Time for the Bhutanese to act

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The day I write this at a rooftop restaurant near the Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal is June 20, World Refugees Day (WRD) as announced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For over one hundred thousand refugees from Bhutan, this is a day that they should act.

For now over twenty years more than a hundred thousand (and if we count the ones living illegally in India and Nepal) probably more than 150.000 Bhutanese are still in exile as a result of ethnic cleansing by the government of Bhutan on instigation of it’s feudal monarch. The country by the way has as many inhabitants as Amsterdam, the capitol of my own country. The small scale of Bhutan makes the whole situation or me at least strange to observe. On a numerical basis, it is as if the mayor and city of Amsterdam would have exiled all the inhabitants from a few outskirts.

Over the last twenty years, Nepal has carried the burden of allowing up to 108.000 refugees in seven camps in the Southeast of the country. And it was not supposed to stay like that for so long. Talks with Bhutan to take back it’s own people have continuously stranded on the inhumane attitude of King Wangchuck and his Prime Minister. Both, in fact are to be regarded as criminals instead of rightful rulers. Because no matter the background against what the exile of the Bhutanese from the South (and a part of the East) was organized by Bhutan’s rulers, it is a criminal act to exile your own citizens.

There is no doubt whether these people have the right to live in their own country. Historians, researchers and journalists have proven many times that these people have been an important part of the Bhutanese society for many generations. Not any statement from the Prime Minister about their status can change historical facts. It is also proven that the exile of these people was forceful.  After all, there are still many political prisoners in Bhutan and the harshness of the regime against it’s own citizens when they claim normal citizen and human rights is almost unmatched on an international scale. The country behaves like North Korea or Burma. It can do so by the protection of India that has an interest in maintaining the current situation of Bhutan as a dependent albeit autonomous vassal state. India even trains the Bhutanese army and police. Still India will not let itself be dragged into the discussions on the future of the Bhutanese refugees.

The West has long supported the stay of these refugees in the camps in the Morang and Jhapa districts of Nepal together with the Nepalese government. From a geopolitical standpoint understandable as any unrest in the regions is unwanted from western perspective because the neighbors of Bhutan and Nepal are China and India—both nuclear powers. Since a few years at least eight countries are resettling the refugees from the camps to the West driving up the cost of taking care for these refugees. But that cost is taken probably as the price to pay for an unstable peace in the region. And the West even invests in the medieval ruled Bhutan in reforestation programs and other ecological efforts of the Bhutan regime. After all, the West has to balance it’s negative CO2 balance.

Still the third country resettlement program, unjustly and euphemistically now a days named by officials to be a ‘durable solution’ has given, and will continue to do so, tens of thousands of the Bhutanese refugees a new future in the West. The US, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are making a great effort to help these people on humanitarian grounds. That in itself is admirable and in these times where western countries are closing their borders exceptional to say the least. But they will not be able to resettle all the refugees. According to UNHCR sources, some 10, 000 will remain in (probably) one camp in Nepal. It is expected that the Beldangi camp near Damak will stay housing those people. Maybe indefinitely because Bhutan still doesn’t want to talk about repatriation and Nepal is not willing to allow integration in its society. And because the resettling countries do not translate their efforts (practical and financial) in pressure on the Bhutan government, it is doubtful that change will come.

But how about the refugees themselves? According to the UNHCR sources, some 95% percent have opted for resettlement. That percentage will not become reality but in the end be limited to some 90% of the total number of people. The rest, the 10.000 plus, will remain. The political organization level of the whole group is low. People have no reason to trust or depend on their politicians. The few political parties that have been organized outside of Bhutan have not been effective in twenty years and are besides some unsuccessful efforts to mobilize people in the past two decades not able to bring change or gain international attention for their cause.

Some of the major politicians are quarreling amongst themselves on the strategy to follow. There has not been a single effective attempt to mobilize the international political scene and to get the cause of the refugees on the international agenda. The Bhutanese do not have a Dalai Lama that can speak for them, who is regarded as an international figure of importance. They dearly miss effective leadership. Bhutan has taken advantage of that in the past twenty years by keeping silent and by lying and cheating on the international political scene.

Within the SAARC countries, the case of the refugees has not been seriously discussed or handled. Bhutan and more importantly India blocks discussions on that level. The UN is dominated by countries that prefer a contained situation to a possible conflict with the buffer state Bhutan that is geographically and politically squeezed between China and India.

It’s good to see that most of the refugees that have been resettled do well. They have earned a better life than they would have had when staying in the refugee camps. But the opportunities they get are related to their status as an immigrant.

In a sense they have been lucky as the people who still live in Bhutan will not get these opportunities. And the ones that stay behind have nothing to look at regarding a decent future as a human being. As the situation in the camps is deplorable, international attention will no doubt drift away along with the refugees who are resettling. The number of the ones to stay are in the end so low that it is unlikely that there will be serious investments made in their future. They are condemned by faith. Just like so many other refugees living world wide, most of them are in poor countries under dire conditions. One can only hope that in the end Bhutan gets its act together or Nepal will allow them to integrate in Nepali society.

Verheij, who is an independent Dutch writer, journalist and filmmaker, is currently working on the documentary ‘Headwind’ about the Bhutanese exiles living in diaspora, and the author of the soon to be published novel ‘Headwind’.

26644 COMMENTS

  1. Good piece of writing. Everything mentioned by the writer is true. I’m particularly impressed by the following statements:

    ”Talks with Bhutan to take back it’s own people have continuously stranded on the inhumane attitude of King Wangchuck and his Prime Minister. Both, in fact are to be regarded as criminals instead of rightful rulers. Because no matter the background against what the exile of the Bhutanese from the South (and a part of the East) was organized by Bhutan’s rulers, it is a criminal act to exile your own citizens”.

