Adhikari’s slaying has raised a question on Security Situation of the Bhutanese in US.

Tilak Atreya
The heinous slaying of a resettled Bhutanese refugee, Hari Adhikari, on Sunday by an unidentified gunman in Jacksonville under Florida state hasn’t only left his family at lurch, hasn’t only aggrieved relatives and the whole community folks, but also has clearly shown as to how safe and secured the resettled life of the Refugees in US is. Indeed, this incident is just a tip of the iceberg. Thousands of other Bhutanese refugees across United States are complaining that they have been assaulted, threatened, beaten or robbed at gunpoint.

Many of the Bhutanese feel uneasy to report such incidents to the police. Its because they came here from the refugee camps in Nepal, a country where common citizens hesitate to talk to an armed police. I myself, being a Bhutanese refugee,know the fact that Whenever any armed police entered our camps(Nepal) as a part of their regular patrolling, many of the refugees used to hide inside their huts and just peep through the cracks on the walls. During the time when Maoists had waged an armed conflict, several Bhutanese refugees were brutally beaten and arrested by the Police alleging them of involving with the Maoists. So, Bhutanese refugees were/are always afraid to accost the police personnel.Such mentality has still ruled their minds even though they are now in USA. They still feel uncomfortable to directly talk to the police officer on any issue. Consequently, many of such incidents go unnoticed no matter how grave they are.

Nearly 17 Thousands of these people who spent 17 years in refugee camps in Nepal following their eviction from Bhutan in the early 1990s, have settled in different states of US in one of the largest refugee resettlement programs. Some 40 thousand more will be resettled over a few years of time. Being hailed from such a poor country, they don’t have much knowledge about many things here, so, they are becoming an easy target of such incidents. Be it in Syracuse,NY(East), Denver,CO(Central) or Oakland,CA,(west) the resettled life seems vulnerable- full of risk and fear of being attacked by some body even during the day time. Thus,there is lack of sense of safety and security among themselves.They had believed that their lives would find a turning point after the entry into the United States, however, things do not seem to be going as expected. Gravity of the problem is all the same whether in camps or in USA.They were (at least) secured but dependent, but now majority of them are independent but unsecured.

Many of them are still compelled to live an idle life being unable to find jobs owing to the economic recession.Those who are successful in getting employed have to work on any shift due to the risk of losing the job they got. More than half of the employed Bhutanese in USA work in graveyard shift- join/get off the work at the middle of the night. They don’t own vehicle thus have to come back to home or reach the workplace on foot since public transportation is not available in every nook and corner of the town at night. Thus, they are the prime targets of many sorts of unpleasant incidents.

On one hand, such chaotic situation is turning them hopeless. On the other, it gives a negative message to rest of the refugees in the camps who are on the process for resettlement in US. Various types of baseless rumors have already landed in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal following the death of Adhikari. One of my relatives in the refugee camp called me and told that this incident has made the refugees who are waiting to be resettled to think once again.

I my view, things would be under control (to some extent) in no time if some precautionary measures are taken through joint efforts of the refugees and the authority. The Authority can help these immigrants live in peace and assure safety before its too late. Some precautionary advice, valuable suggestions, ideas and tips can be shared among themselves through mass meetings and gatherings. Various NGOs and INGOs can also contribute some thing for the security of the entire resettled Bhutanese in America.


One Response

  1. Most Bhutanese and other refugees are being resettled in low-income areas, where the housing is cheap. Unfortunately, many low-income housing areas are also high-crime areas, with people on narcotics who need to steal money to support their drug habits. The drug users will attack people they think will be easy targets to steal from,

    Bhutanese in these areas need to group together and travel in high-crime areas in groups as protection. They need to talk with local government officers to have the cities help them with their protection.


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