This site provides complete and authentic information on the origin, causes, and current situation about Bhutanese refugees.

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Bhutan is the last bastion of hereditary absolute monarchy with a feudal order. It is passing through a harrowing period of internal insecurity, political instability and vulnerability created by current ruling elite. The eviction of over one hundred thousand Nepali-speaking southern Bhutanese or the Lhotshampas as they are officially called is a glaring example of the current state of affairs in Bhutan. The government of Bhutan created another security blunder by allowing the Indian militants form north-east India in its territories.

The tranquil image of Shangri-La as Bhutan was called has been shattered in these years as it has been responsible for generating one of the highest per capita refugees ( one sixth of the total population) in the world. More than 125,000 Bhutanese people, nearly a sixth of the kingdom's total population of approximately 782,548 have been forced to leave or forcibly evicted from the country by the Government. This has made Bhutan as one of the highest per capita refugee generators in the world. As on March 2001, approximately 98,886 Bhutanese refugees were living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal managed by the UNHCR. Rest live scattered in other parts of Nepal. About 25,000 Bhutanese refugees are living in Indian territories with out any help.

Bhutan as a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic society is self-evident. However, the government argues that "Pluralism is only practical for a larger country where a diversity of customs, traditions and culture enriches that nation. A small country like Bhutan cannot afford the luxury of such diversity which may impede the growth of social harmony and unity among its people". In the name of national integration, the government implemented various racial and discriminatory policies aimed at forceful homogenisation of multi-ethnic society. This 'Drukpanization' policy was designed to annihilate the culture, religion and language of Lhotshampas, Sharchhops and other minority ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. Under this policy, all other ethnic and minority groups are required to assimilate their social and cultural identity as distinct ethnic groups with the society dominated by politically and economically dominant Ngalung or Drukpa ethnic group. The state could not evolve a modus vivendi. To the state 'Bhutanese national identity' meant the forceful assimilation of cultures. Forced national integration, through eviction, through depriving the Lhotshampas and dissidents of their nationality, or through brutal intimidation and use of force have been the hallmark of state policy.

Without assimilation also political unity of population can be achieved. Examples abound as USA, Switzerland and Great Britain where the Scottish and Wales enjoy their cultural identity. The Government's policies of national integration however, received stubborn resistance from the Lhotshampas, first, and now by the Sharchhop and other minority groups.

Buddhism has been used as a political tool by the state. Buddhism has been defined to suit the interests of the ruling community. Bhutanese polity is increasingly communalised by the ruling elite. Politics is practised on ethnic lines that the politics became the monopoly of the single ethnic group, the Ngalung. The rule of state becomes problematic when it seeks to represent one ethnic group in a multi-ethnic society. There is a constant feeling of insecurity among all the minorities against the government  as a result of frequent changes in the laws, rules and policies and their interpretation by the Thimphu government to suit the regime largely affecting the Lhotshampas, Sharchops and other minority groups.

Over-conscious of the global upsurge of the democratic movement and its import to Bhutan sooner or later, the government crafted a clever strategy to prevent the demand for democratic reforms. The dream of a new Drukpa Buddhist state thus responds to a over-reaction against modernization and establishment of human rights and democracy - a threat to the absolute monarchy and feudal system. The 'ethnic cleansing' policy is a part of that strategy.

But, despite the democratic winds of change in the sub-continent such as emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation, dawn of democracy in Nepal, or the ethnic conflicts having components of 'self- determination', 'autonomy', separatism' and 'independence' in the neighbouring Indian states of Kashmir, Punjab, North- east and Sri Lanka, Bhutanese political institutions had no cause to worry as the Bhutanese people by and large remained politically indifferent to these developments.

The government, instead of taking lessons from these devastating events in the region and pursuing a realistic policy of integrating different ethnic groups and nationalities in Bhutan, started working for the 'ethnic cleansing' of Lhotshampas. This shows government's lack of vision and immaturity of its statecraft and cultural intolerance. Its national integration policy was also fake. One cannot construct a national integration policy by offering monetary compensation. National integration is a gradual process.

Bhutanese refugees are the victims of racial policy of their government, who are genuine citizens of Bhutan. Without taking back the Bhutanese refugees, it will not be possible to achieve integration of the Bhutanese society. They must be repatriated with dignity and honour. Until the Bhutanese refugee problem is solved and human rights are guaranteed there can be no peace in Bhutan. Given the current situation, the repatriation of refugees seems not possible without effecting a change in existing laws. These laws declare a citizen anti-national if one is found to be in contact with any dissident against the government and are subjected to the confiscation of citizenship. The laws also declare several thousand refugees as voluntarily emigrated and are not allowed to return to the country. Several thousand citizens have been intimidated to flee and asked to fill up voluntary migration forms under duress.

Today, the demands for establishment of human rights, end of racism and discrimination, creation of participatory and political institutions, establishment of a secular political and social order, rule of law, balanced economic growth, repatriation of Bhutanese are the focal points around which the resolution of Bhutanese refugee and the political crisis revolves.

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