India: Bhutanese refugees seek India's help

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Nov 13 14:03:53 UTC 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/11/12 1:47:47

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Representatives of over 100,000 Bhutanese
refugees living in Nepal are here to seek India's help in returning to
their homeland. "There are 105,000 refugees in seven relief camps in
Nepal, according to the official records of the United Nations Commission
for Human Rights (UNCHR)," said Narad Adhikari, the general secretary of
the Druk National Congress, a political party-in-exile representing
Bhutanese refugees. "Aid from international agencies doesn't reach us.
There is no education for our children, the sanitation in the camps is
poor, there are no jobs,"  Adhikari, who was in the capital to seek help
from the Indian government, told IANS.

"Now there is international pressure on us to move to some western
countries for permanent settlement there. We do not want to go to any
other country. We want to go back to our homes in Bhutan where we have a
rich cultural heritage," he added. "The refugees in these camps are
largely Hindus. We are hoping the Indian government would take up our
cause to end our plight," Adhikari said. "At present, the issue of sending
us back from relief camps to our homes in Bhutan is discussed only between
Nepal and Bhutan. India can play a positive role as it has great influence
over both the countries. "The refugees have suffered gross human rights
violations by the Bhutan army. They were forced to leave their homes
overnight in 1990 and initially came to India. But after their camps were
removed from West Bengal and Assam in 2002, they moved to Nepal," he

In 1990, a law enacted by the Bhutan government forced a
one-religion-one-language policy. When Hindus objected to it, they were
persecuted and forced to flee their homes, alleged Adhikari. "Currently,
the Nepal-Bhutan talks on the refugee issue are in a decisive
stage. But representatives of the refugees are not involved in these
talks. Our fate is being decided without our opinion. Only the Indian
government can help us now by taking up this issue with Bhutan and Nepal,"
he added.


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