APFAnews Archive August 2007

Red army in the Dragon Kingdom (REPRODUCTION)
BY: Deepak Adhikari

Kathmandu, August 31: Another Maoist insurgency is going to rock yet another country in South Asia, if the statements made by the leaders of the Communist Party of Bhutan Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (CPM MLM) are anything to go by.

“Preliminary preparations for an insurgency are over. We are going to launch it soon,” says Vikalpa, nom-de-plume of CPB MLM General Secretary.

Bhutan is holding its parliamentary elections in March and April 2008. But, prior to the election date, CPB MLM plans to launch its ‘People’s War’ in the Himalayan kingdom.

The goal: Abolition of monarchy and establishment of a republic
Following the footsteps of Nepali Maoists who had submitted a 40-point demand to the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba before launching a ‘People’s War’, CPB MLM faxed a 13-point demand to the Royal Government of Bhutan on March 22, 2007.

The letter stressed the need to “introduce people’s democracy in the place of absolute monarchy.” The party has asked for multi-party democracy, repatriation of the refugees to their original homes with honor and dignity, release of all political prisoners and to introduce the land reform act etc.

Vikalpa (literally, alternative) says that fulfillment of the demands would have paved the way for a peaceful resolution. “But, the government, rather than taking it seriously, has unleashed terror by arresting commoners, and this has prompted us to wage an armed struggle,” says CPB supremo Vikalpa.

The Druk regime is yet to respond to these demands.

The unfolding events suggest that South Asia’s only active monarchy that is ruling the so-called ‘Last Shangri-La’ is likely to take the country into Maoist violence. The eruption of militancy in northeastern South Asia will not only push Bhutan into turmoil but the two biggest Asian power i.e. India and China will have to deal with yet another insurgency in their backyards.

Expanding Network
At a time when Nepal was mired in the Maoist conflict, CPB MLM was announced on April 22, 2003. Pamphlets were widely distributed and posters were pasted in and around the seven refugee camps of Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal. On the same day, sixteen out of a total twenty districts in Bhutan saw similar activities. That was the occasion of Lenin Day and the official announcement of the first communist party in Bhutan formed two years back.

Following its formal announcement, Bhutanese Maoist leaders zeroed in on two areas: expanding the organizational network and intensifying political and military training. The Maoist cadres overwhelmingly participated in the ‘long march’ along the Mechi Bridge on the border between Nepal and India last May. The forceful attempt made by the refugees to return to their home country did not succeed. It ended with clashes between refugees and Indian security forces.

The unrest triggered by the Maoists in Beldangi camp of Jhapa on 27 and 28 May led to the death of Narapati Dhungel and Purna Bahadur Tamang. The CPB MLM organized a condolence meet for the ‘martyrs’ in Beldangi and Sanischare camps on June 10. Student leaders Toya Khatiwada, Pasang Rai, Mesh Pathak, Champa Singh Rai delivered speeches during the programme.

An emergency meeting of CPB MLM Central Committee held in the first week of June, following the Beldangi and Mechi Bridge incidents, concluded that the grounds for an armed struggle were ripening. The meeting also decided to launch a ‘People’s War’ at the earliest. Following this, CPB has intensified its activities in all the seven refugee camps. The party has been organizing cultural programmes and closed-door meetings to indoctrinate more refugees for the upcoming ‘People’s War.’

Some of the Bhutanese leaders have gone to Western countries like USA, UK, Germany, while others stay in their cozy apartments in Kathmandu, leaving their countrymen in the cramped refugee camps.

In this backdrop, the Maoists have maintained a low profile while expanding the party network on a war footing. They have succeeded in drawing huge numbers of disgruntled refugees to their block. These new breed of leaders, unlike hitherto known leaders, are little known but they are spirited youths mostly from a teaching background. While the number of full time party members is still a matter of conjecture, what is obvious is that the party leadership has been rapidly expanding its network.

Since the party is underground, most of its activities are undertaken through its sister organizations. All Bhutan Revolutionary Student Association, its student wing, was formed shortly after the announcement of CPB MLM. Similarly, All Bhutan Women Association was announced just two weeks after the formation of its student wing. All Bhutan Republic Youth Association, all Bhutan Teachers’ Association, All Bhutan Peasants’ Association, All Bhutan People’s Cultural Forum are other sister organizations of the party.

CPB has also adopted the strategy to form independent or literary groups to spread its ideology. The now defunct Communist Study Center led by a refugee from Goldhap camp (who was adept at oratory skills) active in 2003 was one such group.

CPB MLM has also been involved in collecting funds. News sources say, the party has collected donations from Bhutanese teachers working in private schools and plus-two colleges in Kathmandu. Similarly, the party has urged Bhutanese working in INGOs and donor agencies to contribute 5 per cent of their salary. Sources claim the party has been able to collect approximately 14 lakh rupees, some of which was spent on purchasing arms.

Organizing cultural programmes is another way to collect money for the party. All Bhutan People’s Cultural Forum organized a cultural programme and a drama titled ‘Paristhiti Le Janmaeko Lakshya’ (Goal Created by Circumstances) at the Nepal Academy in Kathmandu on May 10, 2007. More than thirty thousand rupees was collected from the tickets of the show and from the sales of the album ‘Bidroha Ka Jhilkaharu’ (Sparks of Rebellion).

Preparing for ‘People’s War’
The first national conference of CPB MLM (from January 31 to February 3, 2006) devised an ideological and technical outline for a ‘People’s War.’ According to a party press release, the conference approved the manifesto and the programme and policies of the party. The conference, according to the release, “broke all the large and bulky party committees into a sophisticated one to make a unified force.”

The conference also elected Vikalpa General Secretary until the second national conference. “The most important decision was to make party military oriented and military party oriented,” argues Vikalpa.

Bhutanese Maoists have followed the strategies adopted by Nepali Maoists. The protracted People’s War is divided into three strategic phases: defense, balance and counter attack. Defense is again divided into three sub-phases: preparation, commencement and continuation. Among these, the party is still in its first phase. The preparation phase is again divided into four phases: ideological, organizational, technical and related to struggle. Among these, they have started the propaganda machine through cultural programmes, production of people oriented musical albums and pamphlets and posters. Party mouthpieces such as Vidhyarthi Pratirodh and Naulo Awaj also serve their purpose.

CPB MLM has also applied Chinese leader Mao’s doctrine: ‘encircling city from village.’ It has stressed the formation of an armed force to implement the doctrine. Vikram, one of CPB leaders, says they plan to create a guerilla force that will be technically able to carry out defensive attacks, which, in his words, “will crush the enemy’s forces while defending our forces.”

What is the military strength? Vikalpa says, “We have a few old and homemade guns. However, our fighters are not trained for hi-tech war. We believe in getting trained in the course of war.” He adds, “There cannot be a better training field than the working area.”

Made in Bhutan
CPB MLM’s working area is none other than Bhutanese soil. Apart from refugee camps, Bhutanese leaders are active in Damak and Birtamode of Jhapa and Siliguri (West Bengal), Sikkim, Darjeeling and Assam in India. They also frequent Kathmandu in order to propagate and collect funds. But they are trying to focus their activities mainly inside Bhutan. CPB leaders claim that theirs is the only party established inside Bhutan. The Central Committee of CPB MLM has five commands (four commands operate in Bhutan and one in the refugee camp). More than one lakh refugees are languishing in the camps while one lakh and eighty thousand Lhotsampas (Nepali speaking Southern Bhutanese) are in Bhutan.

Penetration by its cadres inside Bhutan and their mobilization has been a top Maoist priority. The result: three districts namely Tashigang, Samdrup Jonkhar and Samchi are now Maoist hotbeds. Bhutan’s geographical situation (65 percent forest and 80 percent mountainous and hill region), says CPB, is suitable for guerrilla warfare.

Sources say, the party plans to stat a ‘People’s War’ from the eastern districts of Yangtse, Tashigang and Mongar where the state has a minimum presence. These districts share a porous border with Arunachal state of India, which China claims as its own. The Sarchops (ethnic Bhutanese of the East) are the majority in that region. Sarchops account for 33 percent of the total population and they are coming under the influence of CPB MLM. Sarchop Mukti Morcha, a sister organization of CPB was formed a few months ago. Another organization called Gorkha Rastriya Mukti Morcha led by Amar Chhetri (which demands six southern districts be declared Gorkha Pradesh) has close ties with the Maoists.

However, an analyst warns that the idea to launch the war from the southern stronghold of Lhotsamaps might be counterproductive. The Druk regime has been terrorizing south Bhutan for years. As a result, that part has become an epicentre of rebellion since the early 90s when one lakh Nepali speaking Bhutanse were forced to leave their homeland.

Bhutan State Congress (est. 1952), led by DB Gurung, pioneered the rebellion in 1954 from Sarbhang district of South Bhutan. Interestingly, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had also taken part in the democratic movement in Bhutan in the early 1950s. He disclosed the fact in his memoir published in Nepal Weekly Magazine (Aug 20-26, 2007). CPB MLM invokes Mahashur Chhetri, killed in 1954 uprising, as an inspiration for their cause.

Nepal Connection
As mentioned above, Bhutanese Maoists have largely drawn the strategy and tactics from Nepali Maoists. Bhutanese comrades have maintained a rapport with the Nepali Maoists since its inception. Nepali Maoists, sources say, provided ideological and material assistance to them. Senior leaders of CPN M imparted training on firearms and ideological and cultural issues. With both parties being members of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPASA), it’s easier for them to cooperate, sources privy to the Maoists say. CPB MLM actively participated in an international seminar organized by CPB M between December 26 and 30, 2006. CP Gajurel ‘Gaurav’, In-charge of the International Bureau, CPN M, says, “We are very close, for we follow the same ideology in the first place and they are also people of Nepali origin in the second.”

He disclosed that most of the CPB MLM leaders were trained and inspired by Nepal’s ‘People’s War.’ He adds, “We are helping them in guerrilla warfare strategy and working policy.”

