Young guns discuss Bhutan’s political prisoners

In a successful seminar that brought together more than 20 passionate participants, a youth-led seminar on the history, trauma, and current struggles of Nepali-speaking Bhutanese captivated new audiences and fostered critical discussions. The seminar, which took place on December 9th 2023, was organized by a team of young leaders: Srijana Sapkota, Nawal Rai, Bishal Upreti, and Ashika Dhaurali. The event, held over Zoom, saw these emerging leaders spearheading conversations that aimed to shed light on the experiences of the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese community after the 1990 ethnic cleansing. Topics ranged from the historical context of their presence in Bhutan to the traumatic experiences many members of the community have faced and the ongoing struggles they confront as political prisoners.

Under the guidance of esteemed mentors Ram Karki, CM Niroula, and Indra Adhikari, the seminar provided a platform for the exchange of ideas, stories, and perspectives that are often overlooked in mainstream discourse. The mentors played a pivotal role in guiding the discussions and ensuring a respectful and constructive environment for all participants. One of the poignant highlights of the seminar was the firsthand account shared by a former political prisoner, Mr. Madhukar Mangar, who endured wrongful imprisonment for 30 years. His narrative shed light on the struggles faced by individuals within the community, offering a powerful reminder that the Bhutanese community cannot achieve freedom until the wrongfully imprisoned political prisoners have received freedom. Srijana Sapkota, one of the lead organizers, expressed her enthusiasm for the event, stating, “This seminar was a crucial step towards educating our younger community. It’s essential that we create spaces for open dialogue, especially when sensitive topics such as ours.” Bishal Upreti, another key organizer, emphasized the significance of youth-led initiatives.

“Our goal is to empower the youth to become advocates for change and to ensure that the experiences of the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese are heard and acknowledged,” said Upreti during the seminar. The success of this seminar is a commitment of these young leaders to achieving awareness around the issues faced by the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese community. Moving forward, the organizers hope to continue these conversations and advocate for the immediate release of political prisoners.

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