APFASnews Archive December 2006

Refugees or ready-made-terrorists?
Nepalese DPM raises objection against PM’s statement
RRCC objects PM’s statement
People in camps are terrorists, says Druk parliamentarian
Helping hand distributes clothes
Rules on political party formation (REPRODUCTION)
Seven in the first batch of resettlement
Nepalese PM denies third country settlement
Non-register demands facilities
National Assembly to discuss in issue of exiled Bhutanese
No food after January 1
Bhutanese refugees: Big brother doing small
Oman king greets HM Jigme Khesar
Rizal becomes ill again
Demonstrations organized in Indo-Nepal border
Exiled Bhutanese demonstrate in Phuentsholing
Nepalese leaders express support for repatriation
National Day celebrations in camps
Nepal and Bhutan must solve refugee crisis: Indian FM
Bhutan’s new ruler addresses public on National Day
Translation of Royal Kasho (REPRODUCTION)
HM Jigme abdicates throne!
US would not withdraw its proposal
Bhutan and India sign border agreement
Bhutan is No 2 human rights violator
ULFA crawls back to Bhutan
Nationalist movements span globe (REPRODUCTION)
Cold weather hits camp life
Mishap injures exiled Bhutanese youth
BMSC delegation interacts with Indian media
Leaders met Nepalese PM
King urged to guarantee human rights
86th session to pass significant bills
Pressure to expel Bhutanese teachers
Leaders stress repatriation, Australian diplomat visits camp
Bhutan absconding from repatriation
Census in Beldangi-I ends this week
ULFA involvement in Phuntsholing blast: DGP of Assam (UPDATE)
Pranab Mukherjee to invite King for SAARC Summit
Bomb blast in Phuntsholing
Nepalese leaders vow their continued support to movement


Refugees or ready-made-terrorists?
By T P Mishra
Bhutan’s foreign minister Khandu Wangchuk on December 27 has said that bringing back the “highly-politicized camp people” into Bhutan would mean importing ready-made-terrorists. It is learnt that while addressing the Druk parliament, Wangchuk claimed many in the UNHCR-sponsored camps are listed as both “refugees and Maoist members.”

Actually, these sorts of statements made by the Druk lords are the tactics to derail the repatriation process of Bhutanese refugees. Foreign minister Wangchuk is quoted as saying “a large number of people in the camps are supporting and joining the Maoist movement in Nepal”.

This makes us clear on the repatriation process that Bhutan never wanted to take back the refugees though it agreed to form a joint verification team. It also sends a clear message to Nepal and international community that the Druk regime wanted Nepal to settle the issue alone. Now Bhutan will blame Nepal if the situation as described by Wangchuk is real.

Bhutan’s well-planned tactics to divert the attention of the refugee plight is working. Although India knows it that the Druk dictator rendered the one-fifth of the population stateless, Bhutan employs, under the Indian guard, the propaganda to outweigh the repatriation process.

The recent statement terming the refugees as “ready-made-terrorists” is no exception, the trouble shooters continue to take the refugee repatriation process as just Nepali efforts rather than that of the international community.

The political exercise in the run up to the signing of Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Accord was a means to influence Bhutanese refugees. It is too early for Bhutan to claim the involvement of Bhutanese refugees in Maoist activities. It must provide evidences, first. If the Bhutanese refugees are real ‘terrorists’, as claimed by the foreign minister of an absolute regime, why are the UNHCR and other international aid agencies rendering their assistance?

Bhutan should also learn a lesson that these refugees are victims of Bhutan’s ethnic cleansing. The lawless nation has no mantle to it otherwise.

During the early 1990s, when the Bhutanese were forcefully evicted, Bhutan imposed ‘Security Acts’ which resulted in gross violation of human rights. Hundreds of innocent people lost their lives. A number of them from Southern Bhutan were imprisoned and tortured. A number of them are still missing. The whereabouts of these detainees is still unknown. Women and young girls were raped by the security personnel.

The international community should help the refugees form probe commission to investigate into these atrocities. We are waiting for the moment to come. It takes time no matter how long it will be.

Can the Bhutanese foreign minister call the one-fifth of the total population terrorists? The foreign minister must tell the truth — how it deBhutanized the one-fifth of the population and why he calls them now terrorists. Does it mean that the Bhutanese have no right to voice against the discriminatory royal edicts?

A country run without constitution should see into what it has treated its citizens rather than terming the innocent refugees terrorists.

Bhutan has neither allowed human rights activists to set up its office, nor has any international human rights organization investigated the atrocities meted out to ethnic minorities. The freedom of press and expression is unknown to the Bhutanese nationals. The people are treated as subjects and the so called the largest democratic country continues to ignore the incidents of human rights violation. India has no right to advocate freedom and democracy so long as it protects an autocratic regime under its armpit.

The foreign minister of Bhutan has said that “the camps have been infiltrated by Maoist elements, and several radical parties like the Bhutan Communist Party, Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Bhutan Revolutionary Students Union have been formed with the declared objective of carrying out an armed struggle to overthrow the government of Bhutan”.

It is worth mentioning here that Bhutan called “terrorists” are democrats and they have been fighting for their rights. Bhutan has to yield to democratic forces sooner than later. Bhutan must acknowledge the fact that the one-fifth of the population are looking for a peaceful transition of power from the king to the people.

The Bhutanese refugees believe in democracy, human rights and a peaceful means of fighting for their rights. It is also true but sad that Bhutan cannot ignore the plight of the refugees who are slowing dragging the Druk dictators to the international court of justice for the crimes they have committed in the early 1990s.

The Bhutanese leaders should admit that the crimes they have committed. They must pay due attention to resolve the refugee impasse. The delay in the refugee repatriation is not denying the refugees’ right to return Bhutan, but it is constricting the throat of the autocratic regime that continues to violate human rights and treats its citizens as mere subjects. The current propaganda that Bhutan will hold elections to elect parliamentarians is nothing but a hollow exercise to cover up the atrocities committed by the century-old autocratic regime.

The statement that the “refugees are ready-made-terrorists” is just an attempt to draw the attention of the international community. But it cannot easily ignore the atrocities meted out to the one fifth of the population simply calling terrorists when it knows how it evicted them. Bhutan must seek a peaceful solution to the refugee problem before it is too late.

(The writer is President of the Third World Media Network-Bhutan Chapter Source: The Kathmandu Post, December 29, 2006)

This entry was posted in Opinion on December 29, 2006 by Editor.

Nepalese DPM raises objection against PM’s statement
New Delhi, December 29: Terming the remarks made by Prime Minister about exiled Bhutanese in Nepal as “serious and negative,” Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister, who also holds the portfolio of foreign minister, K. P. Oli raised serious objections.

Nepali media reports quoted Oli as saying, “Serious attention of Nepal government has been drawn by these remarks.”

Totally rejecting the remarks made by the PM, Oli said they were disrespectful of the whole issue and also of the bilateral relations. PM Khandu Wangchuk on his address to National Assembly recently, had accused that majority of exiled Bhutanese languishing in camps in Nepal were engaged in Maoist activities. He had added that there could not be any dialogue with any representative of the exiled Bhutanese. Wangchuk also rejected Nepal government’s assertion that the issue was primarily an issue between Bhutanese government and its people.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal in a statement expressed surprise over the remarks. It has said that the Nepal government was regularly monitoring the camps and that there is no intrusion by any untoward elements there. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 29, 2006 by Editor.

RRCC objects PM’s statement
Kathmandu, December 29: Refugee Rights Coordination Committee has objected the statement by Prime Minister Khandu Wangchuk that exiled Bhutanese are terrorists.

In a statement, chief coordinator of the committee N. B. Giri said, “Politically conscious people within Bhutan and outside favoring a multi–party system in Bhutan are committed to institutionalization of principal of rule of law.”

“The loyalty of the exiled Bhutanese to the country is unmatched as they have never undertaken an armed reprisal against the Government of Bhutan even after sixteen years of eviction from country to a foreign soil to face humiliation and rejection. The magnanimous gesture of the exiled Bhutanese shows that they encourage non-violence to a peaceful transition to a democratic form of Government in Bhutan, the statement reads.

Bhutan is not concerned to solve the problem but sure to invite problems. Wangchuk “wants the exiled Bhutanese to raise arms against Bhutan Government,” Giri said.

“The whole world knows that Royal Government of Bhutan is anarchist, undemocratic and against the U N Human Rights norms. Foreign Minister is a liar. He is unaware that the exiled Bhutanese are manned by International bodies like UNHCR, LWF, various INGOs and the Government of Nepal. How can a exiled Bhutanese think about armed revolution when they are living in the camps survived with the donated yet, meager foods for survival?”

“Exiled Bhutanese may be non–national, economic migrants and terrorist in the eyes of the Royal Government of Bhutan but not to the Bhutanese people and to the world. Forget about our repatriation, the royal government of Bhutan wants to bring more trouble to the exiled Bhutanese. They want us to starve to death. They want us to perish in the camps. They are even jealous of our resettlement in the US and other countries as it would mean peace and prosperous life to the Bhutanese refugees. The cruel Bhutanese minister wants to tarnish our image labeling us terrorist.”

“We comprehend that repatriation back to Bhutan though is the principal solution it is not practicable as per the present situation. We cannot encourage repatriation nor can we advise or undertake any types of exercise, which would coerce the exiled Bhutanese to return to Bhutan making their life in danger. Above all, the statement of the foreign minister of Bhutan indicates total failure of peaceful repatriation.”

“Although, resettlement is the last option, it is an extremely important protection tool as well as a durable solution under the prevailing situations with us. Thus, we would like to appeal the Government of Nepal not to waste any more time trying to negotiate with Bhutan for our repatriation as without concrete democracy and removal of monarchy from Bhutan our life cannot be secured in Bhutan. Exiled Bhutanese must not be kept as political card in the camps by any political institution. Exiled Bhutanese need a place to live a normal life before anything else.” Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 29, 2006 by Editor.

People in camps are terrorists, says Druk parliamentarian
Thimphu, December 28: The Druk parliamentarians have claimed that the exiled Bhutanese are stepping towards terrorism and to repatriate them would be exporting ready-made terrorist.

During the Wednesday session, Foreign Minister Khandu Wangchuk briefed the assembly on the status of the Bhutan – Nepal bilateral talks on the problem of exiled Bhutanese.

After several parliamentarian pointed out that the “people in the camps” were a threat to the security of Bhutan despite repeated efforts to solve the problems mutually, the Speaker, Ugen Dorje, asked the foreign minister to brief the house.