If CPN Maoist enters mainstream politics shunning violence, they might only share ideological grounds. Nevertheless, if the Constituent Assembly polls did not take place and they adopted a policy of rebellion, relations between these parties might extend to the level of material cooperation. CPB also maintains close ties with the Communist Party of India Maoist.

Violence out of Compulsion?
The Bhutanese refugee stalemate is the main base where CPB aims to launch a ‘People’s War.’ Scholars had predicted that if the refugee impasse remained for a long time, the youths would be drawn to violence. Aruni John, a Sri Lankan scholar, in her research published by Colombo-based think-tank Regional Centre for Strategic Studies as early as August 2000 wrote, “It is likely that the unemployed Bhutanese refugee youths in Nepal will shortly become potential recruits for militant forces that currently destabilized northeast India, southern Bhutan and eastern Nepal.”

She concluded, “Frustration with a legal process between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal that appears to be going nowhere, a splintered refugee leadership, a seemingly uncompromising Bhutanese monarchy, and the lack of future options may push these refugee youth to turn to militancy.” Many Bhutanese leaders opine that the Bhutan government should take the responsibility for the plight of the refugees. Teknath Rizal, Chairman of Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee, says, “Every person has a limit of tolerance. If that limit is crossed, one is compelled to resort to arms.”

The main reasons behind the formation of CPB are the frustration and anger due to the protracted refugee crisis. But will politics of violence be successful? A Bhutanese human rights leader has a few caveats. He says it is problematic for an underground party to wage a war in Bhutan due to the small size and the sparse population of the country. He recollects the arrest of 39 Bhutanese following a cultural programme4 organized by Maoists in May.

Bhutan with a population of seven lakh and fifty thousand has nearly 22 thousand security forces including the Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bodyguard and Royal Bhutan Police. Approximately 20 thousand Indian Army personnel are currently stationed in Bhutan. The soldiers are said to be kept in Bhutan for military training, road construction and other development works. This heavy military presence makes it difficult for CPB MLM to launch a ‘People’s War.’ Probably taking its cue from this scenario, CPB has asked other political parties to launch a joint struggle against monarchy. A recent press release undersigned by Vikalpa reads, “We request all the political parties to form a unified front to fight against Bhutan’s monarchy, the common enemy of all democratic forces.”

Thinley Penjor, chairman of Druk National Congress (DNC), while admitting that the DNC and CPB cadres in Bhutan are working jointly at local levels, hinted at the possibility of unity at the central level. Nepali Maoist leaders had advised Bhutanese Maoists to work with other stakeholders. Ram Karki, chief of Bhutan desk in the International Bureau of CPN M, says, “The Bhutanese movement will succeed only if it joins hands with DNC and BPP (Bhutan People’s Party).”

India’s Role
Maoist leader Gaurav says, “It’s easy to start an armed struggle in Bhutan because the government is very weak. But, it may have to face the military strength of India.” Bhutan, surrounded by Indian states fighting an insurgency for decades, is a strategically important region. “That’s why,” he says, “India will try to prevent a ‘People’s War.'” Like Nepal, it is sandwiched between China and India. CPB has a nexus with ULFA and Bodo, separatist outfits operating in northeast India.

When Nepal’s Maoist conflict reached its apogee, India termed it a common security threat for both countries. If such a Maoist conflict spawns in Bhutan, it will definitely be a trilateral (Bhutan, Nepal and India) issue. “Bhutanese Maoists have to directly confront Indian security forces,” says Ram Karki, central member of CPN M.

Indian interest in Bhutan is manifold. However, bilateral treaties bind Bhutan with its southern neighbour. According to the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 1949, India has the prerogative over the issues of foreign affairs and security of Bhutan. The treaty was amended in February this year. Firstly, Article 2 has been rephrased and the term ‘guided by the advice by GOI’ has been replaced by ‘friendly cooperation’ in the context of Bhutan’s foreign relations. Secondly, Article 6 has been revised to the extent that Bhutan can act independently in importing non-lethal equipment, but will still have to go by India’s assistance and approval for import of arms, ammunition, machines and warlike materials and stores for Bhutan’s welfare and protection. Though, there seems to be some changes in theory, India still plays in practice a significant role in the security and foreign relations of the Druk regime.

India’s special relation with Bhutan has irked Bhutanese refugee leaders. Bhutanese leader Teknath Rizal says, “Aren’t the issues raised in Terai and ours the same? Why does India keep mum over our issue?” India’s diplomatic reticence is obvious given its involvement in hydropower projects and military training in Bhutan. India has established a Military Training Team (IMTRAT) in Ha district of Bhutan. The Indian army is also active in Bhutan under the name of the General Road Task Force.

In early 2003, the Royal Bhutan Army with assistance from the Indian army flushed out the insurgents operating in northeastern India from their base in southern Bhutan. The separatist outfits, United Liberation Front of Assam, National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Kamatapur Liberation Organization, once welcomed by the royal government, were later perceived as threats to the state. But three years after getting rid of the Indian insurgents, the government is likely to confront homegrown militants.

This confrontation can largely be traced to the refugee problem created by Bhutan itself almost two decades ago. In this scenario enters the United States with a proposal to resettle sixty thousand refugees. This proposal, sources say, surfaced after the US detected growing extremism in the refugee camps. Australia and Canada have also shown willingness to take in a few thousand refugees.

But, the advocates of third country settlement have been targeted by the Maoists. Two camp secretaries of Beldangi camp, Hari Adhikari Bangaley and Manorath Khanal, have been frequently assaulted over the last three months. Sources say Maoist cadres were involved in the incidents. The CPB MLM took part in the ‘Long March’ movement to return home in May this year. A press release of the party dated June 7, 2007 reads, “The organizations privy to our party had to lead the movement in Mechi Bridge due to the failure of the National Front for Democracy.”

In the same release, the party has vowed to start an armed struggle. It remains to be seen whether CPB MLM will be confined to mere press releases or carry out yet another ‘People’s War’ in the subcontinent.
(Source: Ekantipur.com)

This entry was posted in Main News on August 31, 2007 by Editor.

Lhotsampa dies of malaria in Bhutan
Phuentsholing, August 31: D.N Kafley,29, died of malaria at at the Phuentsholing general hospital on August 27. He was the resident of Dorokha.

An engineer by profession, Kafle was an employee of Druk Choglay construction, based in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Kafley reported to Phuentsholing General Hospital with high fever on August 25 and on further check up, the doctor diagnosed that he was also suffering from Malaria. But doctors could not do anything as he was in the last stage. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 30, 2007 by Editor.

Forward Bloc urges Indian government to play role
New Delhi, Aug 29 – All India Forward Bloc, a leftwing nationalist party in India, has officially asked the Indian government to play a vital role in resolving the Bhutanese refugee issue.
The Central Committee meeting concluded on Wednesday has also urged all the political parties of India to discuss the issue seriously and come forward with a common opinion.

”As the biggest democracy in the world, India has to play a very vital role in the Bhutanese refugee issue,” the four-page long press statement issued after the meeting stated.

This is the first time any political party in India has passed a resolution on the Bhutanese refugee problem.

”The political parties of India should also discuss this seriously and make solidarity effort to settle the genuine refugee problem politically in their motherland,” the statement said.

The party, which is supporting the UPA government from outside, requested the Druk government to consider the grievances of the refugees. All India Forward Bloc has three Lok Shaba Members from West Bengal.
Source: Ekantipur.com

This entry was posted in Main News on August 29, 2007 by Editor.

King gives red scarf to his brother
Thimphu, August 29: King Jigme Khesar has granted the Royal Scarf to His Royal Highness Jigyel Wangchuck on August 28 that symbolises ‘lifelong commitment to the serve the king, country and people’.

Traditionally, princes and princesses wear the white scarf that represents the pursuit of knowledge and attainment of the values of simplicity, humility and equality. The scarf is changed when the attain the age to serve the country.

Jigyel, born in 1984, had returned to country upon completion of his graduation degree from Oxford University, where King Khesar also had studied. He received early education in Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School and Choate Rosemary Hall, USA.

Son from first wife of Jigme Singye, he has been on light since his involvement in military flush-out of the militants of United Front for Liberation of Assam (ULFA) from eastern districts in 2003 end. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 29, 2007 by Editor.

BMSC expresses concern over the arrest (PRESS RELEASE)
Media coverage on issues concerning day-to-day developments of the Bhutanese Refugee stalemate since inception has been significant from national, regional and international media point of view.

There had been reports on arrest of refugees following camp scuffle over illegitimate allegation of youths possessing arms and ammunitions in the camps with out substantiating such irresponsible statements from camp secretaries who are mandated to work for the camp welfare. The news that reported alleging youths in the camps of possessing arms aggravated to loss of lives of two youths by police firing following insistence to substantiate the statement. Legal probe of the incidence incomplete and their compensations, as assured by the government, not yet released, bereaved families are suffering in the camp.

As reported in the Kathmandu Post August 24, five youths have been arrested following violence in the camp. It is unfortunate that the boys arrested reportedly belong to pro repatriation group. In this connection, it must be made clear that there has been no opposition to the third country resettlement offer from any corner of the Bhutanese movement for repatriation and democracy. It is allegedly responsibilities of either unscrupulous people filtering into the camps or those people who always stood neutral in the movement creating unhealthy situation by dividing the people as groups working for third country resettlements and those leading repatriation movement.

Through this release, we would like to make our position crystal clear to the media that no pro-repatriation organizations have ever opposed the third country resettlement offer. In fact, responsible group of people in the leadership who aspire for resolving refugee stalemate by early repatriation have appreciated noble proposals from different donor nations and the United Sates in particular as an alternative to repatriation after such a long period of life in the camps. We have repeatedly stressed that the refugee families or individuals have every right to choose their destiny. We had only urged for clarity with regard to their future.

We must not forget or ignore refugee relatives living inside Bhutan including those languishing in the prison. It will be an injustice for the refugee relatives to decide for their destiny beyond repatriation without knowing the fate of their relatives languishing in the prison and those living discriminated life inside Bhutan.

