is a wounded nation. It self- inflected the wound by sheltering
India’s outlawed militants from the North-east, divided the
country by evicting a large number of Nepali-speaking citizens
from southern Bhutan - a wound if not healed, may not just
harm the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas but the whole nation.
The divided nation now is prone to continuous external threats
and pressure. It has made the return of its citizen-refugees
a complicated affair. These courses of actions have implicated
Bhutan into the intricate regional geopolitical complexities.
militants of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) were provided
official sanctuary in Bhutan since 1991 in return for their
support in terrorizing the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas to
leave Bhutan. In 1990, immediately after the first ever pro-human
rights and democratic rallies in all southern districts, the
government invited the ULFA leaders to Bhutan, much to India’s
resentment. The Dzongda (Chief District Officer) of
Samdrup Jhonkhar district in eastern Bhutan coordinated a
meeting between the ULFA leaders, representatives of the Ministry
of Home and a few prominent citizens of eastern Bhutan. The
meeting decided to allow the ULFA leaders to make their bases
in Bhutan in return for their support in terrorizing and eventually evicting Lhotshampas
from Bhutan. Since then ULFA leaders
have been living in Bhutan.
is under tremendous pressure from the state government of
Assam, Indian army and parliamentarians from northeast India
to take military action against India’s two outlawed militant
groups. In an unprecedented move, the Indian members of parliament
from the northeast region submitted a joint memorandum to
the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Delhi, asking RGOB to initiate
action against ULFA and NDFB militants based in Bhutan with
the help of Indian security forces. The memorandum submitted
in the first week of April, 2000 urged RGOB to initiate "deterrent
action against extremist outfits with their bases in Bhutan
for peace and stability in the region." The
Indian army has been constantly pressurizing the Indian Government
to secure permission from the government of Bhutan for a joint
India-Bhutan operation to flush out the militants from Bhutan.
So far, Bhutan has not accepted Indian army’s proposal for
Indo-Bhutan joint army operations against the ULFA and Bodo
militants. Bhutan has committed a national security blunder
by allowing the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) insurgents of
Assam into its territories.
separatist ULFA and NDFB militants are fighting for an independent
Assam for the last 21 years. Both their tactical and head
offices are now based in Bhutan. These rebels have been operating from their several well-entrenched
bases scattered all over south, central and eastern Bhutan.
According to Indian media there are more than two dozen
ULFA and Bodo camps in the villages in south-eastern Bhutan.
They were seen frequently travelling
in Bhutan government vehicles.
top brass of ULFA and Bodo are allegedly living in and move
freely inside Bhutan according to Indian media. Militancy
in Assam has claimed more than 10,000 lives during the past
two decades, while hundreds of others have been maimed for
newspapers of Assam have published
news stories of intimate relationship between the officials
of Bhutan and ULFA leaders.
According to media. Bhutan has become a notorious hub
for murderers, abductors and kidnappers from neighbouring
armed rebels of Assam attacked innocent Bhutanese nationals
in the Indian territories on 20 and 21 December 2000 that
left 14 dead and 19 injured. We condemn this heinous crime
on innocent Bhutanese and the perpetrator must be brought
to justice. Southern and eastern Bhutanese are required to
travel via a large tract of Indian territories to reach Thimphu,
pressure from the Government of India, the 78th session of
Bhutan’s National Assembly held in June, 2000 decided four-pronged
strategies to resolve the ULFA-Bodo problem: to continue peaceful
negotiations with the militants to try and make them leave
the country peacefully; to stop ration and other supplies
to the camps of the militants; to punish all persons who helped
the militants in accordance with the National Security Act;
and, as a last resort, use military action to evict them from
Bhutanese soil. The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) has
tried the first three options without any success.
have not worked so far and won’t work in future, either. The
militants have tersely told the RGOB they do not plan to leave
Bhutan. Bhutan has left with only one option of using military
action. It must take immediate steps before more innocent
Bhutanese lives are perished. Indian authorities have long
been accusing Bhutan of helping the insurgents. In July 2000,
the RGOB reportedly admitted that the ULFA transferred funds
through its diplomatic bags to foreign countries. The two
employees of the Foreign Ministry were also reportedly sacked
(Assam Tribune July 6 2000)
Home Minister Thinlay Gyamtsho has been telling the ordinary
citizens to come forward to protect the country. He has been
telling the people of the southern district to submit themselves
to end this problem since they will have to bear the brunt
of the consequences of an armed conflict. It exposes the naivety
of the government, by making the ordinary and unarmed Bhutanese
citizens to defend the boundaries or protect the country from
the foreign militant assault, while the trained Bhutan Army
and police seem to be sleeping in Thimphu. It is the responsibility
of country’s army and police to protect the lives and properties
of the citizens from a foreign militants’ assault. It is the
duty and responsibility of the government to protect the lives
of the citizens.
has so long demonstrated self-righteousness, denial and arrogance
in addressing the problem faced by the nation. Had the government
taken a rational approach to settle and diffuse its self-created
political problems in the south, instead of blaming the southern
Bhutanese and declaring them as ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘anti-national’
and dumping them into Nepalese territories, for seeking redress
of their grievances, even with hindsight, the tranquility
of the country would have never been disturbed to this extent.
