criminals and those who were masquerading as Bhutanese refugees. These people tried to take over the country through propaganda and outright violence, he said. Now that their treacherous plans have failed, they want to come back to the country by making all kinds of demands. Allowing them to return would seriously undermine our citizenship and immigration laws.

In response to the submissions made by the chimis the foreign minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, said that the royal government had always agreed to take back all genuine refugees if they were found to have been forcefully evicted. The process of verification was, therefore, necessary because Bhutan could not accept every person who claimed to be a Bhutanese refugee.

Explaining the background of the process Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said that Bhutan and Nepal had signed a bilateral agreement on the four categories of people in April, 1994. The actual process of verification had begun after the two governments made a breakthrough in their discussions in December last year.

The minister informed the Assembly that, with 98,897 people in the camps in Nepal, including 13,000 children who were born there, the two sides had agreed to start the verification process in one camp with the understanding that the processes of verification and the harmonization of positions on each category must be done simultaneously and not separately.

It was also agreed that, should differences of opinion arise in the process of joint verification, the team members would make every effort to resolve it among themselves. Failing this, the matter would be referred to the foreign secretaries or home secretaries of the two governments. If any problem could not be solved at the secretaries level, it would be tackled at the ministerial level.

The Joint Verification Team (JVT), comprising a total of 10 officials representing the two governments, began their work on March 26 this year, starting with the Khudanabari refugee camp in Jhapa, which has a total population of 12,446 people, or 1,963 families.

Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said that, by July 5, 2001, the JVT had completed 62 days of verification, completing 660 huts/families and 4,128 individuals interviewing an average 10 to 11 families, or 65 persons, every day. At this pace the JVT, which works as a team, is able to ensure that all claimants are given a fair opportunity to state their claims, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said.

The foreign minister pointed out that news coverage in the Nepalese media had been largely negative, mainly on the grounds that the pace was too slow, thereby questioning Bhutans commitment to the process. This may be interpreted as being slow but we must remember that it is during this stage that the two sides will be able to acquire valuable experience and build up the expertise in the important process of verification, he said. It is important to note that the consequences of a verification process that is discredited will be far more severe.

Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley informed the Assembly members that he would meet his Nepalese counterpart after the National Assembly to give further impetus to the verification process. The two ministers would look at how and when the process of harmonisation would be tackled so that it can conclude simultaneously with the verification process in keeping with the terms of reference stated in the agreement.

Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said that the two governments had also discussed different ways through which the two countries could engage in confidence building measures to promote and strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation.

Also responding to the Assembly members the home minister, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, said that the governments of Bhutan and Nepal had agreed to harmonise their positions on the four agreed categories: bonafide Bhutanese if (they) have been evicted forcefully; Bhutanese who have emigrated; non Bhutanese people; and Bhutanese who have committed criminal acts.

While Bhutan must take full responsibility for the people falling in the first category, those who had emigrated will be dealt with in keeping with the citizenship and immigration laws of Bhutan and Nepal, he said. Those who are found to be non-Bhutanese must return to their respective countries while the repatriation of those in category 4 will be done in keeping with the laws of the two countries. They will be given full opportunity to prove their innocence in the court of law in Bhutan.

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho pointed out that the ngolops leaders based in Nepal were trying to criticise and undermine the verification process. Having left Bhutan after committing criminal acts, they would gain nothing from the verification process. This group of people are unlikely to return if the verification proves fruitful, he said. Thats why they are plotting to derail the verification process.

The ngolops, he said, had resorted to all types of strategies to fulfill their objectives and their own vested interests. They had destroyed developmental facilities, resorted to kidnapping and blackmail, organised so called peace marches, promoted disinformation and propaganda, and tried to create religious and political disharmony in Bhutan.

It must be noted that whatever strategies they adopt, their agenda and objective is clearly stated in their demand letter which is to bring into Bhutan a large number of non-Bhutanese people of Nepali origin and to give themselves and other people of Nepali origin Bhutanese citizenship and land by changing the system of government and the citizenship laws of the country, the minister said.

Haa Chimi

The deputy minister of the National Environment Commission questioned the definition of refugees as used in the context of the people in the camps in Nepal. Genuine refugees, he said, originated only during times of strife, war and natural disasters like flood, famine, and drought. These people claimed to be refugees because they wanted to settle in Bhutan, he said.

International organisations should, therefore, carefully study the situation before they give these people refugee status, the deputy minister said, adding that the people in the camps were receiving US$ 20 to 22 million, or about Nu 900 to 1000 million, each year from the UNHCR. They were lured by money.

The Speaker of the National Assembly noted that the Joint Verification Team was conducting the process of verification as agreed between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal. The process, he said, was a concrete result of the difficult bilateral talks that had dragged on for many years.

The National Assembly resolved that joint verification of the people in the camps should be conducted, based on the four categories that had been agreed between the two governments.
Should any problems arise in the course of the verification process, it will be referred to and solved at the secretary level of the two governments. If the problem cannot be solved at that level, it will be taken up at the ministerial level.

In conclusion the Speaker of the National Assembly said that, in the final analysis, it was the result of the process that counted most not the pace of the process.

JVT, Sino-Bhutan border talks and tourism in Haa discussed at assembly

July 11, 2001               
During Monday’s National Assembly discussions about the joint verification members said that the government should not accept the people from the camps in Nepal.The people’s representatives said that the royal government should refrain from accepting the people in the camps.

It was expressed that some of these people left the country after giving up their citizenship and selling their properties while others absconded after carrying out subversive activities in the kingdom.

In response to the submissions made by the chimis the foreign minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, said that the royal government had always agreed to take back all genuine refugees if they were found to have been forcefully evicted. The process of verification was, therefore, necessary because Bhutan could not accept every person who claimed to be a Bhutanese refugee.

The minister informed the Assembly that, with 98,897 people in the camps in Nepal, including 13,000 children who were born there, the two sides had agreed to start the verification process in one camp with the understanding that the processes of verification and the harmonization of positions on each category must be done simultaneously and not separately.

