The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Bhutanese camp under curfew in Nepal 2007-05-28 15:39:48

KATHMANDU, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The government of Nepal's Jhapa District Monday issued a curfew order in the refugee camp in Beldangi as tensions soared, the local leading media group's website THT Online reported.

The situation on Monday worsened at the Bhutanese refugee camp in Beldangi, some 310 km east of the capital Kathmandu, following the death of a refugee in a clash with Nepali armed police force on Sunday.

In Monday morning, at least six persons including two policemen were injured as clashes continued between the refugees and the police.

The district administration office imposed a curfew in the Beldangi area from 11:45 a.m. (0600 GMT).

Protesting refugees defied the curfew order and continued demonstrations. Police and refugees exchanged stones, and police rained lathis to control the irate refugees.

Nara Pati Dhungel, 17, was killed Sunday when police opened fire after refugees attacked a police team that had gone to the camp after receiving information that refugees were engaged in a fight.

The fight between two groups of refugees, one in favor of the third country resettlement and another for repatriation, broke out following a dispute with Hari Bagale Adhikari, secretary of the camp.

Meanwhile, India sealed its border with Jhapa to foil the refugees' plan for a return to Bhutan Monday.

With the objective of realizing their wish of repatriation, 15,000 out of 106,000 Bhutanese refugees of all the seven camps in Nepal are planning to head towards Bhutan by crossing the Mechi bridge into India.

The march is called on by the National Front for Democracy (NFD-Bhutan). The NFD-Bhutan has already appealed to the Indian government to allow them to walk through India into Bhutan. In the past, Indian security forces always stopped the refugees from crossing into India.

Editor: Xiao Jie

Other source says

Curfew clamped on Bhutanese refugee camp as tension escalates
Posted : Mon, 28 May 2007 07:52:01GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Asia (World)

Kathmandu- An indefinite curfew was imposed Monday on a refugee camp in eastern Nepal after Bhutanese refugees ran amok, attacking security personnel over the shooting death of a refugee by police, officials and local journalists said. The local administration imposed an indefinite curfew on Beldangi camp in Jhapa district, 400 kilometres east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, as the situation worsened, with the refugees reportedly opening fire on the police.

"At least half a dozen police officers have been injured in the clashes. Two officers sustained bullet injuries after they were shot by refugees," a regional police official in the town of Birtamod said.

According to local journalists, the situation is fast spiraling out of control.

"The refugees have clashed with police despite the curfew. Groups of refugees have organized themselves, attacking officers, and the situation is out of police control," local journalist Chetan Adhikari told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Adhikari said police had fired several rounds of teargas and fired live ammunition into the air to disperse the rioting mob.

The tensions rose on Sunday after the police, trying to control fighting between opposing refugee groups, shot dead a 16-year-old refugee when the mob turned on the officers.

The two groups reportedly clashed over accusations by one of the group members that "certain refugees" were carrying weapons and intimidating people favouring third-country resettlement.

One group, which insists repatriation to Bhutan as the only viable solution to the 16-year-old crisis, also set fire to camp management offices Sunday evening.

Earlier this month the New York based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said tensions were building in refugee camps in eastern Nepal over the United States' decision to resettle as many as 60,000 refugees.

HRW said refugees in favour of resettlement in the United States were being threatened with violence by those who saw repatriation back to Bhutan as the only solution.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, there are just over 104,000 Bhutanese refugees, mostly ethnic Nepalese, living in seven UN-run camps in eastern Nepal. The refugees began arriving in Nepal in the early 1990s during alleged acts of persecution by the Bhutanese government based on cultural, lingual and religious differences.

Some other countries including Norway and Canada have also said they will resettle refugees but have not made public the numbers they are willing to take in.

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