All people in camps not Bhutanese: Bhutan claims

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Dec 09: Bhutanese delegation chief in Geneva for Human Rights Council country review session, Kinzang Dorji said that it is factually incorrect to say all people in the camps in Nepal are Bhutanese refugees. 

In his address during the adoption of state report on Tuesday evening, said, “Some statements referred to the people in the refugee camp in Nepal as Bhutanese refugees. Consequently the term reappears in some of the recommendations. I wish to retro rate the position of royal government that there are many different categories of the people in the camps including non Bhutanese.”

Kinzang, who answered only two issues among many raised by the country delegates during the review on December 4, said, “Concerns over sexual abuse of girls in villages have been raised by one delegation. Allow me to underscore that the excesses and reprehensible exploit of individual do not constitute the cultural tradition and nor can hey be used to condemn the credibility of the entire administrative service.” 

He also said, “As I have said in my opening statement that we have approached the UPR with an open and positive mind therefore your questions, comments and recommendations will contribute immensely to our continued efforts for the further protection and promotion of Human rights.”

Kinzang, who opened the adoption session 12 minutes late, assured that all recommendations will receive the careful consideration of the government and informed that Bhutan will report to the human rights council before the 13th session. 

He said that the delegation will take back the report and make it available widely.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am sorry to quote an old saying!! ‘How much you do, grandpa Balls are always outside’. Having demosntrated and worked hard by the Bhutanese resettled in the Europe, bhutan delegation still boldly adressed the world leaders, HRC and UPR deleates that refugee issue will be resolved bilaterially, people in the camp are illegal immigrant and finally bhutan demanded for the correct term to adress the refugee but not as Bhutanese refugees.

    i felt Geneva mission was partically successful in organizing the protest and getting aggrediation only. Congratulation Geneva friends,

  2. Dear Minister, Who said every one in the camps, is a Bhutanese? In this long span of time some other nationalities have well got in to the community. (???) But it is with facts and concrete data, now and then proved that over 90 percent are Bhutanese.
    The Big question here is that you, by at all means do not want to take the people back out of your hatred for ethnicity. So, it is no wonder when you say so. But I am afraid that one day and soon you have to relent to your stubbornness. And I am afraid, by then, perhaps it would be too late to hide your face. It looks like the hoodwinking time for Bhutan should come to an end badly.

  3. That is the stand Bhutan has always taken. Have they looked at the UNHCR documents ??? who is responsible for screening refugees before identifying them as refugees. UNHCR was not born yesterday, they have gone through the same procedure of screening millions of refugees all over the World since its inception six decades ago.

    When Bhutan wants to beg money to feed their people below poverty line they accept the statistics and studies carried out by the UN aggencies and when they don’t want to accept the Bhutanese refugees as Bhutanese they conveniently reject the facts gathered by the UN agency. If tomorrow UN tells Bhutan that they will be paid a huge sum of money for each refugees they take back,Bhutan will not think twice about the opportunity, Bhutan is just a greedy monster.

    I am happy that I live in awestern country where I can earn my living and contribute to feed hungry and people below poverty line in Bhutan through my tax money contributed by my Government to various UN agencies. Bhutan should be grateful that we, evicted people are feeding their hungry people.

  4. Here´s an objective article:

    Nepal Finally Waves Away Refug
    UPDATE : 15 December 2009

    After dragging on for close to 18 years – often in almost farcical fashion – at an estimated cost of some US$350 million, resolution of the Bhutan refugee crisis is at hand.

    By Alexander Casella

    This month, the first batch of 25,000 refugees left camps in seven United Nations-supervised camps in eastern Nepal, and the vast majority of the 86,000 remaining have signed up for resettlement in the West; most of them are heading for the United States.

    The origin of the crisis, which has exposed bureaucratic bungling and nationalist fervor at their worst, lies not so much in Bhutan as in Sikkim, which provided a foreshadow of what could have been the fate of Bhutan.

    With porous borders and a weak state apparatus, the diminutive kingdom of Sikkim had become a destination of choice for a creeping ongoing uncontrolled immigration from nearby Nepal.

    As the Nepalese slowly increased in number they also brought with them the political factionalism and dissent that plagued their country of origin. By 1975, the local Sikimese Bhutia had become a minority in their own country and the level of political unrest had become such that New Delhi had to step in and annex Sikkim.

    The lesson was not lost on the Bhutanese, who were also exposed to similar immigration pressure from Nepal and where government circles had come to the conclusion – a view shared by many Western specialist of the region – that Bhutan was destined for extinction if decisive measures were not taken to bring to a stop what had become a process of creeping demographic encroachment.

    Thus, by the early 1980s, the government of Bhutan started to tighten rules regarding immigration. Likewise, residency requirements regarding the acquisition of citizenship, though still relatively liberal in comparison to those of many Western countries, were made more stringent. Admittance to government service was also restricted to nationals and the use of the national language, Dzongkha, was made mandatory for official business.

    These measures were increasingly badly received by the immigrant community and with unrest spreading in southern Bhutan, where most of the newcomers had congregated, the authorities decided to resort to a more radical solution – the wholesale expulsion of immigrants. Thus, between the end of 1990 and 1992, some 100,000 illegal immigrants were expelled from Bhutan.

    While there was considerable debate as regards the precise composition of the group, the fact that some 70,000 moved to Nepal, which had no common border with Bhutan as it is separated by a strip of land that is part of India, made a compelling case for them being of Nepali origin. As for the remaining 30,000, they moved to India, where they joined the some four million strong Nepalese community.

    While the expulsions were at times brutal, for the half million indigenous inhabitants of Bhutan what was at stake was the cultural survival of the last Tantric Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas.

