APFAnews Archive December 2007

The drama of election completes
Atrocities and 2008 elections in Bhutan
First historic voting starts in the nation
CJMC to catch voices in exile, Saranarthi Sarokar now from 3 FM stations
Bhutan has become smaller
Bhutanese monk burns himself in Bodh Gaya
Borders with India closed
Consider our wives as ‘refugees’: exiled Bhutanese tell Nepalese home ministry
An exiled Bhutanese found dead in India
Bhutan officials hold meeting with Assam authorities
Nepali FM stations to air common program on exiled issue
Fire damaged 10 huts in Beldangi I camp (11:15 pm)
Maoists claim they shot Subba: report
First convention of BACC held
Exiled journos under intimidation, say media organizations (Exclusive)
Camp secys irked over resettlement, appeal GoN to help stop hut-to-hut campaign (Exclusive)
Mustering for a new life within doubts
Exiled Bhutanese journalists ‘intimidated’
King’s national day message focused on success of democracy
BRRPC concerns ‘shooting’ a youth
Acharya released (UPDATE)
Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) denies shooting
3 arrested in connection to shooting (UPDATE)
Former head of sector ‘D’ in Beldangi-I camp shot
Health indicators are satisfactory
Complaints, counter-complaints of bribery
ID cards distribution begins
The worth of our NC candidates
30 civilians clamped ‘ngolop’, sentences nine years jail term
SAHR concerned democratization delay
Voters’ turnout in polls questionable
Southern sojourn gets going
Fire breaks out yet again in Beldangi camp
Relief committee, BNS extend kind and cash support to fire victims
One caught on charges of trafficking
Campaign on violence against women underway


The drama of election completes
Thimphu, December 31: The Election Commission has published the result of the election for National Council held today that elected 15 out of 20 members of the upper house. Five members are to be nominated by the king.

According to the commission, Tshewang Jurmey of Ura securing 1965 votes won from Bumthang. His contestant Jigme Palden secured 1651.

Out of total 41 contestants, actually only one Lhotsampa has won in the election. Justin Gurung in Tsirang secured highest votes. In Samtse, where all four candidates were Lhotsampas, Mani Kumar Rai secured his position. Thus, southern Bhutanese who occupy over 30 percent of the total population will have two representatives in the upper House.

Similarly, three female candidates have won the election from Zhemgang, Wangdue Phodrang and Chukha.

The result of the other districts is given below with geog of the candidates and the votes they secured.

Chhukha Dzongkhag
Sonam Dorji Wangchuk from Bongo secured 4818 votes
Tshewang Lhamo from Bjachho secured 6140 votes (winner)

Dagana Dzongkhag
Kezang Dema from Drujeygang secured 1777 votes
Sonam Dorji from Kana secured 4112 votes (winner)
Mongal Singh Gurung from Tsendagang secured 2498 votes
Krishna Bahadur Tamang from Lhamoy Zingkha secured 1693 votes

Mongar Dzongkhag
Pema Tenzin from Chali secured 2695 votes
Choki Drakpa from Silambi secured 3411 votes
Naichu from Saling secured 4870 votes (winner)
Pema Wangdi from Chaskar secured 2514 votes

Paro Dzongkhag
Ugyen Tshering from Lamgong secured 1883 votes
Phub Dorji from Wangchang secured 2004 votes
Jambay Dorji from Lungnyi secured 2088 votes
Ugyen Tshering from Dop Shari secured 2886 votes (winner)

Pemagatshel Dzongkhag
Jigme Rinzin from Shumar secured 6100 votes (winner)
Sangay Tenpa from Dechheling secured 2652 votes

Punakha Dzongkhag
Sangay Phurba from Kabjisa secured 1734 votes
Namgay Dorji from Talo secured 1679 votes
Namgay Penjore from Goenshari secured 3509 votes (winner)

Samdrupjongkhar Dzongkhag
Sangay Lhendup from Deothang secured 1243 votes
Jigme Wangchuk from Lauri secured 4569 votes (winner)
Kinga Dorji from Orong secured 4205 votes

Samtse Dzongkhag
Chhtrapati Phuyel from Dorokha secured 3325 votes
Mani Kumar Rai from Chargharay secured 7996 votes (winner)
Lal Bahadur Gurung from Bara secured 2326 votes
Bishnulal Gurung from Tendu secured 5612 votes

Sarpang Dzongkhag
Karma Donnen Wangdi from Gelephu secured 5968 votes (winner)
Jamyang Sherub Wangdi from Shompangkha secured 2187 votes
Dhan Bahadur Mongar from Dekiling secured 4462 votes

Trashigang Dzongkhag
Sonam Kinga from Shongphu secured 6450 votes (winner)
Ngawang Gyamtsho from Samkhar secured 1829 votes
Tashi Tshering from Bidung secured 6198 votes

Trongsa Dzongkhag
Dr. Jagar Dorji from Tangsibjee secured 1823 votes (winner)
Chimi Dorji from Korphu secured 1308 votes
Namgyal Wangchuk from Nubi secured 677 votes

Tsirang Dzongkhag
Pema Drukpa from Kikhorthang secured 3217 votes
Justin Gurung from Phuntenchu secured 6181 votes (winner)

Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag
Kaka Dawa from Phangyul secured 3904 votes
Sonam Yangchen from Nyisho secured 4987 votes (winner)

Zhemgang Dzongkhag
Pema Lhamo from Nangkor secured 4839 votes (winner)
Pema Dhendup from Trong secured 1804 votes
Bhutan News Service

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

Atrocities and 2008 elections in Bhutan
At a time when the election date is drawing nearer in Bhutan, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) has once again begun inflicting atrocities on innocent citizens of ethnic Nepali origin.

The state-directed court recently announced jail terms ranging from 5-9 years to 30 innocent civilian from the southern district of the country for their alleged involvement in the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). The RGOB claims the accused had carried out subversive activities against Bhutan.

How could the RGOB claim such a thing when it does not have an ‘independent judiciary’ in the country? A fair trial in the name of delivering justice to the detainees has always been a farce in the context of Bhutan. This is yet another instance of Bhutan’s tactics to derail the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees, now living in camps in Nepal, to their homeland.

Bhutan’s official media, Kuensel, further stated that seditious meetings were held in Katarey and Ugyentse in Samtse, during which the participants planned to recruit the local people and set up camps in the forests to house the terrorists belonging to the CPB-MLM.

Such fabricated statements are made by the Bhutanese government when its army arrests people especially of ethnic Nepali origin. The RGOB has charged them of being active during briefing sessions in Nepal on “Political and Ideological Trainings? conducted by the cadres of the Communist Party of Bhutan and Communist Party of Nepal, Bhutan People’s Party, Druk National Congress and Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front.

Ironically, the message Bhutan is sending to the international community is that the UNHCR is providing shelter to radical groups inside the refugee camps in Nepal.

The court is said to have sentenced them to jail under the provisions in the National Security Act of Bhutan, 1992, and the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004. The people were accused of holding political meetings, especially related to Maoist ideology, in the country. Even if they were involved in such activities, what crime had they committed to be given jail terms of such long periods, especially at a time when the elections are fast approaching near? Is this, in any way, to hold a ‘democratic exercise’?

The RGOB, on the other hand, should have been encouraging the people in the country to get involved in the political exercise. Besides, the condition of hundreds of such detainees arrested in the early 1990s during demonstrations in the country is still unknown to the international community.

