Open letter to Dr Bruce Bunting


Dear Dr Bruce,

First of all, please accept greetings from the Bhutanese refugees in various camps of Nepal.

I had an opportunity to go through an article in the Kuensel written by Rinzin Wangchuk on May 10, 2011, where you commented regarding Bhutan, its ruthless rulers and so-called political and illegal immigrants.

Besides you, there are a number of people, politicians, diplomats and journalists who are highly paid by the demagogic rulers of Bhutan on various occasions just to praise and appreciate their way of ruling the nation.

Dr Bruce, you must be knowing that Bhutan remained as one of the poorest countries of the world until late 1970s. So the question of our fore-fathers migrating to Bhutan due to economic cause is more than super lie of Bhutanese rules as they were there in Bhutan even before the Treaty of Sinchula inked on November 11,1865 between Bhutan and British-India. Of course, political migration from Tibet to Bhutan was there time to time, even founder of modern Bhutan Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal had to immigrate Bhutan as refugee in 1616 from political strife in Tibet.

Is it your own census record that reflects population of Bhutan to be about 670,000? You must know the total population of Bhutan was 1.2 million, according to the Bhutanese authority, that was declared in United Nations in 1971 while Bhutan became the member of United Nations Organizations. The same number was suddenly reduced to somewhere 500,000 in 1990 after evicting the southern Bhutanese of Nepalese ethnicity. And, 25 million population of Nepal and 17 million population of Nepalese ethnicity of Indian states of Assam and West Bengal is nothing to do with the bonafide Bhutanese of Nepalese ethnicity. The Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal are from Bhutan and not from those countries. You are welcome to clear your doubt, if any, by visiting the camps and verifying their documents. So we request you, for God sake not to carry the childish version of the perpetrator rulers of present Bhutan.

Dr Bruce, we do agree that our country Bhutan is really pristine where we lived and like to live but due to ruthless rulers thousand of bonafide Bhutanese were evicted to become refugees for so long. So how can you say the rulers are taking care about their people? Are you talking about only for ruling elites and their ‘yes people’? There are still personalities of our ethnicity in high-ranked positions inside Bhutan, which we always accept. However, their inside and outside are different. As you look at the faces of some Nepali-speaking ministers in the Jigmi Y Thinley’s cabinet, you may see them as people of southern Bhutan, but they have Jigme Singye inside them since they were compelled to act in that manner.

As an outsider to Bhutan, you must know that the border of Bhutan was closed long before the eviction of bonafide southern Bhutanese. Can Bhutanese ruler able to protect northern border with China? Do you also know that the descendants of the citizens since much before 1958 were declared to be so-called illegal immigrants, as they did not possess the land tax receipt as their parents did because the land was not in their own name? How can you say this is not an ethnic issue when more than 100,000 of Bhutanese of Nepali origin were evicted from southern Bhutan?

Tricky Bhutanese rulers seem smarter than diplomats of US because only with formal relationship they were made to agree to resettle unjust Bhutanese in the refugee camp in eastern Nepal in support of Bhutanese regime. I think, this must be very much clear to you. Someone, non- Bhutanese briefing Bhutanese history is really going to be history of Bhutan because such a person can only brief the history that briefed by the rulers of Bhutan without the true history in the content.

Further, it should be known to you that the autocratic regime turned into a constitutional monarchy in the name of unique democracy where people are not allowed to practice their democratic rights. Consequently, more than one hundred thousand of bonafide Bhutanese were not allowed to say anything on this democracy.

The much trumpeted gross national happiness in Bhutan, if any, depends on supply of India and is not only loving street dogs, finding snarling dogs as smiling in Thimphu and neglecting the cry of more than exiled Bhutanese for returning to their homeland, but creating happiness to a few elites inside the country. Ever agonized Bhutanese will never be happy merely with nationwide road constructions, electricity supply and car loan.

Yes, the Government of Bhutan will keep on organizing such talk programs and seminars just to make the organizers and the speakers to say the rulers of Bhutan are unique but the subject of Bhutan are economic migrants, disgruntled terrorists, anti-national and illegal immigrants, and even Indians.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to write this letter.

Dr Bhampa Rai
Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee


  1. Dr Bunting just needs some exposure to the other side of the story .I am sure he is not bribed or bought in this situation .We should tell our part softly and sincerely so that we make him know that we suffered and the comments he made were not true .

