Dutch Bhutanese celebrate a decade of resettlement
Bhutanese Community in The Netherlands (BCN) has celebrated Tenth anniversary of Bhutanese Refugees Resettlement in The Netherlands amidst a successful cultural event last week in Amstelveen, a Dutch city nearby Amsterdam.
The programme began with a minute of silence in memory of those who have passes away in Dutch soil in the last 10 years and expressing condolences to the family of BCN’s General Secretary Amber Singh Subba whose sister-in-law has recently passed away in Nepal.
BCN President Ram Karki spoke about the background of the Bhutanese Refugees and highlighted the progress Bhutanese in The Netherlands made, challenges faced and programmes in place to prepare for the future.
He stressed the need for teaching young people about our history and raise awareness within the Dutch community about uniqueness of the Bhutanese society, their culture and values.
He thanked Nepalese government for providing support during the two decades of refugee life and continuing support those still living in camps. Also to thank the Dutch government for providing opportunity to start a new life by embracing us as its citizens.
Noted Dutch Novelist Alice Verheij highlighted about her personnel experiences in the various refugee camps in eastern Nepal during her visits. ‘I did my best to bring this lesser known humanitarian crisis into the limelight through mainstream medias in the West through writing, exhibitions, talk programs, social medias etc’ said Verheij. She further spoke about her association with the Bhutanese Community in The Netherlands, who are very honest and hardworking people and wished them success in the days to come.
Dr. Rieki Crins, a noted cultural anthropologist and an expert on Bhutan, who also lectures at Oxford and several other universities, described her long association with Bhutan. ‘I was terribly shocked to hear about the stateless situation of Lhotsampas community during my interaction with them on several instances and their difficulties in getting jobs without ID cards and No Objection certificates,’ said Dr. Rieki.
She further said that she did her best to employ as many Lhotsampa stateless youths as possible in her hotel school and that might antagonised the high command in Bhutan in the beginning.
‘Thousands of Lhotsampas, whose Citizenship Identification cards were confiscated, approach the king every year in the hope of getting King’s sympathy to restore their citizenship but i did not hear any positive results to their prayers from the king.’
‘My impression on Bhutan and its king changed slowly and later I started feeling that there is terribly wrong in this country and the people are too afraid to talk about their difficulties. The issue of Bhutanese Refugees were seldom discussed or talked in Bhutan. Later I understood that there is a law which allows the king to sanction life imprisonment to anyone who talks of the refugee or related issues,’ she said.
She added, ‘Instead of honouring me for my long social work and help to Bhutan and its people I was blacklisted and prohibited from entering the country in 2016. I invested a huge sum of money in my hotel school there but everything went astray thus I recently published a book named Blacklisted in Bhutan based on my experiences in Bhutan.’
The Netherlands based Nepali Community and a close friend of Bhutanese Community Shashi Paudyal spoke about his initial impression of the community members and expressed his happiness about the rapid development of the Bhutanese Community members living in The Netherlands.
Messages of congratulations and best wishes were received from Ms. Sadet Karabulut, Dutch Member of Parliament, Mr. Mohan Gautam, Chairman of Bhummats from Australia, Mr. Tejan Tiwari, President of Association of Bhutanese Communities in Denmark, Mr. Bhakta Subba from Belgium and DP Kafley from Canada.
BCN extended its gratefulness to all the Dutch Community members and representatives from various national as well as international agencies who helped the resettled Bhutanese for the successfully integrating in the Dutch society.