Reviewing the year, 2009.

Prepared by Tilak Poudel
With the last ‘tick tick of the clock, we’ve formally bidden good bye to the year 2009. The past 365 days are now nothing, but just history. Moving down the memory lane, we come across numerous twists and turns and ups and downs. Let’s have a look at what 2009 added to the history of already existing plights of the Bhutanese.

The year was pretty much horrible for the exiled Bhutanese who have been out of their country for nearly 20 years now. 2009 saw some of the most heart breaking incidents happened in the refugee camps as well as abroad. The year always put these ill-fated southern settlers of Bhutan at loss, despite their efforts and endeavors to rise, to gain something from their own level.

In the dawn of the new year 2009, on Jan. 02, Senior  Bhutanese leader Dr. Bhampa Rai, submitted a memorandum to the then PM of Nepal, Puspa Kamal Dahal, requesting the latter to pressurize Bhutan repatriate its citizens. Despite high expectation, this humble plea turned to be a fuss when the ex-rebel leader-led government, not withstanding the heat of the Nepali Politics, crumbled in May. Nonetheless, this didn’t dose their hope of repatriation. Harka jung Subba led Senior Citizen of Bhutan (SCB) launched a campaign in all the refugee camps urging the early repatriation of the Bhutanese on May 04. The campaign found nearly 22,000 refugees willing to be repatriated. In August BRRRC, through press release, appealed the Human Rights Organization of Nepal to pressurize Nepal and Bhutan to jointly work for verification of the Bhutanese refugees and repatriate the genuine ones. Resettled Bhutanese in Europe launched a protest program in front of the UN building in  Geneva on December 04. Towards the end of July, 2009, the chairman of the National Front for Democracy (NFD) Bhutan, Balaraman Paudyal  urged the concerned to vitalize the other two remaining options viz.  assimilation in the country of first asylum and repatriation as a means to put to end to this long standing political problem.

The year also brought  another sad news to the exiled Bhutanese  when the government of Bhutan announced 7 1/2 years of imprisonment to a 20 years old   refugee journo, Santi Ram Acharya on January 21. The following month, a resettled Bhutanese, Netra Mishra,27, here in USA was charged with first degree kidnapping and battery with intent to commit a felony and was  booked into the Ada County jail in Boise, Idaho. Both of  these innocent refugees are still passing their dark days in jail.

2009 also saw natural disasters hit  the refugee  camps. A portion of Beldangi refugee camp was devastated by an uncontrolled fire on March 12. In the last week of August,  dozens of huts were inundated when the Ratuwa river over flooded due to torrential rain. Deuniya river swelled up and  flooded Goldhap camp, High volume of water in Tangting and Biring rivers hindered transportation in Khudunabari camp for several days . One child was swept away  by a canal and killed in Beldangi.

Several Bhutanese refugees  made headlines in 2009. Ratan Gajmere warmed the Bhutanese and Nepali Media when he was arrested by the Nepali Police at the Tri-Bhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu on July 31. The Gajmere couple was back in Nepal to attend a conference in Kathmandu  and was arrested for not having necessary travel documents. Camp secretaries of all the seven  refugee camps made news  submitting  applications  to the UNHCR and IOM offices on August 18, requesting them to make an arrangement for their visit to the resettlement ‘core group nations (USA,Canada,Australia, Denmark,Norway and Newzealand) in order to  know the situation of the refugees after resettlement in these nations. Their act was instantly condemned by Bhutan Communist Party (BCP,MLM) who  eventually compelled them to withdraw their applications thereby sacking up their dreams of traveling to these first world nations.

In the second week of October, Deoraj Pradhan, former camp secy of Beldangi refugee camp stunned the exiled Bhutanese community with the news of his arrest with four others on charge of making fake documents to process Rudra  Bahadur Gurung and Deependra Pradhan of Pakhrinbas 3, Dhankuta ,and Uttam Gurung of Kathmandu for their resettlement in a refugee quota.

