The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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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.

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