It is not out of place at this juncture to mention that no country has approached us supporting repatriation agenda, but only a few have offered for 3rd country resettlement. This agenda too have only helped to create confusion in the camps due to absence of clarity in all aspects of the prospects of the agenda.

It is unfortunate that pro repatriation group has been continuously attacked using different means that extended to circulation of fake and forged letters to defame and assassinate characters of responsible leaders often campaigning against their qualities and their personal profiles.

We urge Nepal government to speed up investigation of the refugee unrest that took lives of two youths of Beldangi camp in May 2007 and expedite release of compensations as the bereaved families have not yet been compensated.

We appeal media concerns and urge them to review the camp situation and help us advocate for the government to conclude their probe at the earliest.

Tek Nath Rizal
Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee
August 25, 2007

This entry was posted in Main News on August 26, 2007 by Editor.

Bhutantimes.com has been blocked again
Kathmandu, August 25: We are getting reports from readers in Bhutan that Bhutantimes.com has been blocked again and the site statistics seem to confirm this.

We aren’t sure what exactly is going on but certainly feel this is a highly regrettable action. BT has been taking some flak recently on this issue (on the forum and in the news) and at some point we will attempt to get our point of view across.

In the mean time we maintain that our readers will be best placed to judge whether we are deserving of such attention from BICMA.
Source: bhutantimes.com

This entry was posted in Main News on August 25, 2007 by Editor.

303650 voters registered for December NC election
Thimphu, August 25: Till yesterday 303650 voters of the 400626 eligible voters registered to vote for the National Council(NC) elections in December.

The first draft Electoral Roll released by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) yesterday stated the registration.

ECB says Trashigang dzongkhag has the highest number with 33977 registered voters. It has 45,915 eligible voters. Gasa dzongkhag with an eligible voter population of 2083 has the lowest number of registered voters with 1536 registered voters. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 25, 2007 by Editor.

Pradhan becomes new camp secy
Beldangi, August 25: Deo Raj Pradhan is appointed as new camp secretary of Beldangi-II on last Wednesday. Pradhan heads Camp Management Committee (CMC) until its next election. Pradhan served in the same post for two years before Hari Adhikari Bangaley.

Dil Bahadur Khadka has been appointed as deputy camp secretary.

The shuffle in camp management committee was done as both camp secretary and deputy secretary resigned after the recent Beldangi incident.

This is the second time that CMC was reshuffled after Bangaley incident in last May. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 25, 2007 by Editor.

Police arrest yet another one, student
Beldangi, August 25: Nepal police has arrested Sunder Acharya of Beldangi – II extension on charge of his involvement in the recent Beldangi incident. Acharya is a student of Class eight studying in local boarding school in Damak.

Police arrested Acharya from his hut. Those who had sustained injuries during the incident are still undergoing medical treatment while the vandalized hut of Pingala Dhital, Manorath Khanal and Hom Nath Baral is left as it is.

Sector head of Sector ‘D’ of Beldangi – II said the mob looted Rs. 15000 during the incident. Khadka said that his purse was thrown near his hut on August 12. Bhutan News Service/Yadhu Nath Neopane and Puspa Adhikari.

This entry was posted in Main News on August 25, 2007 by Editor.

Police arrest four in connection with Beldangi incident
Beldangi, August 23: Nepal police arrested at least four exiled youths including former camp secretary of Beldangi-II extension, Subash Acharya this week alleging their active involvement in the recent Beldangi incident where an uncontrolled mob bet up camp secretaries of Beldangi-II and Beldangi-II extension.

Dilli Ram Ghorsai of sector F, Harka Singh Gurung and Shree Man Khatiwada of sector D of Beldangi-II are among others. Gurung is the sector head of sector D under camp management committee and Ghorsai is the vice-chairman of Bhutanese Refugee Repatriation Programming Council (BRRPC).

Acharya is one of the camp representatives of ‘probe committee’ formed to investigate the May incident of Beldangi-II camp. In that incident, Nepal police shot dead two youths of Beldangi-II and extension while bringing the situation under control.

It is reported that the detainees are kept at police station, Damak. Bhutan News Service

Note: This news story has been edited after final verification

This entry was posted in Main News on August 25, 2007 by Editor.

Indian PM hints positive signals, NDF, INSAF welcome Singh’s gesture
NEW DELHI, Aug 21 – Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh has said that India will work with Nepal and all concerned parties to resolve the festering Bhutanese refugee crisis.

“India will work with all parties, especially Nepal, in order to improve the state of refugees and find a solution that will ensure their dignity and well-being,” Singh said in a response to a letter written by Indian lawmaker Ram Gopal Yadav.

India’s Socialist Party’s leader Yadav is demanding the Indian government to lead a tripartite initiative to facilitate a dignified repatriation of more than 100,000 refugees languishing at seven UNHCR-administered camps in Jhapa and Morang districts in eastern Nepal since 1990.

Yadav is associated with the Bhutanese Refugees Solidarity Group that supported the “long march” campaign of the refugees to their homeland a few months back.

However, India did not give the passage to the refugees though they had come via India to Nepal.

Kantipur received a copy of the Indian Prime Minister’s letter dated two weeks on Tuesday.

This is the first time that any Indian prime minister has expressed serious concern over the issue in written form.

Stating that the government is trying to find a common consensus with all parties in regard to human values, Singh said that India is encouraging both countries- Nepal and Bhutan- to come up with suitable solutions through peaceful negotiations so that the diplomatic relations between the two neighbors are not affected.

Yadav had also sent the copies of the letter to Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

Mukherjee replied that “suitable solutions” would be found to the problem while Patil informed that they would think about the issue.

The refugees of Nepali-origin were systematically evicted from their ancestral homes in southern Bhutan by the Druk regime in the late eighties and early nineties.

NDF, INSAF welcome Singh’s gesture
Meanwhile, Bhutanese organizations in exile including the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Bhutan Solidarity and Indian National Social Action Forum (INSAF) welcomed Prime Minister Singh’s gesture organizing a joint-press conference here on Monday.
“This is a positive step from the Indian side,” the Secretary of Advocacy and Foreign Department of NDF Narad Adhikari said. “If India implements what it said, it will create history,” he added.

“The concerned parties mean refugee leaders, Bhutan, Nepal and Indian governments. All of them should sit for talks and find a solution to the crisis at the earliest,” the Front’s Vice-Secretary Rajman Gurung said. “The Nepal government should immediately initiate talks with India over this.”

Dr Sunilama and INSAF President Anil Chaudhari were also present at the conference, which came up with the decision to form a five-member delegation of senior Indian social activists. The delegation will come to Nepal to lobby with government officials and major political parties on September 4 for talks with India.

The delegation comprises social activist Medha Patekar, senior Socialist leader Surendra Mohan and journalist Kuldip Nayer, Dewaprat Biswas of Forward Block and Dr Sunilam.

According to Adhikari, the delegation will meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, foreign minister Sahana Pradhan, UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and Maoist Chairman Prachanda and hand over Dr Singh’s letter that would “form a basis for talks”.
Source: Ekantipur.com/Gopal Khanal

This entry was posted in Main News on August 23, 2007 by Editor.

The story tells the truth
Nepti Lamhu Sherpa was born in1986 in Dagana district, one of the most remote districts in Bhutan. Her father died in Bhutan when she was just four. A year after the death of her father, she had to leave Bhutan with her mother and grandma.

When she reached Maidhar in 1992, where Bhutanese refugees were given shelter in early 90s, she was very sad when she witnessed sick, thin, diseased Bhutanese nationals who arrived there earlier. “We came from a cold place in Bhutan. I felt terrible heat as we stayed in a bamboo hut built in sea-shore of Mai River”, she lamented.

When her family was sifted to Beldangi camp she was quite happy. Beldangi camp is moderately colder than Maidhar. She started her schooling from Pancha-oti English School, a school managed for refugee students. She was happy to have her books and copies donated by UNHCR.

Nepti was trapped into another tragedy when her mother eloped with a stranger. Her mother stays some where in India and she has no ideas of exact location “I saw her 6 years ago when she visited me”, told she. Now Nepti stays with her grandma. Her grandma, Thang Singh Sherpa is 83 years old. She has low vision and audibility.

Nepti has to do everything for herself and dearest grandma. “It is not an easy task to run a family. I have no one to assist my survival”, she said with her eyes full of tears.

She hardly manages time to her studies. However, she is a committed girl. She was forced to repeat her classes in grades seven and eight. When asked about the reason of her failure, she said nothing but trickled tears down her cheeks. “I am my own father or mother.” Certainly that was her reality or reason of having repeated her classes.

Nepti reads in grade nine in Pancha-oti English School. She goes to school at 8:15am and gets back to her hut at 3:00pm. She weaves cap or works in cottage industry of wool run around the camps during her holidays to earn her livelihood. She even sells ration to buy clothes for grandma and her school uniform.

One of her teachers, Ram Dahal commented that she is very laborious and hardworking in her class. She often goes lost when she makes a recall of her lovely and caring parents. She is worried about her future. “I have no one to support for my studies after I pass grade ten” she told. She has very much missed her parental care. She wishes that her mother soon pays a visit to her.

This entry was posted in Opinion on August 22, 2007 by Editor.

One exiled youth arrested on charge of different robberies.
Sanischare, August 22: Birtamod police have arrested one exiled Bhutanese, Arun Gurung of Shanishchare-based Refugee Camp on a charge of involving in different robberies. Following the tip off, police arrested him from Goldhap Camp on Saturday evening, said Police Inspector Dilip Raj Jha at Birtamod Area Police Office.

Nepali dalies quoted him being involved in the loots of a Maruti Van and two other vehicles three months ago. Following the complaint about him, police had intensified his search. Preparation is underway to send him to the Morang district for the investigation, police said.Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 22, 2007 by Editor.

Private air service on the plans
Thimphu, August 22: In a mountainous country, flight service would be a better alternative of transportation than land transport, despite being costly for a poor country like Bhutan. Yet, interests have spelled out to start a private air service.

