Bhutan's Plans for Democracy Exclude Hindu Refugees

September 23, 2007

Author: Nava Thakuria

Source: News Blaze

It's democracy for some as Bhutan refuses to allow more than 100,000 Bhutanese Hindu refugees to return home.

While the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been winning strokes across the world for its abdicating king's voluntary decision to bequeath democracy to his subjects, the dark side is the 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, in neighboring Nepal who were kicked out of Bhutan in 1991.

The refugees are Nepali-speaking Bhutanese who were driven out after they protested the passage of a law in the 1980s that arbitrarily cancelled their citizenship. As many as a sixth of the Bhutanese population, most of them living in the south of the country, fled Bhutan in 1990. They have been living in refugee camps in Nepal since that time, seeking to get back home.

Bhutan, also known as Druk Yul or the Dragon Kingdom, is surrounded by Nepal, India and Tibet. The country is the midst of a unique transition from absolute monarchy to multiparty democracy, bequeathed by the Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, and not because of any popular uprising. Previously, his main accomplishment visible to the outside world was his Gross National Happiness standard-of-living index but in December last year, having set democracy in motion, he abdicated the throne in favor of his eldest son, the Oxford- educated Crown, he Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.