Open letter to Nepali President Yadav

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I have the honour to address this letter to you on behalf of the Bhutanese forced by the government to live in exile as refugees for close to two decades now in Nepal and elsewhere. I hope you would not regard this letter as an unwanted intrusion in your busy official and private engagements, but show it the concern it deserves.

Much has been written and said about why and how our problem started. They are on record as a matter of fact and need no reiteration. The whole problem is a consequence of the misguided but deliberate national policy of the Government of Bhutan (GoB) at ethnic purification of a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-linguist nation. Given the reality of your long and active public life, I am aware that this issue is both within your knowledge and familiarity. So repeating the facts of the situation near the beginning would both be presumptuous on my par and a waste of your valuable time.

The whole process of negotiation between the two governments to resolve the issue is also well documented. How even after the joint verification of refugees and as agreed by the two governments Bhutan brazenly walked out of the process to avoid taking back its citizens is a matter of record too. The action by the Bhutanese authority not only betrayed the Bhutanese nationals but also made a blatant mockery of the position of the Government of Nepal (GoN) and all established international norms including human rights and civil liberty. Even today, however unfortunate, the reality is that these citizens per force continue to live as refugees in the UN-sponsored camps in the eastern Nepal.

In more recent times, I am sure you are aware that Bhutan has charmed the international community with its Shangri-La image to get its citizens in the camps settled in various third countries. Some major countries have come forward to resettle the refugees in their countries, and this process, in fact, has long begun. While this fully exposes the intention of the GoB to see its forcefully evicted citizens resettled anywhere in the world but none to be repatriated, it also demonstrates the callous disregard by the international community of the human rights of the refugees undermining their right to return to their own country, ignoring the fact that refugees have right to return to their country of origin as secured by the international law.

We are not against the real sentiment of the ongoing third country resettlement per se but we believe that this option of the resettlement should have been activated simultaneously with an alternative such as the repatriation of the refugees to Bhutan. And, the whole truth of the matter is that all the refugees do not want the third country resettlement. Many are for repatriation to their own homes in Bhutan. What was most disheartening for us was that this initiative was put into effect without the general consent of the refugees, particularly those who had worked to settle them in camps in coordination with the GoN and other aid organizations including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Even more painful is the reality that some international agencies based in Damak are strongly and openly giving a push to the idea by actively campaigning and motivating the refugees for the third country resettlement. The third country resettlement option has today become a fait accompli for the refugees given its “take it or leave it nature”. It was never an option, in fact, in the absence of other alternatives. It seems rather compulsory than voluntary as stated. Repatriation is all but forgotten. It is not hard to find a significant number of refugee families separated and left heart-broken because of the resettlement program. Those who were just homeless have become people of nowhere due to resettlement since there exists no nation for these people. It has only worsened their situation.

In such a state of affairs, we strongly believe that it is the responsibility of the rational thinking people in all walks of life and in particular those in power to defend the right of innocent refugees and guard them from the implementation of the third country resettlement. It is in this light that I take this opportunity to request you to use your position of the high office to review and appraise the refugees issue and act to set in the motion the process of repatriation allowing the unjustly displaced Bhutanese citizens wanting to go back to their original homes to return and live in peace and harmony.

Please accept the assurances of my highest considerations

(This is an open letter addressed to President of Nepal, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, by Chairman of the Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee, Dr Bhampa Rai, requesting the former to ask the Government of Nepal to repatriate Bhutanese refugees to Bhutan. The President alerted Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and the Council of Ministers on March 24, 2011 for the needful action. )

13 COMMENTS

  1. Resettlement got ‘activated’ because other countries offered to resettle the Bhutanese refugees, not because Nepal felt like it. Repatriation will be activated, most definitely, when Bhutan offers to repatriate the refugees. Should we not stop asking Nepalese government to initiate repatriation? How many more years does it take us to understand that Nepal can do NOTHING to make that happen?

    When 98000 of the refugees (out of a little over a 100,000) show an interest on resettlement and submit their interest in writing to the UNHCR, there is a big possibility of that being considered a general consent, even if a few don’t consent to it. When everyone says, it is perhaps called “universal, unanimous” consent.

  2. We must understand that people are opting for third country settlement out of their own free will. We rather live in a country where we are respected and treated equally as other citizens of the country. We don’t intend to go to Bhutan to live like hired labourers.

  3. haha, another folks is here again; why this man don’t prefer 3rd country,seems there he don’t qualify..bhutan is better for him. But man, don’t dream of snow in havana.