  2. Salute to Ms. Alice for this article.

    It is very powerful, staight and realistic.

    You have peeled the garbage and uncovered the facts. True, the Bhutanese refugees are the true citizens of Bhutan and no statement from its political authorities should change their status. But, the horrible thing is – it has remained that way for over twenty years now – credit to India and the partly the west for recognizing this as a humanitarian problem and not a political one, having a genesis in the Bhutanese government’s acts of ethnic cleansing.

  3. Alice, I think you are the first foreign journalist to discover and describe the real truth on the draconian rule of the royal regime in Bhutan. The peace and prosperity loving, most loyal and patriotic people of Bhutan have been victimized by the royal government of Bhutan thereby creating a huge burden for the international community. Of course, the initial target was to depopulate the ethnic Lhotshampas but the regime did not spare the members of other community too, who expressed their solidarity to the struggle for human rights and democracy in the country. Under the “One Nation, One People” policy, even the Buddhist monks became the victims in a country, which is projected as the last Sangri-la on earth and only an independent Mahayana Buddhist country.

    I hope your writing and reporting, as a professional journalist from the Netherlands, will help to provide right information to the international community, who are concerned and interested on the issue. Such reporting could really help to garner international supports and opinions towards resolving the refugee crisis amicably by ensuring fair justice to the innocent people of Bhutan.

  4. Mr. Alice, Thanks for bringing all the facts to light. It is true that both the king and the prime minister are the criminals but they have instead branded this title to their innocent citizens who were forced to exile. Hope your article will help the international community to understand our problem better as we have not been so successful to advocate our cause in the west where you have mentioned that we do not have a leader like Dalai Lama.

  5. Thank you very much Alice for bringing up the forgotten/unfolded history of refugee making criminal act of Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB)!! Your article touches heart of every Bhutanese. It is realistic and true.We expect such articles in the days ahead too! I would like to buy your novel ‘Headwind’ when it is published. I can be reached at [email protected]
    Thanks
    Bhagirath Khatiwada
    Concord, NH, USA

  6. Congratulations Alice! Appreciate your boldness to unravel facts and narrate the story of these suppressed and forgotten people by its motherland. I must say that you are one of the few Western journalists that did not play the trumpet authored and tutored by someone else. It resonates the voice of marginalized and suppressed people when there is no political support to understand, care and believe the harsh reality of their life.

    It is a fact that they are not “people in the camp” but Bhutanese refugees. They are not “environmental and economic refugees” dropped down to earth like drops of rain. They are true citizens of Palden Drukpa who have sacrificed their sweat in nation building instead of being “anti-nationals”. Look forward for your documentary and the novel that will sketch a true picture of the reality and let the world know the facts.

  7. here we go again….another author who writes her side of story…probably because thats what she heard from her refugee friends….don’t worry m here to correct u….well our king didnt exile his citizens….they left on their on will ….in order to have a good life in so called western countries….our king even begged them not to go but they left….the ones who didnt are happy and content and living peacefully….our king is never a criminal…hes God to us…..

  8. Thank you all for your nice comments. I guess the problem with western journalism in this case is it’s absence in the camps. Been there, interviewed there, filmed there and was shocked by the reality of things. In 2012 my documentary Headwind about the Bhutanese diaspora is intended to hit the screens of the film festivals and hopefully some broadcasting.

    Over the last year I have become very much involved with the Bhutanese community and its young intellectual leaders which probably explains my dedication to unravel the ugly reality to the west that thinks it is working on a durable solution to the problem but is in reality hugely misguided. As a writer it is a challenge to work on a topic like this. Both from a journalistic angle as an artistic angle. I intend to publish my now finished English language novel in the coming months.

    I want to thank all involved for their enduring support and will continue to write about the Bhutanese exiles in the coming years.

    Namaste to you all!
    Alice Verheij
    writer, director of Headwind
    http://www.headwindfilm.com
    http://www.aliceverheij.net

  9. Alice thanks for your good article.yes you are right due to our so-called leaders always try to fulfill their own pocket not work for the innocent people.They always quarreling among them-self.our leader even cannot able to highlight our problem to the international level even people always with them.still we people are struggle from the refugee but our so-called leaders already in resettlement programs.Some leaders are saying one things and doing one things joining hands with royal regime.now life in the refugee camp is really horrible and risk day by day.so i would like to give my congrats to Alice who helps to highlight our issues in the international level being a international journalist.

  10. Alice, I am really delighted to visit your blogs and sites, and to learn and know more about your great work. Your commitment to highlight the cause of the Bhutanese refugees through documentaries, films and novels at the international arenas is highly commendable. It gives us big hope and aspirations that your work will not only hit the screens of the film festivals but also becomes instrumental for highlighting the true agony of the Bhutanese people, who have been very important part of the Bhutanese society, and who have immensely contributed for the overall development of modern Bhutan, where the monarchs and their cohorts are enjoying today and propagating about the gross national happiness shamelessly in all over the world. I am sure truth will prevail in the interest of justice to the mankind forever. I look forward to hear more from you and great success in your most historical work.

  11. Alice, good strategy to promote your upcoming film and book. However, I think some of your assertions are rather too harsh and one sided. But I guess, if you want to be a champion or hero of some kind, you have to play the harp to suit those who wish to be your fans.
    btw, I don’t believe that the refugees lack leadership. In fact there are too many, and it is also one of the reasons why they are refugees. If you think you know all about it, you probably want to think twice.

  12. ilovebhutan should have been ihatebhutan b,coz these are the chamchas and real criminals after the king(IV) who raped ,looted and killed the innocent people.these people should be identified and dealt appropriately as per international law.
    thanks

  13. Satyamev Jayate
    May Truth Prevail
    John 8:32 And ye shall seek the truth and the truth shall set you free.
    Alice Verheij has decided to stick to these principles instead of saying, “Om Mane Padme Huun” and telling lies to the world.

