The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, November 24, 2006

US firm on refugee repatriation -US Ambassador Moraiatry

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

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

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

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

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

The team returned to Kathmandu on Friday evening.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Helping exilees to seal their conceal

UNFPA provides male and female condoms for refugees in Nepal

Kantipur Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nepal asked to delay the talk to Bhutan

We are for Dissolving the refugees: says Boucher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related News

Nepal - Bhutan Talks Postponed Again

The Himalayan times; Kathmandu, November 16

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

LWF Welcomes Resettlement Option for Bhutanese Refugees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full text of the LWF statement follows:

LWF Statement on the Resettlement of Bhutanese Refugees

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

LWI news online:

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

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


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूको विगत, अमेरिकी रहर र यथार्थता

भूटानी शरणार्थीहरूको विगत, अमेरिकी रहर र यथार्थता

कैलाशकुमार सिवाकोटी
नोभेम्बर, १५

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

विषय प्रवेशः

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Nepal govt, UNHCR conduct Bhutanese refugees census

Kantipur Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A useful visit

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

Prime minister Khandu Wangchuk and Mr. Richard A. Boucher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Samten Wangchuk

Nepal truckers asked to allow humanitarian food supplies

Nepal truckers asked to allow humanitarian food supplies


Kathmandu, Nov 14 (DPA) The World Food Programme (WFP) Tuesday asked striking transport unions to allow free passage to WFP lorries carrying emergency food for 50,000 drought-stricken people in the remote hill areas of western Nepal.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the WFP said the world body was trying to deliver food assistance to the drought-stricken people as well as to over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in far eastern Nepal run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Nepalese transport unions have been on strike, citing various demands, for over a week across Nepal.

'Over 50,000 hungry people in Humla, Jumla, and Dolpa (in western Nepal) are waiting for our helicopters to arrive so that they can receive desperately needed food rations,' said Richard Ragan, the head of the WFP in Nepal.

In its third phase of emergency operations, WFP is to provide a two-month ration to over 225,000 drought-affected people in western Nepal.

According to the WFP, over 265 helicopter flights were planned out of Surkhet in western Nepal to deliver 730 tonnes of food to the remote areas. In the east, WFP provides food for all seven of the Bhutanese refugee camps.

source: DPA

Monday, November 13, 2006


BHUTANESE REFUGEES SERIES IV: Refugees are boon for some Nepalis


BHUTANESE REFUGEE CAMPS, Nov 13 - "Burden-sharing" is a term widely used while referring to resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in third countries. But, are they really a burden for Nepalis? The answer in "no" for many Nepali communities hosting the refugees for 16 years.
Rather, the refugees' presence has helped them improve their otherwise difficult life, thanks to efforts of aid agencies. For instance, let's glance at the following facts:

1. Twelve local women in Jiri Khimti village, about a kilometer from Pathari refugee camp (Morang), are receiving shoe-making training.

2. Chandra Kiranteshwor Lower Secondary School (Jhapa) has got two school blocks constructed, besides getting furniture.

3. Nine poor students from Jhapa and Morang districts are receiving vocational training at Madan Bhandari Memorial Academy (Jhapa). Four such students had received similar scholarship last year.

4. About 100 households from the marginalized Santhal community (Jhapa), who otherwise are landless and earn their living as bonded laborers, are doing well farming land plots given to them for five years.

5. Otherwise affected by floods every year, hundreds of locals in Arjundhara village are heaving a sigh of relief as the otherwise aggressive Biring river until six years ago has been tamed, and about 50 bighas of land is being cultivated.

"Now we have greatly benefited. We have cultivated cauliflower, radish, tomato and chilies," says Hadam Murmu, 38, a member of the Santhal (Satar) community from Garamadi VDC. Santhal community is considered one of the poorest. "Before this, I used to work in somebody else's farm, and used to brew alcohol."

Besides the land and seeds, among others, made available to them by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)-Nepal through a local NGO, they are also benefiting directly from the refugees.

"They (refugees) sell us rice grains (received from UNHCR) at the rate of Rs 15 per kilogram, while the same costs Rs 20 in Garamadi Market. They also work in our farms for lesser wage," says the smiling Murmu. "If they go somewhere else, it will be a disaster for us."

Like Murmu, all his peers who never went to any school say they have sent all their kids to schools now.

Locals in Arjundhara village are no less happy. They received training and technical assistance in disaster reduction from LWF and have started cultivating about 50 bighas of land, according to Krishna Prasad Dhungana, secretary of Arjundhara Natural Disaster Management Group. "We are taming the (Biring) river to flow along a single track by planting trees on both sides," says Dhungana. There is no trace of water around a tower set up years ago to inspect the level of water during monsoon. According to Ramesh Jung Rayamajhi, a senior official with LWF-Nepal, programs for the host community were first initiated in 1994 by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) as locals started clashing with refugees.

"The annual spending for such activities [in host communities] is around US $ 400,000 [Rs 28.4 million] now," says Rayamajhi. "The annual spending in 1996 was US $ 200,000 [Rs 14.2 million]." The UNHCR had handed over the job to carry out such activities to LWF in 1996. (Concluded)

Bhutanese youth in exile prefer Home to Foreign country.

NEPAL: Bilateral refugee talks planned
13 Nov 2006

KATHMANDU, 13 November (IRIN) - Bhutanese refugees taking shelter in seven camps in eastern Nepal are pinning their hopes for a lasting solution to their plight on forthcoming bilateral talks between Kathmandu and Bhutanese government officials, said a spokesman for the refugees in the capital on Monday.

According to Nepali foreign ministry officials, talks with their Bhutanese counterparts have been slated for 22 and 23 November in Thimpu, capital of Bhutan, where they hope to reach a final decision on the fate of the 106,000 refugees.

Most of the refugees are ethnic Nepalese, known as Lhotsampas. They were evicted from their homes in Bhutan in 1990 after the government introduced a new citizenship law that disenfranchised them and deprived them of citizenship and their civil rights. Most of them fled to Nepal where they have been living in refugee camps in the Morang and Jhapa districts of eastern Nepal, nearly 700 km east of the capital.

According to the Bhutanese Refugee Representatives Repatriation Committee (BRRRC), more than 15 rounds of bilateral negotiations over more than a decade between Nepal and Bhutan have failed to resolve the refugees' plight.