Foreign minister said Bhutan has offered to take back those people in category 1 and category 4 from Khudanabari camp wishing to return to Bhutan.

Khandu Wangchuk strongly claimed that the camps have been infiltrated by Maoist elements and several radical parties like the Bhutan Communist Party, Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Bhutan Revolutionary Students Union have been formed with the declared objective of carrying out armed struggle to overthrow the government of Bhutan.

The minister also expressed his deep concern on the infiltration into the camps by the Maoist elements and the formation of radical parties in Nepal. “A large number of people in the camps are supporting and joining the Maoist movement in Nepal. They are listed as both refugees and Maoist members,” he said. “Allowing the highly politicized camp people into Bhutan would mean importing ready made radical political parties and terrorists to duplicate the violence, terror, and instability the Maoists have unleashed in Nepal.” He also expressed concern on the growing nexus between the militant elements in the camps and the Indian Maoists and Naxalities and insurgent groups who where flushed out of Bhutan in 2003.

Majority of parliamentarian submitted that the people should not be allowed to return at all.

Talking to BNS, one of the parliamentarians on condition of anonymity, said that Bhutan would step towards further complication if the repatriation process is derailed. “As I am one from very handful parliamentarian to supporting repatriation process, I could not speak in the session” he said, adding, “I would soon resign from the post if the unimproved situation continues.”

Meanwhile, the foreign minister reassured the members that the talks would be carried out based on the agreements signed between the two countries, the Citizenship Act of Bhutan, Immigration laws, and the resolutions passed by the National Assembly of Bhutan. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 29, 2006 by Editor.

Helping hand distributes clothes
Beldangi, December 28: Helping hand- Bhutan, a social organization established in July 2005 with an aim of promoting social activities, has distributed at least 150 pieces of clothes to most vulnerable people in Beldangi-II.

According to its Coordinator GS Giri, the organization had collected those clothes from different schools in Kathmandu. “This sort of help in midst of the assistance curtailed by aid agencies would certainly help people in camps to manage their basic living”, Giri said.

Helping hand-Bhutan initially named as Bhutan Students Circle (BSC) earlier also distributed about 300 pieces of clothes to fire victims in Beldangi-I.

Currently, donor agencies including the UNHCR have curtailed the budgets for clothing to exiled Bhutanese. People in camps are already reported to have faced shortage of woolen clothes with the cut-short in facilities. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 28, 2006 by Editor.

Rules on political party formation (REPRODUCTION)
December 23, 2006: Any registered voter, except apolitical bodies like civil servants, servicemen, and members of royal family, truelku, lam or a religious personality is eligible to join or form political parties, according to election commission officials.

“A notification for registration would be issued in the near future so that any interested parties can start registering with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB),” said chief election commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi.

The ECB has prepared the draft rule on political party formation, which will guide the formation of political parties in the country.

This comes at a time when active informal politicking is already happening.

The rule, which observers say should be approved at the earliest, covers the structure and roles of a political party, its charter, obligations, code of conduct, and their dissolution.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said that while there is no academic qualification needed to become a member of a party, a member who is considered for positions in the parliament should fulfill the qualifications criteria enshrined in the Election Act.

The present National Assembly members can also join or form political parties, but they would have to fulfill the criteria laid down in the Election Act.

According to the draft rule, a party should register itself with the commission within one month of its formation signed by the leader of the party.

The party should have a name, election symbol, name of the dzongkhag in which its head office would be, and name of its president, secretary, and treasurer.

According to election commission officials, a civil servant must resign from service to join a political party.

Asked if corporate employees could take part in politics, the chief election commissioner said that a corporate employee could participate as long as their corporate policy allowed and no other laws are violated. “However, if they become a candidate or are elected to elected posts they will not be entitled to hold and office of profit,” he said.

Although the date of registering parties has not been announced, a registered political party should have a written charter declaring that it would be broad-based, demonstrated by its cross national membership from all the dzongkhags.

“The party should commit to the national cohesion and should not restrict its membership based on region, gender, language, religion or status,” the draft rule states.

A political party should have an executive committee with elected members which would be the highest decision making body in the party.

Political parties are also mandated to appoint a party secretary responsible for the management and administrative of the party, a treasurer to record annual accounts and election returns to the ECB, and an internal auditor to check the legalities of all election receipts and expenses.

The ECB will disqualify and refuse to register a party if a party does not conform to the provision of the Election Act, name or symbol of a party identifies with a community, religion, or region.

“A party with a military or para-military structure and business concerned parties would be not registered,” the draft rule states.

A political party would be dissolved by the Supreme Court if the objectives and activities of the party contravene the provisions of the constitution, according to the draft rule.

The Supreme Court could also dissolve a party that receives money or assistance from foreign sources or if it has solicited or resorted to collection of funds from private individuals or agencies other than from its registered members.

The ECB would also remove a party’s name from the Register of Political Parties if a party has obtained registration through fraud or forgery, has contravened the election code of conduct prescribed in the Election Act.

If a party fails to secure at least 10 percent of the total valid votes cast at two successive primary rounds of election to the National Assembly, it will be removed from the register according to the draft act.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said that ECB would monitor the political parties and their conduct while media and parties themselves would monitor each other’s conduct.

The draft rule, which contains a code of conduct for political parties, states that a party, its members, representatives or workers shall not obstruct or break up meetings of other parties or members.

Parties will not allowed to fix posters or banners of any size as part of election campaign other than those specified by the commission.

The ECB would call fresh elections if only two or less parties submit their intention to contest the primary round of elections.

Kuenselonline, December 23.

This entry was posted in Main News on December 24, 2006 by Editor.

Seven in the first batch of resettlement
Kathmandu, December 24: Seven exiled Bhutanese of Beldangi camp arrived Kathmandu to leave Nepal for resettlement in Canada on Sunday.

Madan Giri and his family members of Beldangi II camp arrived here, refugee coordination unit under Nepal’s home ministry said.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) had asked western countries including Canada for resettlement of exiled Bhutanese. Canada accepted the proposal.

Nepalese government has given its consent to the proposal. However, it still remains unclear as to when the Giri family will leave Kathmandu for Canada. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 24, 2006 by Editor.

Nepalese PM denies third country settlement
Kathmandu, December 23: Nepalese Prime Minister Giriaja Prasad Koirala has said he has asked the US government to help the exiled Bhutanese land into Bhutan at least for one day before taking them to the US.

During his meeting with the delegation of the senior Bhutanese leaders at his residence in Baluwatar on Friday, Koirala said he urged the US to respect the right to return of the exiled Bhutanese. He informed the exiled leaders that he talked on this issue with the US assistant minister Richar Boucher during his recent visit to Nepal.

American government has been saying that it is willing to take at least 60,000 of the exiled Bhutanese for permanent settlement. Exiled Bhutanese leaders quoted Koirala as saying that Nepal government is holding regular discussions with the Indian government on this issue.

“We are committed to solve this problem at the earliest possible. Please take patience,” Koirala urged.

Koirala also said he would ask his foreign ministry to let him know what the ministry is doing on this matter. Tek Nath Rizal, who was admitted to Man Mohan Memorial hospital for treatment, was driven to prime minister’s residence directly from the hospital to attend the talks. Other members of the delegation are Thinley Penjor of Druk National Congress, president of Bhutan People’s Party Bala Ram Poudel and president of Bhutan Women Association Jasuda Budathoki. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 22, 2006 by Editor.

Non-register demands facilities
Beldangi, December 22: Non-registered Bhutanese in exile have strongly demanded for their registration in the ongoing census at Beldangi-II.

Talking to BNS, Khadka Singh Chauhan, who is currently residing in Sector ‘C’ said that they would be bound to launch protest programs to mount pressure if the UNHCR couldn’t register them and provide the assistance that other exiled Bhutanese are receiving.

Another non-register exiled Bhutanese on condition of anonymity informed BNS that only interviewing them is not adequate. “We should also get facilities provided by the UNHCR” he added.

Sources from the UNHCR said that they are seriously considering the issue of non-registered. It is learnt that non-registered are also interviewed during the census. Bhutan News Service/T.P.Mishra

This entry was posted in Main News on December 22, 2006 by Editor.

National Assembly to discuss in issue of exiled Bhutanese
Thimphu, December 22: The 86th session of the National Assembly for the first time is set to begin discussion on exiled Bhutanese living in Nepal for last 17 years.

The 86th session of the National Assembly has begun Friday in Thimphu amidst traditional ceremonies.

His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck graced the opening ceremony. The formal inauguration was attended by members of the royal family, senior representatives of from executive, judiciary and legislative, members of the international community anda few public.

Dasho Rinzin Gyeltshen, the Zhung Kalyon presented the report on the status of the implementation of the resolutions passed by the 85th session. The report of the Public Accounts Committee was also presented.

According to sources at Assembly, the Judicial Service Bill of Bhutan 2007, the Immigration Bill of Bhutan 2007 and the Draft Labor and Employment Bill 2007 have been submitted for endorsement in this session.

The has been looked at winning the support of the pepople in southern Bhutan. Leaders have taken it cautiously.

The session will end on January 8. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 22, 2006 by Editor.

No food after January 1
Kathmandu, December 22: UN WFP on Friday warned that it will no longer be able to provide full food rations to more than 106,000 exiled Bhutanese living in camps in eastern Nepal from January 2007, unless there is an immediate infusion of funds from the international donor community.

Since 1992, the donor community has always come through and provided critical assistance to the exiled Bhutanese, who began arriving in Nepal in 1991 after the introduction of strict citizenship laws in Bhutan.

But no funds at all have been forthcoming for the next two-year program, which starts on January1, 2007.

Serious risk
“Despite recent international media and donor attention on the exiled Bhutanese issue, it has not yet translated into the kind of financial support that WFP has received in previous years, putting the health and safety of the refugees at serious risk,” said Richard Ragan, WFP’s Country Representative in Nepal.

“As the international community lines up to support the peace process in Nepal, it is important that the donor community does not forget the needs of existing humanitarian crises like the exiled Bhutanese.”

Under their current status, exiled Bhutanese are restricted from engaging in economic activities outside the camps and from owning land – making humanitarian assistance, like the food aid provided by WFP, critical to fulfilling their basic needs.

“Lack of donor funds for this two-year, US$23.6 million dollar program means we would not only have to cut food rations to the exiled Bhutanese, but at this critical time in Nepal’s history, the threat of over 100,000 exiled Bhutanese losing access to food could have serious implications on the overall security situation in the country and I appeal to the international community to respond quickly,” Ragan said.

