Subash Archaya thought he had escaped persecution for good when he left southern Bhutan in the early 1990's. Harassed by the government and threatened by police, he joined the growing population of ethnically-Nepali Bhutanese citizens fleeing to refugee camps in eastern Nepal. After 18 years of living in exile, Archaya says the same types of threats that drove him to leave Bhutan have surfaced again, but this time they are from his fellow refugees.
"It started with texts," he explains, holding up a mobile phone in the dim light of his hut. "Plz donot try 2 share these 2 police," the screen reads.
Through several anonymous messages, Archaya
Devika Pradhan rises early each morning to stoke the open flame of her cooking fire, boiling enough tea for her three grown children still asleep in the next room of their bamboo hut. At the time, the growing population of southern Bhutanese, who are mostly Hindu and of Nepali origin, was viewed by the Bhutanese Government as a threat to the nation's traditionally Buddhist society. Using threats, imprisonment, and torture, the Bhutanese regime coerced the refugees into leaving.
8,000 miles away in Carl City, Minnesota—literally the other side of the world—her fourth child Jeeban, 22, rolls out of bed around the same time, microwaves an old cup of coffee, and catches a city bus from his apartment to the restaurant where he works.