Habitat Fact Finding Report on Bhutan
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Habitat International Report on Fact Finding Mission to Bhutan

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Bhutanese refugees groups for the last 3 years have been claiming that the Royal Government Of Bhutan (RGOB) has been resettling people from northern Bhutan on the lands of the refugees presently in camps in Nepal. The refugee groups felt this had serious implications on their return to the lands they had been forcibly evicted from or had to flee from in the early 1990s. They wanted an independent international Organisation to look in to these claims and requested Habitat international Coalition to conduct a fact- finding mission for this purpose.

Habitat international Coalition undertook a fact-finding mission from 23rd September to 1st October 2001 to verify the claims of the Bhutanese refugees that the RGOB is resettling poeple from northern Bhutan on the lands they have been evicted from in southern Bhutan. The two- member mission consisted of Me. Minar Pimple, social scientist and housing rights expert, and Ms. Seema misra, who has extensive experience with civil society work on human rights in South Asia.

The fact-finding mission interviewed 17 refugee families from the camps in Nepal. The refugees were asked to give detailed information on their reasons for leaving Bhutan, how much land and housing property they had, and to provide any original documentary evidence of their citizenship such as citizenship cards, land tax receipts, house tax receipts. land documents, employment , etc. The refugees were asked if they knew what had happened to their property in Bhutan and how they obtained this information.

In addition to marking a general review (according to information provided by the refugees ) of the state of resettlement of people from northern Bhutan on the lands belonging to Bhutanese refugees. the fact-finding team (FFT) selected 7 refugee families (from those i9nterviewed) and sought to verity their claims by visiting their villages in Bhutan. Families from 2 districts of Bhutan- Samchi and sarbhang bordering India- were chosen for relative security and access. Pinjuli and chengamari villages in Samchi district and Gaylegpghug town and lodarai and lalai villages in Sarbhang were visited. All these villages were entered from the bordering indian villages. THe land of the refugees was identified either by the lhotsampa villagers who still lived there (in Bhutan) or by their friends or relatives from the villages on the indian side. These people were also interviewed to get the latest information on the situation in southern Bhutan. The refugees were concerned about their being able to return, if northern Bhutanese have been resettled on their lands. The fact- Finding report documents in details these interviews with the refugees and physical verification of their claims.

The report also documents the discussions held with refugees on the joint verification being carried out by the RGOB and the His Majesty's Government of Nepal (HMG Nepal)

in the khudunabari camp. As of now only the Khudunabari camp has gone through the verification process. The verification was begun in March 2001 and the last few families and individuals of Khudunabari were interviewed on 13th December 2001. The report documents the discussion held with members of the nepalese civil society who have been working on or supporting the Bhutanese refugee issue. Members of the refugee political Parties and human rights groups were also consulted and their viewpoint on the resettlement and repatriation issue has been included in the report. The FFT met with the officials of the UNHCR, the Foreign Secretary of Nepal, the Counsellor and press Secretary of the Embassy of Bhutan and the Ministry of External Affairs in india.

The FFT report finally analyes the information gathered during the fact finding to see how far the current Situation on the ground is in compliance with the international human rights obligations of Bhutan. The report also looks at secondary evidence such as the proceedings in Bhutan's National ASsembly debates to establish the extent of resettlement on the refugee lands.

Conclusions and findings of the fact - finding

- The RGOB has been resettling northern Bhutanese in the lands of the southern Bhutanese refugees as physically observed in some cases.

- Not all the northern Bhutanese settled in the southern districts are landless, as the RG OB has claimed. Land has been given to army and police officers or their relatives, especially land close to roads or with the larger houses.

- All the refugees interviewed want to go back to the lands they were evicted from, for regaining their land and housing rights.

- The refugees from Khudunabari camp are unhappy with the joint verification process that is under way as they do not see any links between this verification process and final repatriation.

- The refugees would like their representatives, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to be included as parties in all negotiations and in particular the joint verification process.

- The fact- finding team met people at various levels who indicated the urgent need for the Government of india to play an active role in resolving the Bhutanese refugee crisis.

Recommendations

1. In the interest of just and durable repatriation of Bhutanese refugees, in full consonance with international human rights and humanitarian law, it is imperative that RGOB stop resettling northern Bhutanese on refugee lands under its obligations as State of Origin.

2. The RG OB should provide complete data and information on the resettlement it has done so far in lands and houses previously belonging to the refugees.

3. The RGOB should invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing to examine the country's preparedness to repartriate the refugees in accordance with international human rights standards.

4. The verification process and the other stages leading to repat5riation should include representatives of the Bhutanese refugee community and the UNHCR.

5. To show good faith, th RGOB should speed up the verification process and plan for repatriation in the near future, starting with those verified as Bhutanese citizens in the Khudunabari camp, ande then as vertification of each camp population is completed.

6. To show good faith, the RGOB should take steps to remove the resettlers from refugee lands. The international community including relevant United Nations agencies and deonor governments should assist the RG OB in this effort.

7. THe UNHCR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to work for a durable solution, particularly through repatriation in conditions of security and dignity, and to reduce the risk of statelessness.
8. The UNHCGHR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of the refugees in the context of the cverification and repatriation processes.

9. The repatriation talks must give due emphasis to the process t5hat will be neceswary ( including land claims, Provision of civic Services and so forth) in restoring the land and housing rights of the refugees upon their return to Bhutan.

10 when repatriation begins. Bhutan should give access to both UNHCGHR and UNHCR to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the refugees on return are proteched.

11 In addition to the inherent role to be played by the governments of Bhuta and Nepal, the Government of India must also play an active role to facilitate the speedy return of the refugees to bhutan.

12 Aprotection officer should be appointed by the UNHCR to oversee the repatriation process and the rehabilitation phase for this vulnerable group, within the human rights framework.

13 The United Nations treaty bodies should continue to monitor and follow up on the situation of the Bhutanese refugees.

CHAPTER - 1

INTRODUCTION

The Bhutanese Refugee Crisis

There are a little more than 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepali ethnicity living in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) monitored refugee camps in Japan, Nepal, and an estimated 20,000 living elsewhere in Nepal and india. Between late 1990 and 1992 they were forcibly evicted or had fled from their homes in the southern districts of Bhutan, namely, Samchi, Chhuka, DAgana, Chirang, Sarbhang and Samdrup Jongkhar, due to the discriminatory policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan ( RG OB) and became refugees. An acceptable soulution to this problem is yet to be arrived at and as years pass the problem is becoming more complex on various fronts.

Habitat international Coalition (HIC), along with other human rights organisations and agencies like amnesty international and lutheran World Federation, has supported and advocated for the rights of the Bhutanese refugees in the United Nagtions (UN) Human rights system . The UN sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Humann Rights at its 50th session on August 19th 1998 called for "negotiation in good faith" and the UN Committe on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its concluding observations on Nepal's Periodic report on 20th Agugst 1998 called "Upen the state party to fully observe the human rights of refugees and displaced persons of Bhutan and to negotiate with the Government of Bhutan towards a peaceful solution of this important issue. " Most recently in june 2001, the UN commitee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations on Bhutan's initial report asked for "greater efforts to expendite the verifica5tion process and condider the possibility of repatriating individuals within a reasonable time following individual verification. "

After a series of intermittent ministerial-level negotiations betwen the government of Bhutan and Nepal, beginning in 1993, a Joint Verification TEam (Consisting of 5 representatives from each government) began veritication work in one of refugee camps-

Khudunabari - in March 2001. The joint verification team (JVT) constituted to verify the citizenship claims of the refugees began by interviewing 1 1 families per day and from September onwards they were interviewing 15 families per day. By mid-December all the families of Khudunabari had been interviewed by the JVT The verification process is slow and neither government has given any information as to what will be the next step. There is no information when the outcome of the verification will be announced; which camp will be verified next; will camp by camp verification continue or will verification of all the camps take place simultaneously and when will repatriation take place. The process of verification is seen by both governments as bilateral so it does not include representatives of refugee community or the UNHCR. The UNHCR is willing to facilitate the process but the two governments have not formally invited them .

Many international NGOs have collaborated with the UNHCR for providing basic services to the refugee community. They too are eager that the verification provides the opportunity to the Bhutanese refugees to return to Bhutan. The international community has responded to the immediate humanitarian needs and basic rights of the refugees in the areas of food, housing, sanitation, drinking water, health and education. But financial support from the donor community is now waning after over 1 0 years, resulting in the reduction of services available to the refugees (especially education) and even of their food rations. In any event, the full rights of the refugees can only be secured with the establishment of a durable solution for all the refugees, preferably through repatriation to their homes, in conditions of security and dignity.

Role of citizenship laws in creating Bhutanese refugees'
In 1985, Bhutan amended its citizenship laws to arbitrarily revoke the citizenship of the Southem Bhutanese who form 25 per cent of its population. The provisions of the Bhutan Citizenship Act, 1985, required both parents to be citizens for a person to be a citizen by birth. To get citizenship by registration required a person to be permanently domiciled in Bhutan on or before 31s' December, 1958. This provision was used with retrospective effect. A census carried out in the southern districts of Bhutan in 1988 declared all those who could not produce land tax receipts of 1958 as non-nationals, even if they were citizens under the earlier citizenship law. If they had land tax receipts of earlier or later years they were regarded as non-nationals. This was despite the fact under Bhutanese law nonnationals are not permitted to own land in Bhutan. The census categorised the Southem Bhutanese into seven types . Those who were not "Genuine Bhutanese" were regarded as illegal immigrants and forced to leave the country.

Background to fact-finding mission
The Bhutanese refugees groups for the last 3 years have been claiming that RGOB has been resettling people from northern Bhutan on the lands of the refugees presently in camps in Nepal. The refugee groups felt this had serious implcations on their right to return to the lands they had been evicted from in the early 1990s. They wanted an independent international organisation to look into these claims ande requested habitat international coalition to cinduct a fact-finding mission for this purpose.

The fact- finding mission
Habitat international Coalition undertook a fact-finding mission from 23rd September to 1st October, 2001, to verify the claims of the Bhutanese refugees that the RGOB is resettling people from northern Bhutan on the lands they have been eviced from in southern Bhutan. The two-member mission consisted of Me. Minar pimple, Social Scientist and housing rights expert, and Ms. Seema Misra, who has extensive experience with civil society work on human tights in south Asia.

The fact - finding team undertook following tasks:
1. Checking the claims of the refugees in 5relation to land and housing property in southern Bhutan based on records that were furnished.
2. Ascertaining the cureent situation regarding the properties of the refugees by gathering information from sources other than the refugees and by verigying this through a field visit to two districts in southern Bhutan.
3. Documenting information on the housing and land rights of the refugee community and determining compliance with international human rights standards.

Towards fulfilment of these tasks sthe fact- finding mission interviewed 17 refugee families from the camps in Nepal. The fact - finding team selected 7 refugee families (from those interviewed) to verity claims of resettlement of north Bhutanese on their land by visiting their villages in Bhutan.

Methodology

The fact-finding mission interviewed 17 refugee families from the camps in Nepal. The refugees were asked to give detailed information on when they had left Bhutan, reasons for leaving, how much land and housing property they owned, if they knew what had happened to their property in Bhutan and how they got this information, etc. Documents to ascertain their citizenship such as citizenship cards and land ownership documents including land tax receipts, house tax receipts. employment documents and other documents from the RGOB were checked in original and photocopies were obtained for the record.

In addition to making a general review of the state of resettlement, 7 refugee families from among those interviewed were selected, so that the FFT could visit their villages in Bhutan to verity their claims. Families belonging to 2 districts of Bhutan- Samchi (Samtse) and Sarbhang (Sarpang)- bordering India were chosen for relative security and access. Pinjuli and Chengamari villages in Samchi district and Gaylegphung (Gelephu) town and Lodarai and Lalai villages in Sarbhang district were visited. All these villages were entered from the bordering Indian villages. The land of the refugees was identified either by the Lhotsampa villagers who still lived there (inBhutan) or by theirfriends or relatives in the villages on the Indian side. These people were also interviewed to get the latest information on the situation in southern Bhutan.

If was not possible to speak to the northern Bhutanese settlers for security reasons and dut to the language barrier . For security reasons also it was not possible to speak with the Bhutanese officials within the country.

In addition to checking the claims of the refugees, the fact-finding mission also tried to get the information on the latest situation regarding the verification process going on in one of the refugee camps and the long-term plans and commitments if any of both the HMG, Nepal (where the refugees are presently situated), and the RGOB regarding repatriation of the refugees. For this purpose, the FFT met a wide range of people. These included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal; members of civil society in Nepal who have been involved with the Bhutanese refugee issues and leaders of the Southern Bhutanese refugee community.

After the visit to Bhutan and Nepal the FFT met the Counsellor and Press Secretary of the Embassy of Bhutan in New Delhi to get their response to the perliminary findings. FFT also met the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, in New Delhi to share the preliminary findings and to to understand India's stand on the Bhutanese refugees.

The FFT findings are not based on survey conducted through random sampling method but is done by using case study method though selection of sites for physical verification was done randoml by the team. To this extent, findings are indicative of the process under way.


CHAPTER 2

DATA


The FFT met 17 Southem Bhutanese refugee families at Damak in eastern Nepal. As outlined earlier, the data given below was collected through the process of interviews, verification of documents and then cross-checked with other sources. Field visits were made to villages of 7 families in Bhutan to physically verify the information and claims made by the refugees. Where possible, sources of information are indicated. In some cases, especially those living inside Bhutan, names have not been mentioned for security reasons. These are available with Habitat International Coalition.