    Thank you
    Alice
    Dick Chhetri

  14. Dear Alice,
    Hats on for the research on Bhutanese Refugee issues! Just to remind you that resettled Bhutanese in west have not forgotten their past and will never forget their motherland Bhutan.
    We all Bhutanese are dispersed into different countries for some time to internationalise our issues and learn more about the global politics and expertise into different professions. When our people can easily adjust in countries like USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark, UK, Netherland, Australia, New Zealand, and others like Germany, Japan, UAE etc., it is not a big deal to transform Bhutan’s Autocratic rule into government of the people.
    Bhutanese refugees have chosen non-violence method for their democratic moments and will continue to restrict the same. It is because we are peace loving people and would like to save our national heritage. People from either in Refugee camp or form USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark, UK, Netherland, Australia, and New Zealand can tell about the position and number of stones and marks of their land and their exact birth place or relocate where their great grandfather was buried. How comes a stranger do that? Our people have built roads, schools and government houses and even the Palace, there are still the marks of carriage wrap on their forehead and the wounds on spines have not recovered due to heavy load (muds and stones) on the back. It is due to this reason that our people did not want to bombard the country because they love their country more than themselves. People were ready to scarify their lives and abandoned their country rather than to demolished their creations.
    What more evidence can the Bhutan Government needs to identify these people as Bhutanese in refugee camp?
    The third countries resettlement is not the end of the Bhutanese moment. It is one of the historic events and achievement of 20 years of our refugee life. We are globally connected and hopefully will organise international office and plan for the future strategy and events.
    By the time when we return Bhutan after its democracy, we the Bhutanese in exile have different expertise in different field and will have lot of experience so that Bhutan will not take much time to develop. Our people are already employed in many top international companies and others in government sectors while, some are self-employed.
    Message for all is that let us collaborate each other and work together to bring rapid transformation of our motherland and free it from Autocratic monarchy and establish the human rights and democracy.
    Parsu Budathoki
    From Melbourne Australia.

  15. Dear friends,
    If we can continue to tell the Truth as is, without exaggeration and adjectives like in past, and articulate the presentation well be it in writings, speech or actions, the world will soon come to know that Bhutan is becoming a lairs’ Paradise because of the crooks and liars at the very highest levels of the government…. bless their heart.

    Salute Alice Verheij for doing that and expect to see her documentary. Whatever help she needs we must be able to provide to make an authentic story to tell to the world and raise the awareness. Show other face of the Bhutanese government, show other side of Bhutan, the untold stories of Lhotsampas in a civilized, appealing manner and articulation. Alice is an example.
    Remember, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, therefore the world has the obligation to know the victims of injustice and the pereptrators of injustice. The Truth must come out and speak to the very liars.

    Thank you

    Dick Chhetri

  16. First of all let me join the line to add words of appreciation to Alice Verheji,
    albeit late, Alice you have lightened the height of pain induced in the mind of neglected loyal people of Bhutan. Thank you so much for this.

    Secondly, let me come back to “ilovebhutan”

    Yes, he is true here to say King is God. But for a king to be called God he should have at least a few good aspects just to ponder for a while…if so.
    Of course, I should not go so harsh but ‘ilovebhutan’ need to be educated on this matter. In his comment he hasn’t mentioned to which king in particular he meant god!
    If it refers to the 4th King of Bhutan here are the simple lines…
    He was so visionary that he decided to marry all four daughters of his in-law (god father) keeping in mind that what ever budget collected from tax-payers and foreign grants directly enters his jumbo-royal family so that almost all Singye and Tashi related companies’ future will be sure. Otherwise, if left the other three someone shall establish the tie the next day and the line of royal family relatives widens, which means resources divided.
    In this 21st century dozens of people in the name of royal family-members spend luxurious lives misusing the resources and fund intended to poor fellow citizens. For any sorts of misconduct there lies no law to abide those people. Otherwise, Farsighted King in this 21st century would say:

    ” My obligation as a king shall be to govern my subjects with all possible I can and enjoy the only treasure of the nation that citizens offer for my survival and maintaining the state of kingship, the other members of my family line are no above the line of general citizens and they too bear the responsibility to work and develop this nation like others do. Let even my son in heir and rest learn to work and experience the gravity of burden a citizen has to under go, so that while in power in future he sees the real suffering of his people and can serve them well. Luxury spoils the right intention of man. I do not want to see my family members spoil simply by misusing the nation’s grants”

    Instead, 4th King in his mission decided to offer an unusual gift called DEMOCRACY to his people. He then called his immediate uncle Sangay Ngedup and asked him to declare a political party. And established family relationship with the present Prime minister JYT (JYT’s son has married 4th King’s daughter).
    He then called JYT to declare another political party.
    The real aspect is, there will be any harm from any political parties towards the monopoly. These things were done within the family…but the poor citizens on hearing the generous and visionary approach of the king decided to establish other political parties too but sad to hark back to…since they were not related to Plural’WE” were latter declared unqualified!!!!

    Thus, for the hero of the above setting ‘ilovebhutan’ says god.
    Everyone can read his comments he simply says false story and such, but has no any single word to point out which one is false for he knows -“he has to say”.

    Last but not least, Alice, on speaking the truth I will be called and labeled anti-national in my nation. No people has courage enough to speak their sufferings. They live life in Dead Peace. There must be an end to this silent suffering in this Himilayan nation and people like you can do a lot to let the outside world what exactly is the cause in Bhutan. Keep up your work all the best.