The Joint Verification Team (JVT), comprising a total of 10 officials representing the two governments, began their work on March 26 this year, starting with the Khudanabari refugee camp in Japa, which has a total population of 12,446 people, or 1,963 families.

Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said that, by July 5, 2001, the JVT had completed 62 days of verification, completing 660 huts/families and 4,128 individuals interviewing an average 10 to 11 families, or 65 persons, every day. “At this pace the JVT, which works as a team, is able to ensure that all claimants are given a fair opportunity to state their claims,” Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said.

Also responding to the Assembly members the home minister, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, said that the governments of Bhutan and Nepal had agreed to harmonise their positions on the four agreed categories: bonafide Bhutanese if (they) have been evicted forcefully; Bhutanese who have emigrated; non Bhutanese people; and Bhutanese who have committed criminal acts.

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho pointed out that the ngolops leaders based in Nepal were trying to criticise and undermine the verification process. Having left Bhutan after committing criminal acts, they would gain nothing from the verification process. “This group of people are unlikely to return if the verification proves fruitful,” he said. “Thats why they are plotting to derail the verification process.”

The Assembly also discussed the issues on the Sino-Bhutan border talks. The people’s representative from Haa and Shemgang said that the government must pursue the border talks keeping in mind the future well-being and security of the country.

Speaking about the border talks the home secretary, Dasho Pema Wangchuk, briefed the meeting on the successive rounds of talks with the Chinese officials.

He said that 14 rounds of talks have been conducted so far and a major breakthrough has been the signing of the interim agreement for peace and tranquillity in the disputed areas.

His Majesty the King said that the proposed extension of the border along the three sectors under discussion were in Doglam, Sinchulumba, and Dramana areas. His Majesty expressed his confidence that, Bhutan being a small country and China being a very large and friendly neighbour, the demarcation of the boundary would be completed successfully in the near future.

The promotion of tourism in Haa was also discussed, the minister for trade and industry, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, said that tourism was a major industry with great potential for generating not only hard currency revenue but also employment.

He said that the ministry and the dzongkhag along with the BCCI would have to identify feasible areas for tourism

Remembering the Colombo Plan

Remembering the Colombo Plan
«Bhutan’s all women delegation in Melbourne. Photo: HMRGM
Fifty years have passed since Bhutan debuted on the international stage. In 1962, Colombo Plan made an exception and admitted Bhutan as its member. In doing so, Bhutan joined its first world body.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (1894-1978), invited Bhutan to attend the 14th consultative committee as an observer. This meeting was held in Melbourne and chaired by the Australian senator, JG Gorton.
The head of the Bhutanese delegation, Ashi Tashi Dorji, played an instrumental role in securing this membership.
“Your Excellency, please admit Bhutan as a member of the Colombo Plan this year,” Ashi made this request to the chairman at a luncheon hosted by the Japanese ambassador.
The Australian senator, who later became the prime minister (1966-69), put down his cutlery, walked around the room and, with great enthusiasm, discussed the matter informally with the other delegates.
In the following meeting, the proposal was discussed formally and, except for Nepal, all the members agreed to accept Bhutan as a member.
At the end of the meeting, Mr Gorton pinned an opal on Ashi’s chest, and congratulated and welcomed Bhutan as its member.
The representative of Republic of South Korea saw this turn of events as an opportunity, and also applied for membership in the same meeting, and was also admitted. The New York Times reported on November 18, 1962, that South Korea and Bhutan joined the Colombo Plan.
Ashi fondly recollected her trip Down Under, but said that it had some nervous moments, particularly with the two speeches she had to deliver. The first speech was an opening address, and the second an acceptance speech. While the former was prepared in advance, the latter was an impromptu one.
“Our Bhutanese are hard working people and our young generation offer much fine materials for the future of the country.” This is how Ashi expressed the hopes of the government and aspiration of the Bhutanese.
Both speeches were short but well received, and managed to spark great interest in Bhutan. Member delegates wanted to know more and, at the end of each discussion, the standard question was, “What will our honourable members from Bhutan say about this issue?”
In 1960, Bhutan had just ended the self-imposed isolation policy, and embarked on the path of socio-economic development. Since there was no economic data, the team had no reply, and thus the standard response was, “We’ll give our opinion after the meeting,” which never happened, because the team had no clue what the meeting was all about.
The only printed information on Bhutan was the one circulated by the Bhutanese. It was a small brochure (probably the first) that was prepared with whatever little information that was available and published in Hongkong en-route.

On the final day of the meeting of the Colombo Plan, the head of the Bhutanese delegation delivered her second speech. It received a standing ovation.
In addition to being oblivious of the economic jargon, the Bhutanese team had no clue of protocols. Relating an anecdote, the head of the delegation said that, one day, a young Chinese man from the Colombo Plan Secretariat came up to her and whispered, “Since you’re the head of the delegation, you must walk in front of the other two.”
In Australia, the Bhutanese delegation stood out on three grounds. Firstly, for having the smallest delegation; secondly, the only country with an all women delegation; and lastly, Bhutan was unknown.
So, the Australians were intrigued and went out of their way to offer warm hospitality. The delegation saw the Melbourne Cup, attended a ball, and a banquet was hosted in their honor.
The governor general, Lord Richard Casey, hosted a banquet in the National Library in Canberra. The peer was one of the few Australians, who knew about Bhutan. He was governor of Bengal, during which time he made friends with Ashi’s father, Raja Sonam Tobgye Dorji. So Lord Casey was especially kind and affectionate to the Bhutanese delegation.
Before the Bhutanese team left Melbourne, the Australian Prime Minster presented Ashi with a most beautiful Australian opal brooch, which he pinned himself on her dress. The Bhutanese delegation was greatly moved by the care given by the government and the kindness of the Australians.
As a member of the Colombo Plan, Bhutan was now eligible to receive technical assistance, and have access to vast financial resources for the socio-economic development of the kingdom.