This week’s Bhutan Times weekly published a story stating that Yangphel Tours and Treks and the managing director of Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) have submitted a letter of intent to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to start domestic air services in the country.

“We have submitted our letter of intent to the government with a proposal for a small airline which can fly throughout the country especially in the east,” the tabloid quoted Karma Lotey, the managing director of Yangphel to have said so.

BTCL Managing Director Yeshey Norbu said the plan is just in maid if air service would be viable between Paro and Bumthang.

They are looking at small, 9-8 seater, safe aircrafts like Pilletus PC 12, Cescna and beach aircrafts, to match the country’s topography.

“This is an expensive business and we would be happy to restrict to one airline only. The market is not explored and in the beginning too many operators will have difficulty in sustaining themselves,” DCA director is quoted Phala Dorji.

Beginning of the domestic air service would help promote tourism and explore the undiscovered cultural heritages of eastern and remote districts.

Currently, Druk Air is only the air service operator, under the government control. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 22, 2007 by Editor.

Nepal, not a member of IOM
Kathmandu, August 22: Officials at Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that office of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) set up at Damak, Jhapa cannot accelerate the resettlement of exiled Bhutanese unless Nepal signs to become its member.

Nepal needs to be a member of IOM to initiate resettlement of Bhutanese in camps but no enough homework has be done to sign in IOM quoted Nepali dailies as said by officials at the ministry. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 21, 2007 by Editor.

Government lifts blockage on bhutantimes.com
Kathmandu, August 19: Bhutanese government has lifted its decision of blocking bhutantimes.com from being viewed inside the country. The earlier action had been taken because officials claimed the site had been covering ‘controversial issues’.

A good decision has been taken by government: BT is now no longer blocked in Bhutan, quoted the online version of the BT, adding that it has upgraded the site to ensure the highest security for the readers. “We now have SSL technology (secure socket layers) which has about the same standard of encryption used in commerce over the internet,” the BT said in a notice after the end of censorship.

Association of Press Freedom Activists Bhutan, International Federation of Journalists and many other press freedom fighters had expressed serious concern over the blockage imposed on the site that has become popular for dicussion among Bhutanese on various issues of national interests. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 19, 2007 by Editor.

What should the Bhutanese voter expect in 2008?

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa and the People’s Democratic Party formally applied this week to register as political parties to contest the 2008 elections. In the absence of any other parties being formed, one of these parties will form the first elected government and the other will sit in opposition.

In interviews with Kuensel, the chosen leaders of the two parties shared their thoughts at this stage of the electoral process. Their party manifestos are not yet public but they provided some insight into what the Bhutanese electorate can expect over the coming months and, perhaps, the next five years.

Q1. Ap Penjore is a farmer from Gasa, Sonam Choden is a doma seller in Sibsoo, Kencho Dorji is a general manager of a corporation, Dechen is a civil servant. Why should each of these people vote for you?
Nobody is compelled to vote for anyone. This is democracy. They should vote for PDP if they believe in our party. We will make sure that delivery of public services to each of these people will be more efficient – without any harassment or delays, personal initiatives will be encouraged both in the civil service and private sector, and our government will be more responsive and meaningful to the people. The PDP is genuinely concerned about every segment of our population and we have plans to benefit all of them, regardless of where they live or what they do.

I have never been content to sit in Thimphu and pass orders. I believe in travelling to all corners of our country with a team of professionals, meeting directly with the people, and working closely with them to find solutions to their problems and resolving them.

Q2. Say your party wins in 2008 election. Can you give us a profile of your Cabinet, either as it exists or as you envision it?
The PDP is not made of young guns but a group of some of the most dedicated and down-to-earth professionals in their respective fields. All of them have reached an age when they can fulfill the responsibilities of a minister and other positions of leadership. Hence, it is not true that the PDP will form a cabinet of young inexperienced ministers. The PDP will have no difficulty in coming out with a dynamic cabinet.

Q3. As we look at the mixed candidature of the former ministers and officials as well as many new faces there is talk of “old wine and new wine.” What would are your comments?
Bottom-line – it doesn’t matter whether the wine is old or new, what matters is its quality. The PDP has quality in its stock of both old and new wine – a heady mixture of wisdom and experience of old, and energy and dynamism of new.

It was a conscious decision of the PDP to make sure that old wine did not outnumber the new and thereby suppress the vitality, and fresh and innovative thinking of the new. We‘ve all heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” and post 2008 we will be treading new ground.

Q4. How will your government differ in its functioning from the government of the past 10 years?
The PDP has a coherent group of professionals and so one thing is certain, we will not have the inherent problem of the lack of inter-sectoral coordination, which has been one of the main obstacles in the functioning of the government until now.

This new group will have new approaches and “out of the box” solutions for some of the challenges facing Bhutan today such as unemployment, private sector development, rural development and the quality of education.

Our government in this new era will be “for the people” – we will be there to serve them, with humility.

Q5. Employment, education, roads and infrastructure, preserving Bhutan’s culture, preserving the environment, health care. How would you number these issues, from 1 to 6, in terms of prioritisation, and why?
I place “roads and infrastructure” and “employment” at the top of my list because they are pressing concerns that require immediate attention and action. We can substantially reduce poverty, one of the primary goals of the PDP, by providing road access to rural areas. Our experience has shown that access to roads and incidence of poverty are inextricably linked, and the lack of infrastructure is an insurmountable obstacle to private sector growth. The PDP is also seriously concerned with youth unemployment. The youth are our nation’s future but we need to start by making sure that each of them can realize their full potential.

Next on my list are “health” and “education” as they are prerequisites for any person to lead a happy and productive life. Moreover, if our country is to move forward in any field – be it economic, social, cultural, or other – a high quality and relevant education is critical.

Last, but certainly not the least, I have “culture” and “environment.” We are blessed with a rich and exceptional cultural and natural heritage that have been preserved and nurtured by our farsighted Kings. It is our responsibility to protect and pass on this rich inheritance to our children unspoiled.

Q6. What is your view of party ideologies? Will ideology play an important role in the 2008 elections?
Every political party has to have an ideology that covers security, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and a host of other issues. The ideology of the PDP will be clearly spelled out in our party Charter and Manifesto and these will have an impact on the 2008 elections. Our party is committed to continuing on the path of our beloved Kings by serving our people with humility, and to put into action what we say we will do – to “walk the talk”.

Q7. How do you see Bhutan 10 years from now? How do you see it 20 years from now?
In the immediate future, democracy needs to be institutionalized and strengthened for our people to reap its benefits.

Within the next 10 to 20 years, I see Bhutan as a country where people trust and have fun working with each other, making the whole far greater than the sum of its parts; where all women and men enjoy unity in diversity taking pride in their shared heritage, and valuing all sentient beings that enrich their living environment; where its people live in peace, knowing that it is the fruit of their own vibrant participation in a just political process and good governance; and where its citizens live in dignity, free from the shackles of poverty.

Q8. Apart from His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, who is your role model?
My parents, who, despite going through a series of trials and tribulations, hardships, adversities and misfortunes that would have broken any family, had the strength to move on and make me and my siblings what we are today. My parents instilled in me values such as hard work, dignity of labour, humility, compassion, spirituality, tolerance, vitality of life, and strength in the face of adversity.

My father pinches pennies when it comes to himself, but is willing to empty his bank account for religious works. Over the years he has donated many personal religious items to lhakhangs and monasteries believing that it can benefit the larger society. Amongst others, most importantly, he built Sangachoekor, Khuruthang Lhakhang and Do Jagar Lhakhang and if he can, he would like to build a chorten as grand as Boudhnath of Nepal. As a son I can say that my father is different from what some people perceive him to be.

My siblings and I can never repay my parents for the struggles they endured to make us what we are today.

In more recent times I have also been inspired by the hundreds of health workers, agriculture extension officers and teachers who are putting in dedicated service to the people under extremely difficult conditions in the remote parts of our country.

Q9. The world talks about branding. What is the image of Bhutan that you would like to portray to the world? A happy and strong nation where people are proud to be Bhutanese; a country with enlightened Monarchs who have placed the overall happiness of their people before themselves and the singular pursuit of economic growth; a nation with a rich and living culture and spirituality; and a country that values its pristine natural environment.

Q10. What would you do to avoid the fractionalisation of Bhutanese society because of party politics?
Many years ago the people of a northern European nation were bitterly divided on a political issue. Remind them today and they will laugh about it. I would tell our people that as we embark under this new political system, divisions will emerge in our small society, but that it will pass. It is important for all our people to remember that we are first and foremost Bhutanese, and that all other divisions that we create – including political affiliations – should not come in the way of our overall unity and common interest in a bright and prosperous future for our country.

The PDP will put stronger and more earnest effort in reinforcing the sense of Bhutanese-ness and the sense of nationhood. Regardless of our background we have a responsibility to understand that as a small country we must remain united at all times – anything less is unacceptable. I have strong faith that our Bhutanese people will rise above any divisive forces that threaten to fractionalise our society.

Q1. Ap Penjore is a farmer in Gasa, Sonam Choden is a doma seller in Sibsoo, Kencho Dorji is the general manager of a corporation, Dechen is a civil servant. Why should each of these people vote for you?
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is a party that is deeply committed to building a political culture governed by the highest ethical and moral standards. In so doing, abiding by the laws of the land is essential. Seeking people’s vote for individual candidates such as myself is unlawful until such time as the Election Commissioner announces the campaign dates.

Q2. Say your party wins in the 2008 election. Can you give us a profile of your Cabinet, either as it exists, or as you envision it?
It is a little too early and presumptuous for me to say at this stage. Hazarding a guess (as the party has not discussed this) in size, it will be around 10; in quality, highly professional and competent with a mix of old and new; in terms of equity, all regions will be represented.

Q3. As we look at the mixed candidature of former ministers and officials as well as many new faces there is talk of “old wine and new wine.” What are your comments?
I am not a connoisseur of wines. But I know why vintage is valued and why one must be hopeful of new wine and trust in its ability to please the expectant palate.

