Interview with Gedun Choephel
Bhutan went into polls in 2008 world designated the country as democratic now. The resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees to advanced economies weakened the struggle for human rights and democracy. A section of the resettled population now believes, there is no point in continuing to remain as Bhutan and talk about Bhutan’s political problems. As the new generation takes the lead of the Bhutanese diaspora, the identity as Bhutanese would further weaken.
The authenticity and relevance of Bhutanese political opponents from exile is waning. Activities of these political parties have come to a complete halt. Bhutan News Network discussed the relevance of exiled political parties at this situation and their role in future of Bhutanese democracy with president of Druk National Congress (DNC) Gedun Choephel.
How do you evaluate the future of Bhutan’s democracy?
The definite answer to the question is very difficult. However, in 2008, two political parties, namely DPT and PDP were registered in Bhutan. The DPT leader Jigmi Y Thinley was sent to the east and PDP leader Sangay Nidup to the west. Internally, PDP was promoted as a party to safeguard monarchy interests. DPT as a people’s party. The election was held indeed as an exercise to observe these two interests. DPT won the landslide election and JY Thinly became the Prime Minister. Though being the King’s man, JY Thinley initiated the democratic practices to honour the people’s mandate. But, King, seeing the erosion of its influence directly intervened in the 2013 election by rigging the elections. The subsequent third general elections also saw the king’s strong influence. It is apparent now that only parties that enjoy the blessing of the King will form governments. There is more likely to restore the absolute monarchy in the future than a constitutional monarchy. The path towards democracy taking deep roots in Bhutan is derailed.
What relevance do political parties in exile hold?
We had rebelled against the absolute power of the monarchy. For some observers, it might appear that with the unfolding of the political process since 2008, the relevance of exiled political parties has lost. However, the ongoing state of political scenario in Bhutan warrants the persistence and focus of exile political parties. The exiled political parties shoulder huge responsibility to continue the struggle for the genuine democracy in Bhutan. They must prevail in the face of threat and danger. More sacrifices might be needed. Each respective party must prepare for the long haul.
Do they have any influence in shaping Bhutanese democracy?
The exiled political parties had thus far been influencing the Bhutanese democracy. Their very presence compelled the regime to institute some semblance of democracy. Though the current narrative may be favorable to the regime, nothing in the universe is permanent. Change is inevitable. Bhutan too will one day have to walk the path towards genuine democracy and bend to the will of the people.
What’s the DNC doing to promote democracy and its principles in Bhutan?
The party principles and aspirations can only be implemented inside the country. The DNC wants to protect national interest, independence and the well-being of the Bhutanese people. In order to achieve these, we need to be inside the country. We are awaiting our return to the country. In the current pandemic time, no work has been initiated.
Are there opportunities for all political leaders in exile to give up their current political platform and culminate into one entity?
The respective political parties and their leaders had their own sets of ideals and principles. Each subscribes to different ideologies. Each party aspires to implement its own organisational goals and objectives. Most leaders are entrenched in their organisational objectives. Trust and confidence amongst leaders are very difficult to achieve. Giving up their current political platform for a single entity is very unlikely. However, if self-interest is sacrificed for the public interest and respective leaders show courage and sincere good faith for unified force, then an opportunity for culmination into single unity might appear.
How hopeful are you about your participation in Bhutan’s political processes in the future?
We are positive about our participation in Bhutan’s political process in the future. We are awaiting our amicable return to the country. Both sides know the long-term lingering of issues will have negative impacts on our country and hence issues must be resolved at the earliest. We are hopeful for our return to the country.
How can the DNC maintain the legacy of late R K Dorji?
In present times, the majority of people are materialistic and selfish. Only a handful of people are selfless and think of the public good. Even if sincere people do service for the public good, there are always people who would criticise and demotivate. DNC so far has been active in the face of limited financial resources, human resources, and other adversities. It has been challenging to stay afloat. We are frustrated, tired, and lonely and yet we are strongly committed and motivated to continue the late Rongthong Kunley Dorji’s legacy for human rights and democracy. I want to reiterate, there is an absence of genuine democracy in Bhutan, and thus we will continue to struggle for genuine democracy.
3 thoughts on “Interview with Gedun Choephel”
No need to worry about people in Bhutan, we are all happy and at peace under our great king. I do reckon you workless dumb ass to get a life, and stop worrying about Bhutan. if shameless could kill then you all would be dead by now. Go… squat to pee!!
These bunch of psychopaths should be hanged till death for spreading disharmony and misinformation. You people are rotten dead meat. Why don’t you get a life assholes
What the * is this DNC anyway? And how do you even call yourself Bhutanese when you all don’t even know how to speak a word in dzongkha? The word * perfectly suffice here, no parents , no country and no shame.