Should the History of Persecution be Forgotten?

Photo Courtesy: Anjali Metha ( Creative Commons)

Members of the resettled Bhutanese community recently witnessed a surge of social media engagement on a matter of their joint and several concerns, the essential theme of which, however, was largely misinterpreted and emphasis deviated. It all commenced with a proponent- a member of the community- suggesting, among others, in a public forum that “we want(ed) to forget” whatever had happened thus far. What was purported to be forgotten were incidents of persecution the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) had perpetrated on them! The ensuing social media engagement triggered by this ‘forgetting initiative’ landed more in discordance than discussion and hence certain substantive questions were barely addressed on their merit. This, therefore, is an attempt to address a singular question about whether or not forgetting the history of persecution is a plausible proposition, especially when emanating from a member of the persecuted community. The individual is invoked here for reason no more than of setting the issue into its proper perspective. The proposition and not the person is sought to be addressed here.

To sustain its conclusion that a proposition to forget the history of persecution is fundamentally flawed, this article advances three independent set of arguments, each bolstered by cogent reasonings premised on experiences of history, legal development on the field and theoretical imperatives, among others. It argues that it is incumbent on refugees themselves to memorialize their history which becomes a principal casualty immediately upon being forced into refugeehood. Invoking shreds of evidence from history, it argues that forgetting incidents of violence is a persecutors’ predisposition and that victims have, quite throughout, strived to consolidate their history. Drawing from developments in transitional jurisprudence, and the legal regime thereto, it is argued that states have accountability to truth-telling, which doubles as a right of victims to know the truth about persecution. In appropriate parts, the article draws from the science of victimology to argue that experiences of persecution do not offer easy choices toward forgetting, deeply embedded as the inflictions are, in the victim’s psychology, manifesting in different forms of traumatic disorders.  The overarching argument advanced throughout the article is that truth is the primary basis for normalizing post-persecution situations and a forgetting initiative poses a serious contradiction that impedes the normalization process, severely impairing the possibility of healing.

Refugeehood: Remembering History (of Persecution)

As will be appropriately dealt with in the following discussion, truth-telling, remembering and forgiving are integral to peacebuilding in transitioning societies following massive rights violations or conflicts. Sine qua non therefore, on the part of the perpetrator, is the acknowledgment of crimes in initiatives toward reconciliation and healing, effected mainly through variant versions of truth commissions. As violations lead to protracted refugee situations resulting in their relocation, as in the case of Bhutanese refugees, victim’s history becomes the first, among a series of other casualties. Refugee, either as a person or community is invariably a victim of de-historicization.

Generally evaluated in the immediacy of the present, the refugee is deemed as a person(s) having faced persecution or imminent threat thereof, and hence in need of maintenance and most ideally, a ‘durable’ solution. An object of sympathy and care in theoretically ideal situations, or of abhorrence and stigmatization in most practical ones, the predominant label ‘refugee’ subsumes all other identities, including their past that constitutes their history, a source of their multiple other identities. A complete subsummation decontextualizes the refugee completely from one’s past that in turn obliterates even the history of persecution inflicted on the refugee. Authoritative studies have concluded that disregarding history, especially of persecution, is bound to impact their immediate and long-term well-being adversely, including among others, their ability to integrate into new societies.

De-historicizing refugees from mainstream processes operate at two levels. Dan Stone faults historians for having “neglected to include refugees in their general national, regional or world histories.” Normally, refugees’ history falls prey to the expediency of statist historiography, where truth is told selectively or is even manufactured. For instance, not much is said in the national or regional history of South Asia about one of the most enormous refugee movements on the gory background of which, India and Pakistan earned their freedom. At a micro level, refugees’ individual histories and experiences of their being persecuted are mostly exclusioned from national historical processes, as also in the process of framing refugee-specific legal regimes.

In a seminal 2015 talk at Oxford, Professor Peter Gatrell while challenging the world to take refugees more seriously, denunciates historians for having excluded them from the mainstream historiography, even as other marginalized groups such as women, working class or slaves, among others, are being mainstreamed. He advances a proposition that history of refugees must be seen not merely as movements of discreet populations from one location to another but must take cognizance of their past in which historians must concede to the importance of the refugees themselves toward understanding that past.

