His Majesty the King of Bhutan,
Subject: An appeal for dialogue to resolve the Bhutanese refugee crisis
Humbly and respectfully, we submit to apprise the following issues of our concern to Your Majesty and the Government of Bhutan for consideration in the long-term interest of peace, stability and integrity of the diverse population of Bhutan.
Our motherland, Bhutan has covered long distances and had made great strides in a variety of ways in attaining the states of nation state. Ever since various actors are on play, one after another with vested political and diplomatic acumen creating hostile circumstances between Royal Institution and the people at their behest. Given the present nitty-gritty and a situation abiding of tightrope work faced by the country, we on exile feel with restive the compulsions of Your Majesty despite being enlightened and imbued with welfare of the country and the people.
We are Your Majesty’s subjects with high respect, regard and commitment to protect and preserve the sovereignty, Royal Institution and serve the fellow countrymen in a conducive atmosphere. In no sense, we appeal to be undermined, mistaken or alleged. Since the inception of the hereditary monarchy, the Bhutanese people either they be Sharchhops, Nglongs, Kurtekpas, Khengpas, Doyas, Brokpas and Lhotshampas have given tremendous love and affection to their kings making them ‘people’s kings’.
Each community has contributed significantly in defending, protecting and developing Bhutan. The Bhutanese people are patriotic, innocent, disciplined and dedicated to the nation. But, most importantly and relevantly, the previous government has stepped too rigorously in the cultural, civil, political and economic aspects of the people. What crime had the citizens committed in voicing against the arbitrary policies of the government and demanding a change for the largest interest of the people, which Your Majesty is always for. The Bhutan Peoples’ Party, follows democratic socialism, believes in a constitutional monarchy with the multi-party democracy, admires and appreciates the noble decision of Your Majesty for initiating the process of democratisation in the kingdom of Bhutan. As a universally accepted principle, the values of democracy are to ensure and safeguard equal rights, freedom and justice to the people of all section of society and individuals. It is also to ensure peace and development in a country, where every citizen have the defined role and responsibility to play in the nation-building task.
The Government must accept that the land in the southern districts were basically unwanted for settlement by those from the northern Bhutanese fearing wild animals and malaria in the past. It was these Lhotshampas who boldly initiated settlement and turned fertile after years of their occupation. Surrender of the 18 Duars to the British India supports the fact that the southern territories were vulnerable until occupation by the Lhotshampas. Therefore, unless our brethren are resettled in the government vacant lands, any justice being done to the Lhotshampas won’t be seen, and there is no reason why conflict is not justified in such a situation.
The Bhutanese refugee are the offshoot of the political crisis that ignited following the forceful implementation of the “One Nation, One People” policy on a heterogeneous mass which is a miscalculated political misadventure. With the people living under suppressive rule, we are convinced to mention here that neither the state of internal affairs is congenial nor the friendship and co-operation with our age-old neighbors exist as before. With over one hundred thousand of Bhutanese citizens living as refugees, and their landed properties issued against their wills to other communities, when the world is preparing to grasp greater opportunities from the new millennium going beyond frontiers, we are unfortunately getting isolated from the rest of the world as we are sowing the seeds of ethnic conflict and creating our own pit holes. At this critical juncture, the destiny of our nation lies on Your Majesty’s wisdom and farsightedness.
We believe that we are Bhutanese citizens and our first duty is to protect our sovereignty and the Royal Institution for our identity. A patriotic power-holder would not design for Categorization to aid fuel to the fire. We have created history of bitterest critics so far and it may be detrimental to proceed further. But denial of repatriation of over one hundred thousand Bhutanese citizens in exile and deprivation of adult franchise to the genuine citizens within the country shows that the present political changes are not balanced and inclusive. It may also be noted that a large number of political prisoners are still languishing in the Bhutanese prisons without fair trials, who should also be released enabling them to take part in the democratic process. Negligence to address these vital issues can never be in the interest of ushering in sustainable democracy but can invite serious problem to the nation in near future.
The democratic processes initiated in our kingdom unfortunately have failed to appreciate and uphold the democratic principles as practised by the global democracies of twenty first century. If democracy is to guarantee the social justice and political rights to every citizen of the country, favourable political environment has to be created where every citizen can participate in the process in a free and fair atmosphere. How can there be a true, functional, vibrant and inclusive democracy when over hundred thousand Bhutanese citizens (living in exile as refugee) are excluded from the process of democratisation and other related political processes.
We humbly make this democratic proposal to Your Majesty considering the living examples of the constitutional monarchs in the kingdoms like Sweden, England, the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand and many other democratic countries. We believe that a healthy constitution will not only legitimize the constitutional monarchy but also will guarantee stability, justice and prosperity of the nation as a whole. Bhutanese people are in a way fortunate that we have examples around us, which would guide if we appropriately try to learn from their mistakes. The Somalia, Bosnian and recently Syria conflicts is one of that has been emerged as a result of constitutional lacking to address the multicultural, multilingual and multiracial issues. We also cannot rule out constitutional loopholes for the ongoing civil disobedience involving Indigenous Peoples and other unending ethnic conflicts in the neighboring countries.
At this critical juncture, Your Majesty, the Bhutan Peoples’ Party is making this appeal to understand our sincere aspirations and enter into un-conditional dialogue for the common good of us all. We assure Your Majesty that we are Your people and would compromise on possible aspects from within 13 points demand placed before to the then king during 1990.
We remain, anticipating Your Majesty’s wisdom and justice.
Your Majesty’s most Loyal Citizen,
Bhutan Peoples’ Party