    Next

  17. thanks mr. gurung. we must appreciate Alice’s work. we must let the outer world know the conspiracy hatched out by royal family and their relatives in the name of DEMOCRACY.let them called us anti-nationals but we shuold not stop writting the truth.

  18. Referring to Dick Chhetri’s statement above, I could not keep myself tight-lipped. You are mixing up religious practice and evil design of the political blue print. It is not necessary that a person chanting ‘Om mani Padme Hum’ don’t tell a lie. A Hindu chanting ‘Om Nama Shiva’ need not be a Sadhu. Swami Ram Dev is one example. Practicing and preaching Yoga, he chants mantra of ‘anti-corruption’ demands lawful action against corrupts. Those involved in the inhumane suppressive and oppressive action in the 90s were under pressure from high above. Truth prevails, but generations of victims require upholding them. It is my conviction, not chanting just the word, “truth” on the lips we should work committedly and dedicate ourselves towards a lasting solution to the problem. Alice has rightly said about the lack of a central leadership like the Dalai Lama in the Bhutanese community. It is high time that the Bhutanese people in the movement for democracy decide upon promoting of a national level leader, who could rightly represent the Bhutanese people in the international arena and advocate for the problems prevailing in the country. Centuries of closed door oppressed rule had given the people no knowledge about the politics and leadership requirements. Country survived on “Yes sir & No sir” culture. Twenty years of struggle in exile have taught us hell-of-a-lot of leadership culture, which we are optimistic of utilizing for the achievement of our set objectives. We will however require enough support to morally boosting our campaign on the international arena. We require supporting our statement with personal visit and understanding the truth that prevails inside the country. “GNH and One Nation, One people” befits the palace and their coteries only. In the immediate future, it is expected that every Bhutanese, whether in the resettled countries, in Asia or inside the country, will emerge with a unified perspectives towards breaking the fence of lies and justly resolving the problem.

    Sonam

  19. John 8;32

    The meaning of this verse of the Bible does not have in any way, any relevance whatsoever, with our movement. They have utterly different directives. So, may be, it is wise we refrain from using religious verses in wrong perspectives.
    Thanks

  20. Dear people,

    let’s not mix religion with human rights violation and international crime. To do so would be an insult to ANY religion for as far as I’m concerned.
    Kings who are being seen as gods can only be so if their acts are accordingly. A king from a dynasty that started of with an elected king and support form the British colonial forces can simply not be a god. Maybe for some this is too simple a logic but we should be well aware of history and never misuse it.

    For as far as my harsh conclusions regarding king and government: they are based on solid proof of gross human rights violations. Being not harsh in this case would be an insult to the victims.

    Regards, honor the ones you love, stay with you country,
    Alice

  21. Religions ARE based on human rights violations and crimes. Show me one that isn’t. All religions are designed by man to control others – they are nothing more than instruments of control.

    Having said that, this does not mean that people’s religious values should be trampled on. Every one has the right to believe in the omnipotent old man in the sky who is watching your every action and will hold you accountable eventually. Therefore, the Bhutanese government’s policies that persecute the people on the basis of their religion (Christianity and Hinduism) does come into play when we talk about the Bhutanese refugee issue. Hence, you can not separate religion from it.
    PS: And this does not mean that I am a fan of selectively quoting scripture out of context to support one’s opinions.

  22. @bhotangey
    You and I know very well that the reasons behind the exile have nothing to do with religion but more with economy, geo politics and an almost fascist like fixation on one specific culture.

    I never opposed any religion and in my article and I never will. I think I have been very clear on what my opinions are. In the end religion is non important regarding the conflict but only the acts of the king and his government should count. These acts are on all accounts criminal, I don’t think any well thinking person would think different when having seen the proof and having studied the historical facts.
    People using texts from scripture are in my view attempting to justify lack of argument by quoting and misquoting out of context.

    I for one will certainly not entertain any discussion on religion regarding the issue of the Bhutanese diaspora. I do not agree at all with you that religion equals human rights violations. People do that, not religion in itself. I’ve been studying different religions for many years and find statements like that abusive of religion. I can separate religion from events caused by human beings very well by the way. It’s alright to be non-religious but it’s not ok to push man’s misbehaviour on the concept of religion. And is this case it is simply not what is at stake or has been happening, it’s off topic in my view.

    Maybe reading the following essay that I wrote on the topic of the diaspora will be even more explanatory of my thinking on the situation. Please check this: http://aliceverheij.wordpress.com/publicaties/a-view-on-the-history-of-the-bhutanese-diaspora/

    Regards,
    Alice

  23. @tika.

    If I write that the people lack leadership I obviously mean effective and intellectual leadership and not self imposed leadership that brings nothing.
    Also mentioning the film and book in my postings is logical as that is what I am doing here. Privately funded by none but myself and aimed to disclose the reality of refugeeship to society in the west as those societies hardly ever see, hear or read about all this. Don’t insinuate that there is any other intention than that if you don’t know me and am unaware of my dedication. Show me the first other western writer, film maker that shells out almost all of her money to make works like these. Your words offend me and I guess you’re aware of that.

    Alice Verheij
    currently stuck in Damak as locals blocking camp entry prevents me from working.

  24. Alice ,
    Thank you so much for your courage to come up with such a noble job.

    As you said, ” Writing about historical events and facts is not without risk,” and in fact it is full of risks. However, you have taken various risks in order to tell the world what is true.

    I went through http://aliceverheij.wordpress.com/publicaties/a-view-on-the-history-of-the-bhutanese-diaspora/ and was so much impressed .

    Thank you so much.

