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Summary of events for the year 1998


January

Amnesty International, London thrashes Druk atrocities in eastern Bhutan in a report "Crack-down in Anti-nationals in the East".

Bhutanese refugees in exile protest and condemn Bhutan government's policy of distributing their land [owned by southern Bhutanese (Lhotshampas) now as refugees] to the people of Drukpa community from northern and eastern Bhutan.

About 50 Bhutanese protesters arrested while staging sit in programme at the Indian Embassy, Kathmandu demanding release of R.K. Dorji from Tihar jail in New Delhi. Protest marches were also organised down at the refugee camps demanding the release of Mr. Dorji.

Bhutan reported to have offered for a dialogue with Pro-democracy leader Mr. R.K. Dorji.

King Jigme promoted four secretaries as Deputy Ministers who were later to become cabinet Ministers. They included Dasho Sangay Nidup, Dasho Kinzang Dorji, Dasho Thinley Jamtsho, and Dasho Yeshay Jimba.

Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) of Bhutan implements 75th session of National Assembly resolution. 219 Lhotshampa government employees get compulsorily retired from their services for reasons that they were relatives of the refugees. In a letter to the editor Peter Koing Resident Coordinator Helvetas/SDC was the only person inside Bhutan to comment on the guilt by association.

February

Prince Charles of the United Kingdom visits Bhutan. Refugees submit a memorandum to Charles but see a faint ray of hope in his visit.

March

The Bhutanese Government decides to establish a permanent army camp at Dagapela, a southern Bhutan sub-district.

India gives ultimatum to Bhutan over Thimpu's failure to take a decision on United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) insurgents.

Bhutan receives world criticism over the sacking of 219 civil servants for being relatives of exiled Lhotshampa refugees.

April

After a gap of over two years since1996, His Majesty's Government of Nepal suddenly receives an official letter from the Royal government of Bhutan inviting it for resumption of talks on refugees. The Bhutanese refugees reminded HMG/Nepal that it was a wastage of time and suggested to internationalise the issue.

King Jigme visits Samdrup Jongkhar and asks the people there to express concern on security of Bhutan due to presence of ULFA/Bodo militants in the area. He also visits Samchi district and asks the people to demand resettlement of other ethnic groups in the vacant lands left behind by the refugees presently in Nepal.

May

An International programme on India's role in resolving the Bhutanese refugee crisis was held in Bhadrapur, Nepal. UFD declares to launch revolution.

June

UFD Chairman R.K. Dorji granted conditional bail. More than 30 years of cabinet of Bhutan dissolved by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

July

King Jigme decides not to attend SAARC summit being a Constitutional monarch, UFD flays King Jigme. Bhutan's surrogate National Assembly decides not to repatriate any Bhutanese refugees.

PM Koirala decides to raise refugee issue with India and Bhutan during forthcoming SAARC summit in Colombo, Srilanka.

King Jigme introduces "Constitutional Reforms" appointing a new six member cabinet, and a proposal to remove ruling monarch by vote-system which he himself had abolished 22 years ago.

Kuensel publishes report on King's handing over his governance to the new cabinet.

Bhutanese Assembly calls for extradition of R.K. Dorji and other leaders. It also calls ban on return of refugees.

For the first time in the history of Royal Advisory Council, no Lhotshampa was included as a member.

August

Bhutanese Refugees under the Appeal Movement Coordinating Council (AMCC) petition the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The petitions covering up to 50,000 individual refugees requested Madam Sadako Ogata to undertake an impartial verification of the refugees on the basis of international law to establish the Bhutanese refugees' nationality.

UN Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities held in Geneva issued a chairman's statement calling the governments of Bhutan and Nepal to negotiate in good faith. Bhutanese refugees staged rally in kathmandu demanding internationalisation of refugee issue.

The Bhutanese government stuck to its stand that the long-standing Bhutanese refugee problem could be solved only after the categorisation of the refugees in the camps in eastern Nepal during the UN Sub-commission.

PM Koirala meets the Bhutanese delegation leader Lynpo Jigme Thinley during SAARC summit in Colombo. They agreed to resume bilateral talks.

September

The New York City Council (NYCC) stunned Bhutanese government and UN General assembly by rejecting Bhutan's offer to buy building in the UN diplomatic enclave citing violation of human rights in Bhutan as the cause.

Deputy Chief of Indian Army visits Bhutan and discusses modus operandi on flushing out operations of ULFA/Bodo militants.

October

King Jigme visits New Delhi, briefs Indian leaders on ULFA and Bodo militants in Bhutan and said he would not allow his soil to be used by anyone to indulge in activities harmful to India.

November

A three member Nepalese parliamentary delegation visited Bhutan in a bid to revive the Nepal-Bhutan ministerial talks that remained stalled since early 1996.

A ministerial level Nepalese delegation visits Thimphu. Bhutan and Nepal agreed to hold the eighth joint ministerial meeting on refugees during January 1999 in Kathmandu.

November

Amnesty International visited Bhutan. The delegation visited Tek Nath Rizal and other prisoners in the jails in Thimphu and traveled up to south to see the resettlement site at Gaylegphug. It is learnt that Amnesty has strongly recommended for the release of Teknath Rizal on humanitarian grounds.

December

Tek Nath Rizal honoured with Prakash Kafley International Solidarity Award. The award was organised by Group of International Solidarity (GRINSO), Nepal and included a citation and a purse of US $ 2000. The award was presented to Mrs. Kaushilya Rizal (spouse of Mr. Rizal) by Man Mohan Adhikari, former Prime Minister of Nepal.

 

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