This section has been divided into several parts, the first part contains personal information given by each family and information gathered in the villages visited. The other parts contain general information collected through the interviews with refugees and others, on the land survey system; the resettlement process; the expropriation of property of political dissents; problems of schooling; and the verification process taking place in one of the refugee camps.

(1) Interviews with head of the refugee families and verification of claims
SARBHANG DISTRICT
1) Hari Prasad Adhikari
Village: Satikharay; Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang; Tham
No: 350; 460; 515
Camp: Khudunabari B3/84

Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing: citizenship card, land tax receipts, certificate of valuation of a building, photographs of his house, letters of Dzongdah (district officer) regarding requisition of timber.

Other documents: motor vehicle trade license; photograph of truck that was seized, letter from Gaylegphug Dzongdah referring his status as a National Assembly member and telephone receipt.


Land and housing information
He had a house in Gaylegphug, which is 3 km from the Indian border. He had sold one half of the house to D.B. Subedi who was also a member of the National Assembly. He owns a hotel in Gaylegphug town called Ashoka Hotel, which he bought by taking a loan. He also has lands in Suray, which were farmed by hired help.

All his property was seized on 4 th or 5 th April 1991 and shortly afterwards on glh April his family was thrown out of the country. He said that now a person by the name of Dilliram Neopane lives in the portion of the house that he sold to D. B. Subedi. The government has taken over the other half of the house. After he was forced out of Bhutan, a tenant of his ran Ashoka Hotel for 2 years. Hari prasad Adhikari has heard that his hotel has now been auctioned and someone else is running it and he is not sure if it has the same name.

According to him, the northern Bhutanese resettlers are getting a lot of incentives from the government. The RGOB is paying for everything and providing a lot of facilities. There are about 200 house of resettlers in Lalai block.

Other information
Hari prasad Adhikari was a member of the National Assembly and a close associate of Tek Nath Rozal, the most prominent Bhutanese dissident leader. He (Me. Adhikari) represented the Gaylegphug sub-division in SArbhang district. He has a letter stating that he is a National Assembly member and is therefore exempted from compulsory labour. After being under constant surveillance and for all practical purposes under house arrest for 10 months. he escapef on 24th August 1990. His family left later and were not allowed to bring anything. THey left Only with the clothes they were wearing and the principal of Shyam Nursery School in Daantgari(Hatisar), Assam, India gave them shelter, Along with his house, his bank accounts, truck and rice mill were seized . His trick and rice mill have been auctioned. He showed photographs of his trick and house in Gaylegphug. He says that the RGOB thought him to be politically active in India and was therefore harsh with him.

He stressed that the findings of the FFT should be publicized in the media to pressurise the Indian policy makers to take a stand on the Bhutanese refugee issue. He said that the RGOB is playing the racial card. The Nepali speaking Population of Bhutan want their rights and properties as citizens. He said that the Lhotsampas have been living in southern Bhutan for more than a century. Thery were brought in large numbers to Bhutan from 1890 onwards to fight in the army against the British and were also the highest revfenupayers.

When asked if he wanted to go back, he said yes and said that the government should remove the resettlers from the land of the southern Bhutanese by giving them compensation.

Physical Verification
On 25th September, the FFT crossed over to Gaylegphug town in Bhutan from Hatisar village in Kokrajhar district of assam. A gate erected by the Bhutanese to mark the border separates Hatisar and Gaylegphug. THere are people constantly going back and forth between Gaylegphug and Hatisar by foot and other vehicles either for work, to the market or even for basic necessities such as water, schooling, etc. The FFT walked across the border and then from the Gaylegphug marketplace trvelled in a car accompanied by a resident of the town named A . The FFT saw Hari Prasad Adhikari's house, which is as he had mentioned about 3 km from the Bhutan-India border. It was easy to identify as Hari

Adhikari had shown a photograph of his house in Gaylegphug. THe house was also pointed by A who had accompanied the team. THe house is on the right side of the road While entering Gaylegphug market which has now been renamed Druk Hotel. The FFT also saw Shyam Nursery School at Hatisar where Adhikari's Family had taken shelter following their eviction from their home in Gaylgphug.

In a private dispensary in Hatisar in India the FFT met two other residents of Gaylegphug, B&C who verified the information given by Hari prasad Adhikari about his departure from Bhutan and the current status of his properties. THery confirmed that the sub Divisional Officer has taken half of Adhikari's house and that his hotel has been renamed.

2) Dilli Ram Bhatarai, son of padam Lal Bhatarai
Village: Lodrai; Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang; Tham No : 137, House No LR-83 Camp : Goldhap, Sector D1/51


Copies of orginal documents Submitted
Land and housing : 1958 land tax receipt, char kila18 land record of 1970 ; citizenship card of 1985 of self and wife; photograph of the house' land tax receipt of 1961, '65& '66 .


Other documents : receipt of fine for not wearing national dress.

Land and housing information
He has 8.50 acres of land in the village, out of which 2 acres was wetland and the rest dr y land. He had a two-storied and mud house with tile roofing . In 1991, he was forced to sign the Voluntary Migration Form (VMF) and was given 34,000/- Nu20 as compensation by the government for 8 acres of land and leve Bhutan. He and his wife had F1 citizenship 21 that is genuine Bhutanese, till 1985.

One year ago (in 2000) a man 22 had come to visit him in the camp from his former village and told him that a former Dungpa (Sub-Divisional Officer ) Oko Tshering from Chirang district has occupied his land. His house in the village has been demolished. According to Dilli Ram Bhandari now only half of the original Southern Bhutanese villagers remain, the rest have been forced to sign the VMF and leave Bhutan.

Other information
His Father and grandfather were born in Bhutan and his father is 60 years old now. His family came to the camp in Nepal in ASugust 1992, after being beaten and tortured and forced to sign the VMF. He used to work for the municipal corporation. His two brothers are still in Bhutan but not in the village. He said that the government had beaten people till they accepted responsibility for a crime whether they had committed it or not and he himself was also beaten.

He wants to go back to his village if there will be justice ("Nyaya hone se jane ka man kar raha hai") He said that he was a farmer and that was the only thing he knew. On being asked how wil he go to his land as others were occupying it, he replied if the government has settled people on our lands then it is the government's responsibility to remove them. He said that the Bhutanese government should be fair and impartial and not take sides in settling the refugee issue.

Physical Verificatio.
On 25th September the FFT visited Gaylegphug to vertify teh houses of people living in Gaylegphug and Lodrai. Dili Ram Bhattarai's house was seen on the same day as hari prasad Adhikari's As mentioned above the FFT drove to Gaylegphug town in a taxi accompanied by A. Lodarai village is on the main road about 5 minutes beyond the Gaylegphug municipality.

The local resident of GAylegphug A pointed out Bhattarai's broken house with a newly built house next to it. Bhattarai's house is on the left hand side of the road just beyond adhikari's house, which is on the right side of the road when driving up from the border gate. Both these houses were along the main road and can be seen from the car. It was not possible to get off and talk to people because even in a span of 10 minutes about 5-6 government vehicles drove past. In southern Bhutan houses in the village are not together, but each family builds their house on their fields. THis also made it difficult to tald to people in the villages as the houses were spread out .

B who spoke with the FFT in Hatisar confirmed that Bhattarai's house had been occupied by a former Dungpa (Sub Divisional Officer ).

3) Kul Bahadur Karki brother of Chandra Karki
Village : Lodarai, Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang. Tham No. 104 camp Goldhap Sector C4/78

Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1964 ; citizenship card, royalty tax receipt of 1988; land deed or tham.

Land and housing information
The land record is in his brother Chandra Karki's name. He has 3.85 acres of wet land; 6.60 acres of dry land and 10 decimal house plot. A total of 10.81 acres. He showed the land record of 1975.

The Dungpa of Gaylegphug has been givin their land and has made it a storehouse for cement poles. He got information from someone who goes back and forth between the village and the camps23 . The village had about 300 Lhotsampa households out of which 200 households became refugees. Only 100 households are remaining in the village. He says that the roadside land has been taken by "big people". On the other land the trees have become big and one cannot even tell that people lived there once.

Other information
Kul Bahadur's Family came to nepal in 1992. He was in Jail between 6/8//91 to 26/12/94 for being an anti-national. This has been written on his citizenship card. He was active in the 1990 demonstrations24. His brother Chandra Karki was also declared an anti-national for taking part in a rally and imprisoned. His citizenship card too has anti-national written on it.

On being asked what will he do now that the Dungpa was living in his house in Bhutan, he said that he would file a court case against the Dungpa. He felt it was the government's responsibility to send the resetled people back. He was very clear about wanting to go back to his village. "We have nothing in the camps". He also said "that we want our rights we want our human rights".

Physical verification
On 25th September the FFT went to GAylegphug town and lodarai village. THe local resident of Gaylegphug A who accompanied the FFT identified Karki's house at the same time as he did Adhikari's in GAylegphug town and Bhattarai's in Lodrai. Chandra Karki's House is on the same side of the road as Bhattarai's and when going up the road from the border gate it comes after Bhattarai's house.

B confirmed that Chandra Karki's land has been taken over by the Dungpa. The land has been transferred in the Dungpa's wife's name. They have leased part of the land to a hydel Project office for 10,000/- Nu. The office has been storing pipes and cement poles, etc.

4) Rabi lal Timishina
Village : Lalai, Block : Lalar; Distict : Sarbhang; Tham No : 111 ; House No : 56 . camp : Goldhap; Sector B2 / 8

Copies of orginal document submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1973; house insurance receipt 1990; land sale tax receipt of 1984; rural tax receip - 1990

Land and housing information
His family had 7 acres of land. The army burnt his parents house down in 1990 and they left Bhutan immediately afterwards. His family had taken part in a rally so the army beat them up and burn their house. He was working in Thimpu at that time as an electrician in a hospital. He rebuilt his house and lived there for one and a half years. THe army told him that all his family members were anti- national so he should also leave Bhutan. Moreover he would not be safe in Bhutan. His citizenship card was confiscated and he has no land records, except land tax receipt of 1973. He said that in 1988 he was in F1 category, that means a "genuine Bhutanese " and in 1991 he was put into category F5 . This made him "a non- national man married to Bhutanese woman " on the pretext that all his family was in India. He Left Bhutan and came to Nepal in 1992 .

He has been told that resettlers form the north have occupied his land and house. His father's and his houtse have been divided into 5 sections and north Bhutanese families are staying and farming there. The resettlers have been farming there since 1997 . He said that his village is on tha india-Bhutan border and across tha border is sthe indian village of Baghmara in Aaaam. THaw villagers from Baghamra come to the camp and give information about what has happened to their lands and houses. He has not been back himself , as he does not have the money to do so .

Other information
He is in the refugee camp with his parents, wife and brother. According to him there are about 500 Southern Bhutanese families from Lalai block in the 6 refugees camps in Nepal.

He wants to go back to Bhutan as soon as possible , he wants to get his won land back as it was very fertile. "it is my birth place we want to go back to the same place".

Physical verification
On 26th September 2001, the FFT visited the village of Baghmara in india and lalai in Bhutan. They have a common border and are separated by a amall stream that can be easily jumped across. The FFT walked a distance of 5-6 kms from Hatisar to Baghmara crossing about 4 rivers including the river taklai. The FFT was accompanied by Chandra Karki a Bhutasnese refugee from Lodrai village, near Gaylegphug, Bhutan, now living in Goldhap camp, and Bhakta Gimerey, another South Bhutanese refugee from Taklai, a block adjacent to Lalai Block of Sarbhang district and now living in Belangdi II camp.

Baghmara is a large village consisting of about 1100 households. There are about 200 Nepali families in the village and the remaining families are Bodo or Assamese. In Baghmara we met with E and F, both of Nepali origin and living in Baghmara. E gave general information about the eviction of the Lhotsampas from southern Bhutan and about the resettlement. F is a landless labouter and a cousin of one of sthe Bhutanese refugees interfiewed. He had asked Bhakta Gimerey to meet F in Baghmara. F goes to look for work almost everyday to Lalai. Of late the Bhutanese authorities are not allowing indians to work there.


F took the FFT to Lalai to See the resettlement on Rabi Lal Timishina's house and lands. Almost as soon as the border stream was crossed F pointed to a large empty pice of land and said that this used to be the market place and where the rice mill stood. After moving right and walking uphill for 10-15 minutes from the border, F pointed out RAbi Lal Timishina and his father's land. Paddy was being grown in the fields and the northern Bhutanese had occupied three house-one on Rabi Lal Timishina's father's land and two on his own land. All the houses had Buddhist Prayer flags in front of them. All the houses were close to each other. In the first house that F said was Rabi Lal's house, very small betel nut plants could be seen. Sccording to F, Rabi lal and his father's house have been partitioned and now 7 north Bhutanese families are staying there. Out of which the FFT saw three.


The FFT Saw a northern Bhutanese woman farming and an old man walking. Northern Bhutanese are easy to distinguish by their clothes as they wear the Gho and Kira, Their traditional dress. F also confirmed that Rabi Lal Timishna's father had to leave suddenly Cattle, Utensils, etc. On the way back from Baghmara at around 1 p.m. just after cressing the Taklai river the FFT saw one old northern Bhutanese couple from Danabari. They had come down to the forest on the indian side to graxe their cattle. THe woman was wearing the kira, the northern Bhutanese traditional dress, and they did not speak any nepali or Hindi.