  25. Dear Alice,
    Your article is the masterpiece for all exiled Bhutanese. Everything well planned and expressed thoughtfully would create the strong foundation of our failure. Failure which is a pillar in itself for success shouldn’t be taken as ashtray and your most encouraging mission and strategy for strong and united community with every conscience of maturity would certainly bear fruits and give every tortured and exiled refugee a new breathe and birth. Congrats for your noble mission and everyone is at your back!

  26. Dear Alice,
    Congrats for your article and great mission! Never be discouraged by opponents or negative comments because they neither do themselves nor have positive attitudes for others commitments. You are on the path to success and huge nos. of exiled Bhutanese
    are on your side! Keep your spirit high. God bless U…

  27. @alice
    I recognize that I’ve been a little nasty and apologise for the unecessary comment I made about your book and film. I appreciate your dedication to what you’re doing, but all I want to say is that you may do well not to assume that you have discovered the whole “truth” about the refugee problem just by working on a self-financed book and film in the camps. Obviously those in the camps are entitled to their own views of what is truth, objective or subjective. But certainly that does not give you the right to draw conclusions and make blatant proclamations about what kind of people lead Bhutan, and the legacy they stand for; not at least without some effort on your part to understand their perspectives, and the perspectives of others who live as proud citizens of Bhutan, especially lhotshampas.

  28. @Tika,
    I think no one is exclusive in this burning situation and lhotshampas[Southern Bhutanese] were nicknamed by so called Jigme regime of Bhutan. Situation reached to peak and so turmoil that whole country including kgalungs[ruling party] has clear conscience and identified that we are sticked to the ideology of international community rather Orthodontics and primitive philosophy imposed to the genuine citizens of the whole country. No one was,is and will not born with big head who can solve this burning problems without the complete and practical support of people like Alice in my opinion where she has been proving practically and lobbying and bringing international communities’ close attention. Hopefully, we would surely forgive and forget our culture of pulling down others and unnecessarily bringing chaos and confusion in any great mission. Positive suggestions, criticisms and comments are highly recommended if it is logical. But the question and suspicion again starts growing to those have primitive ideology if we wholly try to support any great mission if it is taken in dirty politics and arises fractions and full of downfalls and missions remains incomplete! God bless Alice and wish good luck for her mission.

  29. Dear Alice,
    On behalf of all victims of the narrow ideology of the Jigme regime imposed on his loyal citizens, I express my gratitude and thankfulness for your great article that will go a long way to delve into the truth that will ultimately bring the culprits before the court of the people. The ‘pen is’ certainly ‘mightier than the sword’. The world has witnessed the power of pen. i am optimistic that this article of yours shall draw the attention of more journalists, media workers, all rights and justice advocates around the world. More articles will come on the disastrous act of the so called king of Bhutan. Hope one day this regime will be educated on the matters of genuine peaceful co existence of different ethnicities, pluralism and the equality of all human beings.

    In this great mission I think Bhutanese within and out of the country, all would be more than willing to work with you and many more like you who would love to protect the interests of the oppressed. Human being when born are all alike. They do not come with any religion, culture, tradition, custom etc. These are man made. Religions are used by the rulers to divide the collective views of the people. Ofcourse, by this I do not mean that one should not believe in religion. But religions are used by the leaders, crook politicians strategically to win elections especially in the pripheral and semi peripheral countries. The minority ruling Ngalung Community of Bhutan has been bent on disregarding and barring other religions in the country.

  30. In my opinion and understanding not only religions are based on violations and crimes but also exactly vice versa. More so, crimes and violations are integrated and instilled in religions so much so that it is the most annihilating factor to the human civilization today. Whatever…my point in my previous comment is not that I am objecting any body using religious verses but what I am concerned about is how people misquote religious verses for their personal interest without reading in between the lines and not remembering that it has a large impact on the society. This exactly tends to happen when Mr Dick quotes John 8:32 above. The truth this particular verse is speaking about is totally a different truth than the truth Alice is trying to tell. In the same way the HOLY War delineated in the Koran or DHARMA Yudha conferred in Gita are for very obvious reasons NOT warring against another on account of caste, race, color or creed. These are just dangerous misquotations used for vested interest.
    While I have my full respect for Dick Sir who indeed has a big forethought and concern for our society, I tend to differ in such situations. This quotation is simply misquoted! At the same time my biggest respect goes to Alice who makes a very clear sense between religion and politics.
    Nilik

  31. Dear Alice,
    Some of the people may be “wolf in the sheep’s clothings”. Therefore, you may want to take their criticism/praise with a grain of salt.

    In my last comment about the Truth…, the point I was trying to make is that:
    1. Bhutan government has been using its religion, tradition/culture and beauty of the country as political tools to cover up its acts of injustice done to our people.
    2. Please refer the reason behind the piece in 60 min segment of the CNN,
    Bhutanese Arts, the gift of Dragon held in Asian Arts Museum, San francisco 2008, at Smithsonian Museum in Washing DC 2009?) and host of other countries.
    3. The propaganda policy as I see is to appeal the audience on the nonviolent religion, the mystifying culture and beauty of the country, and the innocent, almost unique homo sapiens at the brink of extinction! Please see for yourself to make a case of your own, because the government campaign has been powerful so far to sway the people around the world.
    4. I believe truth must be told “as is” so that it become a true history which will be the judge for the future of our past sufferings. As as Soman syas, religion should not come in the mix but look at the reality in the actions of the giovernment. Question must be asked whose action is an insult to the religion, the perpetrators or the messanger? I hope people will see the difference as I stand for the Truth as always.

    Wishing you the very best in appreciation of your self sacrifice and personal investment to the rights and the cause of the victims of injustice.

    Dick Chhetri

  32. Dear Alice,
    Some of the people may be “wolf in the sheep’s clothings”. Therefore, you may want to take their criticism/praise with a grain of salt.