Importance of the Colombo Plan
The Colombo Plan is Bhutan’s first international membership that it sought and obtained, and was set against two important historical events.
The first was Bhutan’s conscious decision to modernise its state. The Sino-India conflict was the second historical event. Through this world forum, Bhutan announced that it existed as a sovereign nation.
Bhutan’s goal in the 1962 Colombo Plan was to secure support for the development of modern education and healthcare. Bhutanese today enjoy modern health services and have access to modern education.
As a member, Bhutan became eligible for scholarships offered by the Australian government and, as of today, almost a thousand Bhutanese have pursued higher and specialised education in Australia.
Contributed by Tshering Tashi

New political party to contest Bhutan's 2013 polls

It has chosen a name, written its charter and completed most of the paperwork needed for registration, but is waiting for a favourable day (zakar) to go public.
The Socialist Democratic Party getting ready to contest the 2013 general election in Bhutan has an ideology and it is based on social democratic principles, according to Dr Tandi Dorji, a member of its "core working group".
"It is in the truest sense a political party, if a political party is defined or understood as an aggregation of views, or a group of people, who think alike or have similar ideologies," he said. “For a political party there has to be an ideology, on what you base your beliefs. So we have come to a common understanding to work on social democratic principles,” he said.
Dorji said that while Bhutan was already much of a welfare state, much of what is happening would continue, but the party had chosen an ideology between extreme left and right. “We’d encourage capitalism or privatisation, and continue providing welfare to the majority of the populace, especially in rural areas,” he said. Privatising health services was one.
Dorji said the new party would be one that gives importance to the party and not individuals. “We don’t want any individual to get so much influence over our party. We believe interest of the nation must come above all, and then the party’s interest above any individual, which isn’t happening right now.”
The Socialist Democratic Party will not appoint tshogpas in the villages to “avoid expenditure and creating rift in the communities”.
"People don’t like being identified with a party. This has created rift in the villages, between families, between neighbours, so this actually could be a disadvantage," he said.
"We’re trying to create the party that is sustainable even without state funding. We believe that there’s no need to have party workers," he said.
Tandi, the co-author of “Drukyul Decides”, which documented Bhutan’s first democratic elections, said the huge debt DPT and PDP incurred was because of keeping paid tshogpas and offices. “Having a tshogpa doesn’t guarantee votes,” he said, sharing his experience as a losing PDP candidate from Punakha in the 2008 elections.
Choice for 2013
The new party, according to the former PDP member from Punakha, was formed to provide a choice for Bhutanese democracy. “There are lots of people, who want to see an alternative, as there are only two member in the opposition party. We’ll provide them opportunity,” he said.
Tandi, who resigned from PDP in 2009, said the core group decided that there has to be a new generation of leaders. “For the past 15 to 20 years, we’ve been dependent on the same set of ministers. Sadly, not much has been done to mentor the next generation of leaders.”
But entering the fray the party would at least provide the opportunity for a primary round of elections where the people of Bhutan will decide which two parties will contest the general election. This, Tandi believes, is of utmost importance. “I didn’t have an ideology in 2008. I believed in my president like many others,” he said.
The new party, according to Tandi, has been working for the past one and a half years and already identified a leader. Although he declined to name names, he said they have senior civil servants, corporate employees, three former PDP members and former PDP and DPT party workers.
"We took so long because we were very careful in choosing our people. We identified 27 and narrowed it down to five," he said. The shortlist includes senior civil servants like serving secretaries. “The problem is they are civil servants and we can’t hold open political meetings or let their names out.” Tandin said the core group developed a set of about 17 indicators, like leadership skills, linguistic skills, experience, background, likeability to shortlist.
The Social Democratic Party’s logo has a plant instead of an animal as its party symbol.
Chances of winning
"The party is aware of DPT’s strength, and we’re working on our ideology to tell people why they should vote for us. DPT MPs can travel to their constituencies and campaign effectively. We don’t have that opportunity," he said. “DPT stands a better chance, but we’d like to provide a strong opposition.”
Asked if they would pick on weaknesses or failure of the government, Tandi said the government could have already prepared what to tell the voters. “The Lyonchhoen is a clever and shrewd politician, he’d have worked out the responses,” he said. “But we’re still developing our strategies and working on the ideology to convince people to vote for us.”
A drawback for new political parties is the civil service and election rules, which restrict politicking before the election period. “Politicians are seen as villains. People try to keep a distance even if they’re interested to associate, because rules don’t allow,” he said. “For new parties like ours, we need to take our charter out to the public and tell people to come out and look at it. If they believe and want to support, the system should allow it. “We don’t have the audience. Everything has to be done secretly because of the restriction.”
State funding
Although the party is determined to run with or without state funding, Tandi is in the same boat when it comes to state funding. State funding only the ruling and opposition party will kill democracy because it won’t give opportunities for the new parties to come, he said.
"We believe that, from 2013, all political parties that contest the primary round and win certain percentage of votes should be given state funding," he said. “If a party wins 15 percent of nearly 200,000 to 300,000 votes, that means a substantial number of people believe in that party. Based on those criteria, they should be given the same amount of money to sustain, so that the parties remain active even during non election years.”


