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June 30, 1999


New arrivals granted asylum

Two people, following their eviction from Bhutan in June 1999, arrived at the screening post late last month and are now registered in Khudunabari refugee camp. The family, a mother and her son, comes from Suray block of Sarbhang district in southern Bhutan bordering Assam in India. On preliminary investigation the family were evicted after being arbitrarily declared as non-national and the citizenship card issued by the government authorities to the mother was confiscated before being ejected from the country. The family, as several others, went through the His Majesty's Government of Nepal and UNHCR organised refugee screening post in east Nepal border before being allow into the refugee camps.

Despite continued effort from various quarters the Bhutanese authorities continues to find every pretext to evict its southern citizens.

The ongoing resettlement of northern Bhutanese on lands belonging to refugees living in camps in eastern Nepal is widely seen by observers as another ploy for fresh eviction strategy.

Bhutanese Refugees Protest Silver Jubilee Celebration

June 1, 1999: Coinciding with the Silver Jubilee celebration of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's entrhronment the Bhutanese refugees staged mass rally and fasting in eastern Nepal.

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His Majesty, the king of Bhutan was flagging off the the year long celebration on June 2, his coronation day, in Thimphu and on June 1, 1999 over 20,000 Bhutanese refugees from the seven UNHCR supervised camps in eastern Nepal over held a mass rally in Damak. The mass rally was organised under the aegis of the Bhutanese Refugees Representatives Repatriation Committee [BRRRC] to draw the attention of the Bhutanese king to declare the return of all the Bhutanese

refugees exiled since 1990 during his royal address the following day in Thimphu. The Bhutanese refugees after gathering at Beldangi I camp entry point took out peaceful rally and marched to Damak town bringing the National highway to a standstill for more than an hour. The demonstrators displayed banners and placards which read 'Silver Jubilee sans one-sixth of Bhutanese', 'Celebrate Silver Jubilee after Repatriation', 'Who is left to celebrate silver jubilee in southern districts', 'Silver jubilee amidst violation of Human Rights', Stop resettlement
in our lands' etc.

The rally converged into a mass meeting at the bank of Ratuwa river near the highway in Damak municipality. The Bhutanese refugee demonstrators strongly urged the Bhutanese King to declare a royal decree commanding the immediate return of Bhutanese refugees to their homesteads in Bhutan during his address to the nation at Changlimithang the following day.

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Bhutanese Refugees Stage Demonstration in Bhutan

June 1999 : A group 79 Bhutanese refugees under the leadership of R.P. Subba, the General Secretary of the Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front [BGNLF] entered the kingdom and staged a rally in Phuntsholing, a border town in south-west Bhutan, on 10 June 1999. Organised by the BGNLF, the refugees intended to march to Thimphu to meet the King. The demonstrators were arrested by the Bhutanese police, and with the support of the Indian police, deported them back to Nepal at the dead hours of the night. The BGNLF had dispatched the refugee activists as a part of its campaign to repatriate the Bhutanese refugees exiled in Nepal.

Bhutanese Refugees Send Petitions to UN Human Rights High Commissioner

April 1999: The Bhutanese Refugees Representative Repatriation Committee [BRRRC], a Bhutanese refugee rights group formed in February 1999 organised to send 10,000 petitions signed by heads of the families of Bhutanese refugees to Ms Mary Robinson the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this month.. The refugees have called on the UNCHR to depute an independent and impartial verification team to verify their documents to establish their Bhutanese identity and create a congenial environment for their early repatriation. Similar appeals were also sent by the refugees to Madame Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for refugees, last year. The UN High Commissions have not responded to the refugees' plea so far.

National Movement

February 1999: Under the leadership of Rongthong Kuenley Dorji, the Chairman of the Druk National Congress, the National Movement was declared in February 1999 which besides demanding political change asked for the repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees evicted out of their ancestral homes in Bhutan. Two batches of political activists including Bhutanese refugees participated in the peaceful demonstration held in the Bhutanese southern border town of Phuntsholing. The government suppressed the demonstrators using uniformed and plain clothed Royal Bhutan Police.

Digitalised Documentation of Bhutanese Refugees - AHURA Bhutan's Effort to Resist Forced Eviction

Presently the Association of Human Rights Activists Bhutan [AHURA Bhutan] has embarked on a task to accomplish the Digitalised Documentation of Bhutanese Refugees.. Conceptualised in early 1998 , the work has begun in full swing since January 1999. As of now upto 50% of the refugees' information have been documented and the association envisages to release the report in digitalised form for by the end of this year.

 

Update 1998...