Essential food aid
Since 1992, WFP has been providing essential food aid to the exiled Bhutanese at the request of the Government of Nepal and in close coordination with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

In addition to providing essential food items, WFP provides vitamin-fortified food to 3,000 pregnant and lactating women and young children.

WFP also supports income-generating activities aimed at improving the livelihoods of the exiled Bhutanese as well as vocational training programs that assist Bhutanese in becoming self-sufficient once durable solutions are found. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 22, 2006 by Editor.

Bhutanese refugees: Big brother doing small
By I P Adhikari
During his recent visit to Nepal, Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon once again pushed the issue of Bhutanese refugees to Nepal and Bhutan to decide. More exactly the things are clear, India would prefer the issue to get prolonged and derive more benefits from Bhutan.

Regarded the largest democratic nation of the world, not to mention the closest neighbour of Bhutan and Nepal, India is less concern with promotion of democratic cultures and establishment of stability in the region. Having great influences in both these countries, also lying between them, India’s role in finding the solution of the protracted crisis is well expected for long, and is also important in reaching a conclusion.

In the high portfolio meetings of India and Bhutan, the Bhutanese refugee issue has never surfaced. This is India’s dire ignorance to strengthening democracy and human rights in the region. Not only Nepal, India has suffered from the Bhutanese refugee problem. Thousands of them still live in different parts of India. As the immediate neighbour, India would be the greater sufferer if the situation goes out of control.

On Monday, Nepalese prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala revealed the fact that India ignored the repeated requests of Nepal for mediation between the refugee leaders and Bhutan government. India has stronger position, as is its relation with Bhutan, to negotiate with King Jigme than Nepal has. Basically, the political turnover and changes in Bhutan are all controlled from New Delhi, mean to say the big brother in the south only holds the foreign policy of the country under the Indo-Bhutan treaty 1949.

India has never raised the issue of human rights violations in Bhutan nor of the suppression of press freedom there, while still advocating the issues in international forums. There are several reports from within Bhutan, not reported in any of the weekly tabloids published from Bhutan currently, of human rights violation cases in different parts of the country. Bhutan teaches erroneous definition of the human rights and democratic principles to its citizens.

Suppression of opposition is the basic rights of the northern Bhutanese, basically of the Bhutia community, while involvement of southern Bhutanese in any of the state mechanism is against the national interests and national integrity, no matter how meaningfully laws stress for equality. Bowing before the ministers or royal family members is loyalty to democracy and freedom, protesting against the torture, mistreatment, abuse and harassment is against the spirit of democracy in Bhutanese terms.

On the international human rights day, India organized thousands of formal programmes to promote human rights in the country, while still looking unprecedented and un-intermittent human rights violations in neighbouring Bhutan. The human rights day passed silently in Bhutan, with no forums for the victims to evoke grief. In absence of adequate forums in Bhutan, India must become the goodwill forum for victims of human rights violations in Bhutan, because it has been so to many such victims from across the globe.

India speaks of human rights violations in Nepal, Bangladesh Sri Lanka and most distinctly in Pakistan. Should it remain silent in case of Bhutan?

While it is on its roadmap to be the chief patron in matters of human rights protection and democracy in the global community, remaining silent to atrocities and abuses in the neighbouring state would be derogatory to counterproductive to its success ladder.

Democracy means justice to poor, marginalized and suppressed and legal punishment to suppressers, offenders. Democracy means bringing the unheard voices to mainstream politics and creating equality to all sexes, groups or communities. The Indian architects of modern democracy must inculcate same notions and nausea to Bhutanese rulers so as to make the latter responsible and accountable to real democratic values and human rights, to which they have expressed their commitment in the UN.

India has again become the architect of Bhutanese legal foundation after it disbursed an expert to draft the constitution. Support to formulation of law, not to mention the shortcomings of the constitution to protect the rights of the citizens, is not all in all to help build a democratic state. Practice is a must. Bhutanese rulers must be taught with principles of human rights, freedom, media and its values, independency of judiciary and role of the head of the state.

I should not miss to mention here that the recent invitation of the Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee to King Jigme to attend the forth-coming SAARC summit in India is reviving totalitarianism in Bhutan. King should no more be the active part of the executive body, since the power has already been delegated to prime minister, in a bid to prepare a roadmap to people’s democracy. People’s representative should attend and explain the national interest but not an absolute ruler.

(Adhikari is president of Association of Press Freedom Activists, Bhutan and chief editor of apfanews Source: www.bangladesh-web.com)

This entry was posted in Opinion on December 21, 2006 by Editor.

Oman king greets HM Jigme Khesar
Thimphu, December 19: King Sultan Qaboos bin Said has sent congratulatory cable to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on the occasion of his accession to the throne.

In his cable, Sultan expressed his sincere congratulations and
best wishes of success to King Wangchuck in leading the friendly
people of Bhutan to further progress and prosperity. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 20, 2006 by Editor.

Rizal becomes ill again
Kathmandu, December 19: Senior Bhutanese human rights leader Tek Nath Rizal has been admitted to Manamohan Memorial Hospital in Kathmandu on Monday evening for treatment of his ailments of nasal problem, loss of appetite and fever.

The 59 year-old most respected Bhutanese rights activists-in-exiles was suffering from various ailments for the last few years. His nose is swelling double than usual and blood glucose is more than 275 mg/dl. He was suffering from various ailments right from the prison days. According to his books Nirvasan, Ethinic Cleansing he was subject to a wide range of torture while serving jail term within Bhutan.

Nepalese authorities during the Panchayat regime had arrested Rizal and handed him over to Bhutan in November 1989. He then spent ten long years in various Bhutanese prisons with 24 hours shackles and handcuff until he was released.

The torture methods employed by Bhutanese authorities against him included tying with ropes, various techniques to cause mind shocks, food poisoning and harassment. He believed that all of his ailments had roots to the severe torture that he was subjected to while in the prison. According to his inmates, brutal Bhutanese royal regime treated him like an animal while in prison. For full ten years, he did not have an opportunity to look at a piece of `white paper’ to write his love one. He was not allowed to write to his family or receive letters from them despite repeated requests from the International Red Cross.

According to his inmate Ram Bahadur Rai, Rizal was on huger strike inside the jail guarded by army and he completely abandoned foods and water. After 27 days of hunger strike he got unconscious but the Bhutanese regime tried to kill him injecting muddy Saline Water in his body. After his release when he got opportunity to check up in US, doctor found some radio active element like radium in his body. So such type of brutal inhuman ill treatment and frequent terrible hunger strike in Jail, his health became worst. Even in exile he couldn’t find money for well treatment and nutritious foods. As a result his health is deteriorating day per day.

Ever since he was exiled from Bhutan seven years ago, Rizal has been championing the cause of democracy and human rights in the Dragon kingdom and dignified repatriation of over 100,000 exiled Bhutanese- who have been languishing in UNHCR camps in eastern Nepal for the last 16 years. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 18, 2006 by Editor.

Demonstrations organized in Indo-Nepal border
Kakarvitta, December 17: Over 1,000 other exiled Bhutanese who had gathered at the Mechi Bridge at the Nepal-India border and tried to enter India on Sunday, were also stopped there by Indian security men.

After the security personnel thwarted their attempts to go further, the exiled Bhutanese staged a sit-in at the bridge. The demonstration was led by Satyagraha movement committee.

The protestors at Bridge staged a sit-in in the middle of the bridge, bringing the transit point to a complete standstill for four hours.

Addressing the protesters, Chairman of the Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB) S. B. Subba said the change in the monarch would make no difference for the exiled Bhutanese.

“The Druk government should immediately change its discriminatory policy towards its citizens,” he said. “We’ve deemed that a new king cannot change the hell-like life of the exiled Bhutanese.”

They also handed over an appeal to Indian security personnel asked them to send it to the new king urging to take early initiatives to resolve the southern Bhutan problem at the earliest.

The appeal signed by D. N. S. Dhakal of Bhutan National Democratic Party, S. B. Subba of Human Rights Organization of Bhutan, T. B. Rai Mukarung among others has urged for to resolve the 16 years old problem amicably for stable peace and democracy, repatriate the genuine Bhutanese to their original homeland, allow the human rights and social organizations formed in exile to operate freely inside the country, permit the political parties formed in exile to participate in the forth-coming first election schedule for 2008, take steps for national reconciliation and stop resettlement on the land of exiled Bhutanese. Bhutan News Service/T. P. Mishra

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

Exiled Bhutanese demonstrate in Phuentsholing
Jaigaon, December 17: Royal Bhutan Police on Sunday arrested 20 at least exiled Bhutanese as they attempted to enter Bhutan through Phuentsholing, on the occasion of the 99th National Day.

After nearly two hours of detention in the Bhutanese policy custody, they have been handed over to the Indian police who then dropped them back to Nepal in the evening. The demonstrators have reported misbehavior by the Bhutanese police.

D. R. Kattel of Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front led the demonstrators inside Phuentsholing who successfully demonstrated for more than half an hour with placards demanding early and voluntary repatriation of all the exiled Bhutanese. They also did postering and circulated the pamphlets in the town.

The exiled Bhutanese had headed for Bhutan through the border at Phuentsholing from the Indian village of Jaigaon at around 8 a.m.

This is the eleventh time, the exiled Bhutanese demonstrated inside Bhutan border urging the government to take initiation for early repatriation. The arrested persons include:

D. R. Kattel Beldangi- II Ext. C/3-20 46
Priti Lal Singar Tamang Beldangi-I A/3-435 54
Jas Bdr. Tamang Beldangi_I A/3-377 33
Dhan Bdr. Rai Beldangi-I A/2-279 38
Bhim Kumar Rigalung Rai -do- C/3-325 26
Jari Lal Rai -do- C/3-325 24
Bhadra Singh Manger Beldangi-II Ext. B/4-08 30
Mon Bdr. Darjee Beldangi-II C/1-41 55
Meg Dorji Tamang Beldangi-II Ext. E/4-94 45
Amber Bdr. Tamang Beldangi_I B/4-408 39
Dhan Bdr. Gautam Beldangi-II F/1-121 63
Madhap Kumar Parsai Beldangi-I A/3-378-79 18
Bhagi rath Mainali Beldangi-I G/2-207 48
Suk Man Gurung Beldangi-II F/2-69 34
Kumar Manger Beldangi-IIExt. B/4-31-32 22
Tika Ram Monger Beldangi_II Ext. B/4-07 22
Ashok Kumar Rai Beldangi-II Ext. B/4-34 25
Nar Bdr. Monger Beldangi-II Ext. B/4-33 20
Khari Lal Gurung Beldangi_II Ext. C/2-14 22
Santi ram Pokhrel Beldangi-II Ext. A/3-75 22

Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

Nepalese leaders express support for repatriation
Kathmandu, December 17: The leaders of Nepal’s eight parties have urged the government of Bhutan to take back the exiled Bhutanese living in Nepal for years and also asked the international community to extend support for their repatriation.