Their whereabouts have not yet been made public. There is no one to publicise the conditions prevailing in the country.

It is a matter of shame that the RGOB should transform civilians into jailbirds for such a long period despite their innocence. The atrocities of the RGOB have crossed the limits, leaving enough space to raise questions about the effectiveness of the advocacy of international rights bodies and so-called big democracies of the world.

Isn’t Bhutan playing with the rights of the people, and would anyone believe that it is embarking on the path of democratisation? The surprising thing is – for how long will the international community stand mute spectators to all the atrocities that go around in Bhutan?

A fair trail to the detainees is not possible in Bhutan. Even if these
people belong to the Maoist militia, then Bhutan should have carried out an investigation in co-ordination with international human rights bodies.

In the meantime, on November 28, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) stated that the leaders of the Bhutan People’s United Party (BPUP) have no vision, goals and aspirations for a democratic Bhutan. Besides, in a notice, the ECB said it cannot register the BPUP as a political party in the country.

The ECB’s decision indicates that the party lacks persons with direct
links with the royal family like Sangey Ngedup of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Jigme Thinley of the Druk Phuensum Tshokpa (DPT).

While Bhutan is holding the first-ever elections in its history, the RGOB is trying to impose different restrictions on innocent civilians. Thus, there is little room to believe that the elections will be free and fair.

There is a need for the world community, including international human rights bodies, to initiate noteworthy and stronger measures to provide justice to Bhutan’s innocent civilians. The RGOB shouldn’t be given a free hand in committing atrocities against its people.

This entry was posted in Opinion on December 30, 2007 by Editor.

First historic voting starts in the nation
Thimphu, December 31: Over 300,000 people in 15 out of 20 dzongkhags are in queues this morning to cast their votes to choose 15 members for upper house National Council, the first of its kind in the history of the nation.

On December 31, 41 candidates have come to the floor for the contest through which the regime said will turn the kingdom from an absolute monarchy to constitutional.

In 15 dzongkhags, around 270,000 voters will determine thier representatives.

The votes are being casted in between 8 am and 4 pm. ECB has restricted the voters entering the poll station with mobile phones, knives.

The commission said result of the elections will be handed over to the king tomorrow, whose ascent is required to legalise the elections.

In five districts, Thimphu, Gasa, Trashiyangtse, Haa and Lhuentse, the elections will be held on January 29. The election in these districts was postponed by a month due to lack of candidates.

Following is the list of candidates their dzongkhags they are contesting from:

Sonam Dorji Wangchuk
Tshewang Lhamo

Mongal Singh Gurung
Kezang Dema
Sonam Dorji
Krishna Bahadur Tamang

Jigme Wangchuk
Kinga Dorji

Sonam Yangchen
Kaka Dawa

Pema Lhamo
Pema Dhendup

Ugyen Tshering
Jambe Dorji
Phub Dorji

Sangay Phurba
Namgay Dorji
Namgye Penjore

Karma Donnen Wangdi
Dhan Bahadur Mongar
Jamyang Sherap Wangdi

Justin Gurung
Pema Drukpa

Jigme Palden
Tshewang Jurmin

Pema tenzin
Pema Wangdi
Choki Drakpa

Sangey Tempa
Jigme Rigzin

Bishnu Lal Gurung
Chhatrapati Phuyel
M. K. Rai
L. B. GUrung

Nawang Jamtsho
Sonam Kinga
Tashi Tshering

Jagar Dorji
Namgay Wangchuk

Bhutan News Service

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

CJMC to catch voices in exile, Saranarthi Sarokar now from 3 FM stations
Kathmandu, December 30: CJMC Community Radio 106 MHz, owned by one of the leading mass communication colleges in Nepal, has begun airing ‘Saranarthi Sarokar’, a weekly radio program from Sunday.

The program is being aired from the station in coordination with Bhutan News Service.

Saranarthi Sarokar is already being aired from two other FM stations, Kathmandu-based Nepal FM 91.8 and Jhapa-based Pathibhara FM 93.6 MHz. It also goes on air at BNS website. Bhutan News Service

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

Bhutan has become smaller
Thimphu, December 29: After speculative debate over the size of the country for years, Bhutan has finally and formally squeezed to its size by less than a thousand square kilometers.

According to new details given by Office of the International Boundaries, Bhutan’s total geographical area is 38,394 sq km. Of this, 40 percent is protected corridors and protected lands.

The office said Bhutan’s total areas, as mentioned in various publications including the government’s official records, was never at 47,000 sq km. The office further said, it was the assumption before Bhutan signed the Sinchula treaty with British Indian in 1865.

The protected area in the country is 11,502 sq km or 29.96 percent. It includes national park, conservation area, wildlife sanctuary, wildlife reserve, nature reserve, strict nature reserve, research forest, critical watershed and other areas declared as a Protected Area.

The detail has come into public at a time reports of Chinese intrusion in the north and government’s proposal to cede some part of the southern districts to India. Bhutan News Service

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

Bhutanese monk burns himself in Bodh Gaya
New Delhi, December 28: A Buddhist monk from Bhutan has burnt himself to death at Buddhism’s holiest shrine in India, Reuters quoted Indian police as saying on Friday.

According to the reports from Bodhgaya, hundreds of pilgrims gathered at this holy place watched the monk, in his 80s, sit in meditation at the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar on Thursday and then set himself alight after daubing his body with a flammable substance.

He died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya, the holiest place for the Buddhists, is the place where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

“People who rushed to save him were stunned to see that the monk remained firmly seated in the meditation posture and did not cry for help,” a police official said.

“That means he had come to end his life in the land of the Buddha, apparently to get the ultimate freedom from life,” he further added. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 28, 2007 by Editor.

Borders with India closed
Phuentsholing, December 28: Bhutan authorities in south, west and east have ordered tightening security along the border with India on Friday.

The border has been temporarily sealed before elections early next week that will election members to the upper house of parliament.

On Monday, people will vote for 15 members for the 25-member upper house. The five districts will see voting at the end of January. Remaining five members will be nominated by the king.

The nation will hold lower house polls in February and March.

In a notice published by the Election Commission today, it issued a string of directives, including a prohibition on carrying weapons and mobile phones inside polling booths.

The ECB also requested the voters to halt their annual pilgrimage to India and take part in the vote.

“One should also participate in shaping the future of the country and fulfil the country’s vision for a vibrant democracy,” Chief Election Commissioner Kunzang Wangdi said.

“Let us vote and make a difference during the election because the opportunity for pilgrimage will come every year,” he added. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 28, 2007 by Editor.

Consider our wives as ‘refugees’: exiled Bhutanese tell Nepalese home ministry
Beldangi, December 27: Two exiled have urged the Nepalese government’s home ministry to reconsider giving ‘refugee’ status to their wives who are not the Bhutanese citizens taking asylum in Nepal.

In a letter sent to Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula of Nepal on Wednesday, Jas Bahadur Baniya of Beldangi II and Deo Kumar Lohagun of Beldangi II Extension appealed the Nepalese government that they be considered as ‘refugees’.

The appeal claimed that there are over 200 such males in camps who have married either Nepalese or Indian girls.

Baniya and Lohagun, however, did not mention whether their wives are Nepalese or Indians.

The UNHCR has not registered them, subsequently barring them of the facilities being given to other exiled Bhutanese.