E also informed the FFT that after the 1990 agitation all the houses in Lalai were destroyed and now whatever houses one can see are of resettlers. Even the 2-3% Lhotshampas houses remaining in the village are those that have been rebuilt. In 1990 the villagers ran away to Gaylegphug and other places but came back later to rebuild their houses.

A northern Bhutanese couple who the fact-finding team met on the way back form Baghmara to Hatisar. They have been resettled in Danabari village in Sarbhang district. They had come down to the Indian side to graze their cattle.


5) Ganga Ram Bhandari, age: about 70-75 years old
Village: Lalai; Block : Lalai; District : SArbhang ; Tharm No.60, House No : LL-47 camp : Beldangi LL, Sector A3/97

Copies of Original documents submitted
Land and housing : citizenship card of himself and tow wives of 1985; annual census form. Other documents: a petition to the Indian and Bhutanese government with a list of things left behind in the village lalai and a letter with reasons for leaving Bhutan.

Land and housing information
Has about 19 acres of land. Which is divided into two, 12 acres are below near the house and 6-7 acres above the village with betel nu, coconut and lemon trees. He had a three storied house. He ran a gracery shop from home. On 4th November 1990, he left his house and ran away from Bhutan. The army had cordoned his house saying that he had dangerous terrorist weapons- "aatank ka maal hai". He escaped through the fields to the border where two bullets were fired at him. THe army guarded his house for 7 days thinking he may come back. Then his house was burnt down. SEven houses were burnt at same time and this included rabiLal Timshina's house too. He knew the names of the other five people whose house had been burnt down around the same time.

He says Only a few Lhotsampas remain in the village-maybe one or two. He said that the villagers from the neighbouring Indian village of Baghmara have told him that a number of northern Bhutanese are living in the village. Earlier when the Lhotsampas lived in Lalai no northern Bhutanese lived in the village. An Indian businessman from Baghmara visits the camp occasionally and told him that an army camp has been built on his land.

Other information
Ganga Ram Bhandari said that he was attacked because he took part in the demonstration on 21st September 1990 . He had to leave everything behind in hid village in Bhutan such as cattle; 200 man.25 of grains; utensils; gold and silver. He has sent a written petition to the RGOB and Indian government. He lives in the camp with his 2 wives and a grand daughter. He wants to go back but wonders how he will go back as sthe northerners are occupying his land and property.

Physical verficaton
As mentioned above the FFT walked Hatisar to the Baghmara the Indian village that borders the vilage of Lalai in sarbhang district of Bhutan. Most of the information about living in the indian village of Baghmara.

F and chandra Karki, a Southern Bhatanese refugee accompanied the FFT to lalai and F pointed out Ganga Ram Bhandari's land on which his house stood. It was unoccupied and lying vacant with grass and shrubs growing. F also pointed out that army camp up on the mountain and said that it was built on Bhandarui's land where he grew fruit trees. THe army barracks is one of sthe first things that can be seen in Lalai village while walking from hatisar. There was a disagreement about on wghose land the army camp had been built. According to E it has been built on Krishna Dangal's land.

6) Kashi Nath Gimiray
Village : Beteni; Block Suray; District Sarbhang. Tharm No: 234, House No 56. camp: Goldhap; Sector C4/28

Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing : citizenship card of wife ; 2 photographs of the house; land and house tax receipt of 1939 ; land tax receipt of 1959; char kila document of 1960; Rural tax receipt 1991.

Land and housing information
Has 4 acres of land and 4 acres of orange and cardamom orchardss and 2 houses in the village. His house had electricity. In June 1991 he was forced to sign the VMF and given 32, 000/- Nu (He was asked to sign the VMF because his two sons were arrested by the government for being anti-nationals and terrorists. His other two sons had fled Bhutan. SThe RGOB declared his son a terrorist and asked him (Kashi Nath Gimiray ) to leave.

He has been told that a monastery has occupied one of his houses and that a north Bhutanese family lives in the other house. He has not gone back to his village since leaving Bhutan. But one of his sons lives in the same village but not on their land and he gave him this information. The son's family lives in the refugee camps. He said that out of 300 households in suray block about 240 are in the camps and about 70 north Bhutanese families have been resettled in the village.

He wants to go back to his own land that has been in his family for 4 generations. He wants to die on his own lasnd he said, "We have to go back to Bhutan as our land is there. THe government should remove the resettlers".

7) Devi Charan Chhetri
Village: Gairigaon; Block: Leopani ; District Sarbhang. Tharm No 19; House No: GG - 19
Camp : Goldhap , Sector A1 - 82

Land and housing information
He has 14.70 acres of land and 8 acres of orange and cardamom orchards in the village. He also has a two storied stone and mud house with asbbestos and G1 sheet roof. He took the cattle to graze in India from 1982-83. The govern ment raised this issue in 1991 during the census and categorised him F2 (returned migrant ) from F1 (Genuine citizen ) The government in 1991 seized his land. He was called to Sarbhang the district headquarters and was made to gove an impression of all his 10 fingers on a big form. He enquired as to why he was being asked to give his finger impressions when he had not committed any crime. The officials Only said that after these impressions he would have to leave the country within 15 days. They paid him. 45,000/- Nu when his property was worth 25 lakh (25,00,000) Nu.

His relative who still lives in the village and meets up with him occasionally told him that Dasho Karma From the north Bhutan has occupied his land and is harvesting his orange orchard. Devi Charan Chhran Chhetri was also informed that 5-6 northern Bhutanese families have settled around his land. The northern Bhutanese occupied his house as soon as he left the village. He himself has not gone back to the village.

From his block about 300 families left Bhutan, Only 22 FAmilies were left behind in the villages. He has heard that the resettlers have been given 5-10,000/- Nu by the government to build shelters.

**
Other information
Soon his property was seized,he went to Thimpu to appeal to the Home Minister to cancel the orders. He was referred to the Director.The Director asked the Sarbhang district officals to send all the papers regarding his case. After the investigation the Directos reinstated him and gave him jos citizenship back. The officials in Sarbhang were angry with him for having gone to Thimpu.They confiscated all his mother's papers and threatened him with imprisonment.So he left Bhutan on 16/6.92.

When asked if he wanted to go back he said that he has been dreaming of going back to his own house.He wanted to know if the FFT would help him go back to his house.

8) Devi Chandra Chapagai
Village: Phanphaney; Block: District: Sarbhang.Tharm No. 57;House:PP-19 Camp: G;odhap,SectorD4-30.

Copies of origanal documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax repeipt of 1962& 1990; house insurance of 1992; citizenship card receipt;land registration from.

Land and housing information
Has 3.70 acres of lanf in the village. Th e army came to his house and harassed his family regularly. They would tell him that he is Nepali so he should leave the country.He left Bhutan in end June 1992.They took away his citizenship card.A year after he left Bhutan,he went back to the village and no one was on his land . Now he has heard from a neighbour who came to visit last yer (2002) in December that a narthern Bhutanese is settled on his land .He says he wants to go back to his own land and whoever had brough the north Bhutanese there should take them back.

9) Amar Bahadur Manger, Son of Lal Bahadur Mangar
Village&Block:Bhur, POst: Gaylephug,District: Sarbhang.
Camp: Sanischare;Sector C4/10

Land and housing information
His family forced to sign the VMFand given 22,000/- Nu and evicted from Bhutan
byDasho Dungpa, the Sub Divisional Officer, in the 1992.The VMF from was in Dzongkha language, which they did not understand, They were made F7 category-non nationals-after the census as they had land tax receipts of a1955 and 1985 of a village in Chirang, where they lived before moving to Bhur. But they did not have receipts from 1959-68 as they had moved to Bhur.They have land tax receipt for Bhur from 1968 onwards. His younger brother Mitra Lal was in custody for 4 months and when he was released the family was asked to sign VMF,as he waas an activist.

Their neighbours told them that their land is now in the occupation of Major Hemant Gurang of Royal Bhutan Police.He has been resettled there by the government.
10) Hari Ghorshai,son of lt. Padam Ghorshai
Villaage: Maintar, Bliock: Gaylephug,District.Tharn No484,House No: MT/125.Camp : BelanggdiII Extension,Sectior A4-12

Land and housing information
Has 4 acres of land and 10 acres of cardamom orchards.In 1991 he was made F7 category that is a non -national (migrant or illegel settler ).Before this he had a citizenship card, which was confiscated. The reason for making him F7 was that he had land tax receijpt of 1948-1955 and from 1959-91. The lcrucial 1958 receipt was missing which was taken as the sole evidence for granting them citizenship. He said that they did not have a land tax receipt for 1958 because that year they were asked to work at the road construction site by the government and in return there was an exemption from land tax that year. His father was threatened and forced to sign VMF and was given 55,000/- Nu for his property by the Dasho Dungpa,Late Chhimmi Dorji of Gaylephug.After signing the VMF theey were given 7 days to leave the country. ON the sixth day the new occupants took over the house,his own family sat outside for one day and one night.

The person who has occupied his famili's land deposited money at the Dungpa office. This person is a retred army man from Chaubari (Jigmiling) police training center.He is a relative of the Dungpa and of the well known furniture businessman in Gayltschen.Hari Ghorshai said that earlier there were no northern Bhutanese in his village.


SAMCHI DISTRICT
11) Lal Bahadur Bista
Village Chengmari;Block: Chengmari; District: Samchi; Tharm No: 116;House No. F1=07
Camp: Khudnabari, Sector D3/63-64


Copies of original documents submitted:
Land and housing : Land registration from of 1960.

Land and housing information
Had 4.70 acres of land in the village, with 480 betel 480 betel nut trees. In September 1992 he was taken to the district office where he was made to give his impression on a paper and was given 7000/-Nu26 .the officials asked him to leave the country as they had given him expenses for the hourney.The officials told him that if he did not go now no one would take responsibility for his safety later.The village headman scared him by saying that they will burn his house with him inside.He sid many people were evicted from their homes in his villages like this and he named some of them. His village had 72 households and about half had to leave and eventually came to campa in Nepal. Before the evictions,There were no northern Bhutanese living in Chengmari.

Since the last 3 years, a northern Bhutanese has been occupying his house and land.the government has put him there.A close relative of his (Bista's) who still lives in Chengmari gave him this information.

He said that when the Southern Bhutanese were evicted,all the electricity poles were broken and taken away in trucks by the government.The government is now reconstructing the village with the forced labour of the Southern Bhutanese.they also had to clear land for the nrthern Bhutanese resettlers.According to him the resettlers have been given bamboo for th e houses and 3000/-Nu.they have also been given tin sheds. New facilities such as water and electricity have been provided to them and roads have been constructed. He said that the resettlers and the original villagers do not Bhutanese.the land is divided into segments and numbered,and a lottery held.

Other information
He left Bhutan on 19th September 1992 and atayed in India.He came to camps in 1993.He said that he was targeted because he participated in the 1990 demonstration, thought he had not been too active. After the 1990 demonstration the village headman and Sub Divisional Officer ordered him to keave the country.He left the country with members of his family.

On being asked if he wanted go back he said yes but did not know what to do people are settled on his land.But he is clear that he wants to go back to the land he has tilled.

Physical verification
ON 28th September 2001, the FFT visited Chengmari village in Samchi district to verify the resettlement on Lal Bahadur Bista's land and house.

The FFT travelled by road to the Changmari Tea in Jalpaiguri District of West Bwngal in India.there is a Chengmari village onthe Indian side on the Chengmari Tea Estate, ehich borders tha Bhutanese Chengmari village.The 2 villages have a common makeshift boundary -a fence made of bamboo poles.The fence seems as if it separates two fields. It is difficult to tell where the Indian village ends and the Bhutanese village beings.Badri Thapa a resident to of the Indian Chengmari village, accompanied the FFT to Bhutanese side.the Chengmari village in Bhutan is a big spread -out village and a broad metalled road like a highway divides the village into two.One part below the road and the other above the road.Below the road a number of houses occupied by the northern Bhutanesse with prayer flages in frontof them can be seen.One northern Bhutanese house can been seen on the other side of the road directly below Lal Bahadur Bista's house.


Lal Bahadur Bista's house is a 10 -minute walk up from the road.Badri Thapa pointed out Lal Bahsdur Bista's housse.There wereBuddhist prayer flags in front of the house.As the FFt walked upwards tryping to get closer to the house,They came upon a small cluster of peepul trees which is a place of ancestral worship.This cluster is to a tap house when looking at the house from the road .Right next to the cluster of trees is a tap where a northern Bhutanese family - one man two woman -were bathing .the man spoke with Badri Thapa and enquired what the FFT was doing.Badri Thapa informed the FFT that was the family that lived in Lal Bahadur Bista's house and the man belonged the police or the army.

the FFT requeated the wife of the headman of the village,who is a Lhotsmpa,to come to the Indian side to talk to them, but she refused to do so.

Testimonies of the villsgers
The FFT spoke with 6 man from the village on the Indian side. They all know Lal Bahadur Bista. According to these people a policeman's brother is occupying Lal Bahsdur Bista's house for the last 2 years and not policeman himself. These men confirmed that Lal Bahadur had to leave Bhuatan for Nepal in 1992 after the agitation. They also confirmed that Lal Bahadur Bista's daughter Yashoda still lives in Chengmari and is married to Gana Bahadur Paurel.ON enquiring if it was possible to meet the daughter,they said that she lived on the other end of the village which was far away. The villagers told the FFT that Lal Bahadur Bista's father's house has now been given to 4 northern Bhutanese familise.One of villagers, Rajkumar Chhetri, said that most of the new settlers did not speak Napali.One of the northern Bhutanese told him that were here on a temporary basis.