Amid state-sponsored truth manufacturing and propagating process, the refugee’s ability to record, disseminate and consolidate the truth, as s/he knows it, is systematically curtailed. This generally is the case when the state of origin is a willful offender as opposed to instances where states’ inability to protect, rather than unwillingness, generates refugees. International refugee law with barely any mandate on holding accountable the country of origin for violations is mainly directed toward physical maintenance of refugees who do not have the luxury of truth commissions to get truths established.

Relocation being its final ‘durable’ solution, it leaves refugees high and dry with unacknowledged wounds of persecution unhealed. As such, refugees are faced with the double jeopardy of ostracization along with vilification and their only recourse is to remember and memorialize their history, including incidents of persecution to the extent possible within their constraints. As the shared heritage of victims, the truth so remembered and owned may be different than that propagated by the state and its instrumentalities.

From a utilitarian perspective, remembering and recording history of violation has manifold functions. Among others, it is a strong deterrence toward preventing recurrence of persecution. To victims, memorializing shared history provides a sense of identity and helps chart a futuristic course. The truth, especially when acknowledged by the perpetrator is essential to healing and reconciliation. In resettled refugee situations, as in the case of Bhutanese refugees, the utility of truth about persecution is often discounted as unwarranted, citing the ground that they need not share physical space with the former violator. More often, as in the present case, forgetting is understood as a precursor to reconciliation. Both presumptions are flawed.  Whether or not victims of violence and persecution remain within their countries of origin or relocate elsewhere, the healing effect of memorializing is equally paramount.

As will be argued in appropriate sections below, the principle that it is a legal duty of the state to acknowledge the truth of violation as is a collective duty of the victim community to remember it, applies in all post-persecution situations irrespective of where each of the community lives. Past experiences about histories of persecution bolstered by an emerging transitional legal regime hold perpetrators accountable to formally acknowledging violations while requiring persecuted community assume accountability toward memorializing and preserving that truth.

Forgetting vs. Remembering: Lessons from Past Experiences

Post incidents of violations, the persecutor and persecuted are typically characterized with two diametrically opposing predispositions with the former incentivizing on forgetting and the latter striving to remembering such incidents. Where conflicting parties agree on peacebuilding and reconciliation, the role of remembering and forgiving is supreme. Priscilla Hayner, an expert on transitional justice makes it clear in the context of post-conflict peacebuilding process in South Africa, Rwanda and El Salvador that “remembering is not easy but forgetting may be impossible.” To recognize the importance of remembering incidents of violence, she quotes a Rwandan survivor who lost seventeen of his family members in the conflict, who, Hayner notes, stated with hesitation, the following: “we must remember what happened in order to keep it from happening again….”

Ever since the Diocletianic persecution of Christians from 303 to 313 CE under the then Roman Empire, survivors of persecution have accorded distinct importance to remembering and preserving truth about violence and persecution. Prudentious, a fourth Century poet of great eminence lamented thus, at obliteration of martyrs’ record by the Romans: “Alas for what is forgotten and lost to knowledge in the silence of the olden time! We are denied the facts about these matters; the very tradition is destroyed.” After about eighteen centuries, Dr. Min. Seok Shin reexamines persecution by Diocletian and his imperial colleagues in his book “The Great Persecution: A Historical Reexamination”, which undeniably is a critical recognition of how important remembering and establishing the truth is. In a post-conflict/post-persecution situation, remembering and recording truth, a principal pillar of post-conflict peace regimes is the singular incentive for the survivor to forgive the perpetrator.

Oppressors throughout history have thrived on collective historical amnesia and ahistoricism. Aware of the transience of public memory and peoples’ forgetful proclivities on past persecutions, Hitler is attributed to have stated the following on August 22, 1939 to bolster his diabolic plan of physically exterminating the Jews race: “…our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in physical destruction of the enemy…”  “Accordingly, I have” ordered “to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus, shall we gain the living space which we need to. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

The import of the last of his statements must be thoroughly underscored. Here, Hitler sought to advantage himself from the collective amnesia the world had shown vis-à-vis the massacre of about 2 million Armenians by the then Turkish government, just about 20 years before Hitler made this outrageous proclamation. The obliteration of persecution incidents through collective forgetting has thus encouraged in history another human carnage of more than 6 million Jews. Hitler also eulogizes the brutal brilliance of the Mongol emperor, Ghenghiz khan who “led millions of women and children to slaughter with premeditation and a happy heart” despite which “history sees in him solely the founder of a state.” From Khan’s ruthlessness, Hitler learns a lesson about how, history is forgotten and with abuse of power, the truth could be subverted and history is rewritten to legitimize perpetrators and consecrate their actions. A victim’s readiness to forget obfuscates the truth and makes the oppressor’s job far easier.