"This round of talks will be ground-breaking, unlike the previous ones when all the talks ended without any conclusion," said prominent local rights activist Gopal Siwakoti, who has been advising the Nepalese delegation in their preparation for the talks.

Kathmandu appears to want to facilitate discussion between the government of Bhutan and the refugees.

"Nepal will make its position clear by saying that our country is simply extending its traditional hospitality to shelter the refugees but the problem should be sorted out directly between the refugees and the Bhutanese government," said an official from the foreign ministry who declined to be named.

For the last five months, refugees have been staging an ongoing protest in front of the United Nations office in the capital to try and focus international attention on the need for a proper settlement of their situation.

"We are hopeful that some solution will come up during the talks," said Govinda Sharma, an 18-year-old refugee who explained that most of the youth like him want to return home and not resettle in a foreign country.

Other refugees say the onus is on Bhutan to come up with an offer acceptable to those who had been forced to leave the country. "It was the government of Bhutan who created the problem and it has to bear responsibility to solve it itself," said Ram Lal Subedi, a refugee activist.


Arms struggle- A Hobson choice

Frustrated Bhutan Refugees Threaten Armed Move for Rights

Kathmandu, November 13: Frustrated by sustained ignorance of Druk regime to address their plight, sections of Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal have warned of resorting to armed struggle as the only to option left for ensuring their safe return to homeland.

An English-language daily published from Kathmandu said in its Sunday's issue that many youth from the Bhutanese refugee community were gradually "gravitating towards arms option."

The Kathmandu Post newspaper quoted a Bhutanese national who recently visited the refugee camps as saying that a party named Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) was already formed in Bhutan which has also constituted a "Military Commission" in February "to wage armed struggle."

Indicating that the move is also supported by the CCOPOSA (Coordination Committee of Parties and Organizations in South Asia), which issued a resolution in August, saying, "In Bhutan, the budding Maoist Movement has courageously taken up the task of mobilizing the masses for revolution."

It is claimed that Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) as well as Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) were among the signatories to the resolution.

"Armed struggle is the only alternative for everyone now," the daily quotes a Bhutanese refugee as saying. It also quotes another refugee who says the armed option is "compulsion" for them.

More than 106,000 Bhutanese refugees, largely Nepali-speaking, are living in eastern Nepal's UN-funded camps. The refugees came to Nepal 16 years ago, when the Bhutan government evicted them under its discriminating 'one country one people' (Driglam Nimja) policy.

Fifteen rounds of bilateral talks have been between Nepal and Bhutan for their repatriation but all in vain.

Delegation to study Japanese official development assistance to Bhutan

Japan visit

13 November, 2006-A six-member Japanese delegation arrived in the country today to conduct an independent evaluation study on the Japanese official development assistance to Bhutan in the past 20 years. The delegation will be in the country for 17 days.

The delegation which was commissioned by the Japanese foreign ministry will evaluate and review Japan’s aid policy to Bhutan and draw lessons from it.
Led by the director of UN Population Fund, Tokyo office, Ms. Kiyoko Ikegami, the delegation will meet various government officials during their stay.

EU delegation visits Bhutan

EU delegation visits Bhutan

13 November, 2006 - An eight-member EU Troika delegation led by the director of Unit for Asia and Oceania, Mr. Pekka Metso is on a five-day visit in the country.

The Delegation, while in Bhutan will call on the prime minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, finance minister, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu, the chairperson of the Anti Corruption, Commission, Neten Zangmo, and meet with the Resident Coordinator/Counsellor Minister, Mr. Torben Bellers.
The delegation will also meet editors of the three newspapers, Kuensel, Bhutan Times, and Bhutan Observer and officials of RENEW today.

The delegation will leave the country on Wednesday, November 15.

US assistant secretary of state in Bhutan

US assistant secretary of state in Bhutan
Posted on Monday, November 13, 2006, @ 03:09:28 EST

Kuenselonline.13 November, 2006 -The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr. Richard A. Boucher has arrived today in the kingdom on a three-day visit.

Mr. Boucher will receive an audience with His Majesty the King on November 14 and also call on the prime minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and the home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley.
A press release from the foreign ministry stated that the visit will further strengthen the cordial and friendly relations between Bhutan and the United States.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

UNHCR is in regular contact with the government of Bhutan- Abraham Abraham, the UNHCR chief in Nepal

UNHCR worried by split among Bhutanese refugees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chief in Nepal Abraham Abraham has said he is not happy by the news of split among the Bhutanese refugees due to the issue of third country resettlement.

Speaking at the face-to-face programme at the Reporter's Club in the capital on Friday, Abraham said, division among the refugee leaders was not what the agency wanted.

He also expressed concern over the possibilities of intimidation in the camps and said the refugees were misinformed of the third country resettlement programme.

He, however, said the agency is not going to force any refugee for third country. "They can choose the option on their own wisdom: repatriation, local integration or third country settlement."

Abraham, who had just returned from his visit to refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts, claimed there are many who wanted to be settled in a third country.

He added the best solution of the one-and-a-half-decade long crisis would be repatriation.

Earlier, the agency had said it was ready to help resolve the refugee crisis if invited by Nepal and Bhutan governments to take part in the upcoming bilateral talks in Thimphu slated for later this month.

Abraham also said the agency is in regular contact with the government of Bhutan. ia Nov 11 06

The only political solution will be the repatriation -Hari Prasad Adhikari

Nepal-Bhutan Talks
Search For An Alternative
[ 2006-11-11 ]
By Hari Prasad Adhikari
Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Khadka Prasad Oli recently said that the forthcoming talks between Bhutan and Nepal to be held on November 21-22 would be decisive in finding a solution to the long-standing Bhutanese refugee crisis. And that in the event that concrete results in repatriating the refugees to their homeland are not forthcoming, then alternatives will be explored.

Political will
These statements coming from the highest source proves that this time around, Nepal is quite serious about resolving the issue and there is a political will to bring it into fruition. However, the possibility of the issue being at its concluding phase might not be true in its truest sense. Moreover, the statement that there is a possibility of an alternative solution makes it quite necessary to understand what the alternative is that the Nepali government is looking into.

