༄། །བྷུ་ཀྲན་པི་པཱལྶ་པ་ཀྲི།།
Bhutan Peoples' Party  

Refugee Crisis

Bhutan is a member of United Nations since 1971. It has sighed the International Convention Against all forms of Racial Discrimination in 1973 and it is a state party of the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention of the Rights of the Child  since 1981 and 1990 respectably. However, in contravention to its international obligation, the government has forcibly evicted 20% of the country’s population in its operation of ethnic cleansing . In order to expand the autocratic wings of the regime, the government imposed cultural law, affecting entire community of population. Those unwilling to abide by cultural law faced with implementation of regimes depopulation policy using Citizenship Act initially affecting Lhotshampa population. The non-Lhotshampa population as well became victims of the policy as a result of their resistance of the ill vision policy.  The Hindu religion, which existed in Bhutan from time immemorial, has been severely discriminated with ban on teaching of Nepali language in the schools thereby creating serious injustice in its age-old custom and culture.

Bhutanese King despite being a Buddhist himself and upholder of the other religions victimized Nyingmapa monks depriving their rights to practice institutionalized Dharma, including expulsion of His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Chief of Nyingmapa in Eastern Bhutan and imprisonment of Chief Abbot Khenpo Thinley Oezer. Apparently, Sharchhokp and Ngalong communities too have become refugees and since been languishing in the camps in Nepal. The census record of the refugees in the camps shows the figure of more than 108 thousands, besides scores of unregistered refugees living outside the camps in Nepal and India.

In 1990, political movement started in Southern Bhutan, thousands of Lhotshampas participated, supported by Sharchhokps and Ngalongs, followed by the 1997 unrest in the Sharchhokp region. People taking part in the peaceful demonstration of 1990 or those who paid donations to the Bhutan Peoples’ Party were targeted for official harassment. Families whose members were suspected of having involvement in the movement were officially declared as “anti-national”  This resulted in the arrest, torture and killing of monks and common people. The security forces committed rape and torture during the regular house raids.  They burnt or demolished their houses forcing people out of their homes. These circumstances force the people to escape to safety. The 1949 Indo-Bhutan treaty on the other hand did not permit exile Bhutanese to approach India for political asylum.  The Bhutanese refugee problem evolved into a national shape as Sharchhokp, Lhotshampa, Ngalongs and Khengpa too raised their voice for democracy.

To be precise, the Bhutanese refugee problem is deeply rooted in the political crisis.  The atrocious politics played by the government has affected almost all of the common people irrespective of race, religion, language and culture.  There should not be the misconception that victimization is restricted to a single ethnic community or Lhotshampas alone.  Minority though, the exile population comprises people from different ethnicity, culture and religion speaking different languages. None of the common societies whether they belong to Sharchhokps, Ngalongs, Khengpas or the Lhotshampas, have benefited from the socio-economic development except those families who are part of the ruling elite.  The remainders of the population have been subjected to discriminatory policies, and have been deprived of their fundamental rights. Further, the aftermath of the “All Clear Flush out Operation” of the regime-sponsored militant groups from Assam in India victimized the innocent people belonging to the common society who were dragged into prisons on the fabricated allegation of having harbored Indian insurgents.

There is no way that the exile Bhutanese communities could forget their birthplace from where they were forced to leave, leaving behind long inherited ancestral properties.  History stands witness to the political atrocities meted to various sections of Bhutanese community initially targeting key political persons and later victimizing innocent people.

The Bhutanese authority is empowered to continue the implementation of its age-old repressive policies regardless of its creation and prolongation of the refugees’ crisis and massive violation of human rights. ”Since the erring king needs global convincing”, the global world community should campaign against adding the RGOB by donor countries for its pretext of national developments to get Bhutan realized the importance of resolving the crisis at the earliest. It may be noted that Bhutan had used the aids and energies of donors to tactically and successfully uproot and evict the citizens in the late 80s and 90s making them stateless and refugees.

Bhutan Before 1991

Bhutan After 1991

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