Back ground:
Bhutan synonymously known as the “Sangrila” kingdom on the foot hills of eastern Himalayas sandwiched between two Asia giant countries, on the north China and India on east, south and west. It has an area of 47000 square kilometer with estimated population of 700000. It is a multi-racial country divided into three regions according to ethnic inhabitants. The Ngalongs, historically origin of Tibet are located in the western part of Bhutan and are minority but are the main ruling ethnic. The Sarchops, the indo-Burmese origin are believed to be the oldest inhabitants and are ethnically the second largest who were less favoured till the problem in southern Bhutan that became bonanza to them and now enjoy maximum opportunities in the government and private as well. The southern Bhutanese (Nepali speaking), the ethnic majority popularly known Lhotsampas on the south are the latest inhabitants although the history of settlement dates back to 1624 A.D and are now the victims of King Jigme Singye Wangchuk’s xenophobia and systematic ethnic cleansing. The Ngalongs and Sarchops follow the Drukpa kagyukpa and Ningmapa Buddhism and Lhotsampas are predominantly Hindus. Christianity is banned though many from all three Communities have embraced and embracing. 70% of the population depends on agriculture and has 56% literacy rate. With the increase of education level concomitantly there is problem of unemployment and the youth problems are on the rise. The main economic resources are hydro-power which has the capacity of producing 30000MW when fully exploited. Other sources are Tourism, mineral base products, forest products and small trade and commerce. The per capita income is the highest in the SAARC region. Till 2008, the country was ruled by absolute hereditary monarchy of Wangchuk dynasty.
System of government:
Before the establishment of hereditary monarchy of Wangchuk dynasty in 1907 by the help of the then British ruler in India, the country was governed by Deb rajas divided in small pockets. The first Sabdrung Ngawang Namgyel entered Bhutan from Ralung, Tibet in sixteen century and consolidated and unified the country and established dual system of administrative and religious and ruled the country until his assassination and usurping the power and establishment of hereditary monarchy by Wangchuk dynasty on 17th December 1907. Till constitutional monarchy ushered in 2008 by holding National Council and National Assembly election, it was ruled by absolute monarchy. Nevertheless, still people are yet to enjoy the real fruit of democracy as the monarch is not yet relieved of the relish of absolute power. It is still rallying around with his coteries running the government.
Genesis of Southern Bhutanese Problem:
The genesis of the southern Bhutanese Problem of Nepali speaking people is not other than the Royal Government of Bhutan’s (RGOB) well designed policy of systematic ethnic cleansing. The king Jigme Singye Wangchuk created fear psychosis of southern Bhutanese swamping up the Drukpas (northern Bhutanese) in the mind of the northern Bhutanese in order to smother the wrongs committed, specially his infidelity with four daughters of a pity businessman and siphoning huge amount of country’s wealth to them. By pleasing the northern Drukpas and the monk bodies he wanted to legitimize his marriage to four ladies which he had already fathered four illegitimate children. So he thought victimization of southern Bhutanese as soft target that most pleases the Drukpas and taken advantage of lack of strong representatives in legislature, judiciary and executive that impede his schemes. He held secret meetings with his coteries and adopted many sinister designs to provoke the sentiments of the southern Bhutanese and swoop upon action on dissent. To begin with, new citizenship act 1977 enacted replacing first ever country’s citizenship act 1958 that granted citizenship to all southern Bhutanese residing in Bhutan before or till 31st December 1958 and again another citizenship 1985 enacted as 1977 act did not suffice the desired policy of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) to victimize southern Bhutanese. Otherwise, unless it meant ill intention, where was the need of enactment of citizenship act one after another? All were Bhutanese as stated in the speech on National Day in Galeyphug on 17th December 1978 ” I have often heard that some of our Bhutanese people do not consider themselves as true Bhutanese. Those of you, who think this cannot be true Bhutanese because our people of southern Bhutan are not people of Nepal nor are you Indians from Kalimpong and Darjeeling. But, there is a great difference and that difference is because you all are people of the Pelden Drukpa. All of us are like one family”.Finally 1985 citizenship act was promulgated and in 1988/ 89 census was carried out in six districts in southern Bhutan. In the census, people were categorized in seven categories, F1 to F7. People were asked to produce documents of proof of particularly 1958. The census officials refused to accept documents of prior or after 1958 and people unable to produce 1958 documents were declared non-nationals and ordered to leave the country. People were caught in between the devil and the deep sea. The helpless people had no options than to appeal to the king, the supreme commander for reconsideration of the policy. The appeal was made through the southern Bhutanese representatives in the royal advisory council which unfortunately was taken as treason instead of the concern expressed in greater interest of the people and the country. The government mustered more stringent rules, fabricated the facts to convince the international community and continued eviction. The peaceful demonstration for democracy and human rights in September/ October 1990 was a blessing which the government was longing for such appropriate moment which is very clear from the notice issued by the then Deputy home minister Dago Tshering, one of the main villains on August 17, 1990 stating that “any Bhutanese leaving the country to assist and help anti-nationals shall no longer be considered as Bhutanese citizen. It must also be made very clear that such people’s family members living under same household will also be held fully responsible and forfeit their citizenship”. After the demonstration, the forceful eviction by intimidating people to sign so called voluntary migration form (VMF) at gun point was mounted leading people to leave in thousands. People left carrying barely some belongings leaving all their properties and reached the refugee camps in Nepal. The king Jigme Singye Wangchuk cleverly orchestrated the drama of visiting the people in the south and acted to have beg the people not to leave the country at the day light to show the International community that despite the personal effort of the king to stop them, people have left voluntarily, but at night he ordered the army and police to intimidate the people to sign so