Prime Minister Thinley’s fluctuating remarks, from labelling all refugees as ‘illegal immigrants’ to his recent statement that some are indeed genuine Bhutanese, also reflect a nebulous approach. In 1992, at an international conference on Bhutan in London, Thinley, then home secretary, presented a paper in which he defended his government’s position against southern Bhutanese, labelling them as illegal immigrants. During the recent visit, Thinley’s delegation in Kathmandu was accompanied by Khandu Wangchuck, minister for economic and foreign affairs, who in 2006 called the refugees ‘readymade terrorists’. Such backgrounding certainly makes one wonder whether, instead of waiting for another round of talks to materialise, refugees should ponder third-country resettlement, launched by the UN’s refugee agency in 2007 [...]
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 [...]
First of all, please acknowledge my congratulations for being elected as the 34th Prime Minister of Nepal after ending the seven-month long uncertainty and vacuum for a powerful government. With your election to the executive post, all Nepali citizens have started dreaming of the safe-landing of the ongoing peace process and unveiling new statute on time. At this juncture, I am happy to convey to your government that more than 75,000 of Bhutanese refugees, who have been spending their most precious time in ramshackle huts since 19 years in the eastern region of Nepal to which you also belong to and over 40,000 resettled in various countries [...]
BY DR. BHAMPA RAI: Instead of hearing to their appeal, the Royal government chose to militarize the region launching brutal method of crackdown, following intimidation, arbitrary arrest, torture and killing in makeshift detention cells. Schools were converted into interrogation centers, while women were raped, houses were zeroed to ashes and valuable documents confiscated alongside the militarization of villages and towns. In such dreaded state of affairs, those affected Bhutanese people had to flee the country for their lives. Their relatives and others, who decided to remain behind too were coerced into signing voluntary migration forms at the gun point and finally evicted from their homeland.