The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

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

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