Before any solution to the present crises is envisaged, it must be made clear as to whose interest is the solution addressing. It must be borne in mind that whatever the present scenario, and the ongoing stalemate over any concrete solutions, the Bhutanese refugee crises is an outcome of a political issue. The only permanent solution to the Bhutanese refugee problem is the establishment of democracy and human rights in Bhutan. Any democratic changes we are trying to achieve must sincerely protect the rights and privileges of all the groups concerned. Otherwise, the search for a concrete solution only means a shot in the dark.

It is true that Bhutan and Nepal are the twin sons of the Himalayan region. There is cultural and religious affinity between the Hindu and Buddhist brethren of these two countries. There is an innate need for the establishment of intimate and cordial relationship between the two nations. But in the desire to maintain friendship, there is that distinct possibility of the Nepalese Government being a part of the decision-making body that would decide the fate of more than 150,000 displaced refugees now and only God knows how many more in the future who would be subjected to a similar fate by the Bhutanese Government. With the desire of the Bhutanese Government to do whatever it takes to protect its vested interests, it is possible that the Bhutanese Government may create a no man's land between two major nations, should the need arise to protect its vested interests.

It is not only cultural affinity but in the changing world scenario, Bhutan and Nepal are going to play a pivotal role. We should all be very aware that today the economic interest of a nation is potentially the most important interest a government tries to protect. All statistics project India and China to play a major role in the economic affairs of the world. They are both achieving tremendous economic growth. The changing world order has made it necessary for these nations to come closer to protect their economic interests.

Now to satisfy the growing needs of their expanding economies, both of these nations need energy. It is well known that one of the major sources of energy to run the economic empires of these gigantic nations will be hydroelectricity, which is one of the major economic resources of both Nepal and Bhutan.

The resources of a nation are the collective assets of the nation, and every decision taken should address the benefits of the citizens of the nation and not a particular group. Unfortunately, in Bhutan, no one has the right to even constructively suggest alternatives to any issues either related to the present context or to the future, such as the use of the natural resources, the right to sell and purchase, land demarcation and the restriction of land ownership and negotiation on treaties between two or more countries. As a result, almost all Bhutanese of diverse ethnic groups have been affected by these monolithic Government policies.

Each and every citizen in Bhutan wants reforms. In such a situation where the people of Bhutan have joined forces with the democratic forces and have been struggling for reforms, the Nepali Government with its long struggle for almost 70 years for freedom should play a pivotal role in seeing that the democratic aspirations of the people are preserved and respected. The only political solution to the present refugee crisis will be the repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees to their motherland.

There have been numerous instances where the Government of Bhutan in order to protect its authority and monopoly has resorted to atrocities. History is replete with examples where those who have raised their voices against the Government have had to lose their lives by being thrown into a river or being forced into exile to become refugees. When it has not spared its relatives, or for that matter their religious leaders or nation heads, then we can expect little from it in protecting the interests of the common citizens.

When it comes to personal interest, there is no scope for anything else. In such instances, the Government does not recognize who is a Ngalong or a Sarchhop or a Lhotshampa. Therefore, even if we are looking at an alternative solution to the present refugee crisis, we should understand that the only lasting solution to the present crises is a political one, and it must necessarily mean the return of genuine Bhutanese to their homeland.

Political changes
It has to be understood that a nation cannot march confidently on the path of progress as long as national decisions are taken from the perspective of a segmented group. At present the Bhutanese Government, being a victim of insecurity arising out of the tremendous changes taking place all around, is not in a position to take clear-headed decisions. On one hand, it fears political changes while, on the other, it is not willing to relinquish its authority over the throne.

(Adhikari is former National Assembly member)

Third country settlement optional: UNHCR official

Third country settlement optional: UNHCR official [ 2006-11-11 ]
By A Staff Reporter
KATHMANDU, Nov. 10: Despite criticisms on the US offer to resettle 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in its country, UNHCR considers it as one of the alternatives for the permanent solution of the refugee stalemate.

UNHCR representative to Nepal, Abraham Abraham said Friday that the issue of resettlement of refugees in the third countries was only an option, it was up to the refugees to decide whether or not they are prepared to take up the offer.

He refuted charges that the resettlement proposal had been brought to the fore at his own interest and said in a democratic set up the refugees cannot be imposed any form of decision either that of the UNHCR or the international community.

Addressing an interaction programme on "What could be an unfailing alternative to resolve the refugee Problem' held today at the Reporters' Club, Abraham said that the minimal survey on the US offer at Beldangi-II camp had revealed that the refugees were interested to take the offer.

He informed that third countries like Australia, Norway, Canada, New Zealand and other EU member countries are willing to resettle 46,000 refugees in their countries. He said that it might take five more months for the repatriation preparation survey.

Asked why the UNHCR favoured the proposal related to the resettlement of refugees in the third countries instead of emphasising on bilateral dialogue Abraham said alternatives need to be explored to allow them start a new life.

"The refugees have been staying in the camps for 15 years and not thinking about alternatives to allow them start a new life would be against the principles of human rights and a crime."

During the interaction, he said that Bhutan had not responded to the UNHCR proposal to resume bilateral dialogue with Nepal. But the UNHCR does not have any objection over Nepal Government's decision to hold bilateral talks with Bhutan.

Nepal and Bhutan are slated to hold bilateral talks on the refugee issue on November 21. The two countries had started the verification of refugees living in the seven camps in eastern Nepal a few years back to initiate the repatriation process. Although the verification of 12,000 refugees from two camps had already been carried out, the process was stalled after the members of the verification team were assaulted.


Bhutanese refugees series- III:Death of the repatriation option?


BHUTANESE REFUGEES CAMPS, Nov 12 - Repatriation. That is what 106,000 Bhutanese refugees languishing in seven camps in eastern Nepal have been looking forward to for the last 16 years. As the years passed, repatriation became more elusive; but it is stronger now than ever before, in the days following the announcement of third country resettlement.
With India always distancing itself on the refugee issue saying it was a "bilateral issue" between Nepal and Bhutan, and the Druk monarch - who is thriving only with India's blessings - ever refusing to heed international outcry and to be moved by his evicted citizens' pains and agonies, the problem seems to be at a turning point.