Q4. How will your government differ in its functioning from the government of the past 10 years?
Our government will be directly accountable to the electorate unlike in the past when it was mainly accountable to HM the King and the National Assembly.

Q5. Employment, education, roads and infrastructure, preserving Bhutanese culture, preserving the environment, health care. How would you number these issues, from 1 to 6, in terms of prioritisation, and why?
Here again, the responsibility of a leader is to provide vision. That does not mean he should impose his will on his party and take decisions on his own. Party Charter is still on the anvil and will be adopted by the General Assembly on the 20th of August. I will be better qualified to speak on this subject then.

Q6. What is your view of party ideologies? Will ideology play an important role in the 2008 elections?
I doubt whether ideologies will play a major role in party preference for the voter. As everywhere else, politics in Bhutan will be largely issue -based and personality oriented- the latter more so in the first elections. Political fortunes, after 2013, will be determined on the basis of how important issues have been addressed or resolved and how trustworthy the party leaders and people’s representatives have been.

Q7. How do you see Bhutan 10 years from now? How do you see it 20 years from now?
That will depend on how the people make use of the precious gift of the vote that HM the 4th king has given to them. Personally, I would like to see Bhutan graduating fully out of the LDC club with a tolerable level of unemployment, no pockets or sections of poverty and faithful adherence to the philosophy of GNH, all within a vibrant and orderly democracy in 10 years. 20 years on, I would like to see Bhutan having become what the world thinks it is today.

Q8. Apart from His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, who is your role model?
Nelson Mandela for his indomitable spirit and the power to forgive.

Q9. The world talks about branding. What is the image of Bhutan that you would like to portray to the world?
The Land of Happiness.

Q10. What would you do to avoid the fractionalisation of Bhutanese society because of party politics?
Politics need not be and must not be divisive. I would like to promote a brand of politics which aspires for and is motivated by nobler aspirations than those that it is normally associated with and instead, serve to bring even greater social cohesion and unity in our country. These, in fact, shall be the endeavours of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa.

(Source: Kuenselonline, August 18, 2007)
This entry was posted in Main News on August 19, 2007 by Editor.

Leaders offer tribute to Basnet, Pradhan expresses condolences
Kathmandu, August, 18: Senior Nepalese leaders offered the last tribute to the deceased R.B. Basnet in Bir Hospital today.

Nepalese Minister for Peace Ram Chandra Poudel, Finance Minister Dr. Ram Saran Mahat, Vice-President of Nepali Congress Sushil Koirala and former Foreign Minister Chakra Prashad Bastola paid last tribute to the late Basnet.

Several Bhutanese students, teachers and leaders residing in Kathmandu were also gathered in the hospital to pay the last tribute to late Basnet. Leaders who were present in the hospital premises included Tek Nath Rizal, Ratan Gajmere, Jogen Gajmere, Thinley Penjore and Hari Adhikari Bangaley.

The deceased body was taken to Jhapa. According to family sources, the dead body would be criminated tomorrow in Kankai Mai River of Jhapa.

Meanwhile, senior Bhutanese rights activist S.K. Pradhan residing in the US has expressed his deep condolences over the untimely demise of R.B. Basnet.

He was one of those few leaders who was well known inside Bhutan, among ministers, top bureaucrats, business community, army, police, royal family and in general public quoted Pradhan in an email circular to Bhutan News Service.

Pradhan has mentioned that his death is an irreparable loss not only to us but also to his supporters inside Bhutan as a true leader dedicated to the cause of democracy and freedom in the country.

Late Basnet had joined the Bhutanese bureaucracy as a promising Lhotshampa officer and made substantial contribution in strengthening the budget department and the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan as its director and managing director respectively.

According to Pradhan, Basnet was close to former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck and contemporary to Bhutanese prime ministers, Jigme Y. Thinley, Khandu Wangchuk and Sangye Nedup.

“The Bhutanese people will always remember him as true son of Bhutan who made great sacrifices for a noble cause” , said Pradhan. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 18, 2007 by Editor.

Basnet undergoing treatment in critical situation
Kathmandu, August 17: President of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) R. B. Basnet has been undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital, Kathmandu in critical situation.

According to his wife Monika Basnet, he has been facing the problem at urinary pipe since a few years. The stomach has also been swollen

Doctors at the hospital has said the disease cannot be cured but can be controlled. Basnet had earlier gone initial check up at one of the Jhapa-based hospitals.

Monika expressed her gratitude for those Bhutanese who have been extending their support.

He was admitted to hospital on Wednesday.

Human Rights leader Tek Nath Rizal said he has sought support from Nepal’s ministry of health for treatment of Basnet. However, there has been no response from the Nepalese government.

Basnet is one of the top Bhutanese bureaucrats who established BNDP to fight for democracy and human rights in Bhutan. He has been the president of that party since the establishment.

He had not been active in advocacy for last few years due to ailing illness. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 17, 2007 by Editor.

Basnet passed away at 59 (UPDATE 4:30 AM)
Kathmandu, August 18: President of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) R. B. Basnet passed away at the age of 59 at 2:45 this morning while undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital, Kathmandu in critical situation.

Basnet had been facing the problem at urinary system since a few years. The stomach had also been swollen.

On Friday, the doctors at the hospital had said it was difficult to get complete cure of the problem. Basnet had earlier gone initial check up at one of the Jhapa-based hospitals.

He was admitted to hospital on August 8, Wednesday.

The Nepalese government had turned deaf to repeated request to provide financial support for his treatment.

Leaving his job as the managing director of the state trading corporation, Basnet had established BNDP to fight for democracy, human rights and suppression on the southern Bhutanese in the country.

In 1992, the Bhutanese authority had held several rounds of talks with Nepalese ministers trying to extradite him like Tek Nath Rizal, who was then extradited by authoritarian Nepalese government. However, the newly formed democratic government of Nepal denied his extradition saying lack of extradition treaty between the two countries. His extradition was discussed several times during the 70th and 71st session of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan and Third World Media Network-Bhutan Chapter have expressed deep condolences over Basnet’s death. “Refugees in exile have lost one of their historic leaders” quoted the joint press release issued this morning.

Basnet is survived by his wife and three daughters. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 17, 2007 by Editor.

DPT chooses Thinley its president
Thimphu, August 15: Not unexpected as politics unfolds, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) on Wednesday elected the just retired Home Minister Jigmi Yeshe Thinley to the position of party president.

Over 350 aspirants of the party gathered during a meeting held in Thimphu today voted against zero for Thinley, who has been influential to the changing politics of the country.

Upon elected as the president of the party, Thinley assured the party cadres of making the party a unique of all to practically implement the notion of Gross National Happiness and vision of the king.

However, the party has not elected any other officials including general secretary, central committee or district committee or sectoral committees. As election approaches near, the party is expected to finalise its candidates, even though the parties are facing short of the candidatures in all constituencies.

The meeting of the party is expected to continue the next day as well to train the candidates and finalise the party manifesto, discuss strategies for the upcoming elections, national policies and issues that party would make its agenda during the polls.

The party is yet to file its application at the election commission for registration as legal political group of the country. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has already submitted its application on August 6. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 15, 2007 by Editor.

Nepal government to deploy armed police in camps
Beldangi, August 14: The local administrations in Jhapa and Morang districts have said they would dispatch Armed Police Force (APF) for security in the camps.

The decision has been taken at the wake of a series of violent incidents and approaching date for US government to begin the process of resettlement of the exiled Bhutanese.

The decision was taken at the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Local media quoted Chief District Officer of Jhapa Jaya Mukunda Khanal to have confirmed the move, saying they were making arrangements for security at the camps. “APF will set up its posts in each camp within one-and-a-half months.”

Each camp will have at least 25 APF personnel and will be dispatched once the UNHCR completes the construction of shelter for them. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 14, 2007 by Editor.

UNHCR urges to refrain from violence (FOLLOW UP)
Kathmandu, August 13: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kathmandu has shown concern about the violence in Beldangi II camp on Sunday.

In a press statement on Monday, the UNHCR has urged people in camps to refrain from violence and use of force. It has also requested that their grievances and differences are expressed in a peaceful manner.

“Any individual found to be violating the laws of the country will be dealt with accordingly”, the release reads, adding that the UNHCR also urges exiled Bhutanese to demonstrate their civil responsibility and establish an environment of law and order and mutual respect for each other’s views and opinions in a democratic manner.

“UNHCR is saddened and also expresses its sympathy for those injured particularly those who have had to be hospitalised and others whose huts were destroyed”, the release further reads.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR has refuted the rumours that it circulated information papers on resettlement. “UNHCR continues to work closely with the Government of Nepal and any information on resettlement will only be circulated on instruction from the Government and all exiled Bhutanese will be informed of this”, the release reads.

According to the BNS correspondent in Dharan, BP Koirala Memorial Hospital has discharged the Beldangi incident victims on Monday. These victims were referred there for further medical treatment from the AMDA hospital in Damak.

Those discharged from the hospital includes Parbati Biswa and Manorath Khanal, camp secretary of Beldangi – II and Beldangi – II extension respectively. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 13, 2007 by Editor.

TD processing greets tension, huts of resettlement advocator vandalized (FOLLOW UP)
Kathmandu, August 12: Manorath Khanal, who sustained serious injuries on head and chest, is now undergoing treatment at the BP Koirala Memorial Hospital, Dharan.

The camp secretary of Beldangi – II, Parbati Biswa is also referred to Dharan since she didn’t regain her consciousness at Damak based AMDA Hospital. The youths also bet up Tara Nath Phuyel, Deputy Camp Secretary of the same camp. According to the BNS correspondent in Damak, some back ribs of Phuyel have been broken. He is now undergoing treatment at the AMDA hospital.

Parbati Biswa informed the BNS over telephone that since deputy camp secretary of Beladngi – II approved Pingala Dhital’s application, which is supposed to obtain Travel Document (TD) to overseas, youths from the same camp opposed it claiming she was ineligible to attend a seminar in Thailand.