called voluntary migration form and evict in thousands next day. Not only that, himself used to move out in the cover of the night and come to Chirang and Dagana districts, about 100km away from Thimpu and lead the operations in army fatigue and returned to Thimpu before dawn and create impression that as if he had not left the palace. No body would know and believe the facts except his body guards and captain Chemi, the main commander (TIGER) of Chirang and responsible for eviction of people and killings. The fact again was known from reliable sources as the trusted TIGER confided to some confidants. The king accolade the officers, those who killed southern Bhutanese and evicted maximum people. This again was corroborated by the fact when government could not punished legally the killer the then Dzongda of Mongar (Chief District Officer) Lhakpa Dorji Dukpa when he killed one monk at point blank in Mongar district on protesting on religious discrimination and demanding democracy and human rights. He outright said, the king had given promotion on killing the southern Bhutanese when he was Dzongda in Samchi and why punishment on killing a sarchop, a similar anti-national? He had threatened to reveal all the government anti-policies on southern Bhutanese and unjust eviction if he had to face the punishment. The king placated him and was just stripped of his job but with full enjoyment of government emoluments and facilities till now. He is freely moving. The king Jigme Singye Wangchuk was so xenophobic of Nepali speaking southern Bhutanese that he even wanted to get rid of all of them by surrendering one of the southern districts, Samchi to the government of India led by the then Prime minister late Chandra Shekhar on condition to take all the southern Bhutanese and on the other hand talk of integrity and sovereignty of the country. The king Jigme Singye Wangchuk chose the most cruel people to evict the southern Bhutanese which was very precise from the way he appointed the commander -in-chief (TIGER) in the southern district in 1990s. He appointed the former palace cook turned businessman, Sonam Dukpa as TIGER of SamdrupJongkhar district and fully powered to imprison, torture, kill and evict people . He torturd to death the then Dalim mondal (block head) Bhakta Bahadur Pokhrel and many more. He even gone beyond his jurisdiction and kill Indra Prasad Pathak in Chirang district. The king rewarded him. One cannot fathom the atrocities, inhuman tortures, wanton arrest,plunder, death, rape, mental and psychological tortures inflicted and eviction with humiliation with paltry sum so called compensation for properties worth of lakhs taking video film with the money smiling. Further, the king to show his magnanimity and impress the Drukpas that he is their caring king for their welfare allotted the lands belonging to the evicted Lhotsampas. He coined a philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) at the cost of miseries and unhappiness of the Lhotsampas.
Tampering the evidences of Lhotsampas:
The Royal government of Bhutan not only evicted more than 110000 Nepali speaking southern Bhutanese (lhotsampas) but along with wickedly tried its best to annihilate the history, culture, tradition, language and religion of the southern Bhutanese and other evidences of living in Bhutan. In its first attempt, the government came out with the policy of “ one nation, one people”, where every Bhutanese irrespective of ethnicity and diverse social, culture, tradition, language and religion has to follow the Drukpa etiquettes of only wearing Drukpa dress, gho (male) and Kira (female) and speak only Dzongkha, the national language but the mother tongue and spoken by just Ngalong consisting of 20% of the total population. The dress code was so strictly imposed that even people were fined and jailed by the police if found without gho and kira loitering outside the home. After the eruption of problem in southern Bhutan in 1990, the Royal government of Bhutan came with many sinister designs of erasing off the evidence of southern Bhutanese of Nepali speaking ever living in Bhutan. Southern Bhutanese were categorized into seven categories:
  1. Genuine Bhutanese (F1)
  2. Returnees ( F2-Bhutanese returned to Bhutan after leaving the country)
  3. Drop out ( F3-Bhutanese not present during the time of census)
  4. Children if mother is from outside of Bhutan (F4)
  5. Children if father is from outside of Bhutan (F5)
  6. Adoption (F6)
  7. Non-national (F7)
The government also carried out the population transfer from northern Bhutan and allotted the land and other properties belonging to the southern Bhutanese particularly the refugees and as well as changed the land registration numbers (Sathram). In the name of cadastral survey, people were deprived of their prime land though land holding was much below then the ceiling of 25 acres. No registration of any landed property is allowed to the people other than in Census F1. It also changed the Citizenship Identity Card. The names of the districts, Sub-divisions, blocks and villages were also changed. It also banned the teaching of Nepali in the schools and the books were burnt. The houses left by the refugees were either burnt down or dismantled. All schools were closed down in southern Bhutan and turned into army barracks until the northern Bhutanese were brought for resettlement. The relatives of the refugees were terminated from the government service without any benefit. The recruitment of southern Bhutanese in Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and Royal Bhutan security Force (RBSF) was stopped since 1990, the year the problem started in southern Bhutan. There is no single southern Bhutanese sub-division officer (Dungpa), least to say chief district officer (Dzongda) in home ministry. There is no even a peon in the foreign ministry. The Police Clearance certificate is mandatory for every purpose, even for admission of the children in the school and which is denied to the relatives of the refugees. No land registration is permitted to the relatives of the refugees and trade license is denied. They have to do proxy business on the licenses of Drukpas for their livelihood. No one can touch the land left by the relatives or even given as shares. The indirect harassment is to compel the southern Bhutanese to leave the country.
The refugees in Nepal:
Nepal was never a chosen destination of Bhutanese refugees. Before coming to Nepal as refugees, very few knew where Nepal was exactly. Though southern Bhutanese speak the same language and follow same religion, culture, tradition and custom, yet differ in many ways. The southern Bhutanese have own distinct identity as Bhutanese and manner of practice and observation of social etiquette is different. The refugees were compelled to cross Indo-Nepal border by the inevitable circumstances as India, our immediate neighbor and the country of first asylum unable to provide shelter and safety. Instead it hounded the refugees and loaded on the trucks and reached to the Indo-Nepal border at Panitanki and dumped. In Nepal, organized camps were built and sheltering about 110000 refugees in seven camps in two districts of Jhapa and Morang in eastern most part of the country for last 22 years.