While the Armenian carnage was met with collective amnesia by the time of the second world war, the Jews taught how critical remembering incidents of violence was. This, they did even as their extermination was imminent and real. Ghettoized in Hitler’s concentration camps impending annihilation, Simon Dubnow is noted to have earnestly beseeched upon his fellow inmates, the following: “Yiddin, schreibt un farschreibt”, “Jews, write it all down.” Simon seems to have exactly fathomed the urgency of remembering the truth about violence inflicted on them. The inmates responded with alacrity to Simon’s clarion call.

 Jeff Jacoby notes that the inmates “felt an overpowering need to preserve the truth.” He quotes Elie Weisel as saying the following about the inmates: “Countless victims became chroniclers and historians in the ghettos, even in the death camps,” “[They] left behind extraordinary documents. To testify became an obsession. They left us poems and letters, diaries and fragments of novels, some known throughout the world, others still unpublished.” Amid imminent and real horror of death, no one competed to forget; there was no apathy and no pretension of neutrality. The history of holocaust got written.

While Simon Dubnow did not survive to witness the utility of the testimony he had initiated, murdered as he was during incarceration, their testimony commenced yielding results soon after. The term ‘genocide’ was given birth to, to represent the nature and scale of barbarity perpetrated, on the foundation of which, a full legal regime got built around that term to deter, and prohibit recurrence and punish perpetrators. From the post-holocaust Nuremberg and Tokyo criminal trials, has emerged the celebrated principle of individualizing criminal responsibility according to which, the alibi of the chain of command or compliance of superior’s order would no further enable a perpetrator to evade criminal responsibility for crime(s) committed. Jeff Jacoby invokes a failed prophecy of Heinrich Himmler, a Nazi general, who convinced about the hope of forgetting, dubbed the Jews’ extermination as “a glorious page in our history” which he thought would never be written. That holocaust today is a fact of history is because of the valiant Jews who, amid death, practiced the value of not forgetting and of recording the truth.

Experiences of persecution do not always offer easy choices to the victim on whether to forget or to remember. A ‘forgetting initiative’ as the present one, devalues the depth of agony deeply embedded in the psychology of the victim, manifesting in variant forms of post-traumatic disorders. Writing in the context of Syrian refugees in the USA, Arash Javanbahkt, a psychiatrist, states that trauma of persecution could manifest in multiple symptoms as high anxiety, emotional numbness, hypervigilance, frequent intrusive memories of the traumatic experience, nightmares, flashbacks, and depression, among others.

To simply state that “we want to forget everything that happened” about persecution smacks of condescension and some degree of empathy deficit as if the deeply seated phycological scars were mere extraneous accretions possible of being simply shaken off. As such, the suggestion is unscientific and opposed to the basic essence of victimology. Even if it were a question of choice, the persecuted individual and the community thereof must make an informed decision. Experiences of Guatemala and Rwanda offer excellent lessons on whether to remember or to forget.

Tamara Hinan presents a comparative analysis of Guatemalan and Rwandan post-conflict peacebuilding initiatives which had taken “opposing approaches to the role of memory within the reconstruction process.” The post-conflict Rwandan government, with the best of intentions to unite the country undertook to create a fresh narrative through a governmental decree that involved prohibiting discussions on the genocide and any references to ethnicity, over which violence had occurred. Forced into forgetting, the genocide is no more a part of public discourse, but Tamara, quoting Rosoux observes that the “society has not healed, the tensions that caused the genocide to break out in 1994 still exist and the possibility of recurrence of the genocide is still a reasonable possibility.”