    In my last comment about the Truth…, the point I was trying to make is that:
    1. Bhutan government has been using its religion, tradition/culture and beauty of the country as political tools to cover up its acts of injustice done to our people.
    2. Please refer the reason behind the piece in 60 min segment of the CNN,
    Bhutanese Arts, the gift of Dragon held in Asian Arts Museum, San francisco 2008, at Smithsonian Museum in Washing DC 2009?) and host of other countries.
    3. The propaganda policy as I see is to appeal the audience on the nonviolent religion, the mystifying culture and beauty of the country, and the innocent, almost unique homo sapiens at the brink of extinction! Please see for yourself to make a case of your own, because the government campaign has been powerful so far to sway the people around the world.
    4. I believe truth must be told “as is” so that it become a true history which will be the judge for the future of our past sufferings. As as Soman syas, religion should not come in the mix but look at the reality in the actions of the giovernment. Question must be asked whose action is an insult to the religion, the perpetrators or the messanger? I hope people will see the difference as I stand for the Truth as always.

    Wishing you the very best in appreciation of your self sacrifice and personal investment to the rights and the cause of the victims of injustice, while I request fellow country men and women not to distract but help Alice to focus on her project.

    Thank you

    Dick Chhetri

  33. @tika
    My dear, you’re wrong. I have every right to judge the rulers of a country when they act like criminals. Thing is, writers, film makers and journalist always have a right of speech. The other thing is that I am a world citizen and as such I can and will judge in my writings the ones who abuse my Bhutanese friends. I will never back off and of course I know that people might think otherwise. They’re allowed to as I am a strong supporter of free speech and free press. As well as freedom of travel and freedom of work and life. All of these things are not in Bhutan as you very well know.

    So, that simple observation allows me to write as I do based on thorough research, lots of interviews and many hours with refugees, politicians, journalists, artists and inhabitants of the camps. No matter what you might bring against that, you can never silence me as I am merely observing and describing the dark reality of things.
    If you don’t like that, that’s ok with me. If you oppose my writings, please do so but with arguments and listing the errors in my writing and judgements based on indisputable facts. So I challenge you: give me the list of errors and false judgements that you think I have made and when checked I promise you I will correct them.
    —-

    @Dick B Chhetri,
    I get your point and agree. But I state that religion is falsely used as a reasoning to do the most awful things to people. The real reasons are more down to earth like economics, fear of being de-throned by the people when they realize the abuse they have suffered. In real life these are nearly always the real reasons. Just observing the spread of wealth in a country shows where the power is allocated.

    As concluded many years ago by Bob Woodward, one only has to ‘follow the money’ to find out where the real dirt is.

    I don’t think the Bhutan ruler is any different from any other dictator in that.

    Kind regards,
    Alice Verheij
    independent writer, film maker and journalist.

  34. @Alice did u ever visit to Bhutan to do some research or your writing are half baked story…and mind u dont call my king as criminal….@kancho adhikari… Ur name shouldn’t be kancho….give ur own gud name…if we are to be dealt with international law…i guess u all need to be dealt too for disturbing the peace and creating problems…burning ones own flag and dresses and finally going against govt…. isn’t it…@shrawan k gurung…o man what an explanation…by reading your post i can be 100% sure how much u hate my king and country….and talking about truth…well i guess u know the truth too but poor u ..u cant digest it…may god help u in realizing whats the truth and be happy and let us live in peace…..

  35. Dear ilovebhutan,
    I Love Bhutan too, after all it is the country where my grand father came in 1922 to join his brothers who had been in Bhutan decades earlier. One of the brothers of my grand fathers became the Gup, the headman of a village and served the government. My uncle went on to become the first Brigadier General of Royal Bhutan Army and I was the first pilot from Southern Bhutan. I love Bhutan because the Royal Government gave free land to my forefathers and after second generation, educated and trained me to be a pilot. My family story/history is just an example as all most all the Lhotsampas got the same benefits and treatment from the government for which we should never forget to be grateful, because this truth can convince the world that in fact we are genuine Bhutanese….citizenship granted by the previous kings.

    Things changed with the forced implementation of “One Nation, One People” Policy under which Three – prong approach was designed and implemented by the Royal government, the reason for me to hate my own government: That is the truth. What else you want to know read the following.