They said the UNHCR also excluded their wives in identity card issuance leading to separation in the family during process of finding long term solution of the crisis including repatriation and resettlement to third countries. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 27, 2007 by Editor.

An exiled Bhutanese found dead in India
Kathmandu, December 25: An exiled Bhutanese who had left for Gujarat, India, in search of job two months ago is found dead in mysterious condition in Maharastra of India, Nepal’s national news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti reported on Monday.

Man Bahadur Bhattarai, 51, a temporary resident of Sanischhare camp in Morang, had gone to Gujarat on October 29, the report said.

Though the deceased body was recovered by the Indian police of Maharastra state from a well on November 1, the family back in the camp was informed of his death very recently in a letter sent by Indian embassy in Kathmandu.

Bhattarai was a former member of Royal Bhutan Army. He had left for Gujarat to find a security guard’s job along with friends and got lost on the way. Bhutan News Service

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

Bhutan officials hold meeting with Assam authorities
Siliguri, December 25: A Bhutanese delegation led by S. Thinley, Chief District Officer (dzongda) of Sarpang district, held a closed-door meeting with officials of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri of BTAD, Assam.

These districts in Assam have territorial relation with Bhutanese side. The meeting was held on Monday at Kokrajhar Circuit House.

It reviewed the security arrangements and ongoing preparation to ensure elections are held in Bhutan scheduled for December 31.

The Indo-Bhutan joint co-ordination committee meeting also discussed issues like cross-border insurgency and the need for strengthening the security arrangements along the border.

The Bhutan border will remain sealed with next two or three days. Strict vigilance will be at the place on public movement inside Bhutan. The officials said it was necessary in order to prevent sneak-in by insurgents or rebels before the election and prevent any chaos or disruption in the election process.

The officials from both the sides agreed on sharing of information and intensify patrolling by the security forces on both sides of the border. Coordination between security forces and administration authorities from both the countries will be improved for this purpose.

Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of all the four districts of BTAD, and senior officers of the security agencies of Unified Command Structure represented the Assam local authorities. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 24, 2007 by Editor.

Nepali FM stations to air common program on exiled issue
Kathmandu, December 22: Five private radio stations have formed a network to launch radio program for exiled Bhutanese.

Managing director of Communication Corner, Gopal Guragai informed Bhutan News Service (BNS) that all procedures have been completed to start airing Saranarthi Sandesh from January 9.

“The program goes on air from Ujyalo FM Kathmandu, and Mechi Tunes Kakarvitta, Saptarangi FM Damak,Kanchanjanga FM Birtamod and Sapta Koshi FM Biratnagar simultaneously from 6:30 PM to 7:00 Pm every Wednesday and Friday “.

Funded by Foundation of Open Society Institute, USA, Saranarthi Sandesh targets to inform all exiled Bhutanese with reliable and informed information on repatriation, local integration and third country resettlement.

“We will distribute 18,000 Chinese radio sets to all huts in seven camps before we start our program” said Guragai.

Besides Saranarthi Sandesh, FM stations in Jhapa are airing weekly radio programs targeting one-lakh plus exiled Bhutanese listeners.

BNS started airing weekly radio program Saranarthi Sarokar a year back from Nepal FM, Kathmandu and same program from Pathibhara FM ,Damak since last November. It is the only radio program having excusive contents and produced by ‘refugees’ radio journalists. Bhutan News Service/Vidhyapati Mishra

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

Fire damaged 10 huts in Beldangi I camp (11:15 pm)
Kathmandu, December 22: Around 10 huts have been gutted but the fire in Beldangi I camp in Jhapa on Saturday evening. Other dozen huts have been dismantled for controlling the fire.

According to our correspondents Indra Timsina and Puranaghare in Beldangi I, the fire started from the hut of Kabita Bishwa in Sector B hut no 425.

The spreading fire also damaged two blocks of the Green Vale Academy Sector A Extension school.

The cause of fire breakout is not known. The fire that started at around 9:15 pm was brought under control by exiled Bhutanese from three camps before the fire brigade from Damak at 11 pm.

Details are awaited. Bhutanese News Service

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

Maoists claim they shot Subba: report
Kathmandu, December 22: The Bhutanese Communist Party (Maoist) has taken responsibility of shooting Arjun Subba, an exiled Bhutanese at Beldangi I camp, government owned Nepalese daily The Rising Nepal said on Saturday.

The daily quoted a statement by the party chairman Surya that Subba was shot as per the plan of the party.

He said the resettlement in America was a plan to obstruct the repatriation of the Bhutanese to their homeland. ‘This action (shooting) was carried to foil the resettlement,” the statement said.

Anyone supporting and advocating for the third country resettlement would face similar consequence, the statement reads further. Bhutan News Service

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

First convention of BACC held
California, December 21: The first convention of the Bhutanese American Community Center (BACC) was held on December 16 in Mount Everest Restaurant at Berkeley California. Bhutanese dwelling in California formed BACC last year.

The convention elected its executive members. BACC unanimously elected Bir Thapa as chair person quoted the release issued by BACC. Other executive members include Umesh Rai, Jiwan Subba, Milan Rana and Ananta Gurung.

Formed with ‘In people we trust, community we serve’ motto, BACC has vowed to extend its possible supports to Bhutanese community in near future. Bhutan News Service

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

Exiled journos under intimidation, say media organizations (Exclusive)
Kathmandu, December 20: Three Bhutanese media organizations operating from exile for establishing press freedom in Bhutan have said their deep attention has been drawing towards escalating violence and subsquent intimidation of journalists associated with Bhutan News Service (BNS).

In a joint press statement issued on Thursday, Association of Press Freedom Activists – Bhutan, Third World Media Network – Bhutan Chapter and Bhutan Press Union said that journalists working inside camps were receiving threats from local authorities after December 13 when a youth was shot by an unidentified armed group near Beldangi-I camp.

Media organizations have accused local authorities of clamping baseless accusation on journalists Arjun Pradhan and Jiten Subba in connection with the shooting. “We make clear that Pradhan don’t have any connection to the incident”, reads the release, adding that the journalists in exile would not compromise with any parties regarding their volunteer service towards safeguarding people’s right to information.

The release has further urged Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and international press bodies to help create conducive atmosphere for exiled journalists to work.

BNS is the only news agency of Bhutan. It is operated by journalists and all Bhutanese journalists are associated with it. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 20, 2007 by Editor.

Camp secys irked over resettlement, appeal GoN to help stop hut-to-hut campaign (Exclusive)
Kathmandu, December 16: At a time when violence are erupting inside exiled Bhutanese camps, camp secretaries of all seven camps have appealed to Government of Nepal (GoN) to urge the UNHCR to stop motivation by hut-to-hut campaign for third country resettlement.

In an appeal issued to the prime minister of Nepal, camp secretaries have demanded for early repatriation to Bhutan.

“Government of Bhutan must not be allowed to withdraw from its own proposals of categorization and verification process as proposed by government of Bhutan and verification must be continued in the speedy manner”, reads the appeal.

The camp secretaries, however, have extended their gratitude to the UNHCR for providing humanitarian assistance to exiled Bhutanese community.

“But since last six years onwards we found that UNHCR is only working for third country resettlement though it always keeps on telling that repatriation is the best option. Before repatriation of verified Bhutanese and rest of the refugees to Bhutan, UNHCR brought the proposal of third country resettlement for Bhutanese refugees, which is unjust and illogical”, reads the appeal, adding that the UNHCR has instigated many NGOs to support for the third country resettlement of exiled Bhutanese.