12) Pokchi Maya Chhetri,age 52 years
Village: Pinjui, Block: Sibsoo; District: Samchi.Tharm No;House No PB 16
Camp:Khudunabari; Sector BI/77.

Copies of documents submitted
Land and housing: land tax receipt 1978; house insurance receipt 1987.
Other documents: school fees receipt of 1988.

Land and housing information
She has 4 acres of land in Pinjili which she inherited from her father. She also had 150 betel nut trees . When she was 14 years old the land was divided between her and her sister. All the land documents used to be kept with her brother-in -law and uncle. The brother-in las'w house caught fire and the records were burnt. In the census she was asked to produce her 1958 document. She tried explaining but they would not listen. The Dungpa said that because she did not have her 1958 document she would have to sign some documents and leave the country. She was given 10,840/-Nu. when she signed VMF and her husbands's and her citizenship cards were taken away. She said that she dismantled her main house and brought the roof and wood with her.

She has learnt from reliable sources in her village that north Bhutanese people have built a house on her neighbour's land and are cultivating her land. She was told by her sources that the north Bhutanese have settled on her land only a month ago. She said that from her village about 30-35 Lhotsampa households have moved to the refugee camp in Nepal and about half still remain in the village. On enquiring if she knew of any facilities the resettlers had got. she said that the resettlers do not know Nepali and the Lhotsampa villagers are scared to talk to them.

Other information
She said that she came to Nepal 9 years ago. Her husband has land in a different village with his brothers, but he lived in her village. After leaving Bhutan they stayed in India for some time. On being asked how ling she had liver in Bhutan she said that she and her husband were born there. Her husband's father was from Barach and her father was from Pinjuli.

She wanted to go back to Bhutan as it was her country. When the FFT enquired about the rerettlers,she said that that government has settleed them there and the government will have to take them back.She said that the herself may die soon but would want her children to live on their land in Bhutan. She said that her wish was to die on her own land.

Physical verification
On 28th September 2001,the FFT team visited Pinjuli to see the resettlement by northern Bhutanese on Pokchi Maya Chhetri's land.

The FFT drove through Nagarkata and Taljora and then reached the Hope Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal.From the Hope Tea Estate Abadi no 1 on the Indian side the FFT walked down to the river Jiti and crossed the river,which had chest high water. The Jiti river forms the boundary between India and Bhutan. From the river the FFT crossed a few more rivers including the Sibsoo and walked uphill for our hour (about 5-6 km) to reach Pinjuli village.

The FFT was accompanied by Bhukta Gimirey and Madhu,both of whom are Bhutanese refugees living in the refugee camps in Jhapa district in Nepal, and a few adivasi boys being lived in Saaboti village in block of Samchi district with their families before being forcibly removed from their village.IOne of the boys said that they were asked ti leave their village in 1992 for the green belt plantation. He said that grandfathers had been born there. These boys now live at the Hope Tea Estate in India and di casual labour.

Below Pinjili lies Hangay village,which now only 2 adivasi families living there. While walking uphill from Hangay to Pinjili the army camp with a few low building and prayer flags, could be seen above pinjuli.

A few asdvasis and Lhotsampa families still live in Pinjjili.In Pinjili village the FFT first crossed 2 adivasi house and a few Nepali soeaking houses begore reaching Pokchi Maya's house.D who still lives in Pinjili took the FFT to Pochi Maya's house and identfied it.Buddhist prayer flags could be seen in front of Pokchi Maya's house. The roof of the looked new,which confirmed what she said about dismantling the roof and bringing it with her to the refugee camp to use. The FFT also noticed that the main house faced east and smaller structure that Pokchi Maya called the kitchen faced south. This was confirmed by Pokchi Maya when FFT met her after the Pinjili visit.the FFT drew the layout of the housse for her.

Below Pokchi Maya's land and house we saw another house occupied by a north Bhutanese family and saw the whole family-men women and young daughters-workong in the fields. the Lhotsampa families who still live in the village told Madhu and Bhakta that the resettlers have been given phones to inform the Bhutanese authorities as soon as any outside enters the village.It was not possible to confirm this.

In Hangay village the FFT spoke with G whose is one of the two families still living there.G said he was born in Hangay. Eight adivasi families in Hangay have left the villagte after being forced to sign the VMF.G's sons are in Khudunabari camp in Nepel.According to G two northern Bhutanese families came to settle here but went away as the crops were being constantly damaged by the elephants.

13) Krishana Maya Rizal age 64 years
Village : Ghumauney; Block: Ghumauney; District: Samchi.Tharm No:262; House No.D2-17
Camp: Lhudunabari,Sector A1-52
Documents seen by FFT : land tax receipt of 1965.

Land and housing information
Had 6 acres of land and about 3 acres of orange orchards and bamboo plantations. The land was in her husbadn's name, after he died it was transferred to her name. When her husband was alive there was a dispute with simeone over the land, which she settled by giving that man some of her land.

During the 1991 census, the census official told her that he needed her citizenship card as there was some problem with the tham number. initially she refused to give the card but finally agreed. When she went the next day he did not give it and like this kept delaying it. The camp shifted to another village - Lamtai- and she went there too. Finally the official came to her house and told her that he had lost the citizenship card.

Later the village officials cassed her and told her that there was an order for her to leave the village. She wanted to go to meet her daughter in Thimpu and take her help to fight this order. but she did not get a pass to go to Thimpu. She got a pass only for the district. She was given 6 days to leave or the army would come to move her and it did. She was made to sign the V MF and was given 25,000/- Nu as "journey expenses " . The FFT asked her the market rate of land. She said that it was 10,000/- Nu per acre of wet land and out of the 6 acres of land she had, 5 acres were wet land.

About 8 months the FFT visit, indians who live in the village across the border from her village in Bhutan had come to the camp. They told her some people from northern Bhutan have built a house right where her house was. Across the border her village is the Gathia Tea Estate. She said that on e Gobind Sardar's nephow Arjun told her this. She said that the entire village has been evicted and onloy on pandit (priest ) family remains in th village. Most have signed VMF.

Other Information
She came to Nepal 8 years ago . Her elder son worked in Bhutan Oil Distribution away from the village. In 1990 the Dungpa told her sthat her son had joined a political party outside the country and so she should also leave the country. She refused to go , so as a punishment she was asked to crry 10 truckloads of stones from the river bank Kunchidaina to the Ghumauney market. She said that she still has marks on her head because of this.

On being asked if she wanted to go back, she said, "If I can get back to the land, drink water of the land, tell my children of the boundaries of the land and die on the land then I will be happy. " She was very clear that she wanted to go back to the same land. She said that " From the age of 4 I have cleared the land So I want this land only . I will not go anywhere else, Only on that land. "

14) Harka Bahadur Rai aged 32
Village: Jangatar; Block: Biroo; District; Samchi. Tharm No. 63; House JT-10 Camp: Khudunabari; Secto E2/20-21


Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1958 & 1991 ; citizenship card ; Photograph of the house ; land distribution (amongst brothers ) letter.

land and housing information
had a little over 6 acres of land (including wet, dry and fallow ) and orange and cardamom orchards. One of his brothers fearing his safety had left the country one month before the 1990 demonstrations. On February 3rd 1993 his family were asked to either produce their brother or leave the village. The authorities called his brother an anti-national as he had left the country. Since they could not find the brother they took his photograph to the police, and their name was removed from the scensus records. They were forced to sign the VMF and given 45,000/- Nu. Harka Bahadur Rai said that the market value of his property was worth 10 lakh (10,00,000/-) Nu.

He was told a month ago (before FFT visit), that a north Bhutanese has settled on his land. He does not go to his village. A man living in Jhalung No.2 on the Indian side had come to camp and told him about the resettlement. After that his grandfather Bir Bahadur Rai died in camp on 15th September this year (2001). His aunt (father's sister) who also lives in Jhalung No.2 had come to the camp to attend his grandfather's death ceremony. She too informed him about the resettlement. He showed the FFT a photograph of his house in Bhutan that had been destroyed when he left the village. His elder brother who still lives in the village took the photograph.

He said that about 10-11 families from his vilage in Bhutan live in his camp, bnut they hjad not heard of their land being occupied. Land in a different part of his village called Biroo Khola has been occupied by northern Bhutanese.

Other information
For 3 months his family had to do forced labour-carry stones from the river to build a road and a police camp, because their brother was "anti-national " . His mother also had to carry the stones. There are 14 members of the family in camp .

On enquiring if he wanted to go back to Bhutan, he replied that it was obvious that he wanted to, that is why he had come to meet the FFT. He categorically stated that he wants to go back to the land he owned before he became a refugee. He added, "My father was born there and my grandfather went there when he was 1 year old. My family had been on the same land for the last 90 years. "

15) Lok Nath Sharma Koirala. Aged 60-65 years
Village: Katusey; Block: Tendu; sDistrict: Samchi. Tharm No 137, House no: KT-20 Camp: Khudundabari, Sector G2/54-55

Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing: citizenship car; land tax receipt 11958&1991; tax receipt for cardamom Plantations of 1975

land and housing information
Has 10 acres of land and a two-storied house in the village. In April 1993 he was ordered to leave the country because he was told that he belonged sto F-7 category, that is a non-national and could not live in Bhutan. So he left for Nepal. He does not know why he was made F-7. He was born there and so were all his other brothers and sisters.

He has relatives on the indo-Bhutan border and they have told him that their land and house have been taken by the north Bhutanese. He does not go to his village in Bhutan. His relatioves live in Parentar in India across Tendu (his village ) with the river Jhalaka flowing in between. Many People from the camps keep going to the border vilages. He said they have heard several more northern Bhutanese families have come to the village but do not know on whose land.

he said that the village was his birthplace and he wanted to go back to his own place. On being asked how he would as people were occupying his land. He said he did not know anything but just wanted to go back to his land.

16) Dili Ram sharma, son of Bhuwani Shankar Sharma
Village : Hangay; Block: Lahareni; District Samchi; Tharm No 78, House No. K37 Camp Beldangi III Sector A1/41. Father lives in Beldangi II S ector C4-67.

Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1958 & 1990

land and housing information
Father and son together owned 12 acres. Dili Ram was asked to leave the country at once on 12th january 1993 as his son had fled the village. When asked to leave Dili Ram appealed to the Dungpa to be allowed to stay on even if his son had left. The Dungpa asked him to contact the district officials. When he dis not the Dungpa told him to officially disown his son. He refused to do so and was sforced to sign V MF and given 28,200/- Nu. The form he filled had 11,000/- Nu written against 3 acres of paddy landdy land. When he said that this was not enough money. The Dungpa told him they have to give lots of people money so this is all he would get.

The village also had adivasi families who lived harmoniously with the rest of the village. THe adivasis left because their neighbours were leaving .

Someone Dili Ram Sharma Knew, went to their village in Bhutan 15 days before sthe FFT visit. He visited the village surreptitiously at dusk and told dili Ram that his paddy field was being cultivated by a northern Bhutanese with one eye. When Dili Ram himself went to the border a year ageo (2000) he was told his land was occupied and fields being cultivated by 2 northern Bhutanese families. He said that some people say that that there are about 7 northern Bhutanese families settled in the village while some say 9 families. Only 4 families left Bhutan from the village. He has been told that there are problems between the new settlers and the villagers. For example if the cattle strays into the north Bhutanese land they kill it at once.

Other information
Came to Nepal on 12/1/93. They were asked to leave the country as his son had fled the village. His son was a teacher and in the evening he would attend meetings for the movement. He fled because he heard rumours of people being Killed. A close friend of his had been killed by the government so he got scared. The Dungpa asked him to go to the district and plead his case. He did not have the courage to go to the district and meet the big officials. he had heard that rich, well-known people who go to samchi have been tortured and beaten, so he was scared worse would happen to him.

He wants to go back to his land in Bhutan. He said that it was his land so it is his wish to go back to it, but he could not just get up and go there. An environment needs to be created for this. The people who have been settled on his land have to be removed from there. If she government gives refugees other land then they will be evicted again.

17) Gopi Lal Khawas Bhujel, son of jai Bahadur Bhujel
Villag: Sivalaya ; Block : Sibsoo ; District : Samchi . Tharm No. 192; House No. SL/15 Camp : Beldangi I, Sector B3/349

Copies of orginal documents submitted
Land and housing: land tax receipt - 1948; 1951,'55,'58,'81,; citizenship card; selfdrawn detailed map of the village showing his land.
Other documents: service appointment letter.

land and housing information
Has more than two and a half acres of land and 150 betel nut trees in the village. In 1992 his father and grandfather came to Nepal after they were forced to sign the VMF and given 26,000/- Nu for 5 acres of land. Beside the cultivable land they had some jungle land also. From his village about 15 households have left Bhutan.

Since the last one year a northern Bhutanese family has been resettled on his land. he has not been back to his village since he left. But one of his sisters Padma kumari who lives in Beldangi II camp visited his other sister Chandra Maya who lives in a village on the indo-Bhutan border- Morphani village in D arjeeling district in India. Padma kumari told him of the norht Bhutanese resettlers.