Biswa further said that during her absence the deputy camp secretary of the same camp approved Dhital’s application without understanding that she was flying to overseas to attend an international conference on Women and Gender issue. According to our Damak correspondent, the deputy camp secretary also admitted that he approved it without undergoing into the content of the application.

Biswa also informed that Manorath Khanal, camp secretary of Beldangi – II extension was involved in doing necessary procedures for Dhital’s approval to obtain the TD.

According to Biswa, a group of students from Pancha-Oti English School, Beldangi – II asked her about the clarification of approving Dhital for obtaining the TD when she reached the school for a regular meeting on Thursday.

Biswa also said the youths, who had gathered in front of the camp committee office in Beldangi – II on Sunday, demanding for the withdrawal of the decision to allowing Dhital for obtaining the TD, physically attacked her including Khanal, Phuyel and sector head of Sector ‘I’.

BNS correspondent in Dharan said the condition of Khanal is serious and he is unable to speak any words. He quoted the Doctors at the Hospital as having said that Khanal has loosened most of his teeth.

Khanal is central working committee member of Bhutanese Refugee Durable Solution Coordinating Committee (BRDSCC) while Dhital is chief of women desk.

Meanwhile, the youths completely vandalized the huts of Dhital and Khanal while the hut of Hom Nath Baral of Beldangi – II under Sector I/1- 74, associated with the BRDSCC, is also vandalized. Relatives of Baral informed the BNS over telephone that the youths also manhandled their aged parents when they tried defying their attempt to damage the hut. Bhutan News Service
Note: This news story is re-edited after its final verification.

This entry was posted in Main News on August 13, 2007 by Editor.

Youths beat another camp secretary in Beldangi
Beldangi, August 12: In a second untoward incident in Beldangi camp, a group of young people beat the camp secretary of Beldangi II extension camp Monarath Khanal on Sunday morning.

He was accused of supporting one woman from Beldangi II camp to receive permission from the local authority to attend a seminar in Thailand later this month.

Khanal has been escorted to nearby health clinic by the Armed Security Force today afternoon for treatment.

Camp residents feared that another bad incident would occur due. Soon after the police escorted Khanal to safe place, market south to the camp has been shut.

Over two dozen police have bee deployed in the camp for maintaining security.

Three months ago, the youths had similarly beaten the camp secretary of Beldangi II for alleging advocacy in favor of resettlement.

Details will be followed soon. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 12, 2007 by Editor.

Egypt arrests 10 Sudanese refugees
Egypt, August 11: Egypt has warned Israel on Friday that it is not obligated to take back African refugees sneaking into Israel and defended its use of force to stop the illegal border crossings quoted the Associated Press.

The warning came as Capt. Mohammed Badr of the northern Sinai police announced the arrest of 11 Sudanese near the border, including four couples in their late twenties, a pregnant woman, and two children.

The refugees told police during interrogation that they paid several hundred dollars per person to Egyptian Bedouins to smuggle them into Israel, Badr said. He said the refugees were from northern Sudan and would be deported back to their country of origin.

Israel estimates that some 2,800 people, including 1,160 Sudanese, have crossed illegally from Egypt through the porous Sinai desert border in recent years. Many of the Sudanese come from the war-wracked western Darfur region, seeking asylum and a better life in Israel. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 11, 2007 by Editor.

Planning commission, RAC dissolved
Thimphu, August 08: The government has formally dissolved the planning commission and the Royal Advisory Council after the seven ministers, who were member of the commission, resigned from their positions.

The dissolution came into effect from Monday. Along with the planning commission, royal advisory committee has also been dissolved.

Aid coordination, previously looked after by the department of aid and debt management, will be managed by the commission secretariat until the commission is reconstituted after the general election next year.

After the dissolution of the commission, department of public account is empowered to take over the charge of external debt management, being carried out by the commission.

The commission was established during the beginning of the second five year plan to coordinate the development activities. The RAC was established in 1965 to advise king on day to day activities. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 8, 2007 by Editor.

PDP becomes first to register at ECB
Thimphu, August 08: The People’s Democratic Party, led by king’s uncle Sangey Ngedup has filed application for registration of the party at the election commission of Bhutan on Monday.

It is mandatory for the party to settle and submit the details of account with the commission officials before filing the application, which the party concluded on the same day.

The party application contains party’s officials name, its abbreviation, specification and pictorial design of the proposed election symbol of the party, party’s political menifesto, name, designation and addresses of the office bearers, party’s mailing address, location of the headquarters and regional offices.

After the commission approves the application, it will issue a certificate of registration.

The commission has opened registration of political parties on July 1. PDP became the fist party, among two, to file the application. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 7, 2007 by Editor.

SAFMA gets its chapter in Bhutan
Thimphu, August 06: Bhutan chapter of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) has been formally announced on Sunday with 12 member executive national committee.

This is the first instance of the government-fed journalists making their links with international press freedom body. This has opened doors for democratization of media sector in the country.

The Chief Justice Sonam Tobgay, government officials and journalists attended the launch function.

Except in Maldives, the SAFMA now has chapters in all SAARC member countries. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 6, 2007 by Editor.

New Swedish envoy for the country
Thimphu, August 06: The news Swedish envoy to Bhutan Lars-Olof Lindgren presented his credentials to His Majesty the King at the Tashichhodzong on Monday.

Ambassador Lindgren was escorted to the Tashichhodzong in traditional chipdrel ceremony and then ushered into the throne room where he presented his credentials.

Based in New Delhi, he arrived Thimphu on Saturday for a three-day trip.

During his stay in the capital, he also called on newly nominated Prime Minister Kinzang Dorji.

According to the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, before he assumed the present post, Ambassador Lindgren served as the state secretary for EU and international affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office. He has also served as state secretary and director general of trade. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 6, 2007 by Editor.


An advisory to the Indian leaders
As we all know, future of any nation and the society rely under the roles of their national leaders, particularly political actors. Not only that, mutual relations with neighboring countries and future of the people in that country also depend on the role of national and regional political leaders. To cite the instance, India dominates the south Asian politics.

In relation to this fact, unfortunately India seems always projecting its passive perceptions towards the Bhutanese refugee problem which was solely created by Thimphu regime 17 years ago. But in contradiction, India always backed the cruelty of the regime lending its expertise and financial assistance. Of course, Indian good wishes and blessings are very essential for Bhutan to head for prosperous future. But that shouldn’t be the cost of any Bhutanese to abandon his or her country on allegations of ‘non national’. Bhutanese born, brought up and served the nation as saviors are now spending miserable life as refugees. Though the refugees firstly stepped in India while leaving their country, due to coercion and intimidation applied on them by the despotic and racial Thimphu during 1990’s, the then Indian government had forcefully ferried them to Nepal.

While the confronting refugee problem is being more and more complicated the extravagant regime is trying to calcify self propagating democratic set up in the country, ignoring 1/6th of its population in exile. How could a democracy success when its own people are starving for the same outside the country? India is praising all the negative developments carried out by Thimphu authority, ignoring the justice seeking force in exile. On June 9, 2007 Indian foreign minister Pranav Mukharjee solicited for peace and calm stating that ‘if the refugees in Nepal get back to Bhutan, there will be demographic imbalance in the region.’ What does his statement means? Then where should these Bhutanese go and settle for preventing Mukharjee’s so-called ‘demographic imbalance?’ Is that issue of creating stateless people around the region blaming them ‘non nationals’, was motivated by the principle of ‘demographic imbalance?’ Or he may say ‘that was his personal view, not a statement given as an Indian foreign minister?’

All the Indian political parties should react on his statement urgently; otherwise it seems there will be a vex hindrance for solving the refugee problem through peaceful process. Any unwanted debris of political misconducts around south Asia hampers the peace and harmony of India, Nepal, and Bhutan too. So, as regional guardian of democracy, leaders of India should react and play a proactive role for solving the issue giving with priority and importance.

West Bengal government alone cannot do anything to address this crisis. The only authority it has is to forward the issue to the union government. Bhutanese fighting for democracy and human rights expect all the political parties in India instead of relying on the provocative intelligence reports, think seriously on the matter and activate their expertise towards positive directions. If not, some of the forces which have been created and are now in hibernation, will topple down the forces insisting for ‘peaceful solution’. This would, not only in Bhutan but also in India, bring havoc, unmanageable.

All the responsible actors in the Thimphu authorities are acting against the sentiments of the people to bow before the king patronized democracy. There will be no government without citizens and this has been seen quite intolerably in Thimphu.

Thimpu claims it is functioning under the philosophy of its self branded ‘gross national happiness’. However, hiding the plight of its people for real and pure democratic values oriented towards the people’s aspirations has not bee incorporated, addressed.

Obviously, dissidents do mistakes. It should be accepted untoward accident, but not in the cost of their citizenship status and identity. If Thimphu wants to strengthen its policy and continue its unilateral and self cornered practices calcifying them with so-called democratic polish, the intimidated and evicted people will jointly decide to change the tortuous history of Bhutan’s family centered and inter-quarreled politics which has been practiced by the ruling Wangchuk elite.

India must realize these fatal consequences and react on it promptly. Simply talking on the prolonged refugee agenda won’t bring fruitful result. Refugees want to get back to their own homesteads in dignified manner.

Recently Sitaram Yechuri, a high profiled CPIM leader and Devprashad Tripathi, a NCP leader, have hinted for some positive initiations towards this protracted problem. So we expect, all the Indian political parties will come together for the cause and pave the way for its peaceful, durable and comprehensive solution. There is no any alternative other than a dignified return of refugees, for peaceful and long-lasting solution of the problem.

Division has been observed among the Bhutanese refugees by a proposal of re-settlement in USA and other western countries, which is regarded to be designed by the American government to foil the democratic struggle in Bhutan. But, majority of the refugees have been insisting for repatriation and dignified status inside their native country. America presently sought permission in Bhutan to establish its embassy and unit of world trade center. For that cost it has obliged to take the burden of Bhutanese refugees to settle them in USA. If these claims are fact then it will not favor south Asia and its people. Indian political leaders should have known the US strategies.

