The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Bhutanese refugees divided over US offer

KATMANDU: Bhutanese refugees at camps in Nepal are bitterly divided over a US offer to resettle tens of thousands of them, with those wanting to hold out for a return to Bhutan threatening those who favor going to America, a rights group said Thursday.

More than 100,000 ethnic Nepalis - a Hindu minority in Bhutan for centuries - have been living as refugees in Nepal since the early 1990s, when they were forced out by Bhutanese authorities who wanted to maintain the country’s dominant Buddhist culture.

While Bhutan, the world’s last Buddhist kingdom, is slowly moving toward democracy, it refuses to allow the refugees to return, claiming most left voluntarily and renounced their citizenship. The result has been a festering stalemate that Washington tried in part to resolve last year by offering to resettle 60,000 of the refugees. ap

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