The appeal has further accused the UNHCR of splitting the nuclear family in the name of third country resettlement.

The appeal has further stated that the Beldangi incident of May 26 and 27 was a worst conflict between divided people when third country supporting small group backed by the UNHCR and a big group supporting and opting for repatriation when Mr. Hari Bangaley started advocating for third country resettlement openly.

“The UNHCR is giving protection to Bangaley, who is the main culprit of the devastating incident. So far no action is taken against him and no hearing is given for those who lost lives by the concerned authorities”, the appeal reads, adding “UNHCR has intensified its campaign for third country resettlement by hut to hut visit accompanied by armed security forces of Nepal. It certainly reminds the Bhutanese refugees about their past when they were evicted by the government of Bhutan at the gun point”.

The camp secretaries have also made their stance clear that they would not object any individuals who opt for third country resettlement without any motivation.

Meanwhile, the appeal has also demanded GoN to help deliver justice to two innocent youths of Beldangi-II, who lost their lives in the struggle for justice and order for a thorough investigation. Further, it demanded GoN to direct the local authority and the security forces to stop all kinds of harassments, tortures, arrests, and detentions of the people in camps without valid proofs. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 20, 2007 by Editor.

Mustering for a new life within doubts
Today I m standing in front of recently established Armed Police-Check post in Beldangi II Extension, one of the seven camps where the exiled Bhutanese live. It is seven o’clock in the morning. Owing to the cold morning of mid winter, there are very few people who could be seen in the nearest vicinity. They are the ones who have been operating groceries and hotels in a local market.

Not withstanding the cold weather, a select few people are seen standing, turning their heads every now and then as if they have someone to look for. The arrival of a vehicle of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) at 7.30 makes me dead sure that the people standing near by are those who are going to the IOM office for the interview started for their resettlement to the US.

The present situation of the camps seems to be quite changed. The exiled Bhutanese are found to be at ease, up to some extent. They feel a long lost security has been restored. Interestingly, those who were much scared even to think about resettlement are found discussing it candidly with each other.

Although, a section of people has resolved to get resettled in the western countries, the reasons behind this differ from individuals. The elderly people have decided to opt for resettlement only for the future generation. Some of them want to come up as the human beings. There are some people who don’t see the prospect of getting repatriated. A majority of them have decided to fight for the establishment of democracy in Bhutan even after getting resettled.

Resettlement does not seem enigmatic following the information campaign by the UNHCR and US. Nonetheless, the people still fear whether their academic certificates would be recognised abroad. Some commoners doubt if they would be allowed to practice their culture and follow the religion in the western countries. Some youths even want the resettling countries to allow them to go abroad leaving their parents behind if the latter do not aspire to get resettled.

The proposal of resettlement has been a matter of hot debate for over a year. Although some of the so-called vulnerable were resettled in Canada in the yesteryear, none is resettled till date under the present resettlement scheme.

It is pellucid that some factors appeared to be serious impediment to the ontime and peaceful instigation of the resettlement. However, the US has endorsed that if every thing moves ahead smoothly, some 3,000 exiled Bhutanese will move to the US by the end of January. To add, at the time when resettlement is about to begin, some people have been muddled by the news that appear in flimsy way in different newspapers. This has a positive effect as well. Many exiled Bhutanese are seen in crowd in UNHCR and IOM offices to muster the first hand information about the procedure of resettlement and weigh its credibility.

On the other hand, a good many people have still a hope to get repatriated. Although they have no interest to be more of a hindrance to one willing to start a life in thousands of miles away, they only aim to return to their country with honor and dignity. According to them, resettling exiled Bhutanese in the western countries will not bring a lasting solution to the crisis.

Seventeen years of stay in the camps monitored by the UNHCR has plausibly sharpened their brain to decide the future for themselves. So they are likely to have differences in opinion of what is correct, what is good. Whether one waits to go back to Bhutan, get locally assimilated or choose to get resettled, their opinion must be respected.

This entry was posted in Opinion on December 19, 2007 by Editor.

Exiled Bhutanese journalists ‘intimidated’
By T. P. Mishra

Kathmandu, December 18: Exiled journalistsAt a time when violence is escalating inside the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal, exiled journalists working in the camps are increasingly reporting having received threats from the local authorities.

Bhutanese journalists working in exile in Nepal have long-faced pressure and intimidation as they go about their work, but with an increase in disputes inside the refugee camps, journalists, who are working on a voluntary basis, now fear for their own safety and security.

The Bhutanese exiled journalists aim to offer those living in the refugee camps their fundamental right to information. Their work on their behalf for promoting individual’s right to information must not be threatened.

The arrest of Bhola Siwakoti, general secretary of the Bhutan Press Union , by Nepalese police in October with no reason given, is just one instance of how members of the local administration treats exiled Bhutanese journalists.

The Armed Police Force (APF) personnel, based near the refugee camp in Beldangi-I have asked Arjun Pradhan, a correspondent with the Bhutan News Service (BNS), the only news agency run by refugee journalists, to sign in a register kept at the base camp each day.

The authorities said this was necessary because Pradhan had reported a case of the shooting of a refugee youth from Beldangi-I camp. Journalists working in camps cannot work freely under such harassment from the local authority.

There is a need for Bhutanese organisations in exile, aid agencies and individuals, to extend their support to the refugee journalists and their organisations in exile at this time.

The press bodies established in exile to promote media freedom, freedom of speech and expression in Bhutan are determined to continue to promote the right of the refugee population to freedom of information.

These organisations, including the Bhutan Press Union (BPU), the Third World Media Network – (TWMN) Bhutan Chapter and the Association of Press Freedom Activists – (APFA) Bhutan have issued a joint ‘Exile Declaration’ to work together under the banner of the BNS.

The harassment of any independent exiled journalists is viewed as an attack on the BNS, which would adversely affect the smooth functioning of news agency. The BNS is calling on international press bodies to put pressure on the local authorities managing the refugee camps to allow Bhutan’s journalists in exile to continue to work independently and in a safe and secure atmosphere.

Source: Meida Helping Media – Tuesday, 18 December 2007

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

King’s national day message focused on success of democracy
Thimphu, December 18: Thousands of Bhutanese residents of Thimphu and neighboring villages poured into the grand celebration of the centenary national day on December 17 under the clear sky and cold weather.

The celebration went live through BBS TV and radio expected to have watched by similar number of audiences.

Addressing the function in capital, where queens and the royal family members, the Prime Minister, representatives of the clergy, the armed forces, bureaucracy, the political parties, students, the international community, king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk paid special thanks to the fourth king who lead the country to this stage of development.

He said the day was not to celebrate 100 years of monarchy but to rejoice the socio-economic development, achievements and peace and prosperity that Bhutan has enjoyed so far under the leadership of benevolent monarchs.

Stressing the responsibility that Bhutanese now has to ensure the success of parliamentary democracy, he urged the young Bhutanese to bear in mind that they have an important responsibility of taking Bhutan forward and that country’s future will be determined by the capability, conduct and attitude of these young people.

He also urged the new politicians to build healthy democratic culture and ensure peace and unity among the people.

Khesar, who spent most of his time praising his father, expressed commitment to fulfil his duty as a king in future. To end, he reiterated the ‘one nation one people’ police crafted by his father from ethnic cleansing in the south. Bhutan News Service

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

BRRPC concerns ‘shooting’ a youth
Kathmandu, December 17: Bhutanese Refugee Repatriation Programming Council (BRRPC) has expressed serious concern over shooting an innocent exiled Bhutanese youth on December 13.

