The tale of political criticism

Published on Mar 17 2011 // Opinion
By Dhruva Mishra

I feel greatly honored and privileged to stand in front of you all today and say a few words about the Bhutanese and their struggle for existence in the third countries.

Bhutan, a tiny country, situated between the emerging superpowers of India and China, hailed by some as ‘the last Shangri-La’, has generated one of the highest numbers of refugees in the world in proportion to its population, which unfortunately, is still an unknown fact to many. Since 1991 over one sixth of Bhutan’s people have sought asylum in Nepal, India and other countries around the world.

The vast majority of the refugees are Lhotshampas, the southern dwellers, followed by the Sharchops, the western dwellers two of Bhutan’s three main ethnic groups, who were forced to leave Bhutan in the early 1990s. There is ample evidence, as documented by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations that the expulsion of large numbers of these people was planned and executed with meticulous attention to detail. However, not only the southerners were targeted, but anybody who stood up and voiced against the atrocities of the cruel regime, got punished and evicted out of the country. Over 105,000 Bhutanese have spent more than 18 years living in refugee camps established in Nepal by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

When a string of measures, such as the Citizenship Act, One Nation one People Policy, The land Act, ban on the study of our Language and culture, to name a few; were passed by the legislature in 1985 that discriminated against its own citizens, the people organized a series of public demonstrations for which the participants were branded as “anti-nationals”. While the “One Nation, One People” policy imposed the language, dress code, and customs of the northern Bhutanese on the entire population, the Citizenship Act ridiculously stated that, anybody who could not produce a land tax receipt of the year 1958 was denied the citizenship. The question here is not about the relevancy or the authenticity of the government policies, everyone should have accepted it any way, but the question is; why did not the king or the ministers wear the same dress as an office secretary or a sweeper? Why can’t the common people wear the same colored robes and scarves as the ministers do? If a non native English speaker became the president of America and passed a bill imposing language ban, other than his own language, how much would it be digested by the people of America? Ours was a similar case.