During these 52 weeks of time,exiled Bhutanese lost two of their prominent leaders and social workers- Santi Ram Nepal from Beldangi 1 and K.B. Khadka from Beldangi 2(Extension). Late Nepal was shot dead at his own hut by a group of unidentified gunmen on April 21,2009 and Khadka was stabbed and killed in Beldangi II refugee camp on September 08 .  These heinous killings didn’t only leave their families at lurch but also raised questions on the security of the refugees in the camps. Though the Nepali police arrested more than a dozen of the refugees in connection to these incidents, the real culprit is  believed to be  still at large.

A few days after these incidents  a totally new underground outfit calling itself Druk Leopard, warned the refugee leaders of stern physical action if they didn’t comply with them. These brought chaos in the camp, hindering the peaceful environment. The refugees felt insecure  and  terrorized. This threat led the formation of a security village in Beldangi one refugee camp which still exists there.

Adding to their woes, the UN announced the reduction of food supplies to the Bhutanese refugees on 15th Oct, 2009.

More than half a dozen of resettled Bhutanese died an untimely death in 2009. 21 years old Hari Adhikari who was resettled in Jacksonville city in  Florida State  was robbed at gun point and shot death by a 21 years old American citizen and a felon, Trumain Branch on July 26. In less than a month, yet another resettled Bhutanese died in Chelsea Massachusetts: Nandi Kishor was pronounced dead when he was taken to the hospital after he suffered cardiac attack on August 06. A week later,  on August 12, another resettled Bhutanese girl, Suk Maya Monger, 7, was killed by a speedy car in Atlanta, Georgia.  Mon Maya Bishwokarma, a Bhutanese refugee resettled in Adelaide in southern Australia committed suicide on  6th Oct. hanging herself from the ceiling of an empty house near by her apartment.  Back in the United States,Tika Ram Koirala, a 45 years old former sub-sector head of Beldangi-2 camp was hit by a Mitsubishi car driven by a illegal immigrant, Ramon Nerl Olea on Dec.25.  Critically injured, Koirala expired on Dec. 29 at Vanderhilt University Medical Centre, Nashville in Tennessee. Besides, As many as  two dozen senior Bhutanese citizens died abroad in the year 2009.

Three Bhutanese refugees from Timai refugee camp died on  16th June, 2009 due to the consumption of Poisonous Mushrooms in Illam.  The deceased were later  identified as Tul Bahadur Tamang, Phurba Tamang and Man Maya Tamang. A refugee woman from Beldangi-II was killed at a Church collapse during the Christian convention in Dharan in September. Jit Bahadur Gurung from Khudunabari was killed in November when a huge  electricity pole fell upon him while he was installing the cable in Butwal.

A very few remarkable events and incidents  happened during the whole year. The Bhutan Media Society launched the first online radio in exile, Radiobhutanonline.com on October 16, 2009. This independent Bhutanese media also  made its Kathmandu based weekly radio program, Saranaarthi Sarokaar accessible to all the seven refugee camps via Satellite exchange. Human rights leader Mr. Tek Nath Rijal shared his bitter experiences of living in Bhutanese prisons through his third book, Torture killing me softly that was released amid a function in Kathmandu on Nov. 04. Despite hurdles and obstacles, International Organization for Migration(IOM) successfully resettled more than 17,000 Bhutanese refugees in seven different nations including the United States, Canada and Australia among others during the whole year.

Let’s hope and pray the ensuing year brings  joy enough to live life away from being our destinies shadowed by the cruel “tick-tack” of the time.
(Mr. Poudel  is a core group member of the Butanusa.com)

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12 Responses

  1. what an interesting perspective

  2. I would completley understand if some readers get angry over the arrest of a Bhutanese fellow, and over someone not accepting his claim of being innocent. I appeal readers to read my paragraph 5 before expressing their anger.
    Here is the copy of paragraph 5, written in my previous comment:

    “Nobody would ever allow any starnger man grabing his/her son or daughter and kissing him/her. May be Mr. Netra P. Mishra did not mean any harm to boys, and he meant to show his affection to children as his own sons, but he forgot the fact that he was here in America, where laws are different, society is different and culture is different and almost everything is different from Bhutanese/Nepalese culture”.