Issuing a press statement on Monday, BRRPC has strongly demanded action against those involved in the shooting.

Unidentified two persons who came on a motorbike ride had shot Arjun Subba of Beldangi-I camp near Sangam Chowk in Damak municipality in Jhapa district on December 13.

The release, signed by its chairman Bhakta Raj Giri, has also said BRRPC’s deep attention has been drawn towards recent decision of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) to declare jail term to 30 civilians ranging from 5-9 years.

Meanwhile, BRRPC has urged international communities, rights bodies and government of Nepal to probe into such atrocities and work towards releasing them at the earliest. Bhutan News Service

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

Acharya released (UPDATE)
Damak, December 16: Police has released Subash Acharya, former camp secretary of Beldangi-II extension after 36 hours.

Acharya was arrested by a team of police from Damak police post on Saturday night.

Talking to the BNS over telephone, Acharya quoted the police source as saying that they regretted in arresting him despite his innocence in shooting Arjun Subba. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 16, 2007 by Editor.

Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) denies shooting
Kathmandu, December 14: The Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) has denied the charge that it shot Arun Subba of Beldani-I quoted Nepalese daily The Himalayan Times.

Subba over a telephone interview with Saranarthi Sarokar from hospital bed has claimed the involvement of CPB (MLM) in shooting. “The incident was the result of the warning that we received in last pamphlet” he told.

His condition is out of risk. Security chief of UNHCR, representatives of aid agencies and chief district officer, Jhapa have visited the LifeLine Hospital to inquire the condition of Subba.

The daily quoted that in a press statement today, in-charge of the party’s rehabilitation coordination committee Muna refuted the charge levelled against the party.

The release said that the incident was the “extreme injustice meted out by the Nepal government and UNHCR on the refugees.” The release alleged that the UNHCR was responsible for the worsening situation in the refugee camp. Regretting the shooting incident, Muna said the party was formed to wage a struggle in Bhutan.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in all three camps in Beldangi.

Pamphlets, claimed to be posted by the Communists Party of Bhutan (CPB-MLM)-affiliated All Bhutan Revolutionary Students Union and Bhutan Republican Youths Organisation in Beldangi-I camp in Novermber ‘blacklisted’ at least 12 individuals and carried warning to take people’s action against them. Subba was one in the list.

The pamphlet had also issued ultimatum that the accused ones should either leave camps within 15 days or apologies before CPB-MLM. Bhutan News Service

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

3 arrested in connection to shooting (UPDATE)
Damak, December 16: Jhapa-based sub police post in Damak has arrested three youths from Beldangi-I and Beldangi-II extension on Saturday night in connection with the case of shooting Arjun Subba of Beldangi-I on Thursday.

The arrested include Subash Acharya, former camp secretary of Beldangi-II extension, Laxmi Narayan Dhungana of Beldangi-I, Sector B/4 – 44 and Bir Bahadur Subba of Beldangi-I, Sector G/2 – 164.

A team of police arrested them at around 10 on Saturday night.

Acharya, who was earlier arrested in connection to Beldangi incident in May, was later released on bail.

The arrested ones are kept at sub police post in Damak. Bhutan News Service/Jeetan Subba and Indra Timshina

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

Former head of sector ‘D’ in Beldangi-I camp shot
Damak, December 13: Unidentified two persons who came on a motorbike ride shot a youth near Sangam Chowk in Damak municipality in Jhapa district on Thursday.

According to C. L. Thapa, former camp secretary of Beldangi-I, the group shot Arjun Subba, former head of Sector ‘D’ from the same camp.

Thapa further informed that he along with Arjun Subba and D. P. Moktan were on bicycle ride towards Damak while the incident took place.

It is reportedly learnt that Subba, who sustained injury of two bullets on stomach, is undergoing medical treatment at Life Line Hospital in Damak.

Meanwhile, representatives of aid agencies including from the UNHCR has visited the hospital and assured victim of managing free treatment.

Police has beefed up security in camps. The reason behind the incident stil remains unknown while police hasn’t yet arrested the culprits who had fled from the scene soon after firing bullets. Bhutan News Service

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

Health indicators are satisfactory
Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) having primary objective of contributing for development of health sector in Nepal, took the responsibility of primary health care for exiled Bhutanese in January 2001 shouldering all activities of Save the Children,UK.

Since 2001, it has been running Primary Health Care Project for Bhutanese Refugees with an objective to provide health and nutrition services. Vidhyapati Mishra of Bhutan News Service talked to Project Director, Dr. Nirmal Rimal on various aspects of the project. Excerpt:

What are the current activities of AMDA Nepal?
AMDA-Nepal was established in 1990 as a national NGO. It is registered with Government of Nepal (GoN) and affiliated with Social Welfare Council. It is a chapter of AMDA International based in Okayama, Japan.

We have AMDA Hospital at Damak. It is also the primary referral center for exiled Bhutanese from western camps. There is Siddhartha Children and Women Hospital in Butwal and AMDA Mechi Hospital at Dhulabari under construction. Besides these, we have AMDA Nepal mental health program, Thankot Satellite Clinic, Dental and Specialist Clinic at Jorpati, Geriatric Centre at Pashupati and Street Children Program in Hattigauda. Further, we have various human resource development programs.

What does PHCP for Bhutanese Refugees do?
Primary Health Care Project (PHCP) for Bhutanese Refugees is being implemented by AMDA Nepal under UNHCR’s fund and material support of World Food Program (WFP) since January 2001.
Primary objective of the program is to provide health and nutrition services to exiled Bhutanese living in seven different camps in eastern Nepal. Beneficiary population as of September are 8,490- under five, 98,601- over five and 10,7091- general population.

What are the main areas that are funded by UNHCR?
We primarily have four projects. First is the food and nutrition program where we focus on supplementary food commodities. Secondly, we have domestic needs and household support that is relief assistance. Other two includes sanitation- vector and pest control, and health and nutrition where we prioritize general health service, community health service, prevention and combating HIV/AIDS and sector support management.

Whom do you target supplementary feeding in camps?
Our supplementary feeding includes dried skimmed milk, eggs, fresh fruits, oil, and pre- mixed unilito. The beneficiaries are malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and tuberculosis (TB) patients and elderly sick. Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are maintained at low level. There is food basket monitoring system in camp under WFP support. Pre-mixed unilito and oil are supplied by WFP.

What are domestic needs and household support?
We have provision of sanitary napkins four meter and two pieces under garment to all women of reproductive age. We provide baby blankets to all newborn and sick babies. Bhutanese Refugee Women Forum produces these supplies in the camps.

What is the achievement of sanitation programs?
Incidence of communicable diseases and the morbidity are reduced drastically. Hygienic environment is maintained in all camps. Treatment of malaria cases is quick and we have seen it very effective. We receive medicines for TB and malaria from GoN. Treatment for falciparum malaria and microscopes has been procured for effective malaria diagnosis and treatment.

For vector and pest control, we have ultra-violet laser facility (ULF) fogging up to three rounds in all camps when the case of Japanese encephalitis is reporter in the community. Residual spray at the places where cluster of falciparum malaria is noted or Kala-zar is identified in the camps.

