Resettled Bhutanese being attacked in Denver
Denver, May 20, 2009: The newly resettled Bhutanese in Denver, Colorado are getting passing sleepless nights due to increasing attacks on the in the recent days.
“Before leaving the refugee camp, I was thinking: We have problems. . . . I’ll feel safe in the United States. Now my feeling has changed. I’m not safe in the United States,” said Yadav Rizal, 39, who was robbed of $250, beaten and dragged behind a liquor store in northeast Denver.
Due to the attacks, he has to change his apartment, again becoming refugee in America. His family shifted to a new place on Tuesday.
Denver and Aurora police are investigating three crimes. This was the fourth instance of attack on the Bhutanese. After the May 8 robbery, Rizal was unconscious for five hours in a hospital. Seven stitches closed a gash over his blackened right eye. His head and neck still ache today, he said.
The latest attack began when a big man followed him when he got off the bus at the end of a 90-minute commute from a mountain casino where he works. “He said: ‘Give me five dollars.’ “
Rizal refused, thinking “that’s hard-earned money,” After the man hit him, Rizal threw $40 from his pocket. Another man joined the assault. After they dragged him, he felt them taking his wallet and a pack that carried a certificate of appreciation from his employer.
Also on May 13, Rohit Khanal was assaulted in an attempted robbery on East Colfax Avenue at Billings Street — another case that police are investigating.
Similarly, Shiva Bhattarai, 31, was also hassled by three man on May 13 when he got off the bus after work.
The attacks aggravate a difficult situation for resettled Bhutanese. The government grants them only $450 a month for eight months to resettle, forcing most to live in rougher areas where police and caseworkers say street crime is more frequent.
Since most resettled Bhutanese work for long hours, it is always late when they get back to home.
“Our promise is not just to bring them here,” said Paul Stein, Colorado’s refugee coordinator, who is planning emergency meetings with the Bhutan immigrants to help them improve their personal safety. “Our promise is to help them integrate. We have to do a better job.”