Bilateral Talks:
In an endeavour to find peaceful and holistic resolution of the problem, Nepal government initiated bilateral talk with the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) in 1993. In order to find comprehensive solution of the problem, even it agreed to Bhutan government’s proposal to four categorizations of the refugees. Much against the refugees’ denial, the refugees were categorized as 1. Bhutanese forcefully evicted 2. Bhutanese voluntarily migrated 3. Non-Bhutanese 4. Bhutanese involved in criminal activities in Bhutan. The four categorizations became the bone of contention which the government of Nepal could not salvage despite 15 rounds of joint ministerial talk. Lastly the Nepal government gave up to intransigent Bhutan government to verification according to four categories. To begin with the verification of refugees started in Khudunabari camp in 2001 by the Joint Verification Team (JVT) of government of Nepal and Bhutan. However, the JVT failed to produce positive result. The result was bizarre when announced in 2003. It was unilateral result of the Bhutan government and Nepal government Team did not have their side of the result of their own findings. The Nepali verification team like the bilateral talk teams was mesmerized by the Bhutan government with their hospitality to concur to whatever the Bhutanese Team produce. The Bhutan government deliberately created impasse by bringing unacceptable conditions on repatriation after finding that 75% proved to be Bhutanese even with stringent censor and which the Bhutan government had been denying any presence of Bhutanese in the past and before the verification. Therefore, since 2003, the bilateral process remains stand still coupled by unstable political situation in Nepal to follow up.
International donor fatigue and third country Resettlement:
The Bhutanese refugee camps are manned by UNHCR with its implementing partners with the assistance from the donor agencies since its taking over in 1992. Even after 22 years, the resolution of the festering problem was not seen imminent coupled by the unstable political situation in Nepal and on the other, Bhutan government taking strong stand not to take back the refugees. The facilities are dwindling because of financial constraint as there is increasing donor fatigue. The long impasse spurred the UNHCR and the International community to explore way and means for comprehensive solution of the protracted problem and agreed for resettlement by the core countries for Bhutanese refugees, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark and later UK. The resettlement started in 2008 and USA taking the largest number of about 60000. No doubt the resettlement has immensely benefited the refugees especially the youths to build a better future. However, the humanitarian gestures has on the other hand grossly ignored the right of Bhutanese nationality and citizenship and concomitantly condoned the perpetrator, Bhutan government of crime against humanity and racial discrimination. Magnanimous act of the international community has abetted Bhutan government of its brutality and ignored the sufferings and suppression of about 80000 southern Bhutanese who are the relatives of the refugees. Their citizenship is still in question. They are virtually stateless and are also deprived from all government opportunities as they cannot obtain Security Clearance Certificate from the police which mandatory for all purpose. People are categorized into seven categories F1 to F7. The southern Bhutanese have to live and bear the stigma of categories and were deprived from voting in the first ever parliamentary election in 2008. They are socially downgraded, especially in case of marriage. The first question asked by the party is the status of census in order to avoid any complication. How unjust and painful mentally and psychologically to live with census category tag is known only by the victims.
Evolution of Bhutan United Socialist Democratic Party (BUSDP):
Realizing the facts that indifference of International community on the rights of the Bhutanese refugees, sufferings of southern Bhutanese living inside the country, the need of evolution of BUSDP was felt inevitable to fight for justice of the people. The penance for 22 years for amicable resolution of the southern Bhutanese problem that manifesting into unprecedented consequences every passing day was never acknowledge by the regime. Our patience was taken as our weakness and withstanding of miseries as inability to do anything. The government never showed iota of compassion and flexibility while the dissidents were ready to compromise and accepted the verification that thought to bring fair and just solution agreeable to all the stakeholders. The verification result was bizarre and thwarted the process by the Bhutan government on knowing that 75% of refugees are Bhutanese and have to shoulder the onus of taking them back. The Bhutanese Joint Verification Team left Nepal making lame excuse of insecurity when few refugees agitated spontaneously on hearing the result and tried to manhandle the members. Since then the Bhutanese Team never returned though the bilateral process is neither abandoned nor resumed after 2003. Bhutan government always remained adamant and maintained status quo position on four categorizations of refugees, the bone of contention of holistic solution of the problem. Now the resettlement of refugees in third country is taken as the victory and perennial political imbroglio in Nepal is a respite.
Every one turning their back on our struggle for right to return, even the International community who assured their commitment to repatriate the willing Bhutanese has been lackadaisical and their agent UNHCR is motivating all refugees for resettlement much against the wish of the majority of the refugees. The UNHCR has not initiated other options, letting resettlement only Hobson’s choice to refugees. As unjust try to get justice by injustice, the BUSDP has reached to decision after long deliberation that we are left with no alternative than arm revolution as last resort to get our rights. This has to be adopted as our incessant appeals for peaceful resolution of the southern Bhutanese problem through rapprochement and national reconciliation has been derided by the Bhutan government. The prime minister alleged of evolution of problem as of population explosion, ecological disaster and economic depreciation. He further says that eviction of people has been misinterpreted as human rights violation which in fact is humanitarian issue. He is trying to justify the right upon the wrongs. On the other hand, the International community lied and betrayed the Bhutanese refugee leaders of their assurance that repatriation would start simultaneously with resettlement. Till now no single Bhutanese refugee has been repatriated. In contrary now UNHCR is saying that 99% will be resettled in another 5 years giving clean chit to the Bhutan government, the perpetrator by taking its side.
