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About AHURA Bhutan

Association of HUman Rights Activists, Bhutan
AHURA Bhutan

FOUNDATION

The Association of Human Rights Activists, Bhutan, in short AHURA Bhutan, was launched on 16 November 1992 by a group of exiled former "Prisoners of Conscience" and prominent Bhutanese human rights activists. AHURA Bhutan is a non-partisan, non-racist, non-governmental and non-profit making organisation, committed for upholding human rights of the Bhutanese people.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The broad aim of AHURA Bhutan is the achievement of a peaceful and harmonious civil society in Bhutan where human rights of all the Bhutanese people is protected and promoted on the basis of the standards established by the United Nations. Its objectives are:

1. To restore human rights in Bhutan.
2. To repatriate the Bhutanese refugees back to their homes in Bhutan in safety and dignity.
3. To document cases of human rights violation of the Bhutanese people.
4. To advocate at the regional and international level for the just resolution of the Bhutanese refugee crisis and the human rights problem in Bhutan.
5. To raise awareness about human rights in the Bhutanese refugee community.
6. To implement social-welfare programs in the Bhutanese refugee camps.

COMPOSITION

All the active members are residents of refugee camps and travel to the office in Damak every day. The general members attend important meetings whenever called for or undertake responsibilities in their respective camps. The Chief Coordinator functions as the chief executive with the support of coordinators in respective divisions. There are also convenors in each camp who undertake various assignments in their respective camps and report back to office once in a week.

ACTIVITIES AT A GLANCE

Advocacy

AHURA Bhutan has been constantly raising the issue of Bhutanese refugees at the UN Commission/Sub-Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. It has been undertaking extensive lobby with UN Human Rights experts, INGOs and Government representatives to press for a UN Resolution on the situation of Bhutanese refugees and the violation of Human Rights in the Kingdom of Bhutan. A significant outcome of its advocacy at the UN so far is the Chairman’s Statement issued at the 50th Session of the UN Sub-Commission in Geneva in August 1998 calling Nepal and Bhutan to resolve the problem.

AHURA Bhutan works with the Bhutanese Refugee Support Groups in Nepal, India, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Japan and the Netherlands. These support groups and the human rights INGOs have been instrumental in raising the Bhutanese refugee problem with their respective governments, at the UN and expressing their concern directly to the government of Bhutan.

AHURA Bhutan, as a partner organisation of the Appeal Movement Coordinating Council [AMCC], has played a crucial role in spearheading a movement for the restoration of fundamental human rights in Bhutan and the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees back to their homes in Bhutan. The AMCC, since its launching in September 7, 1995, conducted a series of program in and outside Bhutan, the most significant of which had been the "Peace March to Bhutan". More than 4000 Peace Marchers from Bhutanese refugee camps in eastern Nepal who participated in the movement were intercepted, jailed and eventually deported into Nepal by the Indian authorities. The first batch of 150 Peace Marchers entered Bhutan on August 15, 1996. Bhutan deported them as well as the subsequent batches of Peace Marchers into India who were then pushed back into Nepal by the Indian police.

AHURA Bhutan keeps the international community informed of the Bhutanese refugee problem and the consistent violation of human rights in Bhutan through its communication facility. The latest addition to this facility is the creation of website with the support of OXFAM/UK.

DOCUMENTATION

A. General

B. Specific

Documentation and Computerization of Bhutanese Refugees’ Documents: Since January 1999 the association has embarked on the much needed task of compiling documentary evidences belonging to Bhutanese refugees in the seven camps and compiling them in digitalised form to create an effective advocacy tool to promote the early repatriation of Bhutanese refugees. The Norwegian Human Rights Fund is supporting this programme.

SOCIAL - WELFARE ACTIVITIES

1. Newsboard Programme: With objectives to raise awareness amongst the Bhutanese refugees on the happenings around the world and other important subjects like health, human rights and environment, a newsboard each is fixed in all the seven Bhutanese refugee camps. AHURA Bhutan had been providing information on these subjects on a weekly basis since 1993 with the financial assistance from OXFAM [UK].

2. Scholarship Programme: To help Bhutanese refugee students further their education, AHURA Bhutan, with the donations received from AHURA Japan, has sent some 39 Bhutanese refugee students for a two-year pre-university courses in Indian institutions since 1994.

3. Child Play Centre: Initiated in January 1996, this project with indoor and outdoor play activities caters to the basic needs of the children between the age group 3-6 year old in the Bhutanese refugee camps by promoting physical, intellectual and social development, inculcating moral behaviours- etiquette, sharing and caring, sense of hygiene and providing these tender kids with an enjoyable fun time. Currently, there are four CPCs in three of the seven camps. Swedish Building Maintenance Workers Union funded the first CPC and the later three centres were funded by Centre for VICtims of Torture, Nepal until March 1999.

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