Bhutan, Nepal and Human Rights
Author: Suren Ghaley
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 05/05/2004
Ever since the movement for Democracy and Human rights against the abuses and violation of human rights, arbitrary de-nationalization of Bhutanese citizens, denial of children s education, denial of cultural and linguist rights and forced imposition of discriminatory rules of Laws, more than 135000 Bhutanese citizens, about one sixth of total country population of 780000 have been forcibly evicted from the country by Government since 1989. Around 105000 are living in eastern Nepal as refugees in UNHCR managed camps while rest are living without refugee status in Nepal and India where they are victims to hunger, sickness and education. Some are homeless inside the country with no basic support and their properties and citizenships are also being seized by govt. The crisis has evolved into a protracted disputed with Bhutanese in exile wanting to invoke right to return to Bhutan while Royal Government of Bhutan refuses to allow to entry on the land making the claims that Bhutanese refugees are illegal migrants or anti-national besides Bhutan government challenges that these refugees were never bona-fide citizens but refugees have adequate documentary evidences like citizenship cards and land tax receipts to justify their claims as bona fide Bhutanese. Thus Bhutanese refugees are trapped in protracted situation suffering from lack of attention, fund and assistance as other high-profile crisis around the globe has captured the international attentions and resources.
So far, 15th Round of Bhutan and Nepal Ministerial Joint Committee (JMC) talks has been held to resolve the Bhutanese refugee issue bilaterally but talks came to deadlock in Dec 2003 when it failed to provide the legitimate and real solution to the refugee issue. Instead, Bhutan govt. has gone ahead with distribution of lands and properties owned by refugees, mandatory requirement of Security Clearance Certificate (SCC) for school admission & employment, obtaining citizenship etc; by giving no regards to the on-going steps and attempts and also ignoring the diplomatic pressure from European Commission, some donor countries to Bhutan and other international bodies. This is indeed a confusing signal questioning the sincerity of Bhutan govt. towards the resolution of the refugee issues, which need immediate attention of international bodies including IUSY, European donor to Bhutan. India, as assumed can help to resolve the Bhutanese issue has expressed that it cannot interfere or mediate, under the term of 1949 India-Bhutan Treaty, leaving it to be the domestic affairs of Bhutan. India have been in clandestine, providing all possible material and moral help to Bhutanese Monarchy in its attempt to throttle the surging voice of Bhutanese people s demand for human rights & democracy and for right to return to Bhutan. Nepal, the host country is engulfed in its own problem and UNHCR that provides relief in to refugees declared Voluntary Repatriation as the preference option for the Bhutanese refugees provided India gives right of way through its territory. These reasons might further prolong the refugee issue. As gross human rights situation inside the country is further deteriorating, European Commission has granted an assistance of Euro 15 million to Bhutan from 2002-2007, with out adhering the repeated appeal of Bhutanese in exile.
Bio: For more information
Youth Organization of Bhutan (in exile)
Pathivara Travels, Beldangi Road
Damak-11, Jhapa, Nepal.