    Three-prong approach:
    1. National Census
    The census was carried out every year including the heads counts of domestic animals for the tax purpose from the beginning of Monarchy in Bhutan. However the National Census (dark census) that started in 1989 in Southern Bhutan as a part of the One Nation, One People policy was designed to maximize the Denationalization of Lhotsampas or segregate them into F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7 classes of citizens using various insidious methods, threats and intimidation. As a result genuine Bhutanese, mostly innocent farmers who lived in Bhutan for generations became stateless overnight. This cut the roots of their children/grand children who may have been serving the government. Then, they were evicted by force or imprisoned, branded as “illegal immigrants, anti-nationals”, and their children told to leave as associates/relatives of anti-nationals. The NOC (No Objection Certificate) made mandatory for all purpose of government services, promotion, training, education, travel, business were denied to any relative of so called anti-nationals whether they were evicted or imprisoned.
    2. National Survey.
    The Royal government of Bhutan, right after the establishment of Monarchy in Bhutan lured more ethnic Nepalis in Bhutan by giving free land but levied taxes on the produce, developed land and the cattles. Former king dubbed Southern Bhutan as “Food Bowl” of the country. Due to lack of technology, the lands were distributed using “eye estimate” survey by the semi-skilled surveyors appointed by the government. Though the land was distributed from time to time using similar methods or directly obtained as a kidug by “begging” the king, the Real estate portfolios were diversified by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck when he distributed free land in the forestry department for cash crops like cardamom and oranges. In about 20 years, Southern Bhutan flourished as economic power by virtue of hard works put into cash crops, in addition to the “food bowl”.
    The national surveys of 1990 scraped the “eye estimate” survey and expropriated the land, forcing the farmers to forfeit and give the land to the ethnic Dukpa people of the king. However, much easier road for them was to evict them, after which the king’s people especially from arm forces and their relatives take down the addresses of the land, orchard, business, buildings or farms and directly go to the king as you could see queue of people waiting to meet him. The king granted those properties to them as a kidug (Royal Gift). Thus it was an institutionalized transfer of property from one ethnic group to another.
    It must be noted that since 1958 Bhutan practiced one of the most stringent immigration policies in the world. My people were entrusted to safeguard the southern border and reported every border crossing to the authorities including a marriage. It is self evident that after the eviction of Southern Bhutanese in early 1990s, the BODO militants from India infiltrated the country and settled their bases. It became such a problem that Bhutan had to take military action to flush them out.
    3. Cultural Imposition (Driglamnamza)
    While racial and ethnic persecution, through the imposition of the dress, culture and language of the ruling elites upon others created a lot of resentment in the minds of the common people of Nepali origin. The ban on teaching ‘Nepali language’ (the mother tongue of the Lhotshampas) in the schools in southern Bhutan, was seen as a direct attack on their very identity and culture. This became the immediate cause of the 1990 uprising against the ill-conceived, “One Nation, One People” policy of the Royal government.
    To create more one way traffic and forfeit the right to return, the infamous Notification dated 17th August 1990 by the then Deputy Home Minister Dago Tshering, supported by a reign of terror, let loose through the imposition of Martial Law wherein the man in uniform were given a free hand to arrest, torture, rape or evict, are the main reason for the exodus of the people en masse. Careful analysis of the Notification makes it abundantly clear, how even relatives of the pro-democracy activists were stripped off their citizenship by making them vicariously liable for the crime committed by others of their Kith and Kin. The notification reads: “……..any Bhutanese national leaving the country to assist and help the anti –nationals shall no longer be considered as a Bhutanese citizen. It must be very clear that such people’s family members living under the same household will also be held fully responsible and forfeit their citizenship

    Unfortunate response:
    It is also true that in retaliation to the brutal implementation of “One Nation, One People” policy, few groups of Lhotsampas with their passion running high, carried insane violent activities along the border. While they attacked and killed some people, others burnt the national dress imposed on them, made attempts to destroy schools and bridges and issued warning to the innocent people to leave Bhutan or face the consequence of –minus six inches. That was Wrong!
    I believe that the government was right in this case to arrest the criminals but it was also the duty of the government to decipher the right from wrong, punish the guilty and safeguard the innocent. Instead the govt decided to put all the southern citizens in the ethnic bandwagon and brand them as anti-nationals, illegal immigrants with lone goal to evict them. This is how my people became victim of political manipulation. The royal govt used pictures of violence carried out by these groups in pamphlets, booklets and distributed, using these acts as tools to sensationalize the uprising as terrorist movement and project our people as terrorists. But who would take pictures of the army/police beating my people in the public? Shooting people in the public and killing them???….worse you should ask the rape victims…and those missing people, if you will ever find them!
    That is the Truth.

    Erasing the history
    After eviction and when one-sixth if its population are struggling to survive, living a stateless life in the refugee camps, the government resettled the Drukpa people from North and is busy changing the names of the villages, towns and landmarks. So the process unfolds persecution, eviction, demolition, re-settlement and change the very names of the places. It should occur to an open mind why the original names of the places given by Nepali-Bhutanese at the beginning of settlement perhaps few hundred years ago are being changed to more ethnic Drukpa names? Is it to erase the age old history of Nepali-Bhutanese or a case of ethnic cleansing? International law has the obligation to define it, not Dasho Kinley Dorji or Hari. Please refer to the attachment for the names of the places originally given by my people that are being changed.

    Today, a 20 years old Bhutanese refugee is confused about his/her birth place in Bhutan (as the govt changed the names of their birth place) and the 80 years olds are eager to record their stories before they are dead. But the issue is neither dead nor dying as there is no expiration date to get justice on the gross abuse of human rights. The Government of Bhutan is on the wrong side of the history of its people as it promotes democracy and gross national happiness for the selected. That is the Truth.

    If you also want to hear my simple proposal for the long term solution, ask me next time, because I do believe that whatever the government has done successfully so far is temporary because it is based on lies and asatya. The problem does not get resolved even after the perpetrators are dead, because they have so many dead bodies under their pillows, they have so many sins…that they cannot rest in peace; and the truth will one day come out to haunt their children.
    Now, ilovebhutan what is the other truth from your side?

    Thank you

    Dick Chhetri
    Satyamev Jayate
    (May Truth Prevail)

  36. Shock! Shock! & Shock!
    Can any body comment on this?
    We talk about quality of leadership in the Bhutanese movement. It is good idea to promote someone whom we can have our confidence. So far we Bhutanese placed Rijal in the esteem as the prisoner of conscience. Although he never wanted to come in the forefront, he advocated himself as human rights activist. Media in Nepal always made their best efforts to promote him as a leader of democracy. So, he took advantage of it and made optimum use of the given statue. While some organisations that truly work for democracy and refugees with sincerity and comitment are struggling for a penny to meet with their urgent needs, leaders like Rijal lives a luxurious life banking on the peoples movement and milking Nepal government. It is no Bhutanese reporting about the alleged corruption. It is Nepal media, who has placed his name on top of the corrupt list. There are 52 beneficiaries of NRs 29crores. While Nepali fall in the category of smaller amount ranging from NRs. 1 lac to 19 lacs, Rijal has received 36 lacs in 3 years and topped the list. Where has the money gone? How could Nepal government pay such a huge amount to a single person? It is matter of concern and shame of an eminent leader to have traded is creditability for 36 lacs. Other amounts possibly received by him before the tenure of Pushpa Kamal Dahal is however hidden under the blanket of understanding with Koirala and Deoba.