Other information
He used to work in Gaylegphug town in the power department. He had taken part in the 1990 demonstration. after which the Lhotsampas were harassed a lot. He wants to go back to his land. He has drawn a detailed map of his village and marked out his lands. He said they have not harmed or troubled the Bhutanese government so why should they not go back. His family has not spent the money thaty they got dat the time of VMF but put it in a bank and do not touch it. They feel when they go back to Bhutan they will be asked dto return it.

II) The system of land survey
Tek Nat Rizal explained the system of land records to the FFT. This helped in getting a bette undrestanding of the land documents that the FFT were looking at.

Tek Nath Rizal is one of the most revered Southern Bhutanese dissidents. He was imprisoned by the Bhutanese government for 11 years for speaking in support of the Southern Bhutanese and released in November 1999. He is a former National Assembly and Royal Adcvisory Council member. He now lives in one room of Hotel Himalaya in Phutsoling in Bhutan. All his properties had been seized by the government when he wasw imprisoned and have not been returned to him after he was released.

Before a proper survey was done. the people had land records called "Char Kila "27 which described the position of land according to whose land or what was situated in the 4 corners of the land. The Char Kila was signed by the Sub Divisional Officer and witnesses. This was the registration form. In 1960 chain survey . The chain survey is a very inaccurate and crude way of surveying land. THe cadastral survey which is a more accurate method of measuring land was done in the late '80s. In 1976 the king had told the Southern Bhutanese people that they should occupy fallow land next to them and grow cash crops, plant trees and earn money. The cadastral survey showed that people had more land than what was written in their land records. The land Act, 1979 made the land ceilling limit 25 acres. In most cases, the fallow land that people had grown trees on plus the land on which their houses stood was according to the cadastral survey, in excess of 25 acres. the officials accused the people of cheating the king by showing less land and beat them up .

Section 4.3 of the land Act of 197928 stipulates that if the land under any owner with the four boundaries not properly defined is found inexcess of the registered quantity during the re-survey of the land, such excess would be added to the registered land of the owner . But the owner would have buy the extra land from the government plus spay the tax of sthe excess land right from the day of its cultivation. This was too harsh a penalty for an ordinary . farmer. It was normal to own land in excess of the registered quantity due to a faulty and inaccurate measuremnet system prevalent prior to the eighties. The fault was of the inaccurate survey system . Tek Nath Rizal had then tried to convince the government in the national Assembly that if the land was in excess let the people pay fine and keep the land.

(III) Resettlement

B a local resident of Gaylegphug; Tek Nath Rizal and E from an Indian village on the indo Bhutan border and other Southern Bhutanese refugees gave detailed information on the resettlement process. Both Tek Nath Rizal and B still live in Bhutan and have a lot of information on the mood of the people.

B explained the resettlement Process. He said that there are two types of people coming to live in the lands of the evicted Southern Bhutanese. People from the north being given land in kasho or gift because the king is pleased with them. These are usually well-off people and from the army or the police. Besides Kasho, landles northern Bhutanese are being resettled on the land of the southern Bhutanese. In each district a list of landless is taken out and then land in south Bhutan is allotted to them . E said that in Lalai village amongst the resettlers about 80% are landless people and some retired army people.

Often Southern Bhutanese labour uses to clear the land and prepare it for the resettlers. E said that to clear the jungles for the north Bhutanese resettlers about 1000-1500 Indian Labourers from Baghmara were employed in 1997-98.

There is a change in the structure of the village in southe bhutan after the arrival of athe resettlers. Earlier the Lhotsampas constructed their houses on their firels, so the houses vere spread throughout the village. Now the resettlers have their houses together in a cluster in the village and the land that cultivate is away from sthe homes. Tek Nath Rizal pointed out that one person's land is being levelled and distributed to 3 different people and this was spoiling the land.

according to B the people who are resettled have the land in their name now. But the government has asked them not to make permanent concrete structures, Only make Kutcha Houses. He does not know why and his interpretation is that the government is aware that they may have to ask the resettlers to leave at a later stage. Even those who have got land in Kasho are not allowed to sell land.

Tek Nath Rizal also pointed out that RGOB was changing the names of the villages in southern districts. Some names of places were totally changed and others were modified so that it sounded like names of northern villages with Dzongkha names. This meant that over time no records of these villages it would not be on records. for example, Bhakta Ghimirey told the F FT that the name of D anabari village in Lalai block of Sarbhang district has been renamed Chuzagang . 29
Presence of north Bhutanese in South Bhautan before resettlement.

All theree of them-Tek Nath Rizal, B&E, in separate discussion with the FFT - said that before the evictions of the Southern Bhutanese there were almost no northern Bhutanese living in Southern districts of Bhutan. According to them only Nepali speaking people lived in southern Bhutan. According to them only Nepali Speaking People lived in Southern Bhutan. Even the Bhutanese refugees who were interviewed said this. E said that the northern Bhutanese have been resettled in Lalai Only for the last 2-3 years, since 1998. Between 1991 and 1998 all the land remained empty and had become a jungle and often elephants would come. Ganga Ram Bhandari a resident of Lalai who lives in the refugee camp said that before they had been evicted there were no north Bhutanese living in their village.

Tek Nath Rezal said that Indian government officials who worked in different capacilties at district level in Bhutan such as agriculture, amimal husbandry or the engineering department would be able to testify if there were any northern Bhutanese in south Bhutan. He said most of the departments were any northern Bhutanese in south Bhutan. He said most of the departments were run by Indian oficials.

The RGOB claims that the resettlement of landless is not new but has been going on since 1974. Tek Nath Rizal has countered this claim by pointing out that the earlier settlement of landless was done on government land ad not on previously occupied lands by making the forme5r occupants homeless. THe other king of settlemet6 was when members of the royal family were given forest land the they got people from the north or the south to help clear land for them and would settle these labourers on the land gifted to them .

Condition of the resettlers
According to E the resettlers in Lalai village have not created any problems for the Baghamara villages (Indian Village on the border). they (the resettlers) are having a very difficult time. They are from the north where it is cold and they are not used to the heat of the terai foothills. They are also not used to water. Six people were washed away in the river in the first year. Besides there is a lot of malaria in this area which they are not used to. The north Bhutanese cannot farm and the labour from Baghmara does the farming for them on batai (share cropping).

Of late the bhutanese government has not been allowing Indian labourers into Bhutan. According to E the resettlers wanted to return but were persuaded by the RGOB not to go . He says that each family was given a Phillips radio as an incentive to stay. B also said that the resettlers in Lalai and Danabari had been given a lot of facilities as incentives for resettling there. But the resettlers in Lodarai had not got anything.

B said that the resettlers were not happy that they had been given land of evictees. They were worried about what will happen to them when the refugees return to claim their own lands. Tek Nath Rizal said that he too had information that the north Bhutanese settlers were told that they were being given vacant land. When they reached the lands allotted to them they found orchards and guessed that other people lived there. This makes them upset and they feel that the children of the original owners will come and fight with them. Apparently they have petitioned the the King to change their land.

The resettlers are also worried about the situation across the border in India relating to ULFA militancy. There has been a concern that the ULFA are setting up camps in south Bhutan. E said that the new settlers are acared as they have been told that there will be fighting with the ULFA and able-bodied persons should stay and the rest leave. Tek Nath Rizal also said that he had heard of similar information being given to the resettlers. The resettlers were being warred about the war with the ULFA and had been told all the tough people will be recruited in the army. B said that the dzongdag or district officer Dorjee in a public meeting in Gaylegphug told the resettlers to go back as there would be a war with ULFA and to return only when it is over.

Desecration of holy places due to resettlement
Tek Nath Rizal was concerned about the desecration of holy places of the Lhotsampas in their villages in Bhutan. It was customary for the Lhotsampas to have holy places in their village where they either did devi puja31 or had remembrance stones for their ancestors or a peepul tree grove where they prayd. The north Bhutanese settlers do not realise the significance of these holy places and either tie animals in these places or have made toilets in these places and this hurts the sentiments of the people. For example the tulsi mandir32 made by Tek Nath Rizal as a memorial for his mother in his village Lamidara in Chirang district has become a pig pen. The pen. The peepul grove ehere they prayed and tied threads to the trees has been cut down. He said that this had also happened in Dhansay and Kaligaon in chirang district.

(iv) Exproriation of property
The property of political activists and prisoners was seized when they were imprisoned and has not been given back to them after they were relesed. This creates a lot of hardship for these people, making day to day survival problematic as some of them still live in Bhutan.
Hari Prasad Adhikari who lives in Khudunabari refugee camp had his immovable property and bank account seized. His truck and his rice mill were auctioned.
B said that D. B. Sudedi who lives in Gaylegphug town was imprisoned along with his 3 sons in gaylegphug jail from 1990-94. His immovable property that he had bought on his own was seized along with his Maruti vehicle. He was a National Assembly member for 8 years. He has also not been given his gratuity as yet.

Tek Nath Rizal was released in December 1999 after 11 years of imprisonment. He was granted a yoyal pardon because had not physically carried out acts of violence and terror. he says that if the government has released him because he had not done anything wrong, so then why had they not given his property back. He has land in Lamidara village in Chirang district and property in Gaylegphug. He has 4 houses where his forefathers lived and these have been reportedly demolished. His land in Lamidara has been given to the uncle of the ing. The commercial property in Gaylehphug was on l loan of 40,000/- Nu. since his release in December 1999 he has been living in a small room in Hotel Himalaya in Phuntsoling town .

There are many others whose properties have been seized and not returned. C said that parashuram Ghimerey, Padam Lal Lnuiytel and Chet Bahadur Wakhley from Surey Villege in Sarbhang district have not got their seized property back.


(V) Schooling
The FFT was informed about the problems of schooling faced by children in South Bhutan pariticularly Lhotsampas. Most of them study in the bordering Indian towns and villages.

B said that a "No Objection Certificate " Or NOC is required in Bhutan for almost everything without NOC it is difficult to do anything in Bhutan - Such as get a license to do business; get contracts; get school admissions or benefit of other services. There is a big well maintained primary and high school in Ga;ylegphug just @ km from the border which the FFT saw while going to Lodrai. If anyone has been to jail or one member of the family is in India then it is difficult to get NOC. B said that about 400-500 Lhotshampa children from Bhutan go every day across the border to Hatisar on the Indian side to attend school as their parents do not get the No Objection Certificate.

C said that the northern Bhutanese also require NOC for their children's school admission but the difference is theat it is very easy for them to get this. He was made to run around from one department to the other for an NOC for his children's school and then finaloly told that there is no place in their school for the children.

Pradeep Chhetri a resident of Hatisar and indian village which borders the town of Gaylegphug confirmed that Lhotsampa children come every day to study in schools on the Indian side, His family has been living in Hatisar for about a century. His 3 children and his brother's 2 children study at a private school in Hatisar called Navjyoti School run by a man from Kerala. According to pradeep and his family about 80 percent of the children in the school are from Gaylegphug across the border.

E of baghmara vuillage said that a school was coming up 3 km away near the Danabari army camp. THe children of Lhotsasmpas are not allowed in the schools if they have any member of their family in refugee camps. F whom the FFT met near pinjuli village in Sibsoo Block of Samchi district, Bhutan said that the children of people who took part in the 1990 drmonstrationare not given admission in schools.

(VI) Verification

The verification process to cherck if the refugees in the camps are genuine Bhutanese or not, began in Khudunabari camp in March 2001 . As of now, Khudunabari camp is the Only one where verification has taken place . AThe verification is a bilateral process

between RGOB and the HMG Nepal. There is a joint verification team (JVT) of the 2 governments which interviews families and makes them fill a verification form 33 . In October 1993 both the governments had agreed on 4 categories into which people in refugee camps would be classified, THese categories are : 1 ) Bona fide Bhutanese and 4 ) Bhutanese who have cmmitted criminal acts. THere are supposed to be a number of stages after the verification, such as categorization ; harmonization and then repatriation of the refugees. Since the memorandum of undrestanding between the two governments is not a public document, it is not certain which stage will follow verification and there is no indication as to when repatriation of the refugees will take ploace. The last few families and individuals of Khudunabari were interviewed for verification on 13th December 2001 .

The get a complete view on the verification process and its implications and the experiences of the refugees the FFT spoke with tek nath Rizal; the refugees inthe camps, some of whom had gone through the verification process ; R.B. Basinet formerly in-charge of th national budget and now the president of a political party, Bhutan National Democratic Party; the UNHCR in jhapa where the camps are located and the Kathemandu office; and the foreign Secretary of Nepal.

Tek Nath Rizal said that the Nepal and Bhutan governments connot and should not talk to each other about the refugee issue without including the refugees. He felt that the verification forms do not ask for enough information about the property of the refugees. He felt that to get the complet picture,verification should be done in a workshop or camp-style with the whole village sitting together where details about the refugees land should be asked, such as, where was their land, how did they get to their village, what did they grow , who were their neighbours, etc. He feels that after verification the Bhutan governmetn will nor bring the refugees back but will think of some other broblem. His opinion is that verification and repatriation should lead people back to their own place and not anywhere else.

A meeting with the representatives from the different refugee camps was held in Damak, Jhapa, Nepal on 29th September 2001. There were 8 people present at the meeting some of whom were form Khudunabari camp and had gone through the verification process.