That's why there is division among the refugees - who have otherwise shared the same pain and lived together for 16 long years - and they have already started to toy with extremist thoughts like considering taking up arms and "destabilizing" India's north-east. They have also started seeing an enemy in their erstwhile friends. A significant share of their anger towards the Druk king, Jigme Singye Wang-chuck, has been directed toward India, for the regional power's perpetual inaction on the issue.

Above all, there is too much polarization taking place among the refugees. In one of its documents, Refugee Rights Coordination Committee has said: "resettlement in third countries in the only option" left for the refugees. On the other hand, a banner hung outside the UN Complex, where the Bhutanese Repatriation Representative Committee (BRRRC) has been staging a sit-in for months, reads: "Repatriation is the only durable solution".

By and large, the refugees still harbor a slim hope on the upcoming Nepal-Bhutan talks scheduled for November 21-22. However, they are not too optimistic. "We certainly hope that the talks will be decisive, yielding some results," says Manorat Khanal, a camp secretary, adding that even if Bhutan agrees to take back its citizens, "100 percent repatriation is never possible". But, another camp secretary, Manoj Rai, feels just the opposite. "This talk won't be decisive," says Rai. "However, after this, those wishing to go to Bhutan should be able to go, those wanting to stay back in Nepal should be allowed to do so, and those agreeing to go to the third countries should also be allowed."

Another refugee, Pingala Dhital, says the refugees want liberation by being out of the camps. "They want liberation from the humanitarian problems," says Dhital.

Back in Kathmandu, Abraham Abraham, chief of Nepal mission of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which has been managing the camps and providing humanitarian assistance since the beginning, says the UN has no energy left to invest for the cause of repatriation.

"How long do you wait?" asks Abraham, the UNHCR Representative in Nepal. "They have lived there and suffered enough for 16 years. You can't indefinitely keep these refugees in the camps year after year." That's why, Abraham says, his office had been looking for resettlement countries in recent years. "Why not go and live somewhere else which is a little bit better and hope that one day you'll be able to go back home?"

Refuting allegations that UNHCR didn't do much for repatriation and did everything possible for third country settlement, Abraham says the first priority always is repatriation. "Repatriation still is the best and happiest solution," says he, adding that UNHCR - in its paper "The Bhutan-Nepal Quandary: The Need for a Comprehensive Solution" submitted to the governments of Nepal and Bhutan in April 2003 - had proposed to keep all three options open.

"Do you just sit back and do nothing, and continue watching the people suffer in the camps?" asks Abraham. "That's why we realized, that from the humanitarian angle, there was a need to try to find out how we can get them away. I am on a humanitarian track, not a political one."

Though the option of repatriation seems elusive, those who think repatriation is the only solution want to somehow involve "unwilling India" in the impasse. But, to date India has given no such indications.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bhutanese in Exile to aware Indian President

Refugees to knock on India prez’s door


NEW DELHI, Nov 11 - Bhutanese refugees languishing in camps in Nepal have warned they will be compelled to take up arms and destabilize north-eastern India if the Indian government continues to ignore them in their efforts for repatriation, a study report said here Friday.
The refugees also plan to present a memorandum to the president of India to seek his help in the repatriation process.

According to the report on the plight of refugees released here, the refugees will wage a movement against India if the latter doesn't respond positively to their demands. The refugees may even take up arms, said the report, adding, "If Bhutanese refugees take up arms, India's north-east will be the center of turmoil, and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs will be held responsible for this," said the report. "And, a problem like that in Palestine will emerge in South Asia."

The report - jointly commissioned by the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and the Group for International Solidarity (GRINSO) and prepared by pro-democracy activists of Nepal, India and Bhutan - will be submitted to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. "The situation of the refugees is too pitiful," it says.

"Now the Bhutanese refugees have started to see the Indian government as the real villain, they are becoming aggressive against India," said the report. "We found the refugees' situation deteriorating," said Dr Sunilam, Indian parliamentarian from Madhya Pradesh, who led the study team.


Bhutan urged to accept refugees
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

The refugees have been living in Nepal since the 1990s
The UN refugee agency has issued a new appeal to Bhutan to take back some or all of 106,000 refugees who left the country 16 years ago.

Forgotten by most of the world, the refugees from Bhutan live in camps in eastern Nepal.

They are dependent on UN food rations and officially forbidden to work.

Their native language is Nepali and they fled Bhutan around 1990, saying they were stripped of their citizenship or expelled for democracy campaigning.

Bhutan, which says it governs on the basis of "gross national happiness", says many of the refugees are not Bhutanese.

But human rights groups called their departure one of the largest ethnic expulsions in modern history.

Refugees divided

The Nepal representative of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, Abraham Abraham, has now said he hopes and prays Bhutan will let them return and urged the isolated kingdom to let his agency operate within its borders to promote this.

Mr Abraham said repatriation was the best solution, but also said refugees should be free to consider recent offers from the United States and other Western countries to accept them as immigrants.

Such offers have bitterly split the refugee population, with some saying such resettlement is their only way out of misery, but others saying it will legitimise ethnic cleansing.

Nepal and Bhutan will shortly hold new talks on the issue.

So far Bhutan has not readmitted a single refugee, despite 15 rounds of talks.

Thousands have applied for TCR- Hari Bangale

Bhutanese refugees gathered at a meeting to come up with a unanimous voice on resolution of the refugee impasse raise hands to say "yes" to organize pressure campaigns for repatriation, ahead of the upcoming Nepal-Bhutan talks, on November 3, in Beldangi-II camp, Jhapa.

3 more countries to take Bhutanese refugees


KATHMANDU, Nov 10 - As the undercurrent of the United States' offer made in October to resettle 60,000 Bhutanese refugees continues to further deepen the division in the refugee community, at least three other countries have agreed with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to make similar offers in a "burden-sharing" effort.
Once they make such an offer, all 106,000 refugees can be resettled in third countries if the refugees are willing.

UNHCR Representa-tive in Nepal, Abraham Abraham said Australia, New Zealand and Canada - plus some member countries of the European Union - have already agreed to resettle refugees in their respective countries. "These are major resettlement countries. They have agreed to consider resettlement of Bhutanese," said Abraham, adding, however, that the countries haven't announced the numbers yet, because - he believes - the exact number of refugees is not known.