The leaders to sign the joint commitments paper making such calls include Chakra Prasad Bastola of Nepali Congress, Jhala Nath Khanal of the UML, Suresh Ale Magar of the Maoist, Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat of Nepali Congress Democratic, Lila Mani Pokhrel of People’s Front, Prem Suwal of Nepal Workers and Peashant Party, Nar Singh Chaudhary of Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi) and C. P. Mainali of Left Front. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

National Day celebrations in camps
Khudunabari, December 17: Exiled Bhutanese in all the camps marked Bhutan National Day today with various programs.

Students in different camps observed National Day with cultural programmes, poem recitation, sports and others.

Exiled Bhutanese organized demonstrations against the new king at various camps in Jhapa and Morang districts on Sunday in the initiation of the All Bhutan Student Union (Revolutionary).

Although they were celebrating December 17 as the national day in last few years, they termed the day as “black day” this year.

“We don’t want the USA, no one can sell us, we want to return to our own homeland,” they chanted while protesting.

They also burnt an effigy of the out-going king Jigme Singhye Wangchuk, accusing him of deceiving others by abdicating.

Student leaders addressing the demonstration blamed America of being responsible towards creating division among the exiled Bhutanese. Bhutan News Service/T. P. Mishra

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

Nepal and Bhutan must solve refugee crisis: Indian FM
Kathmandu, December 17: Indian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee maintained silence about the role of India in resolving the decade long Bhutanese refugee impasse. On a query of reporters he said, “We encourage both the governments to engage in bilateral talks to solve the issue.”

Minister Mukherjee was in Kathmandu for one day official visit to invite Nepali Prime Minister GP Koirala for the next SAARC summit. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

Bhutan’s new ruler addresses public on National Day
Thimphu, December 17: In his first public address as Bhutan’s new ruler, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Sunday sought the support of his people to build a strong nation and help the country shift from monarchy to parliamentary democracy.
‘It is now our responsibility to take the country forward by following the legacy and the good work done over the years for the welfare of the nation by my father,’ the king told a large crowd of people at capital Thimphu on the occasion of Bhutan’s National Day celebrations.

This was the king’s his first public appearance after his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne and handed over reins to him by a royal edict Thursday.

At least 35,000 people thronged the Changlimithang stadium in Thimphu to have a glimpse of the king. The Wangchuck dynasty was established in 1907 on this day.

The king’s nearly 20-minute speech was uninterrupted with the crowd listening with rapt attention. The king also appealed to locals in all the 20 districts in the country of about 700,000 people to ‘follow the footsteps of his father’ and realize his ‘dream’ of building a stable nation. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 17, 2006 by Editor.

Association of Press Freedom Activists

Dated: December 16, 06

Press Release

Bhutan witnesses one of the most emotional moments in Bhutanese history. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck has abdicated the throne on December 9, which was announced formally on Thursday, December 14. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has succeeded his father as the fifth monarch of this country. It has been claimed that he stepped down to make ways for the new king to get as much experience before the parliamentary democracy is formally established by 2008.

APFA-Bhutan here feel to point out that the reality is just opposite. During his 34 years of autocratic rule in Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck suppressed his citizens and is held responsible for gross violation of human rights and eviction of above one-lakh innocent citizens. Hundreds of citizens were tortured, killed, rapped and inhumanly treated in the jails by the Royal Bhutan Army he led. The limited rights granted to people during the reign of third king was seized and the national legislature made a rubber stamp. The state mechanism was turned into a personal propaganda machinery leading gross misuse of the national treasury for family luxuries.

He has abdicated the throne to prove himself to be democratic. The important point to remember for of his misdeeds is that all officials in Bhutan, who questioned his one-person authoritarian regime, are fired.

APFA-Bhutan believes that his abdication is just to blindfold international community about democratization and election propaganda slated for 2008. His abdication just indicates democracy passed to his son but not to general public. He is absconding from taking the responsibility of all the misdeeds carried out in his tenure by abdicating the throne before the problem is solved.

However, APFA-Bhutan considers this as a historic moment in Bhutan as well as a lesson to dictators of world. We also congratulate the His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck for succeeding his father. We hope that the long-standing refugee issue would find a better approach towards repatriation during his reign. We urged the new king to take initiatives for early solution of the crisis and establishment of people’s democracy.

Vidhyapati Mishra
General Secretary

This entry was posted in Main News on December 16, 2006 by Editor.

Translation of Royal Kasho (REPRODUCTION)
As I had announced during the National Day celebrations last year about my abdication, and also briefed the Lhengye Zhungtshog on this decision, the time has now come for me to hand over my responsibilities to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

While we prepare ourselves for parliamentary democracy in 2008, we must all pledge with our body, speech and mind to be unwavering and steadfast in our efforts to strengthen the sovereignty and security of Bhutan, to secure the blessings of liberty, ensure justice and peace in our country, and enhance the unity, happiness and well being of our people for all time to come.

In taking note of the progress that our nation has made over the past thirty four years, I would like to state that whatever we have achieved so far is due to the merit of the people of Bhutan. I, therefore, wish to express my gratitude to the Clergy, the officials of the Royal Government, the members of the business community and our security forces, and to all the people of the twenty Dzongkhags for their unfailing support and loyalty to me and the country.

I am confident that a very bright and great future lies ahead for Bhutan with the leadership of a new King and a democratic system of government that is best suited for our country, as enshrined under the Constitution. I have every confidence that there will be unprecedented progress and prosperity for our nation in the reign of our Fifth King.

As I hand over my responsibilities to my son, I repose my full faith and belief in the people of Bhutan to look after the future of our nation, for it is the Bhutanese people who are the true custodians of our tradition and culture and the ultimate guardians of the security, sovereignty and continued well being of our country.

May the blessings of Ugyen Guru Rimpoche, the father of our nation Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and our Guardian Deities continue to guide the destiny of our country and protect the future of the glorious Palden Drukpa!

Given at Tashichhodzong on the Twentieth Day of the Tenth Month of the Fire-Dog Year, corresponding to the Ninth Day of December 2006.

Druk Gyalpo

Source: Kuensel, December 15, 2006

This entry was posted in Main News on December 15, 2006 by Editor.

HM Jigme abdicates throne!
Thimphu, December 15: His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne on December 9, formally announced on Thursday, December 14, at the age of 51.

HRH Trongsa Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has succeeded his father.

On Thursday, in a special meetng of the sitting of Council of Minister (Lhengye Zhuntshog) in presence of National Assembly Speaker Dasho Ugyen Dorjee, Chief Justice Sonam Tobgye, and Chief Election Commissioner Dasho Kuenzang Wangdi, King announced that he has handed over the full responsibilities to Khesar with effect from December 9.

It is claimed that he step down to make ways for the new king to get as much experience before the parliamentary democracy is established in the country by 2008.

The Prime Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk informed the nation through a public addressing on Thursday evening. PM also read out the Royal Kasho in full during his address. In it, the king expressed his gratitude to clergy, business community, government officials, security personnel and the people for their support during his 34 years of reign and added all in these years were achieved through people’s co-operation, who are guardians of the sovereign Bhutan.

BBC on Friday quoted the Kuensel editor Kinley dorji as saying that the abdication was part of hte king’s plan to introduce parliamentary democracy for which the young need to get experiences to adopt with the changes.

Last year, the kind had announced to abdicate the throne by 2008 opening doors for parliamentary democracy. The draft constitution to establish democracy is under consultation. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 15, 2006 by Editor.

US would not withdraw its proposal
After the US offered for the third country resettlement, there has been divided opinion among the exiled Bhutanese. Debate continues whether the option is a measure for durable solution of the crisis. On the other side majority of Bhutanese leaders in exile have strongly criticized the US offer. In midst of this T. P. Mishra and Kazi Gautam of Bhutan News Service (BNS) talked to Crystal T. Kaplan, Refugee Officer at the US Embassy in Nepal to get detail information of the US proposal. Excerpts:

BNS: What are the procedures of resettlement and what would be the status of resettled people?
Kaplan: In US, those who would be resettled under this kind of program fall under Legal Permanent Residents (LPR). Different sponsors help LPRs to get settled smoothly. After five years of their stay in the US they can autmatically get Green Card, which enables them to work legally in the US. They can apply for US citizensip after 3-5 years. On the other side, LPRs can exercise all the rights that an American can except the right to vote. The most important point to be noted is that the US government can do nothing for the repatriation process of the people once they are resettled. But they would be no more treated as refugees. The detail procedures of resettlement would be better highlighted by the UNHCR.

BNS: Will they be kept together or in different places?
Kaplan: It is unlikely as the US lacks such places where everyone could be accommodated.

BNS: Why has the US government offered third country resettlement to exiled Bhutanese?
Kaplan: Actually, the US has humanitarian view upon the crisis. And more precisely we couldn’t see the possibility of early repatriation. The other reason is that people have already wasted nearly two decades in vain inside unimproved camps. This offer could also be a step towards uplifting the livelihood of the Bhutanese people.

BNS: Why don’t the US pressurizes Bhutan and other responsible countries for repatriation? What role can the US play for repatriation?
Kaplan: We do not have diplomatic relationship with Bhutan. Nevertheless, we are always trying to establish and maintain such relations. It is not that we haven’t taken initiatives towards expediting repatriation process. The US has always encouraged Nepalese government to work towards this. Bhutan too is not an exception to our encouragement. Considering the December incident at Khudunabari, Bhutan has been absconding from its responsibility of taking back its citizens. The US can do nothing besides encouraging Bhutan to be sincere as we cannot force it. Repatriation is possible if there is an involvement of third party entity. I am hopeful that some portion of exiled Bhutanese will be repatriated.

BNS: Is it true that other options besides resettlement are gradually getting under shadow?
Kaplan: This is certainly true if media reports are correct. But it is important not to forget that we have spent much time waiting for the repatriation. Now, people want to end this impasse at the earliest. The issue of repatriation has always been given the top priority.