This problem of small dimension has now engulfed the entire
country, divided the nation and allowed the external forces
to threaten the national security and sovereignty. The government
itself is to blame for this state of affairs. Thanks to the
Lhotshampas’ loyalty to their nation that they have not taken
up the course of armed struggle, which could have aggravated
the initial days of euphoria in expelling its own southern
brethren, the government used the 'cultivated journalists'
from abroad to malign the Lhotshampa citizens from the southern
Bhutan. Lhotshampas were called as 'ngolop', anti-national'
'illegal immigrants' economic immigrants etc. But now when
Bhutan needed the international media on its side during the
killing of innocent citizens - they were not there. Realizing
the lack of coverage in international media on the killings,
Bhutan's Head of the government Yeshey Zimba other day said
that 'most countries were hardly bothered" reports Kuensel.
is facing multiple problems and the worst nightmare of insecurity.
Bhutan is under tremendous pressure of domestic, cross-boarder,
regional and international kind is evident. Domestically,
it is facing pressure from its own citizens to provide safety
and protection of their lives and properties. The friendly
Indian government and its army has long been persuading Bhutan
to agree on a joint army operation to flush out the north-east
militants hiding in Bhutan. The north-east militants have
threatened the government against any Indian military intervention.
The rival faction of Indian militants have warned the government
to evict the militants of ULFA and NDFB from Bhutanese soil.
This state of chaos has now spilled over to the killings of
the innocent Bhutanese citizens.
Indian militants have also warned Bhutan of repeating the
violence acts of December 21-22, 2000 if it failed to evict
the militants of ULFA and NDFB from Bhutan within a month.
Technically the nation is in a chaotic situation. Bhutan is
facing mounting international pressure on resolution of Bhutanese
refugee issue. The donor countries, agencies, the European
Parliament and the United States have persistently urged Bhutan
to agree for a just and equitable solution of refugee issue.
Reportedly, the international community, including the European
Union, European countries, INGOs and donor agencies are closely
monitoring the process of verification.
Bhutan needs to grab the initiative and opportunity to international
acclaim by taking back all its citizen refugees. The time
has come for Bhutan to self-introspection that a house divided
is always susceptible to intervention from neighbours. Bhutanese
nation could no longer afford to be driven by catastrophes,
conflicts and chasm based on state-sponsored and ever narrowing
and exclusive social and political identities. Domestic reconciliation
can not be achieved by arrogance, rigidity and exclusion.
It is only through the government's gesture of self-abnegation
and encompassing universalism, a positive solution of the
Bhutanese political crisis could be consummated.
current language of politics of self-preservation, arrogance,
repression, racism and exclusion must give way to the ideals
of universalism, democratic pluralism, tolerance and rule
of law. If Bhutan fails this time to resolve refugee imbroglio,
who knows that when the
international concern on refugee issue
might shift to international intervention or opinion on the
need of political and democratic changes.
international community has been united in its fight against
terrorism especially after the destruction of World Trade
Centre on 11 September, 2001 by the international terrorists.
The international campaign led by the USA has said that those
hosting terrorism and facilitating terrorists activities in
other countries will also be held responsible for the act
of terrorism. Such nations will also be declared as terrorists.
Bhutan has to explain its hosting of terrorists from
India to the international community. The international community
will definitely demand an answer.
INDIA, EU ISSUE
JOINT DECLARATION AGAINST TERRORISM
DELHI: Nov. 23 (AFP) Indian and European Union leaders on
Friday issued a joint declaration against terrorism and agreed
that Afghanistan needed a broad-based multi-ethnic government.
"All states have a responsibility to refrain from providing
moral, material or diplomatic support to acts of terrorism,
and prevent the use of their territory for sponsoring terrorist
acts against other states," the declaration said.
Decisive measures must be taken "against all states,
individuals and entities which render support, harbour, finance,
instigate or train terrorists or promote terrorism,"
it added. The declaration further said that India and
the EU saw the United Nations as central to the efforts of
the international community against terrorism. "We agree
that terrorism anywhere and everywhere and in any form must
be routed out resolutely," Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee said at a joint press conference with European Commission
(EC) president Romano Prodi and Belgian prime minister Guy
Verhofstadt - whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
The Kathmandu Post dated November 24, 2001
Times of India online November 24, 2001