    Any how he can do his best…good luck

  4. Dr Rai,
    I appreciate your input and stand. Power of pen is of course unchallenged. I too support your repatriation priority and this is uncontroversial also. But how to acquire is something that we need to work and find out the path suiting all the stakeholders, big or small.
    Within ourselves we have a team to support and stronger forces to oppose. It is all pendulum, to and fro, not making progress. But there are critical things to be done to make things turned in our side.
    • All Bhutanese a/political organizations should dissolve their existing organizations and form a single organization from all walks of life. Sacrifice for the betterment of self and people. Ideal situation would be to form the exile government to take the accountability not the power sharing. Let’s look positively and give youth or the younger generation to lead and people like you should guide and facilitate the move. Within a rule form a consortium of experts in each field to lobby and gain the support.
    • Let’s assume that things are not going to improve or make significant changes if we limit ourselves within the proximity of Nepalese politics. Let’s change our ground and collectively work to find out our station point that will cover clearer perspective.
    • Let’s try to support and develop a culture to appreciate Bhutanese government side and bridge the gap. Let’s come closer and let’s stop blaming them. May be mistakes are from both sides (my assumption) but we are the loser, we lost everything and they didn’t. Let’s be brave enough to accept that we also made the blunder not only mistakes. Let’s play constructive role.
    • Focus and move forward for all the people of Bhutan either in or outside Bhutan. Do not repel some clans and attract only single ethnicity. Make it a nation move. Win people heart.
    • Consider that resettle folks are the resources for movement. Let’s capitalize them. Brain drain and gaping them will drag us still behind. Resettled folks or people trying for TCR are not the enemy of repatriation. Stop looking them with the suspicious eye.
    • Last but not the least, advocate by the peaceful approach, more mature and diplomatically. Do not work as an activist.

    Hats up.

  5. Tortola, your suggestion to Dr. Rai is really rational and logical. I fully support your idea on how to go ahead towards finding amicable solution to the complex Bhutanese refugee problem, which should be acceptable to all. Hatred cannot bring peace. Leaders like Dr. Bhampa Rai should learn how to nurture compassion. Errors are humane, and there is a need to comprehend the flaws and laxity in dealing the issue of Bhutanese refugees from both the sides (government and the people). The resettled people are never a liability for the Bhutanese movement for democracy, human rights and repatriation, they are rather big assets. So, leaders should know how to utilize the assets and resources, without which they cannot achieve anything. There is a need to broaden the vision, thought and action by everybody and work out a common strategy to accelerate the Bhutanese movement for justice to every Bhutanese including monarchs and ministers.

    I look forward that the next article in this site by Dr. Rai will give new insight towards finding logical and comprehensive solution to the entire problem. Hate the sin, not the sinner.

  6. Sn:Bhutan kralı”jigme khesar namgyel wangchuck’ın dikkatine.SN:Kral size çok uzaklardan türkiye’den((istanbuldan yazıyorum))Ben aslen”makedonyalı” genç emekli öğretmen bayanım.Sizin ülkeniz bhutanı internet,gazete ve dergilerden dikkatle inceledim.çok,çok beğendim.Haberlerde bhutanın çok huzurlu bir ülke olduğunu okudum.Efendim ben kendi maddi imkanlarım ile bhutana gelemem İMKANSIZ!Lütfen beni ülkenize davet edermisiniz?Sonra siz”jigme khesar namgyel wangchuk” ve ülkenizi,kadınlarınızı tüm gelenek ve baş döndürücü güzelliklerinizi incelemek sonra”KİTAP”yazmak istiyorum.SN:Majesteleri jigme khesar namgyel wangchuck beni ülkenize davat etmenizi bekleyeceğim.İLGİNİZİ BEKLEYECEĞİM.
    SAYGILARIMI SUNUYORUM EFENDİM.
    GÜLER.
    0090(0) 506 735 30 85
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    Google translation of above texts are as below: Editors

    Sn: the king of Bhutan, “Jigme Khesar namgyel wangchuck’ın dikkatine.SN: King you far away from Turkey ((I’m writing from Istanbul)) I am originally from” Macedonia “young retired teacher bayanım.Sizin country bhutanı internet, newspapers and magazines carefully inceledim.çok , so that a country is very peaceful beğendim.Haberlerde bhutan okudum.Efendim bhutana I can not come with their own financial means IMPOSSIBLE! Would you please invite me to your country? then you “Wangchuk Jigme Khesar namgyel” and your country, your women and then examine all the tradition and the dazzling güzelliklerinizi “BOOK “write istiyorum.SN: His Majesty Jigme Khesar Wangchuck namgyel bekleyeceğim.İLGİNİZİ that you wait for me davat country.
    SIR extend my best regards.
    Guler.