Australian Ambassador to Nepal, Graeme Lade, also said that Australia is prepared to "take its share". But, he said all eyes are glued to the upcoming Nepal-Bhutan talks of Nov 21-22, and if the talks fail, his country will be ready to take in refugees. "Nepal government will decide on the numbers," he added. Though the resettlement option has been considered by UNHCR and the international community as all efforts made in the past had been in vain, ordinary refugees back in the camps are deeply divided over the plan.

US offer splits refugees


"Bhutan should immediately take us back, settling us in our own lands. If not, either Nepal should assimilate us here or India should be ready to resettle us there. If they (Bhutan, Nepal and India) are not ready for either option, they should make seven bombs to explode in the seven (refugee) camps and exterminate all the refugees."

That's the theme of a two-page poem by Shiva Prasad Pokharel, an 80-year-old Bhutanese priest - now one among some 106,000 refugees languishing in camps in eastern Nepal since the last 16 years.

The frail-looking Pokharel approached this reporter - with a piece of paper in his hands which were shaking- at the end of a meeting called on November 3 by local refugee leaders to come up with a unanimous voice on resolution of the refugee imbroglio. Disheartened by the meeting held at Beldangi-II camp that was marked by arguments for and against repatriation or third country resettlement (TCR) that nearly turned into a brawl, Pokharel said,"That's the theme of my poem."

"Who wants to go to America?" asks Pokharel, referring to a recent offer made by the United States to resettle 60,000 refugees like himself in that country. "If you talk like this here, violence will immediately erupt. Only three out of 100 refugees say they don't want to go back to Bhutan."

Though the elderly Pokharel speaks the voice of thousands of refugees, other thousands - who think that voluntary repatriation is next to impossible - are strongly in favor of accepting the US offer and similar offers which other countries are "soon to announce", according to UNHCR. Therein lies the division and it is very strong.

Unlike Pokharel, Camp Secretary at Beldangi-II, Hari Bangale, sees no possibility of any dignified repatriation, and says TCR should be considered a robust option.

"Sticking only to the option of repatriation is like becoming a joker. It's like a big-bellied woman saying she is a virgin," Bangale told the gathering at Beldangi-II.

No sooner had Bangale finished his remarks than a young refugee, Chhabi Kharel, 29 - furious at Bangale's figure of speech - stood up from the audience to counter him. "All big-bellied women are not necessarily pregnant. You never advocated repatriation before. Why now?" And, Kharel sees "ulterior motives" in a campaign launched by some refugees in recent days advocating TCR as an option.

As the debate and arguments continued, some of the participants just walked out of the meeting and those remaining were making remarks from all corners.

Bangale further justified his views: "Thousands have applied for TCR. We can strive for repatriation from a third country also. What's there in the stiff insistence on returning only from Nepal? We should explore alternative options lest the 16 years of our plight is not to change for another 15-20 years."

As arguments and counter-arguments continued, another participant, Shree Lal Kafle, 47, said, "It seems we can't organize a joint program. We, who are in favor of repatriation, can't participate in any program (attended by TCR advocates)." Before

Kafle made his remarks, refugee Khem Sandilya, who is editor of Bhutan Jagaran, had said from the dais, "Those who are not for repatriation needn't come to the rallies (likely to be organized as a pressure campaign)."

Hitting out at those who are for keeping open all three options for resolution of the protracted refugee problem - repatriation, local integration and TCR, Kafle said, "Their position has put the nationalistic people in difficulty."

By this time, many of the participants had already walked out of the hall. In his effort to hold them back, Phurba Tamang, former head of Sector E, gave the example of Nepal. "Nepalis don't care about who has organized a mass meeting - be it by Nepali Congress or UML or the Maoists. They go there and listen to what they have to say," he said. "We also should have unity like that."

But, by that time, there weren't many left to listen to him. "When the US made the offer, I also thought at one point, why not go there," Tamang turned more sentimental. "But, I felt that the terraces, fields and soil of my country were beckoning me. Before becoming more attracted to the US offer, remember, there are talks going on (between Nepal and Bhutan). What else do we need if we can go back to Bhutan? We can think about other options if Bhutan again says during the upcoming talks that it is not taking its citizens back."

For refugees living in other camps too, going back to Bhutan is their first priority. "But, the TCR option too should be kept open," said Anjana Gurung, 19, of Pathari camp.

Likewise, in one of its documents, the Refugee Rights Coordinating Committee (RRCC), which is fed up with no progress over repatriation, said resettlement in third countries is the "only option" left for them.

Notwithstanding the things mentioned above, the meeting at Beldangi-II ended on a rather bitter note that Friday afternoon with no unanimity of voice. Against this background, the government and the UNHCR are jointly conducting a census starting November 15, which is also expected to gather the refugees' views on issues like repatriation, local integration and TCR.

Posted on: 2006-11-09 22:10:00

Three more countries to resettle Nepal based Bhutanese refugees

Three more countries to resettle Nepal based Bhutanese refugees

Three more countries in addition to United States have shown willingness to take in Bhutanese refugees staying in eastern Nepal, local The Kathmandu Post daily reported Friday.

"Australia, New Zealand and Canada-plus some other European countries have already agreed to resettle refugees in their respective countries," the English language daily quoted Abraham United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative for Nepal, as saying.

The U.S. had offered to resettle 60,000 refugees in October this year.

"These are the major resettlement countries," he said, adding, however, that the countries have not announced the number yet because, he believes, exact number of refugees is not known.

Australian ambassador to Nepal Graeme Lade also said that his country was ready to 'take its share'. "But, we have to decide in this regard following the result of Nepal-Bhutan talks scheduled for Nov. 21-22," he said

Meanwhile, U.S. offer for resettlement has brought split among refugees with some stressing on repatriation to Bhutan and some others accepting international offers in case repatriation process is not started soon, according to the reports.

There are 106,000 Bhutanese refugees staying at different seven camps in eastern Nepal for last more than one and half decades. The UNHCR has started a census to find out the exact number of refugees.

Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

BHUTAN: Sixteenth Ministerial Talks- Break through unlikely

BHUTAN: Sixteenth Ministerial Talks- Break through unlikely- Update No 58
By Dr.S.Chandrasekharan.

It looks that the sixteenth ministerial talks between Nepal and Bhutan to be held at Thimpu on November 21-21 are likely to end in failure and what is more it will end in further deterioration of relations between the two countries. This much was evident from the statement of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister K.P.Oli made recently at an interactive session conducted by the Centre for Alternate Media (CAM) recently on November 3.