    I am sure Mr. Netra P. Mishra, still can be found innocent if he can find a good lawyer who can convince the judge that this gentleman was too new to become very much familiar with American culture. And I am sure this is what exactly had happened. I am willing to help Mr. Netra P. Mishra, if he contacts me or someone from his family, or someone who knows him, contacts me. My friend is a very good lawyer, and I am sure this lawyer can get Mr. Netra P. Mishra off the hook. I do not know if Mr. Mishra is still in jail or he is out. I would greatly appreciate if someone please give me information on Mr. Mishra’s current status of his case.

    It is still not too-late and something can be done to free Mr. Mishra.

    I was arrested by Police just a few weeks after arriving to America, for hit and run charge. I left the scene of a car accident, after I misunderstood other driver. I thought he told me it was OK and since there was not any major damge to car, I could leave. He turned around and called Police on me and got me arrested for committing a crime of leaving the scene of an accident.

    In Court, I told the Judge in broken English that I was new here in America. He simply rejected my claim and said,” If I let you get away for the reason that,”Oh, I did not know the laws of the land because I am new here”, then all of the newly arrived persons should be allowed to use this defense, and we cannot just let all newly arrived immigrants do whatever they feel like doing and then get away”.

    Yes, the Judge was right. People coming from other countries must learn the laws of the land. I had to stay in local Police station’s cell for few hours and I had to pay about $1000 in fines. I admit my fault. I did commit a crime, and I paid price for my mistake. Ofcourse, I was 100% innocent, because I did not mean to leave the scene of an accident. I left only after what I thought the other driver said it was OK to leave. I was innocent in my own eyes, but not in the eyes of law.

    Whatever the law says, is the matter. And whatever I claim, or whatever my other Pakistani friends say, does not matter.

    A Pakistani young man of age 20, a cash register clerk at a store was arrested for not even touching or kissing. He was arrested after he yelled at a kid who was stealing candies in his store. The kid claimed that the clerk demanded sex in return for free candies, and that the clerk touched him in sexual manner. There was no video camera in the store at that time. The Police officers believed the kid. The Judge also believed the kid. The Pakistani man was sentenced to 5-years in jail. After completing his jail term, he was arrested by Immigration officers and few months later he was ordered deported back to Pakistan. He was taken to J.F.Kenendy International Airport, New York, to put him on a flight to Pakistan. His mother who was an American citizen, filed a request in Supreme Court to stop the deportation process, claiming that her green card holder son was qualified to become an American citizen and US Government cannot deport an American citizen’s son. The Pakistani man was lucky that the Judge not only ordered the suspension of deportation process but also ordered him release. He was released from the jail and few months later, he applied for his US citizenship. At present, he is living a happilly married life. He still works at a grocery store but now he is not afraid of any new false case because there are few closed circuit cameras recording everything in the store 24 hours a day, and no kid can prove his/her false claim of touching him/her in sexual manner.

    I admire Mr. Tilak Poudel for not attacking me personally, and ofcourse I cannot expect him becoming so upset and angry that he would start using uncivilized tone, and start attacking my race, religion or national origin.

    As a matter of fact, I am not angry over Mr. Bikram chhetri’s use of harsh tone either. I am just a little disappointed that I had to face personal insults. I also understand that he has expressed his true feelings.

    I request Mr. Bikram Chhetri to send me the address of the accused (Mr. Netra P. Mishra) and I would love to visit his kids, and I surely will try to help the accused. But I must say that Mr. Mishra was wrong by making an innocent mistake of kissing the kids. I am sure he had no intention to kiss the kids in sexual manner.

    In my native country, Pakistan, people still can kiss and hug their neighbor’s kids. But I am sure in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh or even in Bhutan or Nepal, people kiss only those kids who they know, like , relatives, neighbors or someone they know, but nobody kisses some starnger kids in a grocery store.

    Readers need to know that we are living in a country where sometimes own daughters accuse their fathers for kissing them in sexual manner and have them jailed for many years. It is common in divorce and childrens custody battle cases that ex-wives falsley accuse their ex-husbands of raping children just to have them arrested, out of anger and revenge.