The refugees present said that they were not happy with the process of verification. There was no representation of the UNHCR and the refugees themselves in the whole verification process. One person who had just been through the joint verification process said that not enough information about their property was aske, THe JVT only wanted information on where their lands were located. all the refugees present felt that the whole issue of repatriation should be joined with verification process. One of them said that when "the joint verificatrion " has started they had told the Nepal governmetn and the UNHCR that information on the property should be included. They were told by the UNHCR and the Nepal government that they were not finding out anything besides whether the refugees were Bhutanese or non-Bhutanese. According to the Nepal government the refugees should discuss and settle the rest of the issues when they got back to Bhutan. The refugees said that the Nepal government had told them that they were taking part in the exercise because the Bhutan government was saying that they are not Bhutanese, but they (Nepal government) believed them to be refugees.

Another refugee from Khudunabari said that they were all expelled from the country by the government on different pretexts. Now sit was easy for the RGOB during verification to ask why they had been expelled or reasons sfor coming out. He said, "Our stories are long and when we begin to explain and talk about repression of the Bhutanese government the verification team asks us to stop ".

The refugees said that they wanted to go back to their original properties, where they lived. One of them felt that there was no point telling the verification team where they came from if people are resettled there. bacause where will they (refugees) go .

There was a general feeling amongst the people that the Bhutan government was trying to prolong the process. They felt it was not difficult to identify Bhutanese as it was a small country and it should not take so much time One person from Khudanabari camp said, "we are convinced we are Bhutanese and we do not want to take any non-Bhutanese back." They felt that the Bhutanese government knows how many people there are in the camps. Another person from Khudunabari said that the RGOB was trying to prolong the peocess so that the older people who have information about land and property will no longer be there.

The refugees also complained that they did not get any receipts to say that they have appeared before the JVT and that were treated like sheep and goats. One female refugee feom Khudunabari camp felt that Only the head of the household were asked questions and not the women. Often the women had been left behind in Bhutan to handle things, after the men had fled. In her case her husband had to leave 10 months before she did. She was the one who left the house and the property was seized from her hands, but the JVT did not ask her anything, Only asked her husband. She said that she was not satisfied by the verification.

R.B Basinet of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP)34 felt that the Nepazli govrnment or the UNCHR were not doing enough on the issue of repatriation. He felt that Bhutan did not want the refugees to go back and was using delay tactics so sthat they can finish their resettlement work. He said that there should be international pressure on Bhuan by the donor community and India. According to him India was not putting enough pressure on Bhutan. He felt that Nepal had made fundamental mistakes in accepting the categorisation and was not pressurising the
Bhutanese government sufficiently on this (the refugee) issue. He also felt that the Nepali government had not taken the refugees into confidence.

The head of the UNHCR sub-office in jhapa, Michael Zwack, Stressed that Verification was a bilateral issue and the UNHCR has been excluded. The UNHCR was still trying sdto dialogue with the two governments for a durable solution to the refugee problem. He said that th UNHCR is keen that the refugees are repatriated with honour, safety and dignity. THe UNHCR was witing and watching till the Khudunabari verification was over. According to him the Bhutanese government have said that Khudunabari is a test case and would streamline their procedures after this camp is complete. According to him the refugee are gaining confidence from the JVT.

At the meeting with the natiobnal office of the UNHCR in kathmandu with supang sguansaitgul, Deputy representative UNHCR; Roland-Francois weil the protection officer, the UNHCR reiterated that the verification was a bilateral process and that they were outsiders. They said that both the governments do not want the UNHCR involved, Since the Nepal govrnment do not want the UNHCR involved. Since the nepal government is their govrnment of contact they try and dialogue with them. they are trying to play a facilitating role with both the governments. The protection officer said that he was aware of the refugees wishes to include the UNH CR in the verification Process. He also said that the UNHCR will have to be involved at the repatriation stage.

The secreatary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Narayana S. Thapa, felt that the resettlement issu should not be raised till the outcome of the Khudunabari camp's verification was clear.


CHAPTER 3

Compliance with international Human Rights Laws

In this chapter the facts ascertained and the data collected by teh FFT has been analysed to see how far Bhutan has complied with its obligation to protect the rights of the refugees under international human rights law. Bhutan has ratified only two of the main human rights treaties, the Convention Against Elimination Against all kinds of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW) and convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and signed but not ratified the Convention Against Racial Discrimination (CERD). The situation of the Bhutanese refugees should be seen against the well established, commen aceptable standards of international human rights law and practice that protect the rights of the refugees. In particular, How does the resettlement of people from northern Bhutan on the refugees ' lands affect their right to repatration with dignity, honour and safety ?


Resettlement

The resettlement of Bhutanese from the north on Lhotsampa lands raises concern that the verification process initiated in teh refugee camps is an eyewash on the part ot te RG OB . The fact that resettlement of northern Bhutanese on the lands of the refugees in southern Bhutan is taking place at the same time as the verification process in Khudunabari camp does not demonstrate good faith on the part of the RGOB or a genuine intention to repatriate the refugees. THis also raises doubts as sthe possibility of voluntary repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees with honour, dignity and safety as required under international human rights and refugee law. The FFT obtained field as well as secondary evidence that resettlement was an ongoing programme since 1997 .

All the Bhutanese refugees that the FFT interviewed said that people from northern Bhutan have been resettled on their lands in their home villages. They claim that there were no northern Bhutanese settlers in their villages while they were living in Bhutan, Before being forcibly removed. This was verified by the Indian villagers living on the Indo-Bhutan border. The FFT itself saw northern Bhutanese occupying the houses of the refugees and cultivation their fields. As per fact-finding information the resettlement in jSarbhang district has been going on since 1998 and in Samchi district it began from late 2000-early 2001

The RGOB itself admits that resettlement is taking place in the southern districts of Bhutan and is an ongoing process. In the national Assembly proceedings from 1995 to 1999 35 , as reported in the government - owned news magazine the Kuensel Weekly, the RGOB claims that the resettlement programme is a great success. It was reported that both resettlers and the people of the village had asked for the resettlement programme and were very hapy with it and had thanked the king. Resettlement was an important issue in the National Assembly and was on the agenda of every session.

 

 The National Assembly proceedings clearly indicate the intention and process of resettling people from the northern districts on lands of the refugees in south Bhutan. In the 1995 National Assembly proceedings, “the representatives said that although it had been requested in the earlier sessions of the National Assembly that the landless people and people with insufficient land should be rehabilitated on the land left behind by the Lhotsampas who had taken kidu soilra36 and emigrated, this has still not been done. As a result while these vacant lands were turning into jungle, the people with little or no land were facing great hardship…leaving these fertile agriculture land in the south unattended year after year only increases the hopes of the ngolops37 in Nepal to return”.

 

In the 1996 National Assembly it was said that, “the people of Samdrupjonkhar Dzongkhag (district) submitted that the lands of the people who have left the country after selling their properties have now turned into forest. The wild animals in the forest are damaging crops in nearby field…it would be a kidu to the landles people and those with very small land holdings…if these lands were given to them”.

 

The proceedings also indicate that the resettlement is a clearly thought-out plan of the government. In the 77th National Assembly held in 1999 a resettlement committee was mentioned. “ A Resettlement Committee headed by the Home Minister had been appointed by His Majesty the King in 1997 to identify families which needed to be resettled. The applications for land kidu and resettlement are thoroughly investigated to include only those (i) who are landless, (ii) who donot have enough land to subsist on and (iii) those who depend solely on tseri (shifting) for livelihood.”

 

The Government claims that the resettlement programme is an old one being carried out since 1974. Whatever the situation earlier it is clear that this phase of the resettlement on refugee land started in 1997. Though the surveys of those doing tseri cultivation were being done from 1995-1996. ….“it would not be feasible to start resettlement during the monsoon season but every effort would be made to start resettlement programme by October 1997.”38

 

The National Assembly proceedings of 1999 also indicate the number of people who have been resettled. The Secretary of survey informed members of the National Assembly “that in 1997, 1,500 families had applied for resettlement and after a thorough investigation of their cases, 750 families were resettled. Last year (1998) 1,500 applications were received, out of which 1,159 families were resettled.”

 

The National Assembly proceedings indicate an effort to show that the people from the southern districts and the landless from the north were repeatedly requesting that resettlement should take place, as it would be good for both. In the 1997 National Assembly it was reported “The people’s representatives from Mongar conveyed the gratitude of the people to His Majesty the King for announcing the resettlement programme for the landless people and Tseri cultivators during the National Day at Gelephu last year. This announcement was an answer to people’s repeated submission on the 70,71,72,73rd sessions of the National Assembly for the resettlement of landless people. There were 674 households from Mongar Dzongkhag that had applied for immediate resettlement.”

 

“Submissions were also made by the people’s representative from Sarpang on behalf of the people of Bhur, Serzhong, Gelephu, Danabhari and Kalikhola gewogs (blocks) in Sarpang Dzongkhag (Sarbhang District) that landless people should be resettled on vacant land in their Dzongkhag. The vacant land, overgrown with forests, was providing a haven for terrorists and also for wild animals. …..The people’s representatives trom Pemagatshel also reiterated the repeated requests made by the people from her Dzongkhag for early resettlement of landless people and tseri cultivators on land available in any part of the country…”39

 

“The Samtse Dzongda submitted that the public of Samtse had repeatedly requested for resettlement of landless people on vacant land in Samtse Dzongkhag in the Block Development Committee and District Development Committee meetings…..He  said that there are two main reasons why the public of Samtse are requesting for landless people to be resettled in Dzongkhag……Secondly, the presence of the resettlers will provide them with the company of many more people and thereby help reduce the incidence of terrorist attack.”40

 

These requests also raise a question about the sudden availability of so much excess land with the government. In each on the National Assembly proceedings between 1995-99 this excess land has been mentioned. It needs to be remembered that this land belongs to the Lhotsampas who are living as refugees in Nepal.

 

At the 77th National Assembly proceedings in 1999 there is clear evidence that resettlement had begun… “The Royal Advisory Councillors had visited the resettlement areas in the course of their tours…to assess the welfare of the people”.

 

There is an effort to show that the resettlement process is a success and people are very happy with it. At the National Assembly it was reported that “The resettlement programme has proved to be a strong force for national integration said the Sarpang chimi. In Sarpang Dzongkhag for example the resettlers who come from all parts of the country and the existing inhabitants are beginning to cultivate a mutually benefical relationship. The local farmers teach their agricultural practices and methods to the resettlers who in turn have brought along their own methods and practices. Meanwhile farmers from different parts of the country are enriching each others culture and value systems.”

 

This gives an incorrect picture of the ground reality. All the people that the FFT spoke with said that the resettlers are not used to farming in the terai (the foothills of the mountains) and are having a very difficult time. E41 said that the resettlers are not cultivating themselves, but giving land in sharecropping to the people from the Indian villages. He also mentioned that they are not used to the climate or the conditions of the southern districts. The information about resettlers and local inhabitants developing a mutually beneficial relationship is misleading. In most of the villages in Sarbhang district, after the forcible evictions of the Lhotsampas from their lands there is hardly anyone left in the original village. For example, in 1991, in Lalai village in Sarbhang district, the villagers were either forcibly evicted from the country or had fled the village to Lodarai or elsewhere. Some came back when the situation became less tense. According to some people there are only 3 original Lhotsampa families left in Lalai and because of the language barrier there is almost no intermingling with the resettlers.

 

The claims made that the resettlers were keen to be resettled in the southern districts seems doubtful looking at the notice found in Kuensel Times dated 20th March 1999 42  that announces “ The landless people from other Dzongkhag who got land allotted in Tsirang Dzongkhag under the resettlement programme have failed to report despite repeated requests from the Dzongkhag”. The notice asks the people to report to the administration immediately and non-compliance will be viewed seriously. If the people allotted land do not report the administration will not be viewed seriously. If the people allotted land do not report the administration will not be responsible for any complications. The fact-finding team too was told about the various incentives given to the people who had resettled so that they do not return to their original homes.

 

RGOB’s claim that the land is given only to the landless or to people subsisting on shifting cultivation is not wholly correct. The FFT saw43 a northern Bhutanese police officer or his brother who had been resettled and was also informed about retired army personnel; well connected businessman and relatives of Sub-Divisional Officers who had occupied the refugee lands or houses which were on the main road.

 

Giving land to the landless as the RGOB is claiming of doing, is a progressive policy. It fulfils the land and housing rights obligations of a state under international human rights law. But the land and housing rights of one set of people cannot be protected by making another set of people, that is the refugees, landless and homeless.

 

Bhutan government has claimed that the resettlement programme is an old one. “The Secretary of Survey informed the members…that since 1974, a total of 15,125 families had been resettled…. .. therefore resettlement was not a new issue discussed in the National Assembly44.” It is difficult to get information about the earlier resettlement programmes. The former Royal Advisory Council member Tek Nath Rizal said that earlier resettlemtnt programmes involved settling landless on excess government land and not on refugee land.

 

 

Nationality

 

Bhutan violated the principles of natural justice and international human rights law when it amended the citizenship laws with retrospective effect to revoke and deny citizenship of the Lhotsampas. This has been well documented by different authors and human rights organizations45. The FFT met people whose citizenship had been arbitrarily revoked.

 

Article 15 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “No one should be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” There is a consensus in the international community towards reducing statelessness. A person should not be deprived of nationality if it would render him or her stateless. The UN General Assembly at its 50th Session in 1995, called on States “to adopt nationality legislation with a view of reducing statelessness, consistent with the fundamental principles of international law, in particular by preventing arbitrary deprivation of nationality and by eliminating the provisions that permit the renunciation of a nationality without the prior permission or acquisition of another nationality.”46

 

The new law on citizenship enacted by the RGOB in 1985 was used to revoke the citizenship of a large number of Southern Bhutanese people. None of the Southern Bhutanese have acquired another nationality as is usually contingent for a State revoking citizenship.

