Bhutan's card on Human Rights
November 13, 2009: Bhutan’s politics changes substantially last year. However, have there been any changes in terms of human rights. International community sent applauses for changes in governance system. And now the world will see the first report of Bhutan’s commitments and improvement in human rights situation.
The report has already been prepared and submitted to UN Human Rights Council and scheduled to be discussed on December 4. This is possible the first human rights report from this kingdom.
The report mentions nothing about recent human rights violations in the country. However, the report highlighted many mini programs that government initiated as massive human rights campaigns. While writing nothing about torture, killings and detention during 1990 and 1997 demonstrations, Bhutan made yet another efforts to hoodwink the international community about its racist policies.
According to the government report, the illegal immigrants mingled easily with the local Lhotsampa population of southern Bhutan who are of ethnic Nepalese origin, registering themselves as Bhutanese citizens through fraudulent means. They escaped detection due to the weak administrative system in the south and because of their ethnic, cultural and linguistic affinities with the Lhotsampas, who had received Bhutanese citizenship in 1958.
The report further said, the first nationwide census of the country in 1988 revealed the presence of a large number of illegal immigrants and an unnatural population increase in southern Bhutan. The gravity of the situation led the government to implement the country’s citizenship and immigration laws more strictly. Unfortunately, people with vested political interests misled the masses in the South to claim discrimination against southern Bhutanese, fomenting political turmoil in the country.
The report added, in 1991, the opening of the refugee camps in eastern Nepal without any screening procedures to verify their refugee status quickly led to the congregation of all kinds of people in the camps. The problem of the people in the refugee camps in eastern Nepal is not a typical refugee situation, but one of highly complex nature, with its genesis in illegal immigration.
The country that ran away from the verification process in 2002 claimed it wishes to find solution of the protracted crisis. The report failed to mention the verification of the Khudunabari camp revealed, despite discriminations, over 80 percent genuine Bhutanese citizens.
To counter the government report, the Netherland-based human rights group, Global Human Rights Defense has filed alternative report at the council for review.
According to GHRD, its five-page submission highlighted human rights issues observed in the field by GHRD partners since the late 1990’s. Arbitrary arrests, torture and degrading treatments, conditions on elections, prison conditions, freedom of speech, press and religion, discrimination against women, minorities and refugees were all highlighted in the report. APFA Bhutan schedules to submit an alternative report on human rights abuses by early December to Human Rights Council.