THT 10 years ago: UNHCR defends exit visas to 16 Bhutanese refugees

Kathmandu, July 27, 2006

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concern over the recent protests and demonstrations by some Bhutanese refugees over the issue of granting exit visas to 16 vulnerable individuals for their resettlement.

UNHCR said the exit visas to the 16 vulnerable Bhutanese refugees for their relocation to the US and Canada were cases that merited special humanitarian treatment.

“These cases were submitted as special humanitarian cases and accepted for resettlement by the two countries due to their urgent protection needs,” said UNHCR, adding, however, that some protest programmes of Bhutanese refugees were seemingly “orchestrated” by some of their leaders and that these did not represent the views of the majority of refugees.

“It is sad and unfortunate that these refugee leaders are manipulating innocent and helpless refugees,” said Abraham Abraham, UNHCR representative in Nepal.

UNHCR negotiated with the government of Nepal to grant exit permits to them as they are unable to find safety and protection within refugee camps, said a UNHCHR statement.

“Resettlement of these individuals is extremely important for their future and for UNHCR as they can no longer be kept in the camps for reasons well understood,” said Abraham.

Rayamajhi panel summons army chief, aides

The high-level investigation commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi today summoned the chief of Nepal Army, General Pyar Jung Thapa and five other high-ranking officials, along with Thapa’s second-incommend Rukmagat Katual to clarify their role in killing and suppressing people during Jana Andolan-II.

The panel summoned Katual, Kathmandu Valley Chief Dipak Bikram Rana, General of the Defense Council Kul Bahadur Khadka, General Kiran Shumsher Thapa and Charali-based Jhapa Barrack Chief Suresh Kumar Karki to record their statements.

Spokesperson for the Rayamajhi Panel, Dilli Raman Acharya, said the commission is set to grill COAS Thapa on Sunday; Katual and Rana on Monday and Khadka, Thapa and Karki on Tuesday.

The army, loyal to the King then, had led the unified command of security agencies to control the people after King seized power on February 1, 2005.

Commission member, Harihar Birahi, said it was on this ground that the panel decided to summon the army chief and these high-ranking army officials.

“Formerministers and other high-ranking officials have accused the unified command of suppressing the people.