    God knows I was just trying to make readers aware of the harsh realities of American culture and system. I hope no Bhutanese resettled here in USA will ever have to face the same fate as Mr. Mishra did.

    Shahid Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts, USA

  3. Dear Mr. Pasha and Bikram,
    Well, I accept both of your says. I also saw that piece of surveillance footage and knew what happened there. I didn’t say in the statement that he didn’t kiss the kids. But, the fact I call him innocent is just because his intent of doing that act is some thing different than what the authority said. He even didn’t know that he was in a country where kissing, caressing or say touching a stranger’s children mean some thing different…. Thank you both of you.

  4. Mr. Tilak Podel, in his artice, “Reviewing the year 2009”, has mentioned a Bhutanese refugee resttled in Boise, Idaho, USA, Mr. Netra Mishra, being arrested. Mr. Tilak Podel has declared him as “innocent”.

    I totally disagree with Mr. Tilak Podel. How can someone call Mr. Netra P. Mishra an innocent when video recording footage shows him grabing a 5-year old boy and kissing him, and then grabing another 10-year old boy and kissing him, while their mothers were shopping inside a grocery store?

    This is what happened on February, 26, 2009, and a mother called Police on a 27-year old Bhuatense refugee, resettled in Boise, Idaho, USA, Mr. Netra P. Mishra, and ofcourse, Police had to arrest him after watching the recorded footage of store’s security camera.

    I have watched the news coverage of this incident on TV. I also have read details on this incident in newspaper.

    Nobody would ever allow any starnger man grabing his/her son or daughter and kissing him/her. May be Mr. Netra P. Mishra did not mean any harm to boys, and he meant to show his affection to children as his own sons, but he forgot the fact that he was here in America, where laws are different, society is different and culture is different and almost everything is different from Bhutanese/Nepalese culture.

    Her is a lesson to learn for all of us. Never kiss a child. Never slap or hit your own son, daughter, sister, or even a girlfriend or wife.

    A green card holder’s green card can be cancelled by the US Government and he/she can be deported immeditely back to his country in cases like this. So, please try to follow all the local, State and Federal laws. Any arrest for no matter what reason or any case judgement in any court against you, can result in immigration problems. May be the Government will delay in grating a person involved, his/her green card, or may be after 5 years, they will deny or delay awarding him/her US citizenship.

    Shahid Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts, USA.

    • Mr. Pasha,
      The Bhutanese man arrested is innocent as Tilak stated coz he was new kid in town and he had no idea about what to do and what not to.He just loved the kids and kissed them but unfortunately that women didn’t understand the situation and simply claimed him to be a kidnapper and forced him to arrest.

      Mr.Netra Timsina, is innocent and doesn’t deserve such a severe punishment of 20 years in prison.For him , Love turned to black hole”.He is innocent Pasha,Better visit the family and know their pain.

      Bikram chhetri
      Massts
      (The comment has been moderated and some portion of the statements has been deleted for violating the terms and conditions)

  5. I aplogize to all of Bhuatese refugees resettled here in America and anywhere else if I have offended them in anyway. I will be very careful using the word “Nepalese refugees”, in the future. I would like Mr. Tilak Podel ,one of the Editors of bhutanusa.com to explain this in details, that would help other readers as well, because I know many of Bhutanese refugees do not mind calling themselves as “Nepalese”. Someone asks where he/she is from and most of the times, the answer is, “I am from Nepal”, or, “I am Nepali”.

    Shahid Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts, USA

  6. M.Pasha: Bhutanese /Nepalese dosen,t give sense it is the name of two Nationalities at a time
    if you don’t mind i Would sujest u to write Bhutanese Nepali coz. Nepali is the Name of langauge which we Southern Bhutnese Speak,

  7. I am sorry if I used the word Nepali refugees. Anyway, if someone uses the word Nepali, I am sure he/she means Bhutanese refugees.