BNS: Has the US approached Nepal government formally? Will the resettlement process begin immediately if Nepal approves?
Kaplan: We have been meeting the government officials off an on. However, we haven’t signed any written agreement till date. From verbal discussions it’s been known that Nepal is also positive towards our proposal. So far as I am concerned, the process will begin from the very next day of the approval from Nepalese government.

BNS: Does this mean exiled Bhutanese have no hand in deciding their future?
Kaplan: They can decide on the option they are given but we cannot proceed ahead without the approval from the host country.

BNS: Majority of Bhutanese leaders in exile have already accused the US of being responsible towards creating division among exiled Bhutanese. What do you say?
Kaplan: It’s quite sad and unfortunate to hear this. I don’t think we have coined this proposal to create division. Had Bhutan been a democratic country, repatriation could have been possible already. These exiled Bhutanese shouldn’t be made hostage in the name of establishing democracy in Bhutan. They are no more in the position to wait.

BNS: Won’t it hamper democratization of Bhutan?
Kaplan: I object this. With the announcement of election to be held in 2008, even without addressing the exiled Bhutanese issue, Bhutan has stepped towards democratization. But the absolute monarchy would become a constitutional monarchy and that they were making incremental steps toward democracy.

BNS: Should the people who wish resettlement apply before the formal announcement is made?
Kaplan: Absolutely not. There is no need to apply in advance. We have already received about 4,000 individual applications which are not yet formally considered. It is not the US but the UNHCR which would decide after the approval from Nepalese government.

BNS: Does this offer incorporate the sentiments of those who are undeclared as ‘Refugees’, now residing in different states of India and in Nepal?
Kaplan: Regarding the inclusion of exiled Bhutanese who have not registered in the camps, we must first focus on the defined population that has lived in the camps for the past 16 years. I did not know whether this other group would be able to participate in resettlement or not.

BNS: Won’t the US offer encourage the Bhutanese regime for further eviction of people?
Kaplan: I am confident Bhutan has no concern about the US offer. I don’t think this would encourage Bhutan for further eviction of people.

BNS: How would US address the reaction of the youths who wish resettlement if the program failed?
Kaplan: This offer has been the outcome of a long and broad discussion. It has to be well remembered the US won’t be withdrawing it whatsoever happens. However, Nepal is the prime authority for approval. So, let’s be optimistic.

BNS: What you saw during your recent visit to camps?
Kaplan: It was transparent that people are confused about the issue of resettlement. But they are eager to bring themselves out of confinement.

This entry was posted in Interview on December 14, 2006 by Editor.

Bhutan and India sign border agreement
Thimphu, December 12: Bhutan and India have formally demarcated their 699-km border on Wednesday signing the final strip maps, 45 years after the process for settling the boundary began.

Officials of the two countries Tuesday signed the ‘mutually demarcated border’ maps at a meeting in Thimphu.

‘This is indeed a landmark agreement as the two countries had mutually agreed to demarcate the borders without any differences of opinion,’ a Bhutanese official in the meeting said.

Indian envoy to Bhutan, Sudhir Vyas, and the secretary for international boundaries, Dasho Pema Wangchuk, signed the agreement.

The two countries have also decided to erect border pillars and markers to define the boundary. The Bhutan-India border is unfenced and separated by concrete pillars in few places.

The process for demarcating the border began in 1961 with India sketching the boundary maps.

Bhutan is yet to demarcate its 470-km border with China. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 14, 2006 by Editor.

Bhutan is No 2 human rights violator
New Delhi, December 13: Bhutan has been ranked No. 2 violator of human rights because of the absolute denial of political freedom, independent judiciary, press freedom and violations of the rights of minorities and undeclared ban on the human rights defenders, a newly released report said.

“If absence of reports on human rights violations were to be the yardsticks for measuring the state of human rights, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea will be adjudged better than most democratic countries. Not a single political prisoner out of approximately 70 of them arrested during 1991-92 has been released.” – stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

King is the judge and jury and the only authority to pardon and hire and fire the judges. Though the Evidence Act was adopted in December 2005, Bhutan did not have necessary laws in place for administration of justice to meet the basic international standards on fair trial, the SAARC human rights report says.

There is absolute ban on press freedom. The only newspaper, Kuensel, is owned and controlled by the government. In 2005, Indian and other international TV channels were frequently banned in the name of protecting Bhutanese culture.

On the violations of the rights of minorities, Bhutan has been ranked No.2 just behind Bangladesh because of the discriminatory laws, policies and practices against the ethnic Nepalis and Sarchops. In a further attempt to suppress cultural rights, the National Assembly of Bhutan in November 2005 made it mandatory to conduct all public meetings in Dzongkha, the language of the ruling Drukpas. Bhutan News Service

Full report is produced below:

SAARC Human Rights Report 2006

I. Ranking in Human Rights Violators
Ruled under the absolute monarchy of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, Bhutan which coined the infamous “Gross National Happiness”, has been ranked 2nd in the SAARC Human Rights Violators Index 2006.

A landlocked and closed country, little information on the human rights violations was available. The serious restrictions on the freedom of movement in the name of preserving the socalled “Shangrila” made collection, collation and analysis of human rights violations in Bhutan the most difficult in South Asia. In more ways than one, the absence of a written constitution, political parties, freedom of association and assembly, press and independent judiciary made Bhutan No. 2 human rights violator in South Asia. However, if absence of reports on human rights violations were to be the yardsticks for measuring the state of human rights, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea will have a better human rights record than most democratic countries.

II. Political freedom
There were no political parties in Bhutan. Bhutan also failed to release any political prisoner, approximately 70 arrested persons mainly from the ethnic Sarchops and Nepalis, who remained incarcerated in prison connection with violence associated with political dissidence during 1991-92.

However, there were no reports of political killings.

On 26 March 2005, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk released the draft Constitution with 34-articles for public review. The draft constitution was nothing more than a replica of the condemned 1998 Constitution of Maldives.

The draft constitution proposed establishment of two houses of parliament – a 25-member National Council and a 75-member National Assembly – with the King as the head of State. If adopted, the Constitution would replace the royal decree of 1953 that gives the king absolute power and turn Bhutan into a two-party parliamentary democracy. The proposed Constitution also provided 22 fundamental rights, including the right to life, right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression, freedom of the press, right to information, right to privacy, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion etc.

On 17 December 2005, on the occasion of Bhutan’s 98th National Day, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk announced that he would abdicate the throne in favor of his eldest son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and hold country’s first national elections in 2008 to establish full-fledged parliamentary democracy in Bhutan. If the proposed constitution of Bhutan were to be adopted, His Majesty would enjoy the same powers as that of the President of Maldives under the 1998 Constitution. Apart from being the Head of the State, His Majesty would have the power to appoint and dismiss the Chief Justices and other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners, the Auditor General, the Chairperson and members of the Royal Civil Service Commission, the Chairperson and members of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the heads of the Defence Forces, the Attorney General and the Council of Ministers, among others. His Majesty shall enjoy absolute immunity under Article 2 (15) unless a National Referendum decides otherwise.

III. Right to life
There were no reported cases of violations of the right to life.

IV. Judiciary and administration of justice
Bhutan did not have an independent judiciary. His Majesty remained the supreme head of the judiciary and the only authority to grant pardon, and appoint and dismiss the judges. His Majesty exercised these powers in the name of National Judicial Commission. Only judges for the Dungkhag (sub district) Courts are appointed by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The draft Constitution of Bhutan proposed setting up of Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of Bhutan. But under article 2(19) of the proposed constitution, the King would appoint the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court, and the Chief Justice and other judges of the High Court and have the power to remove them. Article 21(15) states that the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court would enjoy independence “provided that a Drangpon [judge] may be censored or suspended by a command of the Druk Gyalpo [i.e. the King of Bhutan] on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission for proven misbehaviour, which, in the opinion of the Commission, does not deserve impeachment”. The members of the National Judicial Commission were also appointed by the King under Article 21(17). Moreover, the draft constitution does not define what constitutes “misbehaviour”, and any Act or sign of defiance of the King by the judge could be construed as misbehaviour leading to his/her removal by the King.

The judiciary would continue to remain subservient to the King in Bhutan.

In December 2005, the 84th session of the National Assembly passed “The Evidence Act of Bhutan, 2005”. The Act for the first time laid down several significant provisions with the objective that “no person shall be convicted on the basis of suspicion, doubt or hearsay until the charges are proven and supported by witnesses or evidences”. The Act identified evidence as all types of proof presented and permitted by the court of law at a legal proceeding including testimonials, documents, electronic records and other physical evidence related to matters under inquiry in the court of law. The Act contained 13 chapters on various clauses related to the presentation of evidence in the court of law from its relevancy and admissibility, and types of evidences such as oral, physical and documentary to questioning of witnesses and criminal confessions.

V. Status of National Human Rights Institutions
Bhutan did not have a National Human Rights Institution. The government of Bhutan had not expressed any intention to establish such a Commission in the future.

VI. Repression on human rights defenders
Bhutan did not allow registration of human rights organisations. The exiled leaders ran human rights organisations and political parties from India and Nepal.

The Human Rights Council of Bhutan, headed by exiled refugee leader Teknath Rizal and the Bhutanese Refugee Repatriation Representative Committee were based in Nepal. Some of the prominent political parties in exile were Bhutan People’s Party, Druk National Congress, and Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front.

VII. Freedom of the press
There was no freedom of speech and independent press. The only newspaper, Kuensel, was controlled by the government.

Although television was introduced in 1999, the government of Bhutan continues to impose restrictions on many TV channels, including news channels, on the ground that they were not good for the health of Bhutanese culture.

In March 2005, Bhutan banned some of the Indian TV channels such as Zee News, Aaj Tak, Sun TV and international TV channels such as MTV, FTV and Ten Sports on the ground that a media impact study carried out by Bhutan Communication Authority during 2003-2004 concluded that many foreign channels were a ”bad influence” on Bhutanese social and cultural values. Many Indian TV channels were again banned in July 2005 on the ground of cultural invasion.

VIII. Violations of the rights of minorities
Despite Bhutan-Nepal Joint Verifica-tion Team recognising hundreds of refugees as citizens of Bhutan, during 2005, Bhutan failed to take back a single refugee. Over 100,000 refugees have ben sheltered in eastern Nepal. Bhutan took full advantage of the political turmoil in Nepal.

a. India’s obstruction for exercising the right to return
Bhutan was helped by India in the suppression of rights of the refugees. India repeatedly prevented the return of the Bhutanese refugees throughout 2005 though they have the right to travel through India under Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 1950. In fact, in 1990s, when the ethnic Nepalis were fleeing from Bhutan, Indian authorities put them on trucks and other vehicles and dumped them to Nepal.