    Had events been permitted to run their course, the 70,000 who arrived in Nepal would have faded away and the impact of their arrival in a country of some 28.5 million inhabitants which, for all practical purposes was their own, would have passed unnoticed. That events took another turn was due to an odd set of circumstances, namely the failure of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN refugee agency, to properly address the Kurdish crisis in northern Iraq in 1991.

    In the wake of the first Gulf War in 1991, the US government encouraged the Kurds in northern Iraq to revolt against Saddam Hussein. When, however, Saddam turned against the Kurds, Washington did not come to their help and the result was a massive population displacement which saw hundreds of thousands of Kurds seek refuge in areas in northern Iraq not under Saddam’s control, while others sought refuge in Iran and Turkey.

    The exodus caught the then-high commissioner for refugees, Madame Sadako Ogata, completely unprepared and exposed her to a wave of criticism both from Western governments and the non-governmental organization community.

    To mitigate censure for her failure, Ogata created, within the UNHCR bureaucracy, a so-called Emergency Response Unit allegedly responsible for ensuring that the refugee agency be capable of responding at short notice to a sudden refugee crisis anywhere in the world.

    However, with no further crises in sight but an unemployed emergency unit at hand, the UNHCR bureaucracy became a solution in search of a problem. That problem suddenly emerged in 1992, when the government of Nepal asked the UNHCR to take charge of the group expelled from Bhutan on the grounds that these were “refugees”, that is, foreign nationals who had fled persecution in their country of origin.

    Normally, the UNHCR, before intervening, would have undertaken a survey of the caseload to determine exactly their nationality and reasons for departure. Had this been undertaken, the inescapable conclusion would have been that the overwhelming majority were actually Nepalese and hence, by the fact that they were in their own country, did not qualifying for refugee status.

    But Ogata did not run a tight shop and spurred by the urge to be perceived as active, the UNHCR opened seven camps without undertaking even a semblance of a survey of the arrivals. Over subsequent years, as the UNHCR kept on pouring money into the camps, Bhutan and Nepal embarked on a series of protracted and fruitless discussions as to how to deal with the group.

    While Bhutan acknowledged that among the camp population there might be a few bona-fide Bhutanese citizens whom they could accept back, they where wary of exposing themselves to a massive return. Conversely, the Nepali authorities, already embroiled in a major internal crisis, were insisting on the wholesale return of the group. By then, the camps had become hotbeds of opposition to the Bhutanese government and were in part controlled by various Marxist groups, including some of Maoist extraction.

    In 1996, a senior UNHCR official on a visit to Bhutan acknowledged that the UNHCR should never have opened the camps in the first place, with the extenuating explanation that the decision to do so derived from plain stupidity rather than evil intent. But Japanese Ogata was not one to acknowledge her mistakes, and though she visited Bhutan in November 2000, she remained impervious to any recommendations to close the camps.

    By the time Ogata left the UNHCR in December 2000, the situation in the camps had undergone a thorough Palestinization and with Nepal dead-set against local integration schemes, no solution appeared in sight other than the prospect of an unending financing for the camps.

    Within the UNHCR, it was not a situation with which the hardcore bureaucracy found fault. With the agency’s existence justified by the existence of refugees, the incentive was in opening camps rather than closing them and the more refugees to care for so much the better. And when the beneficiaries were not exactly “refugees”, the temptation to stretch the rules and thus increase the number of the organization’s constituents proved irresistible.

    It was only in 2004, with the nomination of a new director for Asia, that the UNHCR started to reconsider the issue. With neither repatriation nor local settlement in the cards, resettlement appeared as the only viable option. Thus, by 2006, following a Canadian initiative, the so-called “Core Group” of countries which had monitored the problem and that included Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the US, decided that they would all offer resettlement slots to the camp population. With the US ready to accept up to 70 000 and a resettlement rhythm of some 20,000 a year, it was estimated that in four to five years the problem could be solved and the camps closed.

    The announcement of the resettlement scheme provoked a major outcry throughout the camps. Fearful of losing their captive constituencies, the various political factions active in the camps, such as the Bhutan Communist Party, the Bhutan Peoples’ Party and the Democratic Socialists, supported by exiled movements, launched a massive campaign against resettlement. Riots erupted and in May 2007 three camp inhabitants who had volunteered for resettlement were killed. As for the Nepal government, for whom the camps represented a source of income, it was only after severe pressure from the “Core Group” that it agreed to deliver exit permits to those who had been accepted for resettlement.

    While the resettlement selection process proved laborious for most of the camp inhabitants, the opportunity to move to a developed country finally proved irresistible. Thus, this December, the UNHCR announced that 25,000 refugees had signed up for resettlement in the West. The Nepal office of the UNHCR said the US had so far accepted the largest number, 22,060, followed by Australia (1,006), Canada (892), Norway (316), Denmark (305), New Zealand (299) and the Netherlands (122).

    With the trend towards resettlement now irreversible, it is only a matter of time before the Bhutan “refugee” issue is brought to its final conclusion.

    (Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

  5. UNCHR is responsible for the creation of the Nepalese issue in Bhutan and now they must resolve the issue. Every western or donor partners were always misinformed by these people of nepali origin. They always painted a bad picture of Bhutan whenever the opportunity came their way. Our belief is that the TRUTH will prevail in the end. We wish our few misled people to do well wherever they go but never be ungrateful like you all did to Bhutan. We also hear stories like a refugee woman resettled in Denmark had infact not set foot on the Bhutanese Soil. We are confident that most of the so claimed to be refugees fall in that category. The truth is difficult to digest and the truth is these people are ungrateful and cancerious.