A delegation from Bhutanese Community in The Netherlands (BCN) met and presented memorandum to Mrs. Sharon Gesthuizen, a senior leader of Dutch Socialist Party and the Member of Dutch Parliament (Tweede Kamer) on April 4, 2016.
BCN expressed deep appreciation and gratefulness to The Netherlands Government for rendering humanitarian assistance to Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal and welcoming the refugees from Bhutan to resettle.
During the meeting BCN delegates discussed at length the various problems faced by the resettled Bhutanese in The Netherlands.
Family Split and reunion: Due to abrupt discontinuation of resettlement process in The Netherlands from Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal many family members were separated. This has created tremendous stress and instability among those separated family members. The delegates requested Sharon to take up this issue with the Dutch Parliament and make provision to continue the resettlement process of those Bhutanese refugees, whose family members were already resettled in The Netherlands. Mrs. Sharon agreed to take up this issue with the concerned ministry in the last week of April as the parliament session begins.
Citizenship issue of those Bhutanese who failed to procure integration certificates: The delegates appraised the parliamentarian about the difficulties in applying for Dutch citizenship for those seniors with no formal education. “ The elderly people in the community who never attended schools in their life time and have some medical conditions anticipate some sort of provisions to apply and get naturalization on humanitarian ground ”, said Ram Bahadur Chhetri ,head of the delegation. He further stated that the Bhutanese refugees have already stayed stateless for more than 20 years in the Bhutanese Refugee camp in Nepal and their only wish before they die is to become the citizen of the country of the resettlement, and in this case The Netherlands. To this issue Mrs. Sharon said, “It will be better for the younger Bhutanese to go to school and learn whatever they can and fulfill the obligation, for the elderly people above 60 years, together with the family reunion question I will raise this issue at the parliament with the concerned ministry and let you know the development thereof.”
Request Bhutan to issue Visa to Bhutanese Dutch like they do to other Dutch: The delegates requested the Dutch government to use its diplomatic channel to persuade Bhutan government to issue tourist visa to Dutch citizens of Bhutanese origin. “We have elderly parents, family members and friends in Bhutan and we as Dutch citizen should be allowed to visit them as tourist”, said Chhetri. Responding to the Chhetri’s statement Mrs. Sharon said that should be done jointly with other EU countries like Denmark, Norway and UK where former refugees from Bhutan have been resettled and she would take up the issue with Dutch members of European Parliament through whom such proposal should be taken up at the European Parliament. In the meantime she assured of finding other option as well.
Release of political Prisoners from Bhutanese Prisons: The BCN delegates requested the Dutch government to use its goodwill with Bhutan for the release of all those political prisoners confined in Bhutan’s prisons for many years. The mother of one such prisoner who is resettled in The Netherlands should be allowed to visit her son in Bhutan jail. She used to visit him periodically while she was in the camp. “This is the most difficult issue among all”, said Mrs. Sharon. She is expected to talk with concerned foreign affairs ministry in this regard.
Mrs. Sharon Gesthuizen focus on matter of economic affairs, asylum and immigration policy and judiciary in her party.
Ram Bahadur Chhetri, Chhatra Rai, Lalit Basnet, Bhanu Gurung and Devi Charan Basnet were the delegates representing Bhutanese community in the Netherlands.