Frustrated by the procrastinated repatriation process, the Bhutanese refugees made attempts at self-repatriation under the Volunteer Homeland Return and National Reconciliation Programme supported by Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front and Human Rights Organization of Bhutan since August 2005. Such self-repatriation bids continued even after the warning by UNHCR that it was risky and against the agreement between Nepal and Bhutan. The UNHCR also clarified that since it was not a party to the bilateral dialogue between Bhutan and Nepal, it was “not capable of monitoring repatriation and rehabilitation of the refugees in their home country.”

The refugees were prevented by the Indian security forces from entering into India.

On 3 August 2005, Indian and Nepalese police prevented 323 Bhutanese refugees (from 4 months to 75 years of age), including 157 women from the Beldangi camps from crossing the Nepal-India border at Mechi Bridge to enter Panitanki in West Bengal state of India en route to Bhutan. While nine persons were detained, Nepal police took others back to their camps in Jhapa in two trucks and a bus.

On 14 August 2005, a group of about 100 Bhutanese refugees reached Phuentsholing, a Bhutanese town along the India-Bhutan border to hand over a letter addressed to King Jigme Singye Wangchuk but were forcibly sent back to India by the Bhutanese police. About a dozen refugees were detained by the Bhutanese police for six hours before handing them over to the Indian authorities.

On 4 October 2005, a group of 21 persons belonging to five families from Beldangi refugee camps led by Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front vice-president, Dalli Ram Katel were reportedly arrested by the Bhutanese Police while attempting to enter the kingdom at the gateway to Phuentsholing. They were later handed over to the Indian police.

On 28 November 2005, the Bhutanese police arrested 4 Bhutanese refugees who entered Bhutan through Kakadvitta transit.[11]

On 10 December 2005, Indian police prevented around 300 Bhutanese refugees from seven refugee camps from crossing the Mechi Bridge at the Nepal-India border en route to Bhutan. Nepal police drove them back to their camps.

On 17 December 2005, Indian security personnel barred Bhutanese refugees from entering India at the Mechi Bridge on their way to Bhutan. A confrontation between the Indian security personnel and the Bhutanese refugees resulted in the injury of nine refugees.

In December 2005, the Association of Press Freedom Activists, Bhutan, alleged that the government of Bhutan resettled people belonging to the ruling tribe on the lands of the ethnic Nepali refugees at Dagana, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Sarpang, Samtse, and Tsirang. It also alleged that Samdrup, Jongkhar and Sarpang Chief Districts Offices had already submitted proposal to allocate the refugees’ lands to so-called landless people from dominant tribes.

b. Deplorable conditions of the refugees
UNHCR provided essential food and non-food items, shelter, medical care and education to the Bhutanese refugees living in seven refugee camps in Nepal. The UNHCR have been managing the camps with support from the United States, European Commission, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and France. However, facilities being provided to the refugees were not adequate by any means. Global rise in oil price further forced UNHCR to educe the already limited aid provided to the refugees.

UNHCR had substantially reduced facilities such as ration, kerosene, medical facilities, education aid and allowance for maintenance of the camps’ roofs in the later part of 2004. Association of Medical Doctors of Asia and the UNHCR were sponsoring health service to the refugees and education up to the 12th grade for their children. However, during 2005, it was reported that only the first aid health service and school level education were available to the refugees. The refugees also complained of inadequate food quota. Supply of vegetables and fruits was also severely lowered and other staple food reduced during 2005.

In absence of electricity, kerosene had been the main cooking and lighting fuel for the Bhutanese refugees in the seven camps. Due to rise in the price of kerosene, UNHCR cut down its supply in January 2005. The reduction of kerosene quota forced the refugees to cook their food with firewood. This created conflicts with the local people as the refugees collected fallen trees, dried leaves and wigs from the nearby forests, which was resented by the local community.

The refugees also lacked adequate shelter. In big families, unmarried adults and married couples were compelled to live in the same tiny plot of hut area allocated to the respective families. Leaking of roofs made life further difficult for the refugees during the rainy days.

The refugees did not have any job opportunity, as paid work is officially not allowed both inside and outside the camps. However, some of the women refugees did casual jobs like weaving, and in some camps they were allowed to crush stones from the dry Timai River bed to sell to local construction contractors.

There have been reports of rising number of suicides in the refugee camps. Frustration and domestic violence are believed to be the main factors.

c. Denial of cultural rights
On 19 November 2005, the National Assembly directed the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to issue a nationwide notification that all conferences and public meetings must be conducted in the national language, Dzongkha, pursuant to a 1993 Kasho (edict) issued by His Majesty the King. However, if the meetings were meant specifically only for foreigners they could be conducted in English. The minorities like Nepalis or Sarchops have no right to their language.

Bhutan also failed to address discriminatory laws such as Bhutan Citizenship Act of 1985 which provides for termination of citizenship of any naturalized citizen at any time if he or she “has shown by act or speech to be disloyal in any manner whatsoever to the king, country, and people of Bhutan”. Bhutanese were virtually discouraged from marrying non-Bhutanese under the Marriage Act of 1980.

IX. Violence against women
Women in general enjoyed freedom and equality. Yet, literacy rate among the women is only 48.7% in comparison to 69.1% among males. According to Bhutanese Women and Youth Empowerment Programme, about 52% of refugees from Bhutan in Nepal were women and they are denied their rights.

Though Bhutan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981 and established a National Commission for Women and Children in 2004, it failed to address discrimination against women under the Inheritance Act of 1980 and the Marriage Act of 1980 (amended in 1996). Under the Marriage Act those who marry non-Bhutanese are deprived of benefits including promotion in Government job with effect from 11 June 1977, termination of services from the national defence department or in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deprivation of governmental welfare services and schemes, including distribution of land, cash loans, various grants, and educational and training facilities.

In addition, the Citizenship Act of 1985 was strictly enforced to target the ethnic Nepalis of Bhutan whom the government officially recognizes as foreigners.

X. Violations of the rights of the child
Bhutan was one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 23 May 1990. The government amended the Marriage Act of 1980 in 1996 and enacted the Rape Act in 1993. But, Bhutan failed to adopt the draft Administration of Juvenile Justice Act and draft Immoral Traffic Act.

A large number of children of the Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal have been denied the right to nationality. Bhutan failed to take any measure to ensure return of the refugees and ensure the rights of the children.

About 78 % of the populations reportedly had access to safe drinking water. Yet, six out of ten children in rural Bhutan suffered from diarrhoea, worms, and skin and eye infections largely due to lack of safe drinking water and poor environmental sanitation. Both infant mortality (60.5 per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality (255 per 100,000 live births) were high. The government has been providing universal, free, and compulsory primary school education up to 11 years. The primary school enrolment increased 4.4 percent per year since 1995, with enrolment of girls increasing at 5.6 percent. Gross Primary school enrolment rate was 72%. Yet, about 3 out of every 10 children of school-going age did not go to school, especially in the remote areas.

Many students in rural areas have to travel long distances to reach the nearest school. Lack of schools in several rural areas forced children to leave home to attend the school regularly. Some parents built small mud huts for their children near the school, away from the home. Lack of electricity made it difficult for the children to study at night.

There was no accurate data on child labour in Bhutan as of 2005. In 2000, the ILO projected 124,000 economically active children in the age group of 10-14 years, representing 51.1% of this age group. Of them, 69,000 were boys and 55,000 were girls.[33]

Bhutan also failed to withdraw the draconian rule introduced in 1990 under which all Nepali-speaking citizens need to produce a No Objection Certificate or Police Clearance Certificate or Security Clearance Certificate from the police stating that none of their relative had taken part in the pro-democracy movement against monarchy during September-October 1990 in order to get admission in schools or sit for examinations.[34] Under this draconian rule the children of Nepali-speaking community, especially those whose relatives were living in refugee camps in Nepal, as well as some Christian children continued to be denied access to education.

This entry was posted in Main News on December 14, 2006 by Editor.
Indian journalist wants India to solve problem in Bhutan
Kathmandu, December 13: One senior Indian journalists Kuldip Nyar warned that further ‘mishandling’ of the issue of the exiled Bhutanese could set a wrong example in the entire South Asian region.

Nyar has bee in Nepal visit to gather views on what could be done to solve the problem at the earliest. “If the crisis is not sorted out, it could be a cogent case of rank intolerance,” Nyar said during an interaction session organised by the Nepal chapter of South Asians for Human Rights on Wednesday in Kathmandu.

He stressed that India could end up facing worst cases of ethnic unrest as in Bhutan where people of Nepali origin have been victimised. “It would be better if nations can set examples on how to live together rather than embarking on ethnic cleansing,” Nyar said.

He said Indian government has ignored the issue at the hands of Nepal and Bhutan. He had asked the US ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty, to explain the reasons why the US had offered to take a large chunk of exiled Bhutanese to the US instead of having them sent back to their original country.

“What Moriarty told us is camps are witnessing terrorist activism. That could affect north-eastern India. We are trying to help India,” Nyar said. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

ULFA crawls back to Bhutan
Phuentsholing, December 13: Indian security forces feel that the ULFA has been running temporary training camps inside Bhutan after they were flushed out from there three years ago.

NDTV crew found that the camps would probably be located on the Indo Bhutan border crossing over to Bhutan from Bharaibkund.

Jintu Kalita of ULFA was arrested in October. He was sent there to study the topography, deploymnent of security forces and make a castewise breakup of the villages.

Jintu led security forces to an abandoned camp in Bhutan that was just two hours on foot from Paneri in Assam.

The Indian security said the rebels crawled back into uninhabited jungles.

A few weeks ago the commander of the Army 4 Corps admitted that Bhutan could be the future destination of the ULFA once again. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

Nationalist movements span globe (REPRODUCTION)
By Sriram Khe

To understand ethnic and religious tensions in faraway places such as Iraq, Lebanon or India, we need look no farther than our own northern neighbor – Canada.

The Canadian parliament recently acted to formally recognize the Francophone province, Quebec, as a nation within Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced the motion, which passed overwhelmingly.

The move explicitly recognizes the ethnic nationalism that has been the driving force behind two failed referenda that called for a formal separation of Quebec from Canada.