Oli reiterated the stand of the Tek Nath Rijal that the only durable solution is “dignified repatriation” and that Bhutan should hold talks with the refugee leaders. He added that it is Bhutan’s problem and not that of Nepal and that repatriation, democracy and human rights are inter linked.

Oli also indicated that the next round of talks will be final and that Nepal would think of other options in case Bhutan does not agree to total repatriation.

Bhutan is said to have expressed surprise at Oli’s remarks that the problem is that of Bhutan and not that of Nepal. In one sense Oli is right- Nepal did not invite the evicted families from Bhutan to settle in eastern Nepal and it was the Indian authorities who brought them in truck loads to deposit them at the Nepal border.

Indications are that Bhutan would continue to stick to the verification of the refugees in the four categories of 1. Citizens 2. Those refugees who had voluntarily given up their citizenship before leaving Bhutan 3. Those who are not citizens of Bhutan and 4. Those who have been involved in criminal activities within Bhutan. Bhutan would continue to maintain that they would take back categories 1 and 4 who at any rate are not many in number. The bulk of the refugees would come under category 2 but it is doubtful whether they would go back with all the stringent restrictions that have been put forward by the Bhutanese authorities.

Bhutan’s position continues to be inflexible. It would continue to insist on verification, harmonisation and classification into four categories that would take many years. The Nepalese authorities on the other hand are unlikely to agree to any further verification.

Bhutan in turn will also not accept participation of the refugee leaders in any talks for finding a solution. It looks that Bhutan may not even accept the term “refugees” though it is unfair to those citizens and the families who have been forcibly evicted from Bhutan sixteen years ago.

Thus there appears to be no meeting ground between the two countries on the refugee issue and nothing will be gained by the meeting that is supposed to be the last.

Protests Continue:

The refugees have started an indefinite strike in front of the UN House in Kathmandu demanding an immediate but a durable solution to the protracted refugee crisis. Incidents of groups of refugees sponsored by the HUROB ( Human Rights Organisation of Bhutan) and the BGNLF ( Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front ) surreptiously entering Bhutan and getting arrested after demonstrations, continue.

The US Offer:

Both Tek Nath Rijal and HUROB are totally opposed to the US offer of taking 50 to 60 thousand refugees for settlement. It is their view and in line with the position of Nepal Government that it is just not just a humanitarian issue but one that is intertwined with human rights and democracy.

Rijal’s position as is known is-

1. The offer of United States is not the only option to resolve the one and half decade old crisis. (Is there any other realistic option left now?)

2. Instead the US should have put more pressure on Bhutan to take back the refugees to their home land.

3. Third country settlement will not provide a. dignified return to their homeland for those who wish to spend their lives with respect. b. They would rather get their seized properties back and live peacefully with their relatives thereafter in their country- Bhutan. (Here he talks of the older people who long to go back to their native land but their numbers are diminishing. Younger elements who are getting frustrated with no opportunities and nothing else to do will see it differently)

4. Indian Role is a must but India is reluctant to get involved. It is some sections particularly within the Indian bureaucracy who are opposed to the repatriation. (India continues to maintain that it is a bilateral affair though in actual fact, it is a tripartite affair)

5. There is no future for those refugees left out after the resettlement. The US proposal has only brought in confusion among the refugees. ( Here we are talking about genuine citizens who are refugees now. Over 75 percent of refugees would come under categories 1 & 2. Those who in the beginning had no claims for Bhutanese citizenship cannot now claim for third country settlement)

6. He has just one proposal of providing “dual citizenship.” ( This point is not clear- when the refugees are still battling to get their citizenship restored, the question of another citizenship does not arise!)

The HUROB has added certain additional points in opposing third country settlement. These are-

7. The offer of US would encourage Bhutan to evict more southern Bhutanese who have been categorised into groups F5 to F7 in the recent census. The US offer would thus create more refugees and burden to Nepal.

8. The offer would have been more appropriate if done after consultation with refugee leaders and proper studies of the impact on other remaining 40,000 plus refugees and the southern Bhutanese living in Bhutan.

9. There appears to be no concern for the Southern Bhutanese living in Bhutan who are being treated as second class citizens and who are deprived from all government facilities and opportunities.

The HUROB was good enough to concede that it is up to the refugees to decide their fate and destiny. This is precisely what we have been saying that the politicals should not interfere and prevent those who wish to go and who wish their children to have a bright future.

The US may take in about 60,000 refugees over a period of time and countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and other EU countries are also interested in taking some of the refugees for resettlement. This would cover almost all those who wish to go for third country settlement.

The issue of Southern Bhutanese still living in Bhutan has never been brought up and has never been thought of all these years when ‘repatriation with dignity’ was the objective of almost all the refugees. Bringing them in on this issue now will only further complicate matters and place their lives and properties in jeopardy.

It is sixteen years now since the refugee camps were established and we repeat not a single individual has so far been repatriated. Of the 106000 refugees in the camps, over 20 thousand young ones may not even remember their native places where their parents led a prosperous life. The only chance they have now is to go to places where they are welcome and where there have opportunities to have better education and better life. The parents of those having children 20 years and below would rather sacrifice their personal interests and go to such places where their children have a future and not wait indefinitely for return to Bhutan with dignity.

One can understand Rijal’s anger. But his statements and anguish should not complicate the lives of those inside Bhutan and those outside who are willing to take the chance for resettlement. It is understood that roughly 60 percent of those in the camps are for third country settlement. They should be allowed to go no matter what Rijal or the HUROB may think of the adverse consequences. Rather, both should work towards a peaceful settlement and repatriation of the rest of those eligible and are willing to return.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Refugee leaders not happy with US settlement offer

Refugee leaders not happy with US settlement offer

[ 2006-11-6 ]
By A Staff Reporter
KATHMANDU, Nov. 5: Putting their demands and problems before the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Foreign Relation and Human Rights, Bhutanese refugee leaders Sunday said that the third country settlement had brought division amongst the refugees and the refugees were actually in favour of being repatriated to their home country.

In course of preparing its report on the refugee issue the Sub Committee headed by lawmaker Chakra Prasad Bastola conducted interactions with the refugee leaders. The committee has already taken views of the refugee leader Tek Nath Rijal.