It should not be misconstrued that BUSDP is guided by ambition of belligerency, thirst for power, political ideology and influence of arms struggle elsewhere. It is simply impelled by the circumstances and situation that being faced by the southern Bhutanese on prejudice of being Nepali speaking. BUSDP just wants to emancipate people from all forms of discriminations and suppressions and live a dignified human person governed by the rules of law. The people of Bhutan must enjoy full democratic rights as supreme power.
1. Establish socialist secular Federal Republic Democracy that empowers people as the supreme authority in decision and policy making and there should be rules of law.
2. Repatriation of all Bhutanese refugees wherever one may be to own homesteads with dignity and honour
3. Inculcate in all the Bhutanese the sense of brotherhood, fraternity and benefit of living in harmony.
1. Eliminate all forms of prejudice and discriminations.
2. Educate people on human rights and create awareness on self respect and respect to others.
3. Educate people on civic sense and responsibility.
4. Empower women and strengthen their capability so that they equally participate in the decision and policy making and become partner in development of society and nation.
5. Youths problem is becoming menace to the society and unemployment is acute leading youths to unhealthy anti-social activities and indulgence in substance abuse. Provide proper counseling, education and bring them in main stream of nation building and to become responsible citizens.
6. Maintain close relationship with the people of neighbouring state of Bodoland, Assam, Gorkhaland, Sikkim and Bengal and revamp time immemorial historic people to people contact in particular and in general with all people of India.
7. Eradicate poverty by means of equal distribution of national wealth, innovation of scientific method to boost productions, market research and removing disparity.
8. Maintain clean environment and ecological balance to avoid any natural depletion and disasters.
9. Provide old age pension to people above 60years.
10. Establish old age home or home for destitute to take care of the neglected aged people and destitute.
11. Encourage one family two children to maintain balanced population proportionate to land ratio.
1. Repatriation of all Bhutanese refugees wherever one may be to own land with full compensation of properties.
2. Repeal all discriminatory laws and enact new laws in conformation with democratic institution and international norms, covenants and conventions.
3. Proportional representation of southern Bhutanese in judiciary, Executive and legislature.
4. Prosecution of perpetrators involved in eviction of southern Bhutanese and committing crime against humanity and destabilizing the country.
5. Relocation of resettled northern Bhutanese to new place and vacate the land belonging to southern Bhutanese refugees and create congenial atmosphere on repatriation.
6. All Bhutanese refugees resettled in third countries should be considered Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB) and should have the right to return if any one wishes.
7. Establish National Human Rights Commission.
8. Give recognition to academic certificate and degrees obtained in exile.
9. Nepali language should be taught in schools and recognize as official language.
10. Remove all Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) and security forces from southern Bhutan.
11. Freedom of religion as individual faith and belief.
12. Reinstate all the government servants terminated on being relatives of refugees and left Bhutan on compulsion of the situation with full compensation and commensurate position to his/her contemporaries enjoying.
13. Unconditional release of all political prisoners.
14. Detail account of people killed by Army, police and civil authorities, custodial deaths and disappearance and handing over of dead bodies to the relatives for proper cremation and religious rites.
15. The families of deceased should be compensated adequately and rehabilitated.
16. Declare general amnesty
17. All marriages from outside should be naturalized as husband and wife is inalienable natural bond, therefore wife should get the privilege of rights to enjoy the rights as of husband in the country and the children born out of the wedlock should become citizen naturally.
Realizing that the declaration of Bhutan United Socialist Democratic Party which hereinafter known BUSDP in abbreviation and its Head Quarters in Chirang Bhutan is inevitable to fight for the rights of return of the Bhutanese refugees as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10th December 1948,
Realizing that the Royal government of Bhutan (RGOB) is signatory to the UDHR and not complying to the declaration,
Realizing that the RGOB arbitrarily disenfranchised 110000 southern Bhutanese from Bhutanese nationality, citizenship and banished to become refugees, and at the same time about 80000 southern Bhutanese, the relatives of the refugees and other minority Tibetans are stateless and are perpetually discriminated and living on different census category stigma and the children are deprived from all government opportunities including higher education and employment,
Realizing that the International community that espouse democracy and human rights in the world apathetic to repatriation and taking refugees for resettlement and creating southern Bhutanese of Nepali speaking diaspora and not pressurizing the Bhutan government for repatriation and condoning off all atrocities meted out to the southern Bhutanese and aiding and abetting Bhutan government of continuous persecution of southern Bhutanese and supporting the ethnic cleansing policy,
Realizing that Bhutan government has never given heed to our incessant appeal for peaceful resolution of the problem through rapprochement and national reconciliation and instead continuing to allege southern Bhutanese as illegal immigrants and attributing the creation of refugees as population explosion, ecological disaster and economic depreciation,
Realizing that now exhausted all peaceful means and our 22 years of penance for amicable resolution of the problem were futile and left no other alternative then to resort to arms revolution as last recourse to get justice,
We unanimously agreed to declare BUSDP on sixteen April two thousand and twelve in exile in Damak-13, Jhapa, Nepal with vision and mission to establish Socialist Secular Federal Republic Democracy, repatriate all Bhutanese in exile to own land and wherein all Bhutanese live harmoniously enjoying peace and prosperity for time eternal.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

