Bhutan May 09 2012, 1 Comment

{learn about Bhutan}

Bhutan is a nation made up of several ethnic groups. One of these is the Lhotshampa, people of Nepali origin, who began to settle in the south of the country in the late 19th century. In the 1980s it emerged that Lhotshampas were being seen as a threat to the political order.

When a string of measures were passed that discriminated against their group, the Lhotshampa organised a series of public demonstrations for which the participants were branded as "anti-nationals". Several thousands of Southern Bhutanese were imprisoned, and more than 2000 tortured, according to Amnesty International. Very few of them were formally charged. Thousands fled to India and Nepal. By the end of 1992, there were more than 80,000 living in UNHCR camps in south eastern Nepal.

Situated between the emerging superpowers of India and China, the isolated Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, 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. 

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, one 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 organisations, that the expulsion of large numbers of Lhotshampas was planned and executed with meticulous attention to detail.

Over 105,000 Bhutanese have spent more than 15 years living in refugee camps established in Nepal by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Thousands more are living outside the camps in Nepal and India, and some in North America, Europe and Australia.

Since 2008 a resettlement process has seen many thousands of Bhutanese refugees from the camps in Nepal being re-settled primarily in the USA but also in Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway.

(This is an excerpt from Visit this website for an excellent map and information about refugee camp life. )