Chairman of the National Front for Democracy of Bhutan Thinley Penjore said, "It is unfortunate that America's offer to accept 60,000 refugees has not come officially through Nepal government and it has created confusion in the camps and has created rift among the refugees."Had it come through the government, it would have been brought to the notice of the refugee leaders before going to the people's level directly, he added.

"The offer is not in favour of the refugees as it will only help to resolve labour shortage problem in America and directly support the aspirations of the Bhutanese King for an absolute rule,"Thinley apprised the lawmakers.

"Nepalese Foreign Minister's current visit to Delhi is anticipated to mount pressure on India for their involvement. There are no alternatives than opening space for the refugee leaders to bring an end to the impasse in the bilateral talks between Nepal and Bhutan,"he apprised the committee.

Underlining a regular review on welfare supports to the refugees in order to avoid possibilities for corruption, he demanded for better quality rice saying the rice given at present is virtually uneatable.

President of Bhutan Peoples' Party Balaram Poudyal said the situation of the refugee camps has deteriorated with roofs leaking, no proper ventilation to vent off smoke, no good system for education and around 400 refugees still to be registered.

Third country settlement would not be acceptable as a means of resolving the problem,"Poudyal said.

Other refugee leaders present at the meeting were Jagirman Lama, Jasoda Budhathoki, Diki Yamjom and Tenjing Jangyo.

Assuring that their demands would be incorporated in the parliamentary sub-committee's report, Bastola said that the refugee issue needed logical conclusion, as the issue has been protracted. The sub-committee has already visited different refugee camps.

"We are still firm in the previous stances, first to try to resolve the problem through bilateral dialogue, if that did not happen then including India and globalising the issue if both means did not work."

As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs K. P. Oli said that his talks with Bhutan would be a final at the bilateral front. If it did not resolve the problem, we will go for the second option and then the final option of globalising the issue, Bastola added. Bastola said, "We are in favour of the democratic movement of the Bhutanese."

Lawmaker Surendra Prasad Chaudhary said that the policy and activities of the Bhutan was a crime against humanity and racial discrimination. So, the refugee leaders should start campaign to globalise the issue, Chaudhary added.

Mahendra Yadav, chairman of the Foreign Relation and Human Rights Committee, said that Nepal would always stand with the Bhutanese people and their movement for democracy, as the refugee problem is political one.

Oli to seek clear answer from Bhutan to take refugees

Oli to seek clear answer from Bhutan to take refugees
[ 2006-11-5 ]

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs K P Sharma Oli has said, taking back Bhutanese refugees by Bhutan Government is the solution to the problem.

Deputy Prime Minister Oli was speaking in an interaction programme on the theme of ?What would be the future of Bhutanese refugees?? organised by Center for Alternative Media, Nepal, here today.

Informing about his planned visit to Bhutan on Nov 21 and 22 to solve the problem, Deputy Prime Minister Oli said he will seek clear answer from Bhutanese Prime Minister on taking back refugees.

Stating that refugees have been staying in various camps for last 16 years, he said Nepal Government desires to see the problem solved at the possible earliest.

Deputy Prime Minister Oli, said he will consult with leaders of political parties, intellectuals and human rights activists before he heaves to Bhutan and stressed the need of helping hands to solve the problem and guarantee the fundamental rights of refugees.

?If Bhutanese Government disagrees to take back refugees other option must be sought,? he said. ?There has been proposal to resettle 60 thousand refugees in The United States of America and other countries have also shown the similar interests,? he added.

He said, Nepal, however, has a clear stance that they should be resettled in groups and not in parts by selecting among them.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Chakra Prasad Bastola said problem of Bhutanese Refugees has been gaining interest, in these days, and it has created a better opportunity to expose democratic movement in Bhutan.

He asked Deputy Prime Minister Oli to raise the issues of human rights and present political situation in addition to the refugee problem in talks with Bhutanese Prime Minister.

Human Rights Activists Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti said all the national and international communities should put due influence on Bhutanese to take back refugees, stressing the need for Nepal to advocate for their movement for democracy and human rights.

Chairman of the Center Prajwal Chapagain, Bhutanese refugee leader Dyaso Thinle Benjor, Radha Adhikari and Raghunath Lamichhane also spoke in the programme.

Govt, UNHCR to conduct census of Bhutanese refugees

Govt, UNHCR to conduct census of Bhutanese refugees

The Government of Nepal and the United Nations High Commissioner for refugee are jointly conducting a census of Bhutanese refugees languishing in seven camps of Jhapa and Morang district of eastern Nepal.

A press release issued by the UNHCR said, the census will begin as of 15 November in Beldangi I refugee camp.

“t is intended that the exercise will be carried out on a camp by camp basis over the next few months,” the statement added.

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

“The refugee agency’s newly developed proGres software will be used to log an accurate record of the number of refugees and to collect other related information. A digital photograph will be taken of each individual refugee with the view to issuing photo identity cards after the completion of the census process,”.

“A reliable census data will help the Government of Nepal and UNHCR to provide better protection, security and support to the refugees on the basis of improved documentation on “who is who” and “who is where” to be able to respond to individual needs,” the release quoted UNHCR Representative in Nepal Abraham Abraham as saying.

This census is strongly supported by donor countries such as Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands and the United States among others.

Nearly 106,000 Bhutanese refugees are languishing in seven UNHCR administered camps of eastern Nepal since last 16 years. 15 round of talks between Nepal and Bhutan failed to resolve the refugee deadlock. pb Nov 06 06

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Bhutanese Refugee Crisis And US Resettlement Plan

Bhutanese Refugee Crisis And US Resettlement Plan [ 2006-11-2 ]
By Uttam Maharjan

AFTER 15 rounds of talks have proved unable to produce anything tangible, the Bhutanese refugee crisis has taken a new turn. There has been a mixed reaction from the Nepalese government officials, Bhutanese refugees and refugee leaders to the US announcement that it would resettle upto 60,000 refugees in the United States. It is reported that the refugee leaders are against the US resettlement plan, whereas the refugees are divided, some willing to settle in the USA and the others preferring repatriation to their own home country. The difference of opinion among the refugees is so sharp that there is disagreement among even the members of the same family.

