At the initiative of Bhutanese Australian Association of South Australia (BAASA) Bhutanese in South Australia honoured Austria-born Japanese citizen Dr Manfred Ringhofer at a special function held in Salisbury North, South Australia on November 30.
The honour was in recognition to his invaluable contribution he has made towards Bhutanese democratic movement and supporting financially towards higher education of the Bhutanese in exile.
Speaking at the function Dr Manfred said he was very humble to receive such recognition from the Bhutanese community. He expressed happiness on progress Bhutanese have achieved after the third country resettlement.
One of the recipients of the AHURA scholarship Parsu Budathoki, who had travelled from Melbourne to see Dr Manfred, said Bhutanese people are very privileged to have friends like Dr Manfred who always advocated in favour of truth behind mass eviction from Bhutan in 1990s.
Community members also held interaction with Dr Manfred after the honour program on range of issues including Gross National Happiness (GNH), future of resettled Bhutanese, relation between Bhutan and Bhutanese diaspora and AHURA Japan’s activities in raising awareness on plight of southern Bhutanese.
Dr Manfred was one of the foremost initiator, while working in Amnesty Japan, for the release of prisoner of conscience such as Ratan Gazmere, Tek Nath Rizal, Jogen Gazmere and many other political prisoners. He provided scholarship for more than 75 Bhutanese students to pursue higher education through AHURA Bhutan.
Dr Manfred is chairperson of AHURA Japan and professor at Osaka Sangyo University and Nara University in Japan.
Dr Manfred travelled through New Zealand where he had spoken about relevance of GNH when one-fifth of the country’s population was evicted. He is doing research on Bhutanese in exile in the post settlement situation. During his five-day stay in Adelaide he met few families, his friends, government officials, INGOs executives and recipients of AHURA scholarships.
See part of his speech he gave at the function, below (the video quality is not good)