West Bengal government always intends to confront the issue using its provocative security institutions and barring the refugees in their journey to justice. India government centrally claims there is good relation between Thimphu and Delhi, so the problem must be addressed only by Nepal. If India wants that the bilateral relation between these two nations must be kept vital for longer future, it must realize the fact of essentiality for establishing mutual understanding between the people of these two countries. Relation between a large democracy and a despotic regime won’t live forever.

(Ghimire is a Bhutanese journalists based in Siliguri, West Bengal and can be reached at nativeland1@gmail.com)

This entry was posted in Opinion on August 4, 2007 by Editor.

Resettlement has already begun
Abraham ABRAHAM, the country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nepal has repeatedly talked of opening the doors for third country settlement of the exiled Bhutanese as prospects for repatriation has almost closed. Having worked in a number of countries for nearly three decades to repatriate and resettle refugees, Abraham currently he is active in finding out solution for exiled Bhutanese who were evicted some 17 years ago and taking asylum in Nepal since then. He talked to Ichha Poudyel and Vidhyapati Mishra of Bhutan News Service (BNS) resettlement and other on the contemporary issues. Excerpts:

Is it right that UNCHR stresses on resettlement over other options?
All the time voluntary repatriation has been considered as the best solution. We like that to happen. But when it doesn’t happen, we look for other alternatives as well. Resettlement door is actually open and that of repatriation is almost closed.

Majority of exiled Bhutanese and the Nepal government emphasis repatriation, but you say doors of repatriation have closed. Isn’t it against their sentiment?
By bilateral talks no single refugee has been able to go back. They (refugees) have waited enough, for seventeen years. They cannot wait another seventeen years for the same.

Some exiled Bhutanese and their leaders accuse UNHCR of mobilizing a few to advocate for resettlement.
As far as we are concerned, we do not support any one whether it is Hari Bangaley or any body else (to advocate on resettlement). Refugees have right to choose options independently.

Presently camps are in quagmire. One cannot talk about resettlement due to fear of intimidation by the pro-repatriation faction. In such a situation, how can the process go ahead?
When we talk of security of a refugee, primary responsibility lies in the hands of government housing them. UNHCR will try its best within its mandate to help them. It is sad that refugees can not talk about resettlement in camps. It is certainly not a democratic practice. Every refugee has right to know what is going on about resettlement or any other options.

How UNHCR is working to clarify people about resettlement?
We work with the government of Nepal to inform refugees about resettlement. Outright, we haven’t worked out for any solution. We look for the comprehensive solution of the problem, not just one solution. We have to look into option which is practical one. Repatriation does not seem anywhere near. We still have to wait for talks. Local integration is not an issue as it has not come into table. Can we do resettlement? Yes, because many countries have offered it.

Is UNHCR helping those who claim to have displaced due to insecurity after Beldangi incidence?
It is sad that people are displaced from camp. It is something that should be addressed by the government of Nepal and UNHCR will work accordingly.

Can you tell us when will resettlement actually begin?
Actually, resettlement has already begun when Nepalese government agreed it as an alternative solution. But we have not started the practical ground work. This requires a lot of preparations. For example, even for US program, there is lot to be done to take refugees and make them adapt to a new place.

Which other countries have offered to resettle exiled Bhutanese and in what number?
Not all members of core group are accepting refugees. It (core group) tries to find out ways they can help refugees. Well, US has offered some 60,000 but it is ready to accept all who are interested. Canada has offered 5,000 and others will announce the number of refugees they can accommodate according to their policy. When it comes to resettlement, it is not a number issue because whoever wants to be resettled, will be resettled.

There has been scuffle in the camp regarding resettlement. Hasn’t it conveyed negative message to countries willing to resettle them?
You are making an offer and you do not have to break it. Also all 106,000 may not go. Those countries spending 18 million US dollars annually are requesting refugees to come and stay in their countries on humanitarian ground. Children in camps should get education. Most importantly resettlement does not preclude their right to return to Bhutan. It is always there.

Some exiled Bhutanese, especially elderly who may not accept resettlement and repatriation may not take place. Will camps be continued in that situation?
Certainly. Till we get funding from international community camps will continue for which I am very positive.

There is fast cut in aid provided. Doesn’t it look like a strategy to force them opt for resettlement?
This is wrong. Let me emphasize that no one will be forced to make any decision. I have not taken any steps to cut aid. In fact, this year the UNHCR’s budget for them has been increased by US$ 1 million in health and nutrition sectors. So, why talk of cutting aid when it has not yet happened?

Nepalese media reported some exiled Bhutanese obtained Nepalese citizenship. What measures would you apply to check them during resettlement? Will they be eligible for resettlement?
We are not the ones to make resettlement decision. If any one in camps has obtained Nepalese citizenship, he is not a refugee. So, he will not qualify for resettlement. Countries resettling them (refugees) have their own criteria to strictly check them out.

How have you evaluated Long March?
Unfortunately, one refugee got killed and it is not acceptable to the UNHCR .Here, we like to make it clear that while you have right to return, all must be careful in not jeopardizing the life of refugees – especially of women and children.

Health of exiled Bhutanese is deteriorating and many cases of denial of referral are reported. What’s the reason?
First, I do not agree that there is denial of treatment .We have very strong health program in camps. In fact, it is the best sector we have supported. But UNHCR has very important policy that no tertiary referral will take place; if it is a terminal case i.e. if a patient is sure to die in few days or weeks. We have specific guidelines as to whom we can help and to what extent. UNHCR has to support 10 million refugees and over 13 million IDPs around the world. So we may not be able to meet all the expectations of refugees regarding their health and there we have to draw an absolute line and say ‘No more’.

This entry was posted in Interview on August 4, 2007 by Editor.

Final draft of constitution is ready
Thimphu, August 04: The experts have finalized the draft constitution to be adopted as the top legal instrument of the country after 2008 election.

There have been major changes made in provisions related to elections, political parties, legislature and public campaign financing, the campaign to be carried out by the political parties before the election.

The Article 23 related to the elections has been divided into to: first giving emphasis on election principles and the second defining the roles and responsibilities of the election commission.

Change made in Article 10 has given the parliament authority to remove the immunity of a parliamentarian. “The concurrence of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of each House respectively is required to remove the right of immunity of a member”, new provision state.

New provision added to Article 15 related to the political parties, states that no election shall be held where the remainder of the term of the National Assembly is less than 180 days. Another addition on the same article states, ‘where the ruling party in the National Assembly stands dissolved or the government is dismissed…the National Assembly shall also stand dissolved and, accordingly, sections 1 to 8 of this Article shall apply’. As such, the National Assembly would be dissolved if the ruling party gets dissolved, while it won’t in case of the opposition party.
Similarly, section 13 reads, “During the election of the opposition party…the National Assembly shall be suspended animation and the ruing party and their candidates shall not contest in the elections”.

The new changes have made provision for election of an opposition party in the lower house if it is dissolved. This should be done within 60 days of the dissolution of the party and that the polls would be held only in those constituencies where the dissolved party had won the seat. However, the ruling party would not be allowed to contest it.

The new changes, however, is unanswerable to how many party would take part in such election. If multiple parties are to participate, how the opposition seats would be fulfilled? If only a party would participate, how it would be nominated?

Change in Article 16, Public Campaign Financing, reads, “The Election Commission shall fix a ceiling for contribution offered voluntarily by any of its registered members to a political party subject to the provisions of the Election Fund Act.”

The government said it received some 500 comments during the consultation drive and discussion workshops.

The parliament to be formed after the election next year will make necessary changes before adopting it as the first constitution of the kingdom. The final draft will be post on the website of the Royal Court of Justice soon. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 4, 2007 by Editor.

Looking back …moving ahead (REPRODUCTION)
Some call it the dawn of a beginning, some, the end of an era. Yesterday after the handing taking ceremony of the reins of the government from Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk to Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji in the Tashichhodzong, the ten ministers paused to share their experiences and expectations with Kuensel.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba
The trade and industry minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, has submitted his resignation to join the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT). He will contest from the lower Thimphu constituency.

“Looking back, Bhutan has come a long way under His Majesty’s dynamic leadership. After 1998 we experimented a new system where responsibility was gradually handed over to the people. I feel we have learned enough to forge ahead to a better future,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba. “I think the experience we have gained over the last couple of years has shown us what opportunities and problems lies ahead,” he said.

He said that the experience under the leadership of His Majesty the King has prepared them to move into a fully democratic government. “What we need to know now is that the entire responsibilities rest with the people of Bhutan.”

Looking ahead, the minister said that the responsibilities of the ministers would be same, but the way it would be exercised would be different. “In the past we had His Majesty the King to fall back on and seek guidance and advice, but now this is something that we ourselves will have to exercise,” he said.

Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk
The outgoing prime minister had joined the DPT and would contest from the Lamgong/Wangchang constituency in Paro.

“This is the end of one era and beginning of another,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk from Dopshari, Paro. “I am happy that I am a part of both the eras.”

Sharing his experience, the minister said that he had the opportunity to serve His Majesty the King for 33 years. “I am satisfied that I have completed my service and contributed in my own little ways to the development of Bhutan,” he said.

The minister said that he had fulfilled in his modest ways, the aspirations of the people and expressed his happiness at the opportunity to serve and take part in the democratic process. “I hope from now on I can live up to the expectations of the people and in any way possible, serve the tsa-wa-sum.”

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
The mentor of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), agriculture minister, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, will contest from the Kabji/Talo constituency in Punakha.

“I was honoured when I was nominated as one of the ministers in 1998 and today I look back with satisfaction,” said Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup. “Both the ministries (health and education and agriculture), I served, provided me with opportunity for discovering both problems and solutions.”

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup said that it was a rich experience working together with people while in the agriculture and the then health and education ministry. He credited the success in the ministries to all the staff of the two ministries.

Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup said that post 2008 would not be much different. “Personally I feel that there will be no big changes. In the past His Majesty went to the people to discuss problems and issues during the Plan meetings seeking views of the people,” he said. “After 2008, the only difference would be that instead of the King going to the people, people will come forward through their constituencies to demand for developments and needs.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley
The campaign coordinator of DPT, home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley will contest from Nanong/Shumar constituency in Pemagatshel.