  2. Dr. Rai good job,

    Dr Bunting should know the real issue before commenting on the fate of more then 100,000 people if he is from a real democratic country and not just another diplomat helping the inhuman regime.
    He should question the US govt.then whom are they resettling?

    Any doubt, welcome

    Thank you

  3. Dear Dr. Bhumpa Rai,

    Very well written piece and well researched response to the shallow comment by Dr. Bruce who does not understand the situation in Bhutan and would have never seen the plights of people in the refugee camps. It is unfortunate that there are intellectuals like Dr. Bruce who close their eyes for their personal gain and blindly support perpetration of atrocities by the autocratic rulers. Perhaps he does not know the difference between an autocratic system and a democracy.

    Regarding the categorization of Southern Bhutanese as economic migrants by the PM and supported by him, he should know that Bhutanese from the North living in those barren hills do not produce anything and what would Southern Bhutanese look forward for such a system. In fact, it is the Southern Bhutanese who contribute to the national exchequer through their hard work and they are actually economically dependent on the South. Dr. Bruce would have no clue about it as he must be traveling to Thimphu and back to USA.

  4. Dr. Rai,
    I must commend on your relentless and passionate pursuit of what is in the hearts of the thousands of us that are made homeless/stateless – to tell the truth, the inhumane treatment of the government of Bhutan and how we have been forced to undertake this journey in the wilderness. History will tell us one day about the journey that was forced upon us and the truth will prevail and justice done. We shall not give up but will take back what is rightfully ours in due time.
    For our readers, ps visit

  5. Dr. Bunting,
    It was in the treaty of 1865 that Bhutan ceded the greater plains of Bhutan: Champaguri, Dewangiri, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri… etc to India and started receiving subsidy. The Bhutanese people in the greater plains (who were mostly ethnic Nepalis) loyal to Bhutan moved inside the new boundary and remained Bhutanese though the ages. Thus the Southern Bhutanese came to Bhutan from Bhutan. More immigrants were allowed in until 1958 when the government felt it was enough and logically enforced one of the most stringent immigration laws in the world, which our people respected and followed as the laws of the land.
    The “little island in the sea of humanity” as you describe Bhutan (along those lines of Shangri La, the land of Gross national happiness) would have not survived, if it was not for the people of Southern Bhutan who protected the porous border and reported every case of human individual crossing the border including a marriage. We are not illegal immigrants but the protector of the land of Bhutan (I call Bhupali…protector of the land). Though the government now says, that Bhutan is protected by the local dieties, the proof is self-evident from the influx of Indian Bodo militants into Bhutan right after the eviction of Southern Bhutanese in early 1990s. Ultimately, it required military actions from the Bhutanese government to flush them out. They could still be a threat in future and the little island may dissappear in the sea of humanity, if Bhutan continue the false propaganda to demonize my people as illegal immigrants, and does not accept its citizens based on Truth the jewel in the lotus of a Buddhist heart! I am afraid that one day in future (10, 20..or 100 years from now) Mahatma Ganghi’s secular India will use this injustice as a tool to use and instigate our people to swallow Bhutan. It is in the best interest of my country Bhutan that you and I love so much, you need to observe both sides of the coin before you endorse its face value, unless you are a stooge craving the face value for yourself.
    Thank you and God Bless all Bhutanese.

    Dick Chhetri

  6. It is very sand to know that Dr. Bunting, a well learned professional unfortunately has supported the state terrorism of the government of Bhutan at the cost of thousands of innocent people who are victimised by by Bhutan. It is generally expected that professionals like Dr. Bunting should have studied both the sides before jumping into the conclusion of what reality was. pleasing the ruling elite might be benificial in economic terms but one should close eyes to the gross humanity crisis. It is a good start that Dr. Rai has given a brief history of Bhutan which might be useful for Dr. Bunting for further reference.
    In reality every people of Bhutan irrespective of northerners, southeners, easterneers or westerners are silently wondering about what made you say so? If you had atleast interviewed some of the people in Thimphu itself, I am dead sure that their version would be different. But unfortunately you jumped to the conclusion hearing few people who were trying their best to clean themselves of the tarnish they have in the international arina.