With this development unfolding, Nepal is to hold the 16th round of talks with Bhutan in November 2006. The position of Nepal on the US resettlement plan is expected to be made clear during the parley.

There are about 125,000 Bhutanese refugees languishing in seven camps in Jhapa and Morang. They have been there for the last 16 years, awaiting their dignified repatriation to Bhutan. The Bhutanese refugees are the victims of the Bhutanese government's ethnic cleansing policy. They are Nepalese-speaking people living in southern Bhutan, where they are locally called Lhotsampas.

In the 1990s, the Lhotsampas staged a movement demanding restoration of democracy. In response, the Bhutanese government oppressed the agitators by incarcerating some and forcibly evicting the majority by confiscating papers supporting their citizenship. It is reported that the properties of the refugees have been handed over to the native Bhutanese.

There are over 20,000 Tibetan refugees taking shelter in Nepal. The US resettlement has, however, given preference to Tibetan refugees over Bhutanese refugees. Now, the question arises whether the US plan is going to resolve the refugee crisis for good. The US plan talks of taking away only half the refugees. What about the other half? The plan is silent on many aspects. It does not mention what the fate of the refugees will be after their landing in the US. How will they live their life there? Will they be provided with the amenities of life with high positions or end up being labourers or wage earners?

It is possible that only young, able refugees will be taken to the US, leaving behind children, the old and the weak. Should this happen, Nepal will be in a tight spot, having to look after the disadvantaged refugees. Although the US resettlement plan mentions the gradual resettlement of the remaining refugees in other countries, whether this actually materialises is in the womb of time.

There are still other Nepalese-speaking Bhutanese in Bhutan. When refugees are resettled in third countries, Bhutan may be even more encouraged to evict other people under its ethnic cleansing policy. The Bhutanese parliamentarians are against the repatriation of the refugees. They have repeatedly expressed their disagreement over the repatriation in Tsongdu (Parliament).

The ploys of Bhutan have been unfolding one after another over the last 16 years. First, Bhutan refused to recognize the refugees as bona fide Bhutanese citizens. With the verification of refugees in the Khudunabari camp, it has been clear that not all refugees are non-Bhutanese. The fact has been accepted by Bhutan itself. It is unvarnished truth that Bhutan has been giving Nepal and the world community the run-around. Whenever international pressures seem to mount on it or it has to face international dignitaries, Bhutan would show its alacrity to hold talks with Nepal and solve the problem. When a crucial juncture arrives, Bhutan would back out, making one alibi or the other.

This time around, Nepal and Bhutan have agreed to hold the 16th round of talks in November 2006. The Nepalese side is claiming that this round of talks will be the last and pave the way for solving the refugee problem. During the talks, the US resettlement plan will also be discussed, and attempts will be made to thrash out a permanent solution to the festering refugee imbroglio. Let's hope that the impending round of talks will be really the last one and the refugees will have a chance to come out of the cocoon of refugee status and live as full citizens.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Bhutan Time line

Timeline: Bhutan
A chronology of key events:
1907 -
Ugyen Wangchuck is chosen as hereditary ruler.

Lofty peaks helped to insulate Bhutan from the outside world

1910 - Treaty signed with British giving them control over Bhutan's foreign relations.

1949 - Treaty signed with newly-independent India guaranteeing non-interference in Bhutan's internal affairs, but allowing Delhi influence over foreign relations.

1952 - Reformist monarch Jigme Dorji Wangchuck succeeds to throne.

1952 - National assembly established.


1958 - Slavery abolished. Other social reforms follow in subsequent years.

1959 - Several thousand refugees given asylum after Chinese annex Tibet.

Thimpu, Bhutan's compact capital

1964, 1965 - Prime minister killed in dispute among competing political factions. Unsuccessful attempt to assassinate monarch.

1968 - First cabinet established.

1971 - Bhutan joins United Nations.

1972 - King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck dies and is succeeded by his son, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who continues policy of cautious modernisation.

1974 - First foreign tourists allowed in.

Ethnic tension

1986 - New law granting citizenship on basis of length of residence in Bhutan.

Bhutan has a rich artistic heritage
1988 - Census leads to branding of many ethnic Nepalis as illegal immigrants. New measures adopted to enforce citizenship law. Government also introduces other measures to stress Tibetan-based Bhutanese culture, antagonising minority ethnic Nepali community.

1989 - Nepali ceases to be a language of instruction in schools.

1990 - Violent ethnic unrest and anti-government protests in southern Bhutan pressing for greater democracy and respect for Nepali rights. Bhutan People's Party begins campaign of violence. Thousands of ethnic Nepalis flee to Nepal.

Democracy and human rights

1992 - Leader of illegal Bhutan People's Party sentenced to life imprisonment.

1993 - Bhutan and Nepal try to resolve refugee problem.

Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery clings to the cliff face

1996 - Nepal demands all 80,000 or so refugees should be accepted back by Bhutan.

1997 - Amnesty International raises serious concerns over human rights situation in southern Bhutan.

1998 - King cedes some powers to national assembly, giving up role as head of government; cabinet now elected by assembly; famous "Tiger's Lair" Buddhist monastery damaged by fire.

1999 - Limited television and internet services allowed; several dozen political prisoners released.

2000 - First internet cafe opens in Thimphu; Bhutan hit by landslides following severe flooding in region, causing at least 200 deaths.

Refugee issue

2001 August - Bhutanese, Nepalese ministers meet to discuss the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal. Some 100,000 ethnic Nepalese say they were forced out of Bhutan in the 1980s and 1990s, alleging ethnic and political repression.

2002 January - Indian state of Assam says two rebel groups still have camps in Bhutan, despite Bhutan's deadline for them to leave the country by the end of 2001.

Bhutanese students 2003 December - Bhutanese soldiers fight Indian separatist rebels in an attempt to drive them from their bases in the south of the country.

2005 March - Proposed constitution is unveiled. It envisages a parliamentary democracy and will be adopted or rejected in a referendum.

2005 December - King Jigme Singye Wangchuck says he will abdicate in 2008, when democratic parliamentary elections are held. The crown prince will take over as monarch.

2006 June - August - Bhutanese refugees in Nepal demonstrate over several weeks to press for third-country resettlement.

2006 September - Preparations start in earnest for first ever elections in 2008. Officials begin training for the polls which will appoint a government to take over from the absolute monarchy.