“It is in many ways a very sad day today because today marks the true end of a golden era under the leadership and guidance of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo,” said the home minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley. “Today also brings to a formal end of the machinery that was established by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo where we were a part of the machinery.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley describes his tenure in the government as the golden years and said it certainly was a fulfilling and satisfying period. “I have had a fulfilling 33 years serving in the golden period,” he said.

“Now we have to look in to the future and we have decided to participate in another form and another role. It is a role I am not prepared and I cannot say how well my colleagues are prepared for the change of role from a minister to a political animal,” said the minister. “Our duties and responsibilities will be different and we have taken the challenge and the opportunity to do the best.”

I cannot say how well we might succeed in fulfilling the aspirations of our fourth Druk Gyalpo and what people expect, but in the next few months we wish to educate ourselves and discover what people actually want, the minister said. “It is a challenge that we have taken and we will do our best.”

Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu
“The work as a minister was challenging, but a rewarding and satisfying experience,” said the finance minister, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu who will contest from Bartsham/Shongphu constituency in Trashigang for DPT.

Describing his tenure as a successful and satisfying period, the minister said that there was gradual and positive change in the government. “There was no radical changes from what was there before 1998, but our government has grown beyond recognition and we have a strong civil service who can shoulder any responsibility,” he said.

“I feel sad, but at the same time I feel a big burden has been lifted off my shoulder.”

Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu feels that the new government will be more answerable to the people as they would be elected by the people themselves.

“There will be new challenges. The views of the government will have to be in line with that of the people. But whichever government comes into power, there will be nothing that the government cannot overcome with the guidance of His Majesty.”

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay
A high profile candidate of PDP, Lyonpo Jigmi Singay will contest from Mongar constituency.

“Coming from a simple family background and coming this far with the trust and confidence bestowed on me by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the National Assembly members, its been a great experience, both learning and as a member of a team of experienced ministers,” he said.

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay said that it was an honour to remember to be a part of a system that had continuously been evolving, maturing, and developing. “I feel happy for whatever I contributed as a minister,” he said.

Lyonpo Jigmi Singay said that it is both exciting and challenging to represent the people, their concern and their views in the new political system

Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering
“My experience in the government has been exhilarating and I would not want to change a thing because I have gained so many valuable experiences serving the King and the country,” said Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering.

From now on, the roles and responsibilities would change and joining politics will be challenging for all of us who have decided to participate in the democratic process, according to the minister. “The duties and responsibilities would be extremely different and challenging but it is the challenge that we have decided to take,” he said. “This is what our His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo wanted and that is what our dynamic and passionate His Majesty the Fifth King wishes.”

Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering who will contest from Upper Thimphu constituency for DPT said that the future as a politician is uncertain but the uncertainty makes it more challenging.

Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji
Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji, who was appointed the care taker prime minister yesterday, describes the opportunity to serve the country for the second time as an honour. “It is a big responsibility to run the government when profound political changes are taking place, said Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji.

The initiative has come from the throne and it is the duty of each one of us to make the democratic process in Bhutan a success. “It is a big reason to feel humbled and honoured because I can contribute to the process in my humble ways.”

Looking back, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji said that it was the rarest opportunity to serve the country, people and the King during a period when significant changes were happening in the country. “We have achieved so much under the wisdom and leadership of His Majesty the King,” he said. “From a country not many knew, Bhutan has become one of the most popular countries because of our sound policies, His Majesty’s policy of Gross National Happiness and the democratisation process, an initiative which came from the Throne.”

“The change within such a short span of time is tremendous, which I never dreamt of.” Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji is confident that the democratisation process would succeed. “The foundation has been laid by the King and all we have to do is build on that foundation,” he said. “People’s apprehension is misplaced. I am confident that the democratic process would succeed.”

The minister ruled out interest in politics, but said that he would continue to serve the King, country and the people in his own capacity.

Lyonpo Leki Dorji
The information and communication minister, Lyonpo Leki Dorji is one of the three ministers who have not joined politics.

The minister said that Bhutan has achieved tremendous development in a short span of time. “In the information section, Bhutan has changed from a gossip society to an information savvy country,” he said. “It is an honour to have been a part of the great change.”

Lyonpo Leki Dorji believes that one need not join politics to serve the people and the country. “One can be a part of civil society and still serve the people and the government,” he said. The minister believes that the political process would succeed in Bhutan because it was a culmination of a gradual and long process initiated as far back as 1953 when the Third Druk Gyalpo instituted the National Assembly.

“We did not have political parties, but the policy empowered the people even in the past,” he said. Lyonpo Leki Dorji said the greatest challenge of the political process is making people understand the process and having the right people. “If they join for the sake of position and perks it is a wrong profession. Politics is about building trust and confidence with the people, about understanding the needs of the people and translating them into programmes.”

The minister also said that people need to be educated on the political process. “We need lot of political education. Until this is achieved we will not have real democracy in essence. People have to understand what or why they are voting.”

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho
The education minister, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, had decided not to take part in politics. However, he said that he would continue serving the government and people in every possible way.

“I will always be available in case the country and the government requires my service,” he said. Sharing his experiences, Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho said that since he joined the service in 1976, he had, in every way, an enriching experience serving the King and the country.

Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho is one of the three ministers who will serve under the care taker government. “We have reached a crucial juncture and it is a challenging period for me and my colleagues to make sure that the democratisation process succeeds.”

This entry was posted in Main News on August 2, 2007 by Editor.

Beldangi incident victims seek compensation
Beldangi/Kathmandu, August 1: The family heads of those killed at police firing in Beldangi incident in May have sought for the compensation to the lost lives. They have also demanded Nepal government for the legal action against the guilty.

In separate appeals made to the Chief District Officer (CDO), Jhapa on Wednesday, Ichha Ram Dhungel, father of Narapati and Aitima Tamang, mother of Purna Bahadur, who were killed at the police firing, have said the police in the name of protecting Hari Adhikari Bangale directly shot their innocent children.

Dhungel and Tamang in their appeals to the CDO have said Nepal government, which assured that it would provide satisfactory compensation, hasn’t yet done anything besides supporting with a bit of help for funeral processing.

“We strongly demand for the legal action against Bangale who created violence in the camps, punish the police involved in killing and demand for the compensation to the bereaved family”, both the appeal reads.

Meanwhile, Bangale in response to a query of the BNS said the groups or individuals that manipulated the whole incident should be held responsible. “The investigation should be done in a fair way so that it would be easy for identifying who should actually be held responsible”, said Bangale, hinting he is less optimistic that the report to be released by the recently formed ‘probe committee’ would sort out facts behind the incident.

The victims have also made a Carbon Copy of the appeal to the Nepalese Prime Minister, Home Ministry, Foreign Ministry, UNHCR Kathmandu, Human Rights and Peace Society in Nepal, Human Rights Watch in the US, National Human Rights Commission in Nepal, United Nations in Kathmandu, Bhutanese political and other organizations for their kind information.

Narapati Dhungel, 17 of Beldangi-II and Purna Bahadur Tamang, 20 of Beldangi-II extension died at police firing on May 27 and 28 following an interview of Bangale with Pathivara FM, which it’s claimed has been that he spoke against the sentiments of youths in camps. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 1, 2007 by Editor.

School security guard attacked
Beldangi, August 1: An unidentified group of at least two people have physically attacked Yam Bahadur Khatiwada, 41, of Beldangi- II, Sector D/4 Hut no 85 during his night guard duty in Pancha- Oti English School.

According to other guard Mon Bahadur Subba, two masked people with sharp knife attacked Khatiwada at around 1.00 pm on Wednesday. Two other guards were sleeping in different places while the incident took place. It is also learnt that the attackers warned Khatiwada not to split any words regarding the possible attack on him.

Khatiwada, who is now hospitalized at Damak based AMDA hospital, has been wounded in left hand and in forehead.

The Field Director of CARITAS – Nepal Father Verkey also visited the hospital to see the condition of the victim.

The Camp Management Committee in Beldangi – II has formed eight-member team including the school teachers to probe into the incident and sort out culprits. Bhutan News Service/Yadhu Nath Neopane and Puspa Adhikari

This entry was posted in Main News on August 1, 2007 by Editor.

Three Sharchhops arrested in Bhutan
Kathmandu, August 1: The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) has arrested three people from Wangphu, Samdrup Jongkhar on July 26 for allegedly possessing the ‘political pamphlets and materials’.

General Secretary of Druk National Congress (DNC – Rongthong) Kesang Lhendup informed the BNS that the detainees including Tendel Wangdi, Gyeltshen and Ten Dorji from Shokshi village under Samdrup Jongkhar district not kept in Samdrup Jongkhar jail.

Lhendup said that the detainees are subjected to brutal torture and inhuman treatment.

Lhendup quoted the DNC sources in Bhutan as having informed their party that the security forces arrested them alleging their denial to support People Democratic Party (PDP) led by Sangey Nidup.

According to Lhendup, Wangdi and Gyeltshen were once arrested during peaceful demonstrations at Gomdar in 1997 and were sentenced to five year imprisonment. Most of the relatives of the detainees are living in exile in Nepal.

Lhendup further informed the BNS that three more people at Merak Saktan in Tashigang were also detained, who it’s claimed is yet to be confirmed, for the same charges of possessing political pamphlets.

DNC has strongly demanded the RGOB to release them unconditionally and immediately. It has also urged international human rights organizations to assert pressure on the RGOB for their immediate release.

Earlier on July 17, the DNC led by Thinley has claimed it successfully launched poster and pamphleteering program coinciding the auspicious day of the “Anniversary of Lord Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma for the first time”.

DNC – Thinley said the pamphleteering program was launched in the locations of Semtokha in Thimphu, Kanglung in Trashigang, Chamkhar town in Bumthang, Drametse in Mongar and Gomdar in Samdrup Jongkhar. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on August 1, 2007 by Editor.

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