    Finally, I request your good self not to make such blunder to any of the nations people in future that would ignite a deadly civil war against them.

    I too request you to look for alternative medium of earning a living instead of earning at the cost of innocent people and global social as well as political unrest.

    Best regards

    Chandra Chhetri
    [email protected]
    A Bhutanese resettled in Norway

  7. I wonder if he is medical doctor or a doctorate of philosophy. I have been associated with many scientist and professional who have achieved the highest degree of education through painstaking research for years and excel in their profession. And I have the highest respect for any PhD from the USA knowing very well how difficult it is to get an American PhD. If Dr. Bruce is such a professional or social scientist, I would like request him to go back to his desk and first do a literature survey on Bhutanese refugees, the origin of Nepali-speakers in Bhutan from the first invitation of families in 1624 by then ruler, Ngawang Namgyal to documentations with the Gyalpoi Kutchab in Kalimpong (Kaji Ugyen Dorji, Raja ST Dorji, Garjaman Gurung, JB Pradhan, AB Subba, Jasraj Gurung, Mahasur Chhetri etc). Then he could do a practical survey of refugee camps with a few research associates, survey people in the border areas, check the archives of history in Bhutan, Nepal and new Delhi and make his conclusions. Without any research back-up, his utterances are an embarrassment to his highest professional degree. it would be to his benefit to earn another Ph D in Bhutanese history when there is time, rather than be a mouth piece of the racist regime. It also indicates his racist tendencies.

  8. I think BNS should contact dr. Bunting and let him know the sentiment of the bhutanese people overall and ask him to correct his false knowledge before the community questions him of his credibility and lucrative businees with the royal familyin Thimphu.

  9. It’s the regular practice of The Most Democratic Government of of Bhutan. Dr. Bruce has not seen his face. He is trying to implement the same British Policy that was applied to many south Asian and African countries during their rule. If Dr. Bruce’s country is democratic you must support democracy but if you are from Libya then it’s up to you.

  10. Dr Bruce,

    I think you don’t know about our couge. you have to learn more from our side.we are the victims. you know that in Nepali there is one song”kaha dukcha ghau malai nasodha”yes you have to learn this first and come front otherwise you go to sit in acavern.

  11. Dr. Rai’s explanation to the propoganda is higly appreciated. Illegal immigrant story has been hatched up by the regime to divert the international attention from the real issue of Human Rights and Democracy in Bhutan.
    Dr. Bruce Bunting should have made proper research on the Bhutanese refugee issue before making this statement. I am so sorry for the irresponsible statement made by a US scholar.International community has become aware of the fact, if it is the issue of illegal immigrant or it is the issue of injustice and gross violation of human rights of the southern Bhutanese for last several decades.

  12. Whose version of history is correct? each one has his/her version as heard/ experienced by himself/herself that they believe to be the right one. Obviously there is no single truth or reality but multiple ones. What gives us the right to proclaim what you believe or want others to believe to be true and condemn what others believe to be true? Is our suffering a just enough cause to blame others? Should we believe in the dominant party because they must be right since they are on the winning side (as in truth always prevails)? Should we be believed because we are the oppressed ones (at least as we see it, others may think we created it for ourselves)?
    In any case, shouldn’t everyone have the right to believe and express what they believe is true? How do arguments become believable and trustworthy?

  13. Dr Rai plz accept my sincerely thanks for reacting to one sided US Dr. Self declared
    Bhutan PM has been reportedly saying people of the camps are illegal migrants and environmental refugees. Dr Rai in your next letter plz ask Mr Bruce why US govt is
    resettling Bhutanese Refugees if they are illegal migrants and do not hold Bhutanese status.

    One day time will come for the Bhotae to leave the country as refugees like us now.
    At that time they don’t get shelter in India and Nepal. Lets join our hand and be
    ready to fight against autocratic regime with out any delay.

  14. Everybody must have understood that the responses go to Dr. Bunting not just circulating among bhutanese readers. If you have a way to send him the messages ,please do that. Dr. Bunting advocacy would prove that he is an unwillingly democratic person. So Sad… for his fallacious writing.

  15. BNS any reaction from bunting? if not please try to convey him the sentiments. Otherwise there is no use of only the bhutaneses readers argueing among ourselves and no value of such article in bns.
    thank you