For years Quebecers have maintained that their language, history and cultural traditions were being systematically ignored, put down and forgotten by Canada’s English-speaking majority. It’s like Rodney Dangerfield’s complaint: “I don’t get no respect.” Quebecers felt so intensely about this that in 1980 and 1995, they voted on proposals to formally secede from Canada. The prime minister’s hope is that this formal recognition of Quebecers as a nation within Canada will preclude further independence efforts.

Recognition of Francophone Canadians as a nation within the country comes almost 140 years after the country was formed.

This recent development is a reminder that humans value and cherish their respective identities – in this case as members of a group with its own shared language, history and cultural traditions. Once we grasp this, we can begin to understand why there is a great deal of commotion along ethnic and religious lines in many other parts of the world.

Take the case of Iraq. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire supported Germany, and after the war the empire essentially was carved into territories, one of which was the territory of Iraq. Iraq was placed under British control, as per the agreement developed by the League of Nations – the forerunner to the United Nations.

Iraq then went through different forms of government, many of which were externally imposed. The modern-day Iraqi republic was established in 1958 after a military coup. In 1979, Saddam Hussein emerged as the president; as they say, the rest is history.

During all this time, the many “nations” within Iraq not only were ignored by the government, some were in fact systematically abused because of their culture, language and religious beliefs.

The Kurds are one of Iraq’s ethnic groups; as a people, they also are scattered across Iran and Turkey. They want to be recognized as a “nation” as much as Quebecers did. Saddam’s government killed many Kurds simply because they were Kurds.

Turkey does not want the Kurds in Iraq to gain independence because of the worry that Kurds in Turkey will demand recognition of their status or, worse, join hands with the Kurds in Iraq and form a greater Kurdistan.

These “nation” issues are not unique to Iraq or Turkey. These are found all across the world. In Quebec, the struggle for recognition is nonviolent. Unfortunately, that is the not the case in a number of other struggles to establish national and state identities.

And even if a people’s nationality is well recognized, achieving formal statehood is not always an orderly or peaceful process. Take the case with Palestine, where violence has been endemic for decades.

Even in Bhutan, regarded by outsiders as a Shangri-la, there are problems related to ethnicity and nationality. Ethnic Nepalese have left Bhutan in large numbers because the monarch’s policies do not appear to recognize differences in the way the Nepalese look, the Hindu religion they practice and, of course, the language they speak.

We have been so wrapped up with our fascination with globalization that maybe we assumed that ours is a homogenous world. On the contrary, we have different languages, religions, beliefs, histories. And sometimes, people want explicit recognition of those differences.

It has taken Canada 140 years to formally recognize that Quebecers are a nation within their country. How long will it take for the Kurds, for instance, to be recognized as a nation within Turkey?

So, let us use the opportunity that Quebecers have given us and understand not only the thirst for recognition, but the similar feelings that various “nations” have in all corners of the world. This recognition is a fundamental step in achieving peace and stability, particularly in the violent Middle East.

(Sriram Khe of Eugene is an associate professor and director of the honors program at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. SOurce: The Register-Guard) Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

Cold weather hits camp life
Beldangi, December 13: Cold weather is affecting exiled Bhutanese living in seven camps in Jhapa and Morang districts. Children and senior citizens have been hit the hardest.

“Life here has become more troublesome ever since the cold spell began on Monday,” Hari Bangale, secretary of the Beldangi refugee camp, said. He added, “Children and senior citizens are coping with shortage of warm clothes.”

“The exiled Bhutanese have been compelled to face chilly days and nights because, this year too, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) did not provide them with warm clothes. The UNHCR has stopped distributing warm clothes for the past few years,” Adhikari said.

Children living in the camp are refusing to go to the school due to extreme cold. They lack warm clothes. Schoolchildren have no option left except to sit on the floor of their classrooms as there are no desks and benches. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

Mishap injures exiled Bhutanese youth
Kathmandu, December 12: Chakra Mani Gautam, a resident of Beldangi-II sector E/1-132 has been admitted toTU Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu on Tuesday after he was seriously injured when a bus Lu.1.Kha 3768 met an accident at Sunwol, Nawalparasi district Monday night.

Gautam is diagnosed to have broken his left leg. Doctors at the hospital have asked him to undergo major operation by incising out the leg.

Some more than four dozens including teachers and students of Canal Center English Boarding School, Nawalparasi were returning to school after completing an educational tour when the accident occurred. Parbati Bhushal of grade 9 died while most of the injured passengers have been brought to Kathmandu for further treatment.

Gautam, who has been enrolled in Bachelor’s degree in humanities, was working as a secondary level teacher at the boarding school for the past three years.

Locals, school management committee and bus owners are managing the necessary costs for the treatment. Bhutan News Service/T.P. Mishra

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

BMSC delegation interacts with Indian media
Kathmandu, December 12: The Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee (BMSC) delegation has met the Indian journalists at Hotel Malla, Kathmandu on December 11 and informed the Indian media about the latest development in camps.

Addressing the journalists, the chairman of BMSC, Tek Nath Rizal urged the involvement of India in resolving the protracted crisis.

Communications coordinator of South Asian for Human Rights (SAHR) secretariat, representatives from SAHR-Nepal chapter, journalist cum former Indian parliamentarian, Kul Dip Nyar was also present on the occasion. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 13, 2006 by Editor.

Leaders met Nepalese PM
Kathmandu, December 11: Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala assured the exiled Bhutanese leaders that his new government would take stronger measures for repatriation of all the Bhutanese languishing in Nepal for the last 17 years.

During the meeting with the 7-member delegation of the exiled Bhutanese leaders led by human rights activist Tek Nath Rizal Monday morning, Koirala said Nepal has repeatedly asked the Indian government for involvement in finding the solution of the crisis.

“We have repeatedly asked India for support but it has been avoiding saying the problem was between Nepal and Bhutan,” Rizal quoted Koirala as saying.

The delegation of the leaders, including Thinley Penjor of Druk National Congress and Bala Ram Poudel of Bhutan People’s Party, urged the Nepalese government to end bilateral talks with Bhutan and take necessary steps to get support from the Indian government for repatriation.

In the half-an-hour long meeting, Nepal’s Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula was also present.

Rizal quoted PM Koirala as saying that the Nepal government has not received any kind of formal application from the US or any other western countries for third country settlement.

The US government has time and again expressed its willingness to take some 60,000 exiled Bhutanese to US for settlement.

Two rounds of Nepal-Bhutan talks decided to be held have been postponed after the formation of the new government in Nepal. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 11, 2006 by Editor.

King urged to guarantee human rights
Kathmandu, December 10: Bhutanese Refugee Durable Solution Coordination Committee (BRDSCC) has strongly urged King Jigme Singye Wangchuk to realize the rights of Bhutanese people.

In a letter sent to Bhutanese king on the occasion of world human rights day, BRDSCC has expected for an act of declaration is made in favor of innocent people evicted from the regime thereby initiating their safe and dignified return. Further it has said “we ensure that this will certainly prosper the prospects of Gross National Happiness.”

Meanwhile, in a separate press statement Third World Media Network (TWMN) – Bhutan has sought the attention of Bhutanese king towards guaranteeing human rights in Bhutan. TWMN-Bhutan also sought the attention of international human rights bodies to keep special vigilance towards gross violation of human rights in Bhutan which is still under practice. It has further said that until Bhutan ensures free press, freedom of speech and expression it cannot step towards promoting human rights. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 10, 2006 by Editor.

86th session to pass significant bills
Thimphu, December 10: The 86th session of the National Assembly that begins from December 22 will discuss about the Labour and Employment Bill.

According to spokesperson for the Legislative Committee the draft Immigration Bill and the Judiciary Services Bill would also be put up for discussion. It is also learnt that a lot of chatrims and bills are expected to be passed by the National Assembly. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 10, 2006 by Editor.
UNHCR wants over US$ 1b for 2007
Kathmandu, December 08: The UNHCR is set to present its budget of US$1.06 billion for 2007 to donor countries at an annual conference in Geneva on Monday.

In a press release issued by the agency on Friday, the agency expressed hopes that the international community will give generously “to support millions of people around the world uprooted by persecution and conflict.”

“A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money but it is equivalent to just a dollar a week for each of the 21 million people we help,” High Commissioner António Guterres said. “When you consider the huge needs of those fleeing the horrors of Darfur, Iraq and Somalia and those in protracted refugee situations like Thailand and Pakistan, it is really not a large sum of money.”

According to the agency, the funds are needed to assist approximately 21 million people of concern to UNHCR around the world, including some 8.6 million refugees, 6.6 million internally displaced persons, some 1.6 million returnees, 770,000 asylum seekers and 2.3 million stateless people.

The largest programs for 2007 are Chad ($69 million), Afghanistan ($52 million), Liberia ($32 million), Kenya ($32 million) and Tanzania ($24.3 million).

“Currently, a small group of countries shoulder most of the financial burden for our work around the world,” Guterres said. “We are extremely grateful for that valuable support and it’s crucial it continues. But, what we need is for more donors to dig deeper into their pockets.”

UNHCR’s Global Appeal for its 2007 annual program is US$1.06 billion which compares to $1.15 billion the previous year. UNHCR also expects to issue a number of supplementary appeals during 2007, including for Iraq and south Sudan. The total UNHCR budget for 2006, including supplementary appeals, reached $1.47 billion.

“We are lowering costs and directing more resources to beneficiaries on the ground,” Guterres said. “But, as the number of people under our mandate grows and we do our job better, we also need the serious financial backing of a wider number of governments.”

With almost 97 percent of UNHCR’s budget coming from voluntary donations and only 3 percent funded by the regular UN budget, the agency is extremely vulnerable to any reduction in funding by major donors, the release adds.

The UNHCR is also actively supporting over 100,000 exiled Bhutanese who are languishing in camps in eastern Nepal. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 8, 2006 by Editor.

Pressure to expel Bhutanese teachers
Damak, December 07: The Nepalese teachers working in the private boarding schools in Jhapa district have demanded that the school management should expel all the Bhutanese teachers working in the schools and recruit Nepalese in their place.

During a press conference here, the members of the Institutional Schools Teachers Union made this demand. Secretary of the union Lila Bhandari told reporters that private schools have been exploiting the teachers working in those schools.

They claimed that over 500 Bhutanese teachers have being working in various private boarding schools in Jhapa district alone. The organisation demanded that the Bhutanese teachers should be immediately expelled and the unemployed educated Nepalese people should be recruited as the teachers.

Exiled Bhutanese have been the major source of teachers for the private schools in Nepal for years. Several attempts were made to expel them but school managements denied replacing the Bhutanese teachers with Nepalese. The school authorities say, expulsion of Bhutanese teachers would hamper in maintaining standard of English in teaching. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 7, 2006 by Editor.