In contrast, Guatemala took to a more open approach toward the La Violencia, through the Commission for Historical Clarification where preserving the memories of victims was a primary mandate. As Tamara concludes, “reconstruction” in Guatemala “remains a work in progress” and that “acknowledgment of genocide is a more effective strategy in the healing process than attempting to selectively forget.” While nature and gravity of violations might differ, the principle emanating from these experiences that healing process being long and complex “cannot truly begin unless the willingness to remember exists”, applies unequivocally to all post-persecution reconciliation initiatives.

Forgetting vs. Remembering the Truth: Toward a Legal Regime

The importance of remembering the history of persecution is intrinsic to the very philosophy characterizing post-conflict/post persecution transitional jurisprudence. Criminal jurisprudence, based on retribution in normal times, is restorative in abnormal transitioning societies. The sole purpose of justice dispensation mechanism during the transition is to restore peace through reconciliation and help build communities. While transitional jurisprudence decries blanket amnesty to perpetrators of serious violence, it prefers the middle path in that, forgiveness, upon perpetrator acknowledging the crime, forms one of its essential tenets. What then is the incentive for survivors of persecution to accept the legitimacy of a mechanism that does not focus solely on penalizing the perpetrator? South African survivors as Priscilla Hayner notes, had the following to state: “where justice was not possible, the minimal requirement for forgiveness…was to be told the full, honest and unvarnished truth.”

Central to post-conflict/post-persecution peacebuilding initiatives is the principle that imposed or organized forgetting is antithetical to the cause of truth and anything based on falsity or truth-concealment does not serve the purpose of justice, transformation and rebuilding communities and their lives. As truth forms the principal pillar of reconciliation, a proposition to forget does not help establish what survivors have referred to as “unvarnished truth.” International Center for Transitional Justice underscores the importance of truth without which “repressive regimes often deliberately rewrite history and deny atrocities in order to legitimize themselves, fuel mistrust, and even instigate new cycles of violence.” Truth, according to the Center “contributes to the creation of a historical record” that helps forestall undue maneuverings by recalcitrant states.

From an axiological point of view, the truth is eternally the highest human virtue, worthy of being pursued independently of all expedient considerations. That said, the truth has its merits from a utilitarian perspective and hence is being institutionalized as a right of victims, notwithstanding its lack of clear normative contents or questions about its enforceability. Under domestic domains, the same right is adopted in various permutations as the right to know, right to be informed or right to information.

 Developing principles on attributing accountability for perpetration of violence, Amnesty International advances three core components in a post-conflict peacebuilding process, which are: (1) the need to uncover the truth (2) the need to restore the honor and reputation of the victims and (3) the need to individualize guilt and bring the perpetrator to justice. While deliverance of all of the above may not be always possible, the need to uncover truth forms the basic minimum of transitional legal regimes. Organized attempts to forget the history of violence and persecution is opposed to this basic requirement.

Transitional jurisprudence is grounded on the principle of state obligation to providing the truth. As a general state obligation, states are required for investigating and bringing to public knowledge, truths about past abuses. The ruling under Velasquez Rodriguez vs.  Honduras of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is instructive, wherein, the Court held that Honduras had a duty to investigate the whereabouts of the disappeared and release findings to immediate relatives.

 A UN independent Expert report, 2005, endorsed by the UN Commission on Human Rights states the following: “(e)very people have the inalienable right to know the truth about past events concerning the perpetration of heinous crimes” and that “victims and their families have the imprescriptible right to know the truth about the circumstances in which violations took place and, in the event of death and disappearance, the victim’s fate.” This right of the victim that doubles as a state obligation were further bolstered by a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, Right to the Truth, in 2009 which are being increasingly institutionalized in post-conflict transitional justice regimes. Essential and intrinsic toward reconciliation is the acknowledgment of the truth that persecution had actually been perpetrated. A proposition to forget, adversative to these overarching jurisprudential developments, is illogical, illegal and immoral and poses a practical contradiction, rather than advancing any solution.

Certain developments in international law attempt to address the past, present, and future of victims of violence. According to the 2005 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the right to a remedy and Reparation for Victims of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violation of Humanitarian Law (Basic Principles), a victim is a person “who individually or collectively suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law, or serious violations of international humanitarian law.” It further qualifies that “where appropriate, and in accordance with domestic law”, the term “victim” also includes the immediate family or dependents of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.”