  37. Ho ho! What a rubbish piece of story by Alice. I say rubbish because your so-called story or article covers only side of the coin. Do you know there are two sides of the coin in every stories?. If you really want to prove to the international community that a crime against humanity has been committed by the Bhutan, means you should take effort to flip the other side of the coin and then analyzie your theories and present to the world. AS far as i know, Bhutan Goverment have agreed and even worked in Jhapa Camp to bring only those genuine Bhutanes citizen back to where they belong, but the non-genuine folks there blew with violence and the matter couldn’t be solved. No one but themselves to be blamed. I hope the international community with their age of digitilism is more wise and clever enough to judge fairly the fictitious and non-fictitious stories lying infront of their eyes. “Where there is God, there is evil; Where there is good, there is a evil”.May the Guardain Deity of Pelden Drukpa Protect My King and My Country from the evils of the World and May the evil loose their battle ” Long Live My beloved King and My Mother Land” !

  38. I love Alice Verheij, Dick Bahadur Pokwal and the rest that decided to settle the matter by truth. Victory of evil is temporary, just an illusion. Truth endures and victory is also ensured.

    If the God of Justice has this day made us to appear on the other side of the lie suffering as victims of its agents, we can say that God is on our side and victory shall be of the truth, to our delight. We need to keep lie and malice far from us as servants of truth.

    “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” as quoted by DBC is regarding the knowledge of God and personal salvation/liberation from bondage to sin as a result. This liberation is greater than just political freedom from the dominion of other races/tribes. It leads to liberation from the darkness of self that counts temporal things over eternal and serves them. The wages are temporal that do not accompany the soul when it leaves the body with the knowledge of imperfection and guilt… Here Christ is giving us the all time knowledge to fish while hungry rather than a fish to fill the hunger just for one time.

  39. well… i was just 2-3 years old when the mass eviction happened….i came to know about this web-site just a few days ago.Going through the untold stories, i came to know lots of things regarding the revolution of the southern (so called) bhutanese. its been 20 years now , wounds do heal but scars remain. so try to forget the past and move on with your new life. i believe because of few bad and power hungry southerners many suffered… @ the author of this article Alice, did u ever visit bhutan ? Do you know how really a bhutanese dress, talk and what religion we follow here in bhutan. many of this people were not forced to leave the country but instead the RGOB wanted to grant them citizenship. what do they do in return, burn the national flag and dress. Mass killing of their own race who wanted to be a bhutanese. many fled out of guilt of their own wrong doing. some followed because of the power hungry leaders.
    we now call them NGOLOPS.. The numbers are increasing every year, but if u really want a true story, try to collect the correct data.. if u do 3 from every 5 refugee wont have a valid bhutanese documents. It you want to advertise your up coming book, try some where else.
    and one thing- who gave you the right to call our king as criminal, try to give the real story ( both sided) did u ever try to find the RGOBs part story. before you call names. also see what the king did for the country.

    Palden Drukpa Gyelo

  40. Mr. Alice
    come to Bhutan for a day and try to study what you wrote. If you can prove any of your points right, am sure my King and Government will be happy to have back our friends, fellow citizens of our country, Bhutan. In fact, all Bhutanese here in Bhutan wants our people to come to their homeland, but with respect to the King, people and the country. We still feel the pinch of so called refugees in Nepal, when they lived in Bhutan a very peaceful country.

    By the way, I was shocked to learn you are a Dutch writer interested in other’s problem. How dare you call my King a criminal. This is what we call a attitude problem. You are living amongst the criminals, and thus brand everyone ‘criminal’. Whatever, HE IS A GOD FOR ALL BHUTANESE. Am confident you will learn one day. Good luck

  41. Dear Alice,
    The people of the world are made fools by the Royal Government of Bhutan if not all should open up their traps and do something before it creats different problems. Your findings are true and your words do speak the facts, Anarchists the Cruel rulers are still in this world who divide nation and the people based on its communal ethics, religion and shareholders and create international problems. King Wangcghucks are nothing diffrent than Saddam or Edi Amin or a terrorist.

    You have tried to energize Bhutanese people for their noble cause. I wish you success that your movie and write-ups all carry our message to the world.
    Thank you.

    N B Giri
    [email protected]

  42. brothers lets take bhutan as an institution and node our virtue towards the value that lies in it…if the institution is a state in it self then there is no point calling it a country..none the less as fate would have wanted;bhutan has now become a democracy and the constitution says we have every right to speak..so now lets see if all the above mentioned statements realy proves a point or is it jus another bunch of hooligans squeaking from across the west…

  43. Dear Alice,
    If you are looking for publicity for the book or the film you are making, please remember that a story at least has two sides. And also please take note of Journalism ethics, because you do not have the right to condemn a country especially after listening only to one side of the story. Here is a tip, JOURNALISM 101- BE OBJECTIVE.

    It is easy for you to write a story sitting on a rooftop restaurant, but please do not present those as facts. “Ethnic cleansing” is a very big word and I suggest you use that with caution if it is not supported by evidence. If the Government of Bhutan was undertaking such activities, as you claim to be, how do you explain a quarter of Bhutan’s Population still being of Nepalese ethnicity? Further a fifth of the parliament is comprised of the Bhutanese of Nepalese ethnicity.

    Do you as a Dutch citizen have the right to take up an arms struggle terrorizing your own people, disrupting the peace and harmony of The Netherlands? We, as Bhutanese, have the right to defend our country from enemies, both foreign and domestic.