Bhutan Peoples' Party
Many people think that the Bhutanese refugees should have been in India. They should not have been in Nepal. India being the largest multiparty democratic nation, the closest neighbor of Bhutan, and given the historical background of relationships between the two nations, it would have been only natural for the Bhutanese refugees to stay in India. It is in this context that is justifiable on our part to express our dismay at the persistent statement of India on the Bhutanese refugee issue, which is viewed as a Bhutan-Nepal bilateral concern only.
To be precise, India, besides being the closest neighbor and having age-old friendship is responsible for the modernization of Bhutan. India helped Bhutan in the establishment of modern government, and provided assistance for infrastructure development. The development wing consisting of Education, Health, Public Works Department, Forests, Land Survey, Irrigation, Manpower, Wireless and Telecommunications and the Police Training Team etc. were mostly managed by professionals and technical staff members, mostly on deputation from India.
The projects and programs meant for rural development and welfare included Education, Malaria Eradication, Agriculture Land Terracing, Irrigation Channel Constructions, Geological Survey, Construction of Suspension Bridges and Drinking Water Supply schemes under the management of expatriates from India. The Census of Bhutan was also initiated with the help of India for the first time in 1964 and completed in 1974.
The development projects beginning in the First Five Year Plan in 1961 up until 1980 were managed with the involvement of the Indian Planning Commission. There was a division in the Central Secretariat in Bhutan looking after the implementation of the entire development projects headed by the Financial Advisor. The Indian Military Training Team continues to exist in Bhutan to this day with its headquarters in Haa Dzongkhag. Major parts of the National Highways continue to be under the Indian Road Task Force, the GREF. In each and every field of development, Indian expatriates were involved.
The Indian embassy had been regularly represented in all the sessions of Bhutan’s Parliament. The National Assembly Resolutions used to reach to Indian Embassy even before it reached the people. In the later years, India’s economic development packages included projects in Hydro Power dealing with a mass workforce and contractors from Bhutan who collaborated with contractors from India. The working expatriates associated with the village people knew not only Bhutanese language and customs but also other rich aspects of the heritage of Bhutan, which even Bhutanese themselves, were not well oriented. India has the knowledge of Bhutan even better than its own people. It therefore becomes the moral responsibility of India to get involved in bringing about an amicable and durable solution to the Bhutanese problems. For this reason, we turn to India for bringing Bhutan to the dialogue table in resolving the protracted political crisis of Bhutan.
Bonafide Bhutanese Citizens:
No government of the world can expel their bona-fide citizens from their country, as under the Statelessness UN Convention 1949, no one can be a stateless. Therefore, this criterion totally violates international law.
This criterion is also defective because the Bhutanese authority can only cease the nationality of the Bhutanese people once they are declared the bonafide citizens of another country like India or Nepal. Without the observance of these related documents, Bhutan cannot cease their nationality and fix the criteria of voluntary migration. Therefore, it is also another example of creating stateless which is the gross violation of Domestic Citizenship Laws and other international laws and Statelessness Law of 1949.
Alien Migrants / Non-national:
If Bhutanese residing in exile were non-nationals it was the duty of the Bhutanese authorities to prove it before the Court of Justice under the due process of the law. But the Bhutanese authorities expelled its citizens arbitrarily which is the gross violation of Article 7 of the European Convention on Fundamental Freedom for Human Rights1950, UDHR 1948 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. Therefore, this criterion is also illegal.
Under the principle of Criminal Justice System, no one is declared guilty unless it is proved guilty by a competent court but in the Bhutanese case, they were never charged by the police, never persecuted before the court and never declared by the apex court as the criminals. Secondly, even if they had committed crimes, the trial should be taken place in Bhutan and not in host country. In this scenario, this criterion has totally violated the basic principles of the criminology.
The Bhutanese refugee problem is purely a by-product of a pre-intended regime’s political ambition. So, unless it is being addressed with political will and wisdom, lasting solution to the crisis has been envisaged improbable and far beyond the horizon of the political vision of the Bhutanese people.
Above all, eviction of citizens from the south and depriving the common people of their fundamental rights followed by displacement of ignorant people against their will and shifting them at gun point to settle in the lands of the exiled citizens altogether has jeopardised the ever harmonious coexistence of the diverse population.
Bhutan Before 1991
Bhutan After 1991