According to the said basic principles, right to know that addresses the past of the victim, is an inalienable right of people collectively available to them to know the truth about past events concerning crimes and triggering circumstances thereto. This is considered fundamental to ensuring non-recurrence of such crimes. The right runs concomitant to a duty inherent in them: the duty to remember incidents of past persecution. Recognized as people’s collective heritage, it is no more anyone’s prerogative to whimsically and capriciously obliterate through forgetting initiatives, what belongs to the larger community.

Principle 19 of the aforesaid Basic Principles, addresses the present of the victim by requiring the state to “undertake prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations” for certain violations of international and humanitarian law and punish perpetrators. Further, principle 31 addresses the future of the victim through a right to reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence. Thus, essential in the package of rights available to a victim of persecution is the right to truth along with justice and reparation. That being the position under an emerging body of international law, amnesia- pretentious or real, voluntary or imposed- so far as persecution is concerned, is now more vice than virtue. Above all considerations, a forgetting initiative is opposed to the right to truth as stipulated in the aforesaid body of laws and in that sense, is illegal, irrespective of whether it is achieved through duress, force, enticement or allurement.

Contextualizing RGoB’s Legacy of Persecution

This section briefly discusses, for the purpose of contextualizing what is proposed to be forgotten in the present ‘forgetting initiative’, the type of abuses Bhutanese citizens were subjected to by the RGoB. Most of such abuses are now facts of public knowledge and entail no further iteration. It is needless to emphasize that the RGoB forcefully evicted and rendered about one-sixth of its citizens’ refugees. Toward preparation of that mass eviction, it had prohibited and criminalized cultural expression- dress and language- of the southern Bhutanese.

Lyonpo Om Pradhan, an establishment author concedes, with a caveat as to his inability to verify the story’s authenticity, that “unscrupulous Dzongdas were known to use harsh methods to impose wearing the national dress” and “would resort to method that was deliberately humiliating and without concern for the dignity of the person.” As would be expected of the establishment, Pradhan blames the “unpopular bureaucratic means of implementing policies,” rather than the substantive contents of the policy itself. Intent on toning down the culpability of the then king and his government, Lyonpo Pradhan blames the ‘procedure of implementation’ and ‘unscrupulous’ officers when the “One Nation One People” policy, wherefrom the cultural imposition derives its legitimacy, was and continues to remain a celebrated philosophy of Bhutan’s modern nationalism.

Preceding mass eviction, citizens were arbitrarily classified pursuant to a selective census exercise and citizenship confiscated. Appeal to the king by people’s representatives regarding the policies’ adverse impact was summarily rejected as treasonable and the representatives ostracized and expelled. In the crackdown following peoples’ demonstration opposing the aforesaid policies, villages and towns witnessed arrests and detention, many of whom were incarcerated for years without charges or trial. A 1998 Amnesty International Report reporting that “at least 150 possible prisoners of conscience were detained, many of them in incommunicado without charge or trial” and “many were tortured or ill-treated by law enforcement officers” is instructive on the nature of abuses.

Many that were incarcerated have reported torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  A torture survivor that this author spoke with during the course of this writing, narrates the humiliation and degradation he and fellow inmates were subjected to, in a Chirang (presently Tsirang) prison in the early ’90s. Inmates were forced to drink water from the same container provided to them for passing and collecting human excreta, apart from daily beatings and other physical and verbal abuses.

Rape was used as an instrument of persecution.  A 1992 Refugee Watch Report, citing CVICT Nepal, mentions of 156 rape victims during the course of eviction and subsequent crackdown.  Similar incriminating reports are recorded by SAARC Jurist Mission to Bhutan, 1992. Amnesty International (1998) mentions reports about the RGoB’s “crackdown of anti-nationals in the east” where people were held in “incommunicado detention” and inflicted “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in pre-trial detention.” These instances are just illustrative and not exhaustive of the type and scale of violence inflicted upon citizens deemed dissenters by the establishment. Resettled refugees continue to live with deep psychological impact as a result of torture and trauma of eviction.

A 2001 report by Mark Van Ommeren, Ph.D. and others state that tortured Bhutanese refugees were likely to report “lifetime post-traumatic stress disorders, persistent somatoform pain disorders, affective disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and dissociative (amnesia and conversion) disorders.”  A “mysterious mental health disorder” afflicting Bhutanese refugees in America, which Ken Thompson, a psychiatrist calls “Nepali-Bhutanese syndrome” is, according to Thompson a result of “trauma suffered in Bhutan, from being forced to leave their homes to torture by the government”, among others. Several studies in resettled countries have testified that their current mental health condition and deteriorating state of wellbeing is a direct result of their being persecuted.