Leaders stress repatriation, Australian diplomat visits camp
Damak, December 05: Exiled Bhutanese leaders repeated their demand for a respectful repatriation of the the Bhutanese citizens back to their country.

“We want to go back home and not to the US”, the leaders said.

Speaking at an interaction organized by the Bhutan Women’s Development Association in Urlabadi on Monday and central member of the Bhutan Human Rights Organization D. S. Kafley stressed that cooperation and support of all the political parties and people in Nepal and India was essential for the dignified repatriation of the exiled Bhutanese.

General Secretary of the Association, Ambika Kafley said the exiled Bhutanese want to return to their country and asked the international community to support their wish.

Meanehile, Australian Ambassador to Nepal Graeme Lade visit the camps on Monday. On the occasion, he said that the government of Australia would provide support as much as possible to resolve the problem.

Talking to exiled Bhutanese in Beldangi-1 camp, Lade assured for Australian support to the proposal put forward by the government of Nepal in order resolve the protracted problem.

On the occasion, the Lade also inspected the census and relief distribution works taking place at the camp. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 5, 2006 by Editor.

Bhutan absconding from repatriation
The Bhutanese refugee impasse is progressively stepping towards complication. Gradually, it is attracting individual refugee and well-wishers into hot debate. This decade-and-half years of pending issue has been one of the biggest burdens for South Asia. Even the world community is unreceptive to the dilemma. The long stay in the unimproved camps under the plastic canopy with hesitant future has multiplied aggravations and dejections within individual refugee. The final hopes have once again revived after the news stating the announcement regarding 16th round of Nepal-Bhutan talk was publicized.

Repatriation Vs Resettlement
Citing the unfeasibility of early repatriation, the US and few other countries and the refugees’ chief aiding agency, UNHCR have almost begun hinting the package of third country setlement. Countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, and Switzerland are well-ahead to back the dealings of relocation. However, it is not yet made public about the procedures, pros and cons about resettlement. Indeed, the UNHCR’s slow poisoning towards making refugees forced to opt for only one option is against international laws related to human rights.

Since the time when relocation package is brought-up it provoked faction within refugees; individual’s opinion can be distinctly seen divided into different forms. The literate youths’ circles are running behind third country resettlement. The other elderly, illiterate groups are still willing to get repatriated as they say they have sweated a lot to bring Bhutan into present state. A query, why America despite exerting pressure over Druk dictator to take back its citizens, is encouraging these refugees in allowing the US land to relocation, always remain hidden. The core group comprising 14 big world’s democratic countries’ joint effort for repatriation would pave a way for discouraging absolute monarchy towards further suppression inside Bhutan.

Leading political and apolitical organizations existing in exile have repeatedly criticized such moves claiming this option would not give entire justice to refugees. The other interesting fact is that groupism in camps has begun to anti-campaign about leaders stand towards only repatriation. This proves that right to choose any options should be given to refugees unconditionally.

Nepal’s Fallacy
Nepal waited for the solution depending upon the futile bilateral talks between the two Himalayan nations, which held one after the other in Kathmandu and Thimphu. This is the biggest and uncorrectable mistake that Nepal did amidst refugees’ appeal to involve India in the talks. These talks’ unfruitful outcomes resulted into frustration and mental depression within refugees. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be mistaken to say that India, the chief vigor to solve the issue, remained inert for the past 16 years. However, Indo-Bhutan Treaty of 1949 hands over the foreign policy control to India.

Nepal always stands flexible in its policy and situate towards the imbroglio. It would be better if Nepal could clearly and urgently make public about government stance and policy towards Bhutanese refugee issue to bar ideological differences and internal divergence within refugees. There will be Nepal’s ‘diplomatic failure’ if it could not step towards safe landing of the crisis before it is too late. It was Nepal which entirely lingered in two-sided talks despite internationalizing the mess during the early years when few round of talks yielded no progress. The agreement of placing refugees into four categories was another biggest fault because of which innocent, old-staged including even children at Khudunabari, one of the verified camps were put under the ‘Terrorist group.’

16th round of bilateral talks
Now, it is learnt that the government of Nepal is arranging for bilateral talks with Bhutan. This would be 16th attempt to find amicable solution to the prolonged refugee stalemate through bilateral talks. Refugees including their well-wishers are eager towards this talk as it is going to be held after a long gap and amidst confusing state. In fact, Bhutan at hand is having more risks in the days ahead if it still conceals the facts that these refugees are to be repatriated without a delay. The more divided opinion it finds in refugees the more problem it generates to Bhutan.

Bhutan should clearly understand that if these refugees opt for third country resettlement and still posse a feeling of nationality, it would be at menace because those refugees would be well equipped both physically and mentally to step towards normalizing silent state terrorism inside Bhutan. The rising of communism both inside Bhutan and in refugee camps would be an additional threat to Bhutan if it cannot return these refugees to their original homestead at the earliest possible.

Nepal, on the other hand should comprehend that the refugee problem is a problem aroused between Bhutanese government and refugees. It shouldn’t abscond Bhutan in the 16th round of bilateral talks free of giving concrete, practical and justifiable decision to refugee problem. Nepal must then understand that the US is in a position to overcome onto Nepal’s policy forcing refugees to accept its package in case if it fails to grasp concluding decision during the talks. The Nepali community from every corner of the world will test Nepal’s eligibility towards giving entire justice to the minority Lothsampa ethnic group from Bhutan making them return homeland with honor, dignity and compensation. Furthermore, Nepal is sure to encounter similar problems in the future if these refugees are allowed to relocation in western lands. Thus, it should not go agreeing with the unnecessary conditions of concerned states or other countries. Without delay, Nepal should work towards expediting repatriation process of these refugees.

This entry was posted in Opinion on December 4, 2006 by Editor.

Census in Beldangi-I ends this week
Beldangi I, December 03: The officail registration of the exiled Bhutanese in Beldangi-I ,which started from November 15, would end on December 8.

Regular census would complete by Wednesday December 6. But it takes at least two days to register absentees who were marked temporarily absent earlier.

After the completion in Beldangi-I, the census of Beldangi-II would commence. A UNHCR office said that census in Beldangi-II would start from December 18. It would take at least to complete re-registration in this biggest camp. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 4, 2006 by Editor.

ULFA involvement in Phuntsholing blast: DGP of Assam (UPDATE)
Guwahati, December 2: The Indo-Bhutan border has been sealed and there is additional deployment of the para military force, Shastra Seema Bal (SSB), following the incident of blast, police additional DGP of Assam B P Rao reporter Press Trust of India.

He said security has been tightened along the Indo-Bhutan border, including at Samdrup Jhongkar in Nalbari district, which is the entry point to the Himalayan kingdom.

When asked about any insurgent outfit behind the blast, Rao said preliminary reports point out the involvement of ULFA.

“But involvement of other outfits other than ULFA cannot be ruled out at this moment”, he said.

The Assam police, he said, has taken all precautionary measures and are in touch with the BSF and SSB in this regard, Rao said.Bhutan News Sercice

This entry was posted in Main News on December 2, 2006 by Editor.


Pranab Mukherjee to invite King for SAARC Summit
Kolkata, December 02: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will visit Bhutan to invite King Jigme Singye Wangchuk for 14th SAARC summit to be held in April next year.

This was stated by Mukherjee on the sidelines of a business seminar here today.

On prospects of investments in West Bengal, he said the state, due to its position, had the potential to play an important role to meet the objectives of Centre’s look east policy.

He said the UPA government was in the process of deepening economic ties with South East Asian countries.Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 2, 2006 by Editor.


Bomb blast in Phuntsholing
Phuntsholing,December2:: A powerful bomb hidden at a petrol pump in Phuntsholing in Bhutan exploded on Saturday seriously injuring four persons, including three Indians and one Bhutanese national, officials said.

The Indo-Bhutan border had been sealed soon after the blast and the Royal Bhutan government had closed all entry gates to the Himalayan kingdom, they said.

Officials said that the blast occurred between 6.30 am and 6.45 am in a waste bin at the Bhutan Gate petrol pump adjacent to the Royal Bhutan Revenue department office in Phuntsholing, 200 metres from the Indo-Bhutan border adjacent to bordering town of Joygaon in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district.

Three injured Indian nationals are being evacuated to the Binaguri army hospital in Jalpaiguri district, they said.

High police officials from North Bengal have rushed to Joygaon, they added.Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 2, 2006 by Editor.

Nepalese leaders vow their continued support to movement
Kathmandu, December 1: Representatives of eight political parties in Nepal have vowed their continued support and solidarity towards Bhutanese political movement.

In an interaction program organized by GRENSO –Nepal at hotel Radisson on Friday, Chakra Bastola of Nepali Congress said that the only solution left behind is to involve India in the talks. He said the recent US offer of third country resettlement would not help find the solution to the Bhutanese political root cause.

Another speaker Suresh Ale Monger of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoists) said that this problem is created by autocratic druk regime. “As it is a political problem, our party assumes that the solution should also be grasped through political means.” He said- adding “Because of the establishment of communist party in Bhutan, America has proposed for relocation.” Monger also said that the problem would laze where it is even if these people are taken to America. He also said that CPN-Maoists would now on prioritize the issue at its top agenda.

Jhalanath Khanal of CPN-UML said that all Nepalese are against absolute druk monarch. He said the political modality should be maintained by Bhutanese people themselves. He also stressed on the national common consensus in Nepal towards resolving the impasse.

Former Foreign Minister Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat said India has an influential role. “Now Nepal should call for international support besides India’s involvement in the talks” he said, adding- “This problem should be solved within certain time framework otherwise there is no need to make people hostage inside unimproved camps.” Mahat also said that now those who want political change in Bhutan should give an option to America to bar its recent proposal of third country resettlement.

Representatives from other political parties also strongly extended their continued support and solidarity towards establishing democracy in Bhutan.

On the occasion, Indian leader Anand Swarup Verma said that the US hasn’t yet officially aired the offer of third country migration. He stressed the Indian involvement in the talks. “India that has dropped these refugees via trucks near Indo-Nepal border must now allow them to use its soil to enter Bhutan.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of NFD-Bhutan Thinley Penjore presented a paper urging Nepal government to help expedite repatriation process. NFD-Bhutan has also demanded the official recognition for this Bhutanese political alliance. Bhutan News Service/T.P.Mishra

This entry was posted in Main News on December 1, 2006 by Editor.

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