Refugee leaders’ no to talks with Bhutan

Kathmandu, June 27:

Amid a row among Bhutanese refugee leaders over the proposed third-country resettlement of the refugees, some refugee leaders, including Ratan Gazmere, met Foreign Minister (FM) Sahana Pradhan today.

Senior Bhutanese leader Tek Nath Rizal refused to accompany the team. “We asked the FM to drop the idea of talks with Bhutan and leave the responsibility for repatriation to the international community,” Gazmere said. This, he argued, could be fruitful if the international community intervened for repatriation. “Nepal’s bids to bring Bhutan on track have failed,” he said. The leaders asked Pradhan to ask Bhutan to “come up” with a “concrete solution” before the resettlement process begins. “The crisis in the refugee camps should be resolved to prevent it from deepening further,” Gazmere said.

Pradhan asked the refugee leaders to take up the issue of security in the camps with the PM. “We will apprise the PM about the worsening situation in the camps,” Gazmere said. “I invited Rizal twice, but he rejected the idea.”

“Rizal refused to meet United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Abraham Abraham,” Gazmere said, referring to yesterday’s meeting with Abraham. “I did not like to join the team because I fear some people could utter irresponsible statements and mess up the episode,” Rizal told Pradhan and Abraham. Rizal said, “Once we are there (in the third country), we will lose our movement to establish democracy in Bhutan.” Rizal said he does not rule out the idea of third-country resettlement. Ratan Gazmere and other leaders, however, argued that the offer of third-country resettlement should be taken as an opportunity.