How does AMDA manage general health services to people in camps?
We adopt the principle of primary health care. We run curative health services through 10 health centers in camps. All PHCP are well equipped with new furniture, all Maternal and Child Heath (MCH) units have provision of new delivery bed and other necessary items. We have good malaria diagnosis laboratory and sufficient drugs for chronic diseases, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) patients and child illness. We provide immediate territory referral services to needy patients.

MCH units of health centers provide reproductive health services. We provide psychological and mental health services and referral to primary, secondary and tertiary level of hospitals. Primary referrals go to AMDA hospital-Damak, Mechi Eye Care Center and Mechi Zonal Hospital and we make secondary referrals to Koshi Zonal Hospital. As tertiary referrals needy patients are sent to Dharan (BP Koirala Memorial Hospital) and Kathmandu.

We have targeted to bring crude mortality rate under four and achieved the target as 3.6 as projected. We have conducted delivery by trained other than Trained Birth Attendants (TBA) and our achievement is 96 percent. Furthermore, we have 95 percent immunization coverage and crude birth rate is 16.6 as projected.

We strongly administer community health services. Health education, cleaning campaign, mass activities like de-worming of school children, mass polio, vitamin A distribution, TT (Tetanus Toxoid) programs and mass nutrition monitoring activities viz yearly weight screening and nutrition survey are regular in our project.

That means you are satisfied with project’s achievements?
This is an undeniable fact. MCH, mental health, OPD (Out Patient Department), emergency, family planning, supplementary feeding, vaccination and immunization and community health services are satisfactorily managed. Still, medicine supply has been regularized.
Overall indicators of health status of camp population are satisfactory as per the given indicators. Reproductive health is extended to school and community. Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) service has been initiated in all camps.

How do you address such a large number of patients?
Maximum number of patients is managed in camp level. People with chronic medical conditions who need tertiary medical referral services have been accordingly facilitated.

What are the future activities?
We hope to strengthen 24-hour emergency services with training and provision of supplies. We want to manage three ambulances, one for eastern and two for western camps for effective referral service. We are planning to conduct refresher trainings on voluntary counseling and testing services for HIV and provide adequate medicines with a focus on Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Opportunistic Infections (OI) except anti-retroviral. Additionally, we conduct school HIV/AIDS awareness programs, explore vocational trainings as staff nurse and health assistant besides ANM, CMA and lab assistant, and ensure the availability of PEP, Hepatitis B vaccines and emergency contraceptives along with essential drugs and pharmacy management system.

On what basis does AMDA decide secondary and tertiary referrals?
We have a special board to make necessary referrals. We need to work under the guidelines set by UNHCR for making such referrals. We have representatives from UNHCR, AMDA, Mechi Zonal Hospital, Bhutan Heath Association, health program officers and health service sub-committee under camp management committee in the board that discusses the cases we receive and make a final decision.

There are reports of gross negligence in making prompt referrals to higher centers.
I really don’t agree on this. We have never denied the needy cases. But, it should be understood that there are limitations in our referral guidelines as set by UNHCR. I do agree that there are patients who need immediate referrals but their cases do not fall under our policy. Ours is a primary health care project. So, patients requiring expensive treatment as heart surgery are said to have been denied and there are around 200 such patients. But, this is our compulsion. Statistics as of September reveals that we made 14,325 primary referrals, 1,011 secondary referrals and 270 tertiary referrals.

What is the best part in PHCP for Bhutanese Refugees?
I am very happy to inform that on average a refugee visits a doctor 5.7 times a year. This is the best indicator of good health that we ensure to the refugee community.

This entry was posted in Interview on December 12, 2007 by Editor.

Complaints, counter-complaints of bribery
Thimphu, December 12: Along the heating campaigns by the political parties for upcoming first general elections, the dispute among candidates and cadres from two parties in Pemagatshel reached the apex last week.

Druk Phuensum Tshokpa members complained of bribery that Nanong constituency candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Jigme Drukpa, made.

Drukpa accepted that he gave Nu 200 each to three people, who were willing to become his party’s tshogpas on pretext that hey served him lunch at their place.

DPT members complained that he had earlier distributed money to other people as well to which Drukpa has denied.

To counter, the PDP member in the district submitted a written complaint to dzongkhag authorities and election officials, alleging DPT’s candidate, Zangley Dukpa, of bribery.

Dukpa, candidate for Khar-Yurung constituency, has been alleged of trying to bribe a PDP ‘tshogpa’ in Zobel gewog, Sangay Wangchuk, with Nu 1,100.

Dukpa accepted he gave the money not on political ground but on humanitarian ground as the people were mourning on a relative’s death. Bhutan News Service

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

ID cards distribution begins
Kathmandu, December 10: The government of Nepal and the UNHCR started distributing identity cards to the exiled Bhutanese living in the seven camps in Jhapa and Morang district of eastern Nepal today.

UNHCR hoped this will improve protection and assistance for some 108,000 registered exiled Bhutanese.

A program was organized in Sanischare camp in Morang district to start the distribution of the cards and it is intended that the exercise will be carried out on a camp by camp basis over the next few months.

ID cards will be issued free of charge to all registered persons, 16 years of age and above, and who were documented under a joint operation of the census of the population that was held in all the camps from November 15, 2006 to May 11, 2007.

“The distribution of identity cards is being launched after the completion of the census of the exiled Bhutanese held under the joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and UNHCR. In regard to the pending cases, the Government of Nepal has already initiated the process to take a policy decision on it,” said Mod Raj Dotel, Joint Secretary/Coordinator, National Unit for the Coordination of Refugee Affairs (NUCRA), Ministry of Home Affairs of Nepal. The issuance of ID cards was one of the key goals of the census exercise.

“ID cards are an important protection tool, because the most basic element of refugee protection is to prove one’s identity in order to be able to readily access protection and assistance services,” said Abraham ABRAHAM, UNHCR Representative in Nepal.

“The ID cards would also ensure efficient and accountable distribution of as well as better monitoring of assistance, in that it reaches the right person,” added he. Bhutan News Service

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

The worth of our NC candidates
Dec 9, 2007 -Thimphu: It’s now official and public what our National Council candidates own in cash, land, buildings and vehicles.

Kinga Dorji representing Orong goeg in Samdrup Jongkhar is worth Nu 50 million making him the ‘richest’ NC candidate.

His assets are entirely from his immovable property, chiefly buildings registered in his wife’s name.

According to the Election Commission directives all candidates vying for the upper and lower houses have to declare their assets with the ECB while filing their nomination forms.

Second to Kinga Dorji is Pema Tenzin from Chali in Mongar with assets worth Nu 27.01 million and Jambay Dorji from Lungyi, Paro, who has assets worth Nu 25.98 million.

But despite having enviable assets worth millions, Pema Tenzin and Jambay Dorji have liabilities of outstanding loans worth Nu 6.5 million and Nu 1.94 million respectively.

There were also 11 candidates with nothing to declare, mostly fresh graduates. Many of them did not even have a savings account.

So far, Mongal Singh Gurung of Tsedagang in Dagana is the only fresh graduate to have declared immovable property worth Nu 2.8 million, registered in the name of his father and grandmother.

Immovable property
Nineteen among the 44 NC candidates who will seek the people’s mandate on December 31 do not have immovable property, namely buildings or land, neither in their name nor in the name of their relatives.

Among the 25 who declared their immovable property, six candidates have land and buildings worth more than Nu 10 million.

