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The United Front for Democracy in Bhutan (UFD)


In January 1997, the DNC and other political parties in exile formed the United Front for Democracy (UFD) to advocate for the respect of human rights in Bhutan, and the establishment of democracy and the repatriation of the refugees. Rongthong Kunley Dorji who is also the chairperson of Druk National Congress (DNC), was elected its chairperson. In April 1997, Rongthong Kunley Dorji was arrested in India in response to a request for his extradition by the Bhutanese government. In Bhutan, government authorities have moved to suppress people of sympathizing, or suspected of sympathizing with the activities of UFD. It is estimated that at least 150 Sharchops (people of eastern Bhutan) have been detained by police, many reportedly subjected to torture. UFD is however, continuing its grassroots level political and human rights activities inside Bhutan.

Rongthong Kunley Dorji, the founder of Druk National Congress (DNC) and the chairperson of the UFD, was in detention at Tihar jail in New Delhi in India awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bhutan. He was arrested in New Delhi on 18 April,1991 following receipt by the Indian authorities of an extradition request from the government of Bhutan. Dorji has now however been issued bail by the Delhi High Court on conditions that he did not leave India and did not organise any political activity.

Rongthong Kunley Dorji was first arrested and reportedly tortured by the Royal Bhutan Bodyguards in Bhutan in May 1991 on charges of treason in connection with his support for the Nepali speaking southern Bhutanese during demonstrations in 1990. When he was released on 5 July 1991, he fled the country due to fear of political persecution and threat to his life, and sought political asylum in Kathmandu, Nepal. The government of Bhutan has accused Dorji of non-payment of loans and "anti-national" activities under the National Security Act 1992. But the charges against Rongthong Kunley Dorji were baseless and politically motivated.


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