State of the state

The prognosis is good
In all basic developmental indicators, the country has scored highly, as reflected in its 8.1 percent growth rate
«Lyonchhoen presents the 4th State of the Nation report at the Parliament yesterday
State Of The Nation Report: Going by the figures, and what the prime minister presented to the Parliament, brimming with senior civil servants and media personnel apart from the members themselves yesterday, the nation’s state, in general, was good.
After speaking for almost three hours, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, while presenting the fourth annual state of the nation report, said the country’s achievement over last one year was something to applaud.
He started off with a rerun of the good moments last year, a significant one being the royal wedding, an occasion that was “celebrated not only by the jubilant Bhutanese people, but by an enchanted world”.
But, on the flip side, the house was reminded of the tragedy country witnessed last year, the September 18 earthquake, Rupee debt, and the recent fire incident that reduced the age-old Wangduephodrang dzong to rubble.
Moving on to the country’s economy, Lyonchhoen said Bhutan’s 8.1 percent growth rate was ranked second in South Asia, and 11th in the world by real GDP growth rate for last year, in the list prepared by the US central intelligence agency.
It was mainly driven by industry, with hydropower constructions contributing 44.1 percent, followed by service sector at 37.4 percent, and primary sector at 15.1 percent.
In terms of the minimum program for accelerating poverty eradication, about 22 of the 49 gewogs in the country targeted to be connected by motorable road in the 10th plan have been completed.
About 80 percent of the Bhutanese families have received electricity, as of March 2012.
Claiming that all the funds are in place, the remaining 16,462 households will be electrified during the 2012-13 financial year.
Lyonchhoen admitted that their commitment of delivering a minimum of three doctors for every dzongkhag hospital was a challenge.
“While it’s difficult to get doctors from abroad, even if we did, we’re also unable to afford the amount they demand,” he said, adding a number of existing doctors were also undergoing specialisation programs abroad.
As such, although 11 dzongkhags have at least three doctors each, five dzongkhags have two doctors each, while the remaining four have a single doctor at the moment.
In figures
Access to Save drinking water
94% (From 69% in 2008) of the population
Mobile connectivity
68.4% (484,189) as of Dec. 2011 (From 56.4% in 2010)
Number of cooperatives
16 registered cooperatives
64 Farmers Groups (FGs)
Industrial license
2,447 industrial licenses issued in the last year (Total 15,190 licenses operational)
Tourists arrivals
100,833 tourists in 2011
(46% growth from 2010)
38.80km of national highway constructed in FY 2011-12
146 km of feeder/dzongkhag roads built
108 km roads connecting hydropower projects constructed
104 km of road resurfaced in FY 2011-12
30 Motorable bridges built in FY 2011-12
But Lyonchhoen said they hoped to fulfill this goal by 2013.
There were also places where safe drinking water through “conventional methods” has not reached. Alternative technologies in the form of rainwater harvesting system and pumping water supply were implemented.
All 205 gewog centres now have access to mobile services. Through government subsidy, services were made available in remote and difficult places.
In the agriculture sector, Lyonchhoen said a budget of Nu 32M was allocated for fiscal year 2012-13 to accelerate vegetable production and marketing, one of the moves taken to address ongoing rupee shortage.
He also claimed a substantial improvement in livestock productions, generated through gains in milk production, about Nu 1,280M, followed by egg, about Nu 195M.
Cattle population was also increased by four percent, pig by eight percent and poultry by 69.
Education wise, the number of schools increased to 553 and extended classrooms to 108 to meet government’s objective of providing all children with access to education within an hour’s walking distance.
In the tertiary education sector, five programs – media studies, BA in Bhutan and Himalayan studies, bachelor of sustainable rural development, BS (nursing), and diploma in computer hardware and networking were introduced in the past year under the Royal University of Bhutan.
Claiming that it to be one of the lowest in the world, the unemployment rate is declared at 2.1 percent, with youth unemployment rate falling from 9.2 percent last year to 7.3 percent.
In the health sector, to address the long-standing human resource shortage, the first university of medical sciences of Bhutan will be launched this month.
Introduction of health help centre, Lyonchhoen said, enabled people to access services of health professions within an hour at any time from anywhere through a telephone or mobile network.
In the field of communication, construction of about 100 community centres has been completed. About 22 G2C services were also provided through the centre.
Although temporarily stalled, the launch of domestic air services in Yonphula, Bumthang and soon in Gelephu would supposedly enhance transport connectivity, reduce travel time and also promote regional development.
The highest revenue contributor, trade sector, contributed about Nu 4.8B in the last fiscal year, an increase by about eight percent.
All hydropower projects were “well on track”, with Punatsangchu I and II and Mangdechu projects already employing about 2,853 Bhutanese.
Introduction of 20 percent green tax on vehicles and the pedestrian day were some recent moves to ensure environmental conservation.
In conserving culture and architectural skills, Lyonchhoen highlighted the conservation projects of Paro, Lhuentse and Dagana dzongs, scheduled to be completed by June next year.
Lyonchhoen also applauded Royal Audit and Anti Corruption, who played key roles in ensuring transparency and accountability, for their devotion and professionalism in carrying out the mandates.
Stressing a need for strong media in a democratic setup, he commended the existing media.
He, however, said the number of newspapers appeared more than enough for a small country like Bhutan.
Bhutan has also established diplomatic relations with 14 additional countries between end of 2011 and March 2012.
Introduced for the first time, a three-day visit designed to know Bhutan was extended to ambassadors, based in Dhaka and New Delhi, representing 44 countries.
“In reflecting on the reasons and causes for such accomplishments, I am reminded, once again, that the credit belongs largely to our highly dedicated and competent civil servant,” he said.
“Likewise, the local governments, the corporations and the business sector are deserving of high praise.”
By Kesang Dema
source: Kuensel

About 19,300 more resettled in third countries

Another 19,300 or so people from the refugee camps in Nepal have been resettled in “third countries” over the last year.
This takes the total number of people, who have been resettled, to 65,000 as of May this year.
Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, while presenting the state of the nation report to the joint sitting of Parliament yesterday, said United States alone took in about 54,000.
About 4,673 were resettled in Canada, 3,492 in Australia, 621 in Denmark, 653 in New Zealand, 509 in Norway, another 509 in The Netherlands and about 224 in the United Kingdom.
Lyonchhoen said, despite the intention, resuming bilateral talks on the subject with the government of Nepal did not transpire, because of the political instability in Nepal.
“The royal government is deeply grateful to the core group of countries, led by the US, for the compassion and generosity with which they continue to resettle the people in the refugee camps in Nepal,” he said.
Lyonchhoen said those, who have been resettled in the eight countries, sent heart-warming reports of having found a new and dignified life of hope and confidence in the future.
About 45,686 people were resettled in the US and other countries till the end of May 2011.
During the third annual state of the nation report presentation to the seventh session of the Parliament last year, prime minister said the issue of the people in the refugee camps “remains the biggest political, social and security challenge for Bhutan”.
By Kesang Dema

Bhutanese exiles from Nepal seek India’s help

NEW DELHI: Representatives of Bhutanese refugees from Nepal and human rights group Human Rights Defence International (HRDI) on Saturday urged India to help 1.3 lakh people allegedly forced to leave Bhutan.

Speaking at a symposium organised by the HRDI at Indian Law Institute here, Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee chairman Bhampa Rai said that India has a moral responsibility to help secure justice for the refugees who were forced to shift to Nepal from Bhutan in the 1990s. According to Rai, the refugees, mostly ethnic Hindus called Lhotshampa in Bhutan, originally came from Nepal and settled in the southern parts of Bhutan in the early 20th century but the government termed the Lhotshampa as illegal immigrants and anti-nationals.

“The inhabitants of eastern Bhutan, the followers of Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, have also been suppressed and deprived of their social, economic, cultural and traditional rights,” he said. daily times monitor