 

Under the provisions of earlier law, The Citizenship Law, 1958, a person would be a citizen if his or her father was a Bhutanese national and resident of the country or if a non-national had resided in the Kingdom for more than 10 years and owned agricultural land. Most of the Southern Bhutanese had been granted or were entitled to citizenship under these provisions.

 

The new law, “The Bhutan citizenship Act, 1985”, was used discriminatorily and arbitrarily to deny and revoke the citizenship of the Lhotsampas. The provisions of the 1985 Act required both parents to be citizens to become a citizen by birth. To get citizenship by registration required a person to be permanently domiciled in Bhutan on or before 31st December 1958. This provision was used with retrospective effect. In 1988 a census was carried out only in southern Bhutan to implement the provisions of the 1985 citizenship Act. Many Southern Bhutanese citizens who during the census could not show land tax receipts of 1958 were suddenly categorized as non-nationalist. This provision especially targeted the Lhotsampas and was used to forcibly remove them from the country.

 

The FFT met many people whose citizenship was revoked by implementing the provisions of the 1985 law retrospectively. Rabi Lal Timshina from Sarbhang district was a citizen in 1988 and in 1991 was made an F5 category that is a non-national man married to a Bhutanese woman. In 1991 Hari Gorshai of Sarbhang district was made f7 category that is a non-national. Before this he had a citizenship card, which was confiscated. The reason for making him f7 was that he had land tax receipt of 1948-1955 and from 1959-1991. The crucial 1958 receipt was missing which was taken as the sole evidence for granting citizenship. Pokchi Maya Chhetri of Samchi district had her citizenship card confiscated because she could not produce the 1958 land tax receipt. The Bhutan Citizenship Act of 1985 was used discriminately against the Lhotsampas thereby violating the provisions of the CERD which Bhutan has signed and to which it is morally bound. Article 5(d) of CERD protects against discrimination on the basis of national or ethnic origin in the enjoyment of right to nationality.

 

It is also crucial to note that the law in Bhutan does not allow non-nationals to own land. KA 12-2 Thrimzhung Chhenpo, “The General Law Book”,47 the first legislation in the history of Bhutan published in 1957, makes it explicitly clear that land cannot be sold, gifted or given free of cost or for writing off loans, to non-nationals. This implies that non-nationals could not own land in Bhutan. The Land Act of Bhutan of 1979 48  in Chapter 5, Section 9 contains the same provisions as in the Thrimzhung Chhenpo which makes it impossible for non-nationals to acquire land in Bhutan. The law is so stringent that it even penalizes the person who sells or gives it free of cost to a non-national. Therefore anyone who owned land after 1957 had to be a citizen. On the basis of this it is logical to infer that all the people who showed the FFT their land tax receipts are nationals or citizens of Bhutan. The Bhutan Citizenship Act, 1985 was used to revoke citizenship of all these people.

 

Bhutan has an obligation under the CRC to protect the rights of a child to acquire nationality in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.49 Bhutan also has to respect the right of every child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality50. Bhutan’s Citizenship Act of 1985 was used to revoke the citizenship of the Lhotsampas making them refugees. Not only is there uncertainty regarding the nationality status of refugees but also of their children and those born in the refugee camps.

 

 

Forced Evictions

 

The forcible removal of the Southern Bhutanese refugees from their homelands amounts to forced eviction violating the international human rights law on adequate housing and land rights. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has said that the “practice of forced evictions constitutes a gross violation of human rights in particular the right to housing”51.

 

According to the U.N. Sub Commission52 “the practice of forced eviction constitutes a gross violation of a broad range of human rights in particular the right to adequate housing, the right to remain, the right to freedom of movement, the right to privacy, the right to property, the right to an adequate standard of living the right to security of the home, the right to security……..”.

 

Forced evictions have been defined “as permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and or communities from the homes and or lands which they occupy without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection” by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural riths53. The Committee has said that forced evictions also take place in relation to “…forced relocations in the context of refugee movements.”

 

All the refugees that the FFT spoke with, their relatives and friends in bordering villages testify how they were forced to leave their villages in Bhutan overnight under threat to life. Almost all of them had to leave behind all their possessions such as grains, utensils, cattle, etc. Some of the refugees’ houses were burnt down.

 

The RGOB claims that many of the people emigrated willingly after signing voluntary migration forms (VMF) and getting compensation. Under the provisions of the Citizenship Law, 1958 as revised in 1977, an application for permission to emigrate during times of crisis has to be kept pending till normalcy returns54. 1990 was a crisis time in the southern districts of Bhutan as demonstrations were held all over these districts against the census policy of the government and driglam namza55 policy which was discriminatory towards the Lhotsampas.

 

The Lhotsampas who had signed the voluntary migration forms claim to have been coerced under threat to life and safety into signing the VMF and into saying that they had left the country voluntarily. While signing the forms they were given some money on the pretext of travel allowance. This money was supposed to be compensation for their house and land but was much less than the market value of the property. The Government itself admits that the money was just Kidu Soirla56 or a small gift. In most cases the people did not know what the VMF said.

 

Under Section 5 (10) of the Land Act of 1979 if anyone forfeits citizenship they have to inform the government 12 months in advance and can sell property only after taking permission. In case the people are in a hurry to leave the country then the government will decide how much it will pay for the property. The RGOB may use this provision to show that the people where in a hurry to migrate and so they willingly signed the VMF and took less money. But it seems unrealistic that people would give up fertile lands and orchards for less than one fourth the price to live in refugee camps. Kashi Nath Gimiray from Sarbhang, now living in Goldhap camp was made to sign the VMF and given 32,000/-Nu for 4 acres of land and 4 acres of orchards and 2 houses. He said that his land was worth 1,20,000/-Nu. He said that he was asked to sign the VMF as his sons had been declared anti-national by the government. Devi Charan Chhetri from Sarbhang now living in Goldhap camp got 45,000/- as compensation for 14.70 acres of land, which he says was worth 23 lakh (23,00,000) Nu. Krishna Maya Rizal from Samchi district, now living in Khudunabari camp had 6 acres of land and 3 acres of orchards. She said that she was given 25,000/-Nu and told that it was “journey expenses”. According to her the market value of the land was 10,000/-Nu per acre of wetland and she had 5 acres of wetland. Lal Bahadur Bista was given 7000/- Nu for 4.70 acres of land.

 

Even the King has talked about forced evictions of the Lhotsampas. A Royal Decree by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk57 states that “At a time when Bhutan is going through a very difficult period, it has come to my notice that because of the present ‘disturbed situation’ in our country, some people in Southern Districts are emigrating permanently to other countries. Reports have also been heard that administration and security officials in the districts are forcing some of our Bhutanese nationals to leave the country.”

 

The issue of loss of nationality and forced evictions becomes crucial because the verification of the refugees at Khudunabari camp has just been concluded. The RGOB and the Nepal government have agreed to 4 categories into which the refugees in the camps will be classified. The Lhotsampas whose citizenship has been arbitrarily reveked by the new citizenship law would be called non-Bhutanese and those who have signed the VMF may be categorized has those who emigrated voluntarily. As of now there is no indication about which categories will be repatriated but there is a concern amongst the refugee community that only those whom the RGOB calls bonafide Bhutanese would be repatriated and not the rest. What needs to be recognized is that the Lhotsampas who have been targeted by the new citizenship law and the VMF are bonafide Bhutanese who have been forcibly evicted.

 

Repatriation58

 

The testimonies and actions of all the Southern Bhutanese refugees indicate their prime desire to return to their land in their villages in south Bhutan. Each of the refugees said that they wanted to go back to their home villages but were concerned about the news and

Information that north Bhutanese were being settled on their lands. They were categorical about going back to their very own land and properties and did not want to go and settle anywhere else. The intention to go back to their lands in Bhutan is also indicated by the careful manner in which each of them have kept the compensation money given to them at the tome of signing the VMF in a fixed deposit in a bank on the premise that when they return to their village the government would ask for the money to be given back.

 

The right of refugees to return to their country of residence (origin) and to their own properties is well established in international human rights law and refugee law. As seen below the various UN treaties and charter bodies and UNHCR ExCom59 resolutions have established that the right of refugees to return is not restricted to those who are nationals but is applicable to all those who were habitual residents of the country which they had to leave. Most of the Lhotsampas in refugee camps have been forcibly evicted or their nationality stripped arbitrarily and would be able to prove habitual residence in Bhutan.

 

Article 13(2) of the UDHR says that “Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his own country.”

 

Article 12(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” The Human Rights Committee60 states that “the right of a person to enter his or her own country..includes not only the right to return after having left one’s own country, it may also entitle a person to come to the country for the first time if he or she was born outside the country. The right to return is of utmost importance for refugees seeking voluntary repatriation.” The Human Rights Committee also stated that “A State party must not, by stripping a person of nationality or by expelling an individual to a third country, arbitrarily prevent this person from returning to his or her own country.”

 

More importantly the UN Special Rapporterur on the former Yugoslavia has stressed on the “right to return to one’s home of origin as a fundamental human right.”

 

The UN Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in its Resolution 1997/29 “affirms the right of refugees… to return voluntarily, in safety and dignity, to their country of origin and within them to their place of origin or choice, and urges Governments to assist in and facilitate such return.” The UN Sub-Commission Resolution61 on housing and property restitution in the context of the return of refugees and internally displaced persons “Reaffirms the rights of all refugees as defined in relevant instruments…to return to their homes and places of habitual residence in their country and / or place of habitual residence.”

 

The UNHCR ExCom Conclusions on “Voluntary Repatriation” No 40 1985 also stresses on the right of the refugees to return to the country of origin “ The basic right of persons to return voluntarily to the country of origin is reaffirmed and it is urged that international cooperation be aimed at achieving this solution.”

 

Not only has the right of refugees to return their countries of origin been established but their right to return to their own properties and lands has also been specifically stated by the UN General Assenbly62, the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission as well as in the UNHCR ExCom Conclusions.

 

The UN Sub-Commission63 not only “reaffirms the right of all refugees …to return to their homes and places of habitual residence” but also states that “adoption or application of laws by States which are designed to or result in the loss or removal of tenancy, use, ownership or other rights connected with housing or property, the active retraction of the right to reside within a particular place or laws of abandonment employed against the refugees…pose serious impediments to the return and reintegration of refugees…” and urges government to develop effective and speedy legal mechanisms to enable refugees to return to their lands and properties.

 

UNHCR ExCom Conclusion64 states that the repatriation of the refugees should be carried out in safety and preferably to the place of residence of the refugee in the country of origin. It further stresses that “Promotion of voluntary repatriation as a solution to the refugee problems…requires political will of the States directly concerned to create conditions conducive to this solution. This the primary responsibility of States.”

 

Though none of the above creates a formal legal obligation on Bhutan as it has not ratified the ICCPR or the Convention on Refugees, they do indicate the current accepted international human rights standards regarding repatriation of refugees. These have been followed in different situations of repatriation of refugees around the world. These universally accepted norms and standards are persuasive interpretations and create moral obligations, which Bhutan would be hard pressed to violate.

 

 

RGOB will have to stop resettlement of north Bhutanese on the lands and properties of the Bhutanese refugees to illustrate its good faith in protecting the rights of the refugees and to create conditions conductive to repatriation. The verification, which has just concluded in Khudunabari camp, is being called a test case. The verification of all the refugees in Khudunabari camp has been completed by13th December 2001. As of now the verification does not deal with repatriation at all and the Bhutanese refugee community is not convinced that the verification would lead to repatriation.

 

The categorization that was insisted upon by the RGOB and the ongoing resettlement programmes do not illustrate genuine intention of the RGOB to protect the right of the refugees under international law. There has been little indication what the process will be after verification, which of the categories will be repatriated, leading to confusion amongst the refugees and most of the observers of the situation. If during repatriation any of the categories out of the four formed by the Bhutanese government are not repatriated then international human rights law providing guarantees to the refugees would be violated.

 

Even the Committee on the Right of the Child in its Concluding Observations65 on Bhutan’s first report expressed concern on the verification process and the repatriation not being linked. “… Committee is nevertheless concerned at the slow rate of this process and the serious and negative impact this has on the rights of the children residing in these camps, particularly given that repatriation will begin only once all refugees have been verified. In accordance with the best interest of children residing in the camps, their right to nationality and preservation of identity (Articles 3, 7&8 of the Convention) and with a view to reaching a just and durable solution, the Committee recommends that the State party:- make greater efforts to expedite the verification process and consider the possibility of repatriating individuals within a reasonable tome following individual verifications; ensure that repatriation and resettlement of returnees are carried out in safety and dignity, to their place of origin or choice.”

 

The Bhutanese government to demonstrate it’s seriousness about repatriating the refugees with the guarantee of the protection provided by international human rights law, needs to begin preparing the ground to receive these refugees. International law requires repatriation of refugees to be voluntary with safety and dignity. For repatriation to be voluntary the resettlement programme should be stopped immediately. An alternative will have to be found for those already resettled on the refugee lands. Only then will the refugees be able to go back to their properties. If alternative arrangements are not made there may be a conflict between the resettlers and the refugees leading to more human rights violations. Besides this the government should be prepared to amend laws so that the refugees can get ownership of their original land; to give land title deeds to the returning refugees; guarantee the refugee children access to schools; amend the laws to restore the nationality of the refugees; prevent discrimination against them, if voluntary repatriation with safety and dignity is to take place.

