The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Address the refugee impasse

Published on Jun 09 2006 // MAIN NEWS
Honorable Prime Minister,
Refugees languishing in eastern region of Nepal since 15 years with a hope of returning home are facing new problems day-by-day. On behalf of Nepali Civil Society, we would like to draw your attention in the following matters.

1. Establish a permanent commission for refugees
It would be better if Nepal government could form a permanent commission to deal with refugee problem that can study past trials and form future strategies and take initiatives to find the solution.

2. Security of Tek Nath Rizal
Leader of Bhutan’s democratic and human rights movement, Tek Nath Rizal is in Nepal since two and half years. Security of Rizal, settlement of his family and management for his living is our responsibility. We demand you to manage this.

3. Talks with India Government
Bhutanese refugee problem in Nepal is not only of two countries, it is necessary to involve India directly in the process. In the ‘Peace and Friendly 1949’ treaty between India and Bhutan, it is clearly mentioned that Bhutan’s foreign policy is guided by India. Accordingly, India shouldn’t cite any reasons considering Bhutanese refugee mess a problem between Nepal and Bhutan only. Thus, Nepal government should hold talks with India regarding the same.

4. Evaluation of loss wealth and property
Refugees who were made homeless and forcibly evicted from the country are citizens of Bhutan staying there since generations. Their properties are still in Bhutan. We seek international community to help collect details of how much property of these people was seized, of what worth houses were burnt, how many people were sentenced to death and imprisonment.

5. Proper Educational Environment
With the cut in facilities by UNHCR, it is unable to pay reliable salary to camp based teachers. As a result there are no able teachers in camp schools. Students who pass secondary level from camps are facing problems for higher education. If steps be taken towards standardizing the educational system in camps and for further studies, the future of refugees would be secured.

6. Health Problem
Health treatments in refugee camps have taken deteriorating form. Many refugees are bound to die due to drugs shortage. The people with diseases uncured with limited treatment have different obstacles to receive proper treatment outside camps. We request to organize proper health treatments in camps and outside camps as well for treatment of diseases with high expenditure.

7. Handicrafts selling-distributing and showroom
Refugees staying in camps produce handicraft materials. If a show/selling room could be managed in Katmandu or some appropriate areas, those handicraft products of refugees can get a market which can give them small earning.

8. Regarding cut in kerosene oil
There has been an excessive cut in facilities provided to refugees. Citing fuel price hike, UNHCR has replaced kerosene with briquette coals. We request in pressurizing UNHCR to make available kerosene oil or LP gas instead of coal which is injurious to human health.

9. Appointment of legal advisor
Refugee issue has both legal and political aspects. This problem, an interest of international community, is beyond international law, agreements that Bhutan has created. As there is a need of legal advice to present this problem in international forums, Nepal government should institute a Legal Advisory Group.

10. Special identity card for refugees
Refugees, who are living in border, sometimes for health treatments and other reasons need to move to-and-fro India. It is necessary for Bhutanese refugees, who are neither Nepalese citizen nor Indians, to carry cards so that they can be identified.

Honorable Prime Minister,
From a long experience in democratic movements, as a government head and senior politician, you are aware of the problem. We are also informed of your faith towards this problem. Thus, we are hopeful that the points mentioned above will be addressed with additional sensitiveness.

On behalf of human rights and civil society movement

1. Dr. Devendra Raj Pande- Former minister
2. Daman Nath Dhungana- Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
3. Padma Ratna Tuladhar- Human Rights Activist
4. Krishna Pahadi- Human Rights Activist
5. Kedar Bhakta Mathema- Former Ambassador
6. Ragina Upadhaya- Artist
7. Yadhay Kharel- Cine Artist
8. Subod Raj Pyakurel- Chirman, INSEC
9. Charan Parsai- Chairman, Human Rights Organization of Nepal
10. Dr. Govinda Raj Bhattarai- Professor
11. Hem Raj Gyawali- Chairman, Kantipur Publications
12. Purushotam Dahal- Human Rights Defender
13. Bishnu Bivu Ghimire- Chairman, Sajha Publication
14. Bharat Bhurtel- Journalist

(Summary of Full text letter to PM Koirala before his departure to New Delhi)
(unofficial translation)

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