After Kinga Dorji of Orong, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Pema Tenzin of Chali, Mongar, is Thinley Dorji of Chapcha in Chhukha who has declared his wife’s building worth Nu 22 million.

Moving on in the list are Jambay Dorji of Lungyi, Paro, with Nu 17.54 million, Sangay Phurba of Kabjisa, Punakha, with Nu 10.35 million declared in joint ownership and Ngawang Gyamtsho from Samkhar in Trashigang with Nu 10.03 million.

Shares and stocks
Only 11 candidates have declared their shares and stocks.

Naichu of Saling, Mongar, tops the list with shares worth Nu 467,600. Namgye Penjore of Goenshari, Punakha, stands second with shares worth Nu 282,000. Following him is Bishnulal Gurung of Tendu, Samtse, who has shares amounting to Nu 258,580 bought in his and his wife’s name.

Among vehicles declared as assets, 12 candidates have Maruti 800, five have a Santro each and five have Tucsons.

Pema Wangdi of Chaskhar in Mongar tops the vehicle list with two Toyota Hiluxes worth Nu 1.68 million. Following him is Pema Dhendup of Trong, Zhemgang, who has a Tucson and a Grand Vitara worth Nu 1.58 million registered in his and his wife’s name.

Jambay Dorji of Paro has six vehicles registered in his wife’s and son’s name. He owns a Daewoo Muso, an Isuzu Trooper, a Santro, an Alto, a Maruti 800 and a power tiller, worth a total of Nu 1.24 million, according to his declared assets.

Only one candidate among the 44 owns a Toyota Prado. Tashi Tshering of Bidung in Trashigang owns one but is registered in his son-in-law’s name.

Interest bearing deposits
Thirty five candidates including the fresh graduates do not have a savings account. Only nine candidates have declared their interest bearing deposits, according to the asset declaration form with the ECB.

The candidate from Chargaray, Samtse, Dr. Mani Kumar Rai, is the richest in terms of cash saved. He and his wife have cash worth Nu 1.55 million in fixed deposit. Ngawang Gyamtsho of Samkhar, Trashigang, has savings of Nu 700,000 followed by Chhatrapati Phuyel of Dorokha, Samtse, with Nu 429,000.

Among the candidates who declared their interest bearing deposits, Justin Gurung of Phuentenchu, Tsirang, is the lowest with only Nu 100 as savings.

Other assets
Only six candidates have declared assets not specified in the asset declaration form.

Jambay Dorji of Lungyi, Paro, has a travel agency and seed business worth Nu 7.2 million. Kesang Namgyal of Yalang, Trashiyangtse, runs a private business registered in his daughter’s name worth Nu 700,000 followed by Naichu of Saling, Mongar, who has Nu 645,000 saved from his retirement benefit.

Both Bishnulal Gurung of Tendu, Samtse, and Sangay Phurba of Kabjisa, Punakha, have travel agencies worth Nu 400,000 and Ngawang Gyamtsho has declared his apple orchard worth Nu 200,000.

Among all the 44 candidates, Chhatrapati Phuyel of Dorokha, Samtse, is the only candidate to have declared assets in terms of gold reserve. He has declared 40 grams of gold ornaments worth Nu 48,000.

The asset declaration forms of most NC candidates revealed that most had outstanding education loans. Among the 15 candidates who had declared outstanding loans, six had outstanding education loans with the National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF).

Others loans include vehicle, building and personal loans.

Though Pema Tenzin of Chali, Mongar, is second in terms of owing land and buildings, he stands on top when it comes to owing liabilities too. He has an outstanding loan of Nu 6.5 million. Thinley Dorji from Chapcha, Chhukha, has building worth Nu 22 million in his wife’s name but his wife also has an outstanding loan of Nu 2.5 million as declared by him.

According to the asset declaration forms, Jigme Wangchuk of Jomotshangkha has the least outstanding loan, Nu 15,000.
(Reproduced from Bhutan Times)

This entry was posted in Main News on December 10, 2007 by Editor.

30 civilians clamped ‘ngolop’, sentences nine years jail term
Thimphu, December 09: The Samtse district court has given its verdict in favor of sending 30 southern Bhutanese to jail for five to nine years on charges of involving in seditious activities.

The court after five months long proceedings sent 30 people, who are blamed to have joined the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), to jail.

The accused were sentenced in accordance with the provisions of the National Security Act of Bhutan, 1992, and the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004.

The government mouth piece Kuensel quoted the court officials saying that using a religious façade called the Srijana Sanskrit Sangathan, the group had held several meetings to discuss Maoist ideology and to collect money and food grain for the Communist Party of Bhutan. People who attended the meetings were made to fill up membership forms.

The meetings were held in Katarey and Ugyentse villages in Samtse where they are accused to have designed plans to recruit local people in their mission. Further the court said they have set up camps in the forest for armed training to locals on use of weapons and explosives.

The court said, two Class XII students, had connected with the Bhutanese in exile to attend briefing sessions on Political and Ideology Training conducted by the cadres of the CPB. The government also claimed that the Nepal Maoist and Communist Party of Nepal, Bhutan Peoples’ Party, Druk National Congress, and Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front were also involved in imparting training and briefing these people for use of arms.

Some of the defendants are also accused to have supported Bhutanese in exile, and forming secret groups like Pragathisel Sanskriti Pariwar, Srijana Sanskriti Pariwar and Saipatri Sanskriti Pariwar which are formed to strengthen the communist ideology in the country.

Police claimed they recovered detonators and other materials used for making improvised explosive devices, membership forms of the Party and All Bhutan Revolutionary Student Union, note-books containing revolutionary lyrics and coded membership lists, coded names and addresses of donors and five numbers of Nepali textbooks on Communist Party from the arrested people.

The police had arrested 39 people. The status of other nine still is unknown. Bhutan News Service

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

SAHR concerned democratization delay
Kathmandu, December 07: The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) has expressed concern over the delay in democratization process of Bhutan.

In a statement issued on Friday at the end of its regional meet held in Kathmandu, the regional human rights group called for speedy democratization in Bhutan.

It further demanded for effective guarantees for human rights in the country and a fair settlement of the crisis being created after eviction of the Bhutanese citizens from their country.

The SAHR also expressed concerned at the continued denial of democratic rights to large parts of the South Asian family and called for intensive efforts by national communities, severally and collectively, to secure to all people their right to democracy and justice.

In a wide ranging discussion, the regional meet concentrated on ways and means of increasing the electoral role of the economically weaker classes, minorities and women across South Asia since many countries in this region will observe elections in the next few months.

Some other issues discussed during the meet included minimum institutional guarantees for free and fair elections, the need for states’ pro-democracy orientation, transparency of the electoral process, the requisites of an independent election commission, the creation of mechanism for effective projection in elected bodies of pluralist societies and post–election accountability of elected representatives.

Members of the SAHR and experts from Afghanistan , Bangladesh, Bhutan , India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the meet. Bhutan News Service

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

Voters’ turnout in polls questionable
Thimphu, December 03: Despite this being the first and historic elections, the voters’ turnout in the upcoming elections in the country is doubtful.

The private sector employers who gather in Thimphu to discuss the draft of the Labor Act said they will not provide leave to their official to go villages and cast vote.

The employers asked the government to make arrangement for them to vote in the place they work.

The employers raise objection to government appeals to provide paid or unpaid leave to the private sector employees so they go to their villages to cast votes.

The employers said office works were half almost for two weeks this year when the officials were given leave during mocking elections.

