Rizal tells India not to complicate Bhutanese refugee issue

Kathmandu, June 11:

A day after Indian Minister for External Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee, said repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees could destabilise the demographic balance of Bhutan, Bhutanese leader Tek Nath Rizal asked India not to issue any controversial statement that will affect the Bhutanese refugee issue.

“The statement issued by Mukherjee on the Bhutanese refugee issue indicates that he is speaking the language of the Bhutanese King,” Rizal told an interaction at the Reporters’ Club today. Rizal said the refugees will not give up their “movement for repatriation”.

“Our sit-in on the Indo-Nepal border will resume. It will continue further until India gives us a clear passage,” he said. “We will not deviate from our path, come what may.”

Saying that Bhutanese refugees were “ready to face any obstacles” and face suppression for repatriation, he asked: “What does India want to achieve by labelling Bhutanese refugee issue an international one after remaining quiet on the issue for the past 16 years?”

Stating that population of Bhutan will not exceed five lakh even after all refugees return to the country, he asked: “How can our repatriation destabilise Bhutan’s demography?”

“We are genuine Bhutanese and will remain Bhutanese even if India tries to divert our movement.”

Stating that some donor agencies are telling they will stop donating money to the Bhutanese refugees if the latter do not agree to opt for third-country resettlement, Rizal asked all political parties of Nepal and the government to come up with a clear stance on the refugee issue. “We want Nepal’s whole-hearted support. We have been treated as animals,” he said.

Rizal said members of the European Parliament have been asking the refugees to accept the resettlement offer.

Pranab’s statement hailed

JHAPA: Organisations of Bhutanese refugees have welcomed the recent statement of Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee on the refugee problem. A proposal to welcome the statement was passed at a meeting of the National Front for Democracy in Bhutan (NFD) held in Kakarvitta in Jhapa on Monday. NFD

coordinator and chairperson of the Druk National Congress Thinle Penjore welcomed Mukherjee’s statement of terming the Bhutanese refugee issue an international one.

Penjore said discussion was also held over the issue of US embassy’s call to the leadership of Bhutanese organisations for talks during the meeting.

The US embassy has called Panjore, chairperson of Bhutan People’s Party (BPP) Balram Poudel, chairperson of BGNLF, DB Rana Sangpang, human right activist DP Kafle and NFD spokesperson Narad Adhikari for talks on June 15. India’s view that the demographic situation of Bhutan will change after the repatriation of refugees is flawed,” Adhikari said, citing the conclusion drawn at the meeting. — HNS