 

To facilitate voluntary repatriation, the need for the refugees to get correct information about the conditions in the country of origin has been recognized in the UNHCR ExCom Conclusions66. This should be facilitated by visits of refugee representatives to the country without affecting their refugee status.

 

Besides restitution of rights, international human rights law also recognizes the right to compensation for victims of grave violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

 

This has been stated in a UN Commission on Human Rights resolution67. The Bhutanese refugees were forcibly evicted from their homes in late 1990. For the last ten years they have been living in refugee camps or scattered in India or Nepal and in this condition they are not able to enjoy the rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

 

CHAPTER 4

  

    Conclusions of the Fact-Finding and Recommendations

 

   Conclusions and findings of the fact-finding

 

       -   The RGOB has been resettling northern Bhutanese in the lands of the Southern       

            Bhutanese refugees, as physically observed in some cases.

      -    Not all the northern Bhutanese settled in the southern districts are landless as the

            RGOB has claimed. Land has been given to army and police officers or their

            Relatives, especially land close to roads or with the larger houses.

      -    All the refugees interviewed want to go back to the lands they were evicted from,

            for regaining their land and housing rights.

     -     The refugees from Khudunabari camp are unhappy with the joint verification  

           verification process that is under way as they do not see any links between this             

           verification process and final repatriation.

     -    The refugees would like their representatives, the office of the UN High

           Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the office of the UN High

           Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to be included as parties in

            All negotiations and particular the joint verification process.

     -    The fact-finding team met people at various levels who indicated the urgent need

           for the Government of India to play an active role in resolving the Bhutanese

           refugee crisis.

 

 

Recommendations

 

1.                  In the interest of just and durable repatriation of Bhutanese refugees, in full      consonance with international human rights and humanitarian law, it is imperative that RGOB stop resettling northern Bhutanese on refugee lands under its obligations as State of Origin.

2.                  The RGOB should provide complete data and information on the resettlement it has done so far in lands and houses previously belonging to the refugees.

3.                  The RGOB should invite the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing to examine the country’s preparedness to repatriate the refugees in accordance with international human rights standards.

4.                  The verification process and the other stages leading to repatriation should include representatives of the Bhutanese refugee community and UNHCR.

5.                  To show good faith, the RGOB should speed up the verification process and plan for repatriation in the near future; starting with those verified in the Khudunabari camp, and then as verification of each camp population is completed.

6.                  To show good faith, the RGOB should take steps to remove the resettlers from the refugee lands. The international community including relevant UN agencies and donor governments should assist the RGOB in this effort.

7.                  The UNHCR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to work for a durable solution, particularly through repatriation in conditions of security and dignity, and to reduce the risk of statelessness.

8.                  The UNHCHR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of the refugees in the context of the verification and repatriation processes.

9.                  The repatriation talks must give due emphasis to the process that will be necessary (including land claims, provision of civic services and so forth) in restoring the land and housing rights of the refugees upon their return to Bhutan.

10.              When repatriation begins, Bhutan should give access to both UNHCHR and UNHCR to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the refugees on return are protected.

11.              In addition to the inherent role to be played by the governments of Bhutan and Nepal, the Government of India must also play an active role to facilitate the speedy return of the refugees to Bhutan.

12.              A protection officer should be appointed by the UNHCR to oversee the repatriation process and the rehabilitation phase for this vulnerable group, within the human rights framework.

13.              The UN treaty bodies should continue to monitor and follow-up on the situation of the Bhutanese refugees.

 

 

 

ANNEXURE 1

 

  Schedule of the Fact Finding Team From 23rd September—1st October 2001

 

 

23rd September      Kakarvita in Nepal. Interviews with refugees.

 

24th September     Bongaigoan, Assam, India

 

25th September    Hatisar, Assam India- interviewed the local people and A, B, C residents of Gaylegphug town, Bhutan. Visited Gaylegphug town and Lodarai village to physically verify claims of the Bhutanese refugees.

 

26thSeptember   Baghmara, Kodrajhar district of Assam in India. Interviewed residents E&F of the village to get information on resettlement in the neighbouring village of Lalai, Bhutan. Viseted Lalai village in Samchi district of Bhutan to physically verify claims of resettlement.

 

27th September    Chalsa, Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

 

28th September     Visited Pinjuli village in Samchi district, Bhutan via Hope Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal to physically verify claims of resettlement. Visited Chengmari village in Samchi district in Bhutan to physically verify claims of resettlement. Interviewed villagers in the bordering Chengmari village in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India to get information on resettlement and verify claims of the Bhutanese refugees.

 

29th September   Damak, Jhapa in Nepal. Debriefing and discussion with the refugees from the camps; meeting with the UNHCR sub-office in Jhapa, Nepal.

 

30th September   Damak, Jhapa in Nepal. Discussions on verification with representatives of the refugees and refugee groups.

 

1st October       Kathmandu, Nepal. Meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal; the UNHCR; Bhutanese Refugee Agency Group and refugee NGOs and political parties.

 

 

 

ANNEXURE 11

            

                                Draft Performa for Verification of Bhutanese Refugees

 

Complied by AHURA Bhutan on the basis of the information given by the refugees who went through the verification.

 

PART A

1.        Full name of the person……………………………………………………….

2.        Father’s Name……………………………………………………………….

3.        Mother’s Name…………………………………………………………….…

4.        Age, date and place of birth…………………………………………………...

5.        Profession/Employment………………………………………………………

6.        Present Address

                    [a] Camp and no………………………………………….

                    [b] ID Card/Registration no./Ration card number of the camp.

                          ………………………………………………………..

                    [c] Date of admission to the camp………………………….

 

7.        List of Family Members [Details of each member attached]

 

                       1…………....…………………………………………………..

                       2………………………………………………………………..

                       3………………………………………………………………..

                       4………………………………………………………………..

                       5………………………………………………………………..

 

                              Signature/Thumb impression of the head of Family/Individual

 

Attachment

 

1.      .Name of the Person……………………………………………………….

2.      Sex………………………………………………………………………..

3.      Age, date and place of birth………………………………………………..

4.      Camp Identity Document…………………………………………………..

5.      Marital Status……………………………………………………………...

6.      Occupation………………………………………………………………..

7.      Relation to the Head of the family………………………………………….

8.      Proof of relation to head of family………………………………………….

[Relevant documents if any]

9.      Name of Camp……………………………………………………………

10.  Date of admission to camp………………………………………………...

 

 

Signature/Thumb impression                      Signature/Thumb impression of head of family

 

 

 

PART B

 

  1. Details of the last address before coming to camp

Village……………………………………

Block…………………………………….

District…………………………………...

Mandal…………………………………..

Karbari…………………………………..

 

  1. Documents at hand

[a] Thram number………………………..

[b] House number……………………….

[c] Tax Receipts…………………………

[d] Citizenship/ID Card number…………..

[e] Marriage Certificate…………………..

[f] Other documents……………………...

 

  1. Furnish the following details

[a] Date of departure, from where…………….

[b] Reason for departure……………………...

 

  1. If forcefully evicted, specify the following

[a] Date of eviction……………………………

[b] Authority by whom eviction was done

i.                     Civil official

ii.                   Military official/Police

iii.                  Any other

            [c] Any proof of eviction……………………….

            [d] If appeal was made to higher authority and if so whom? If not, why?

            [e] Please furnish any other details……………………………………

  1. Neighbours in Bhutan…………………………………………………

 

  1. The undersigned states that this Performa has been completed voluntarily after having fully understood the question listed on the form and that all the information given above have been filled in correctly.

 

 

Signature/ Thumb impression of head of family/Individual unit

 

 ANNEXURE 111

 

                         Change in Names of Districts and Villages

 

Since the emergence of refugee crisis the Bhutanese government has been changing the names of places in Bhutan, particularly in the south and make it sound more like names in northern Bhutan.

 

Some of the name change in southern Bhutan that has been verified so far:

 

   Previous Names (before 1990)                     Changed Names (after 1990)

 Southern Districts

Chirang                                                                 Tsirang

Samchi                                                                  Samtse

Sarbhang                                                               Sarpang

 

Southern Blocks (Sarbhang and Samchi districts)

Lalai (Sarbhang district)                                        Umling (changed 1997/8)

Danabari (Sarbhang district)                                   Chuzang-gang (changed 1997/8)

Suray (Sarbhang district)                                        Jigme Choling (changed 1997/8)

Gaylegphug (Sarbhang district)                               Gelephu

Sibsoo (Samchi district)                                           Sipsu

Bara (Samchi district)                                              Bangra

 

Southern Billages (Lalai blocks/Sarbhang District)

Schooldara                                                            Godangyang (changed 1997/8)

  Bistadara                                                                Dumeng (changed 1997/8)

  Katusay                                                                   Rizong (changed 1997/80

 

 

ANNEXURE IV

 

               Questions asked by the FFT at the interviews with the refugees

 

·           Personal details-family / place of residence in camp/ village etc in Bhutan / where you born in Bhutan.

·           When and why did you leave Bhutan?

·           Did you sign the voluntary migration form / did you get “compensation” by the government / did you “sell” your house to the govt?

·           Were you called a citizen by the Bhutanese government?

·           If not. Why not?

·           Do you want to go back?

·           What are your fears about going back? What kind of security you want form the government to return?

·           Do you have any relatives in your home village?

·           What kind of land and house did you have? How much land did you have and what did you grow, etc?

·           Is anyone else occupying your land? If they have do you know who they are?

·           Can you remember any landmarks near your home or village?

·           Do you have your land records-or land tax receipt or other proof to show that it is your land?

·           How many people from your village have come to the camps?

·           Who is left in your village now?

·           Do your relatives have problems with the resettlers?

·           Do the resettlers get any special facilities? Are these available to the locals?

·           Do you manage to visit your village?

·           Did you or your children go to the village schools? Did you need clearance from the police to attend school?

·           In case you are unable to return to your own land (of it not available) where will you like to go?

 

 

ANNEXURE V

 

          List of people and organizations met by the FFT

 

1.              Ratan Gazmere – Chief Coordinator of Association of Human Rights Activists, Bhutan- (AHURA Bhutan).

2.              Dillip Bishwo – AHURA, Bhutan.

3.              Bhakta Ghimerey – a Bhutanese refugee and a journalist.

4.              Tek Nath Rizal- a prominent South Bhutanese dissident.

5.              Michael J. Zwack – Head UNHCR Sub- office Jhapa, Nepal

6.              Tulsi Sharma – Lutheran World Federation, Nepal

7.              Father P.S Amal Raj SJ – Field Director, CARITAS, Nepal

8.              S.B. Subba- Chairman, Bhutan Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee (BRRRC)

9.              Supang Sguansaitgul- Deputy Representative, UNHCR, Nepal

10.          Roland-Francois Weil – Protection Officer, UNHCR, Nepal

11.          Narayana S. Thapa – Secretary, Minstry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.

12.          Gyan Chandra Acharya- Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.

13.          Simon Mollison – Programme Director, Save the Children UK, Nepal Office; member of Bhutanese Refugee Agency Group (BRAG).

14.          Allen Armstrong- Lutheran World Federation, Nepal office, member of BRAG.

15.          Dr. Bogendra – CIVICT, Nepal, member of BRAG.

16.          R.B.Basnet- President, Bhutan National Democratic Party.

17.          Narayan Katel – Executive Director, Society for Human Rights and Education on Bhutan ( SURE –Bhutan), based in Nepal.

18.          Dinesh Bhatia- Deputy Secretary, Ministery of External Affairs, India.

19.          Thinlay Penjor – Counsellor ( Press), Embassy of  Royal Government of Bhutan, New Delhi.

20.          Lily Wangchhuk – Third secretary ( Press) – Embassy of Royal Government of Bhutan, New Delhi.

21.          Tom Adhikari – Bhutanese lawyer based New Delhi and practicing at the Delhi High Court.

 

 

ANNEXURE  VI

 

Announcements in Bhutan’s weekly – Kuensel

 

Kuensel, March 27, 1999

 

Sarpang Dzongkhag

Sardzong/Re-settlement- 9/98-99/2630

 

            ANNOUNCEMENT

 

All the Shi- Sarps (Re-Settlers) of phase one and two from different Dzongkhags should report to their respective areas under Sarpang Dzongkhag within April 1999. Failure to report within the above dateline, this Dzongkhag Administration would consider the lands to have been surrendered by the Shi- sarps ( Re-settlers) to the Government. The concerned Dzongkhags are also requested to kindly inform their respective Shi- sarps (Re-rettlers), to report within the above dateline.  For cinvenience of the Dzongkhag the list of Shi-sarps will be faxed to the individual Dzongkhag within the week.

                                                                                                Dzongdag.

Kuensel, March 20, 1999. 

DZONGKHAG ADMINISTRATION

                    Tsirang

DAT/ADM-27/98-99/

Announcement

 

    Landless people from other Dzongkhag who got land allotment in Tsirang Dzongkhag who got land allotment in Tsirang Dzongkhag under resettlement programme have failed to report despite repeated request of the Dzongkhag. Therefore, Tsirang Dzogkhag administration, once again requests them to report immediately as the cultivation season is already set in. Non-compliance shall be viewed very seriously and Dzongkhag administration shall not be held responsible if any complication arises in future on the matter.

                                                                                                                      Dzongdag.

 

 
 
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Eastern Bhutanese
Nationality
 
 Others Reports
US Human Rights Report
EU Resolutions
Habitat FFM
Cultural Cleansing
Crisis of Identity
Death List