Diaspora campaign against Japan’s decision to confer award on Dago Tshering comes to an end; organizer claims it a successful campaign 

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Picture courtesy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan.

The Global Bhutanese Campaign Coordination Committee-Japan Campaign 2021 (GBCCC-JC) has announced the official closure of the Japan Campaign 2021 effective today.

In a press conference this morning which was broadcast live on their Facebook page, the spokesperson of GBCCC-JC, Jogen Gazmere stated that their campaign proved that the Bhutanese communities in the diaspora could always unite for a greater cause.   

According to a press statement sent to BNS post press conference this morning, a three-phased campaign was initiated by Bhutanese in the diaspora to register their concern in response to Japan’s decision to bestow “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” award to the former Home Minister of Bhutan, Mr. Dago Tshering.

In phase one, a letter signed by twenty GBCCC-JC members and support letters from over forty-six community organizations from eight different countries was sent to the Japanese Prime Minister on June 24, 2021 – a copy of which was sent to respective heads of governments and Japanese embassies in Nepal and other countries where Bhutanese are resettled. The letter highlighted the widespread atrocities meted out to a section of the Bhutanese citizens during Dago Tshering’s tenure in the ministry of Home Affairs. It expressed their concern & reservation over the choice of the candidate and asked the Japanese government to rescind its decision.

In phase two, signature campaign commenced on June 28, 2021 to enable individual Bhutanese in the diaspora and Bhutanese refugees in the camps in Nepal to voice their concerns. During this phase, hundreds of trauma survivors and their children who were victims and non-Bhutanese witness to the atrocities committed by Dago Tshering spoke out adding strong voices to the campaign. This signature campaign ended on July 23, 2021. On August 12, another letter together with names of the petition signers was sent to the Prime Minister of Japan.

Similarly, in phase three, on September 2, 2021 letters were sent to the heads of Government of several UN member countries, UN and European Union Human Rights bodies and International Human Rights Organizations apprising them about activities carried out by the GBCC-JC 2021 and urging them to not honor perpetrators of Human Rights violations in Bhutan and elsewhere.

“The GBCC-JC constituting community organizations and members in Bhutanese diaspora from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom and United States of America successfully achieved its objectives laid out in its three-phased campaign. It was successful in receiving fair media coverage in various jurisdictions including Japan, The United States and Nepal,” reads the press statement. 

The press statement further stated that the convergence of many Bhutanese from across the diaspora around this campaign has been a milestone. 

“It affirmed our hopes in resilience and raised our optimism as a resurgent community. It was equally encouraging to see active youth participation. Their contribution in this campaign as a whole is commendable and it is hoped that this exercise gave our young leaders an opportunity to prepare for bigger undertakings in the future. As we close the Japan Campaign 2021, we call upon the governments and human rights bodies throughout the globe to support the Bhutanese in the diaspora to help heal from trauma inflicted upon us by the Bhutanese regime. We urge the world community not to engage in any such action that will reopen our wounds that would result in re-traumatization and insult. We also request them to encourage Bhutan to continue its democratization process, while using their good influence in helping the Bhutanese diaspora reconcile and reconnect with their country of origin,” it added. 

“We express our sincere appreciation to all our campaign partners, supporters and the news media that helped amplify our voice and contributed to the success of this campaign. As of today, GBCCC-JC has not received any official response from the Japanese government even though we have learned through a reliable source that the Japanese government is aware of the campaign. Evaluating the campaign’s accomplishment on the basis of public participation, the debate it has generated in the diaspora and the media coverage it has received, among others, we can confidently say that the campaign was successful in making its voice heard,” further read the press statement. 

In a press conference this morning, the GBCCC-JC announced the formal closure of the Japan Campaign 2021 effective today. Reacting to a BNS query in the press meeting, Robin Gurung, an emerging U.S.-based youth leader stated that it was an opportunity and a learning experience for him and others from his age brackets to work closely in the inter-generational team.

Echoing the reaction of Gurung, Chuda Bajgai, another youth leader based in Canada stressed that despite hurdles in the community he felt well-accomplished in this mission.  

“Having accomplished its objective, the GBCCC-JC as a platform and the Japan Campaign 2021 will cease to operate and exist from today. However, the data and experiences thus gathered in the process of this campaign exercise may be used to facilitate similar endeavors in the future,” reads the press statement.