Following eviction, the RGoB propagated that citizens accounting to one-sixth of its population had suddenly opted to voluntarily emigrate, which claim must worry any enquiring mind, as farthermost from truth the claim is, as it can be.  A 2007 Human Rights Watch Report states that “in reality, they were either forced to leave, or felt compelled to leave the country to avoid harassment, physical abuse, and imprisonment.”

 While it entered into bilateralism with Nepal later, culminating into Khudunabari joint verification exercise of over twelve thousand refugees, it aborted the engagement upon realizing that about seventy-five percent refugees qualified to return even in the stringent conditions it had unilaterally set. This evidently did not conform to its ethnic agenda, as Khudunabari results extrapolated to the total refugee population, qualified over seventy-five thousand refugees to return. Till this day, the RGoB continues to deny repatriation to less than ten thousand Bhutanese refugees in Nepal’s camps when the international community has shouldered the responsibility of over one-hundred thousand of them.

Bhutan’s new dispensation continues with the old policy. The 85th session of Bhutan’s National Assembly, 2006, citing the report of National Population and Housing Census states that out of the 634,982 people residing in the country then, only 552,996 were Bhutanese citizens. The citizens deemed illegal were among those that were arbitrarily classified and constituted a whopping thirteen percent of the total population. Not all of these excluded citizens have been restored with their citizenships till this day which, under the new constitutional scheme is a ‘kidu’ prerogative of the king.

Subsequent governments have firmly institutionalized the ‘one people’ agenda and a concerted de-historicizing initiative continues through changing names of places that refugees lived in prior to their eviction. Individual violators, post-eviction, were awarded plump governmental positions and promotion when transitional justice regimes require lustration of tainted officials. Subsequent governments continue to deny any abuses, disagree to acknowledge the truth about violations, let alone expression of any repentance. And the story continues!


By way of conclusion, some of the contents discussed in the text above need reiteration. As noted, violations faced by the resettled Bhutanese in their country of origin are quite severe, the adverse impacts of which continue to distress many. The RGoB, denies any wrongdoing while continuing to evade all its responsibilities. As discussed in appropriate sections, the deep-seated psychological scars left by persecution cannot merely be shaken off, especially when unacknowledged and in such a state of play, forgetting initiatives are unscientific and impractical. Lessons from history reveal that it is in persecutors’ nature to incentivize forgetting and any such attempts by the victim, even innocent or well-intentioned, are bound to be questioned. The case of Rwanda, as discussed in the text illustrates that forgetting cannot be a precursor to reconciliation. According to transitional jurisprudence, acknowledging the truth about the violation is the duty of the state doubling as the victim’s right. The past, recognized as a common heritage of the community, needs to be memorialized and truth preserved. Rather than forgetting, it is forgiveness that is essential to any reconciliation moves. As seen above, it must, however, be preceded by acknowledgment of the truth, cessation of persecutory activities and commitment of non-recurrence from the persecutor.

With the RGoB in no mood to even acknowledge anything, let alone atone, unsolicited forgetting will be seriously erroneous. That said, the bitterness will and must wane over time. But the community must continue to dispassionately memorialize their history, including incidents of persecution, record, consolidate and disseminate it, for, it is their own responsibility to ensure that they are not decontextualized and de-historicized!

The author holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC and a Degree of Master of Philosophy (M. Phil) from National Law School of India University and is currently associated with ‘the Bhutan Research and Information Network’ (The BRAIN) as its Chief Researcher. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and can be reached at [email protected]


 Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the BNS.



  • Hayner, Priscilla B. Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions. Routledge, 2011.
  • Min Seok Shin. The Great Persecution: A Historical Examination. Brepols, 2017.
  • Pradhan, Om Lyonpo. Bhutan: The Roar of the Thunder Dragon. K Media, 2012.
  • Amnesty International:

  • Bhutan National Assembly Resolution, 85th session:

  • UN Commission on Human Rights:

  • UN Commission on Human Rights:


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