The election commission said only less than 80 percent of the total eligible voters registered with it till end November.

Other serious questions that employees raise during the consultation hosted by the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources was the annual leave they get. The draft Act mentions 12 day of annual leave while the government officials get 30 days. The employees demand similar facilities in the private sector.

The discussion was dominated by the issue of sexual harassment that can occur in private offices and penalties. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 3, 2007 by Editor.

Southern sojourn gets going
Thimphu, December 03: In their efforts to win the votes from southern districts, could turn to vote banks for the parties, the presidents and other leading figures of the DTP and PDP continue their tour to southern districts.

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) delegation under Khandu Wangchuk joined by Dorokha-Tading constituency candidate of the party, Thakur Singh Powdyel, completed their five-day intermingle tour of the constituency and arrived Phuentsholing on November 27.

The team DPT was welcomed to that area with the sounds of trumpets and drums, played in public, while aroma of incense sticks added fragrance in places like Dorokha, Denchukha and Dumtoe.

On the other hand, the PDP goes ahead to eastward reaching Sarpang and then to Tsirang, the largest population among the southern districts. It counts to over 19,240 voters.

In course, PDP captain Sangay Ngedup presented his candidates for Shompangkha and Gelephu constituencies, Pelzore Rumba and Garab Dorji respectively. The Sarpang and Tsirang tour ended on November 28.

Ngedup said, if elected to lead the government, his party will work to transform the bureaucracy to help farmers avail faster services by establishing a one window service through gewog integrated services.

Party coordinator for the southern districts T. P. Humagai did his best to separate party president from linkage to royal family stressing that the draft constitution does not allow a royal family member to involve in politics. Ngedup is maternal uncle to present king.

The mission team has reached Dagana.

Alongside the speeches of the leaders, the parties have intensified their strategies to activate their sister wings for mobilization of people in the south and north. A large gathering of women and youths was organized by PDP at Wangdue Choling Lower Secondary School in Bumthang on November 29.

PDP seems ahead of mobilizing women and youths compared to DPT despite the notification from the Election Commission not to establish any sister organizations at this time. After the notification, PDP bent its strategy to term the youth mobilization process as youth discussion forum.

Detrimental to win for leading the government, the parties take it seriously the votes from the southern district despite their hatred and ill treatment during the absolute rules. Bhutan News Service

This entry was posted in Main News on December 3, 2007 by Editor.

Fire breaks out yet again in Beldangi camp
Beldangi, December 2: A hut was completely destroyed when fire broke out from the hut belonging to Hem Lal Biswa under Sector C/1-10 in Beldangi-I camp Sunday morning at around 5.

Meanwhile, at least three huts were dismantled to avoid fire spread.

The reason behind setting ablaze was unknown yet. No human casualty was reported.

Earlier on November 9, at least 68 huts were destroyed both completely and partially when the fire broke out in the same camp. Indra Timshina/Bhutan News Service

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

Relief committee, BNS extend kind and cash support to fire victims
Beldangi, December 1: Bhutan News Service (BNS) and Nepal FM Network have distributed an estimated 1,700 pieces of clothes to fire victims in Beldangi-I camp on Friday amidst a special function.

UNHCR representative from its sub-office in Damak, Camp Committee Members among other representatives of the aid agencies were present on the occasion.

Editor of the BNS, T. P. Mishra and representative of Nepal FM Network Krishna Dahal formally handed over the clothes to camp secretary of Beldangi-I T. B. Gurung.

Addressing the distribution function, Mishra demanded the management of fire brigadier near the camps to prevent from such huge loss in future incidents.

Similarly, Dahal expressed gratitude over getting an opportunity to extend support during such an emergency period.

Meanwhile, Fire Victims Relief Committee in Kathmandu comprising Ashok Gurung (Khudunabari), Mishra (Beldangi-II), Som Subedi (Beldangi-I) and Deepak Gurung (Khudunabari) distributed Nepalese currency 29, 321 that was collected from Bhutanese and their wel-wishers staying in Kathmandu.

The committee with consensus from CMC and other aid agencies distributed 425 to each families whose huts were completely and partially damaged by the fire.

Gurung over a telephone conversation with the BNS expressed gratitude to all contributors for helping people in camps during emergency period. “Relief Committee in Kathmandu thanks all who contributed to fire victims”, said Gurung, adding that the support extended by the UNHCR and other organizations to deliver those clothes on the hands of fire victims was always praiseworthy.

At least 68 huts were damaged both completely and partially when the fire broke out in Beldangi-I camp on November 9.

The contributors include:

S/No Contributors Amount (NRs) Remarks
1 Ratan Gazmere 5,000 Bhutanese
2 T. B. Chhetri 2,000 -do-
3 Jagat Acharya 2,000 – do –
4 Jogen Gazmere 2,000 – do –
5 Raju Thapa 1,501 Nepalese
6 Tek Nath Rizal 1,020 Bhutanese
7 B. R. Pradhan 1,000 – do –
8 Chabilal Chhetri 1,000 – do –
9 Nagen gazmere 1,000 – do –
10 B. R. Subba 1,000 – do –
11 Setu Nepal 1,000 – do –
12 Dhruv Mishra 1,000 – do –
13 Dhruv Joshi 1,000 Nepalese
14 Hament lama 500 Bhutanese
15 Nirmala Adhikari 500 – do –
16 G. S. Giri 500 – do –
17 Hom Nath Subedi 500 – do –
18 Padam Pokhrel 500 – do –
19 Santi Ram Poudel 500 – do –
20 Surya Nath Mishra 500 – do –
21 Govind Bhattarai 500 – do –
22 G. P. Chhetri 500 – do –
23 K. N. Timsina 500 – do –
24 Hom Nath Gautam 500 – do –
25 Bharat Gurung 500 – do –
26 B. M. Rai 400 – do –
27 C. N. Dahal 300 – do –
28 B. L. Bista 300 – do –
29 K. L. Chhetri 300 – do –
30 B. R. Khatiwada 300 – do –
31 Laxman Gurung 300 – do –
32 B. M. Dhakal 300 – do –
33 Jaga Adhikari 200 – do –
34 Kamal Koirala 200 – do –
35 Sharma Neupane 200 – do –
Total 29, 321 /-
Bhutan News Service

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

One caught on charges of trafficking
Birtamod, November 30: Police have arrested Durga Rai on alleged charges of being involved on girl trafficking recently.

She is the resident of sector D/4 Hut No 41 of Khudunabari camp. Armed Police Force personnel of Nepal nabbed her from her residence.

Along her, Ambu Bista, Bina Shah and Parbati Chhetri were also arrested. The latter three girls revealed to have handed over some money to Rai in response to the assurances Rai gave for employment in a foreign country.

Rai is revealed to have assured of employment making earning of at least Rs 10,000 a month.

According to Bhanu Dhungana, Assistant Camp Secretary of the camp, Rai has been taken to police custody in Birtamode for further investigation. Bhutan News Service/Tri Bikram Adhikari

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

Campaign on violence against women underway
Khudunabari, November 30: A 16-day long Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women is underway in all camps starting from November 26. The campaign is scheduled to end on December 10.

During this period, various campaign including mass gathering, rallies, certificate and clothes distribution along with the celebration of important days will be conducted. Daily lightening programs by agencies and organizations working inside the camps is added feature of the program.

The whole celebration is being sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Bhutan News Service/Tri Bikram Adhikari

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

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