    Many of my Bhutanese refugees friends call themselves Nepalis.
    Bhutanese Governement believed that many of people living in refugee camps in Nepal were not from Bhutan but actually from Nepal or India. But that was the opinion of Bhutan Governenment, and of course, Government of Bhutan could be wrong.

    Another thing: I was told by some of my Bhutanese refugees friends that adults were Bhutanese because they were born in Bhutan, and anyone younger than 19, are Nepalis, because they were born in camps. In other words, all of those who were born to their Bhutanese parents in Nepali camps, can call themselves Bhutanese-Nepalis.

    After living in 18 years in Nepal, Governenment of Nepal should have given these refugees citizenship of Nepal.

    I hope bhutanusa.com can help on this issue.

    Shaid Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts.

  8. we are not nepalese refugee man.we are bhutanese refugee.(see in 5th paragraph)

  9. Dear Mr. Tilak Poudel:

    I did not mean to discredit you, in my previous comments. I think you and I, were both right. Ofcourse 2009 was a bad year for many Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees in general, and I cannot deny that. I was just trying to uplift the spirits of Bhutanese/Nepalese commnity members. We all, have bad days in our lives, but we should try to move on, because no matter what, life goes.

    Another thing: In 2008, and in most part of 2009, many of Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees resettles never had any jobs, driver licenses, cars, nice cloths, computers, or even beds to sleep on, but now in 2010, they have almost everything.

    Let us hope the year 2010, will bring happiness to all of Bhutanese/Nepalese community members, living here in America, there in Canada and Euorope and in Nepali camps and anywhere else in the world.

    I also hope that bhutanusa.com will have a patar kar (Representative) in every large city and in every state of America, and all over the world.

    I urge all of the educated Bhutanese/Nepalese people, especially students to become a volunteer patar kar (Newspapers’ representatative) of bhutanusa.com, to send news, reports or articles related to Bhutanese/Nepalese commnuity. I think this is one of the best ways to serve Bhutanese/Nepali community.

    Shahid M. Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts, USA

  10. Dear Mr. Pasha,
    Thanks for appreciating my work. Well, I didn’t only mention the dark and dismal aspect as you said here.The second last paragraph in the article is an evidence for this. If we compare and contrast the magnitude of good and the bad things happened during the whole year 2009 to the Bhutanese community, obviously, the year wasn’t entirely by our side. No one would shrink to say that we came across several such obstacles in 2009, which hadn’t even been experienced during the last 19 years of our stay in the camps. In this sense, the year was overwhelmingly distressful to us.
    Secondly, I didn’t even try to CONSOLE myself focusing on resettlement of the refugees as the brighter part, because this process wasn’t started in 2009, but in 2008..
    Thanks once again.

  11. I admire Mr. Tilak Poudel’s hard work to collect imporatnt incidents of 2009. However, I disagree with his statement, “The year was pretty much horrible for the exiled Bhutanese…”, because I think 2009 brought more happiness than sorrow to most of the Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal. The best thing ever has happened to them is, they were able to get out of difficult living conditions in Nepali camps and were able to reach United States, Canada and some Euoropean countries to live in 100 times better living conditions.

    Just a few days ago, a Bhutanese refugee resettled in my area told me how bad and cruel Maharaja (King) of Bhutan was, and that he had done so many cruel things to them. I jokingly asked him if he thought Maharaja had done a favor to them by creating a situation that resulted their migration to America. I also told him so many people living in other countries are dreaming of coming to America but they do not see any signs of their dreams coming true. One of my Bhutanese friend told me he was thankful to the King of Bhutan for making him come to America. But another older Bhutanese refugee resttled here became a little upset and told me he would never tarde his beloved Bhutan for 100 countries like America. He also told me he agreed to come to America because of his family but he would go back to his beloved Bhutan soon after becoming a US citizen.

    I aplogized to him and told him I did not mean to hurt his feelings and that I truly admired his love and affection for his beloved country, Bhutan.

    Probably, this gentleman will start loving America and probably by the time he becomes a US citizen, his views will change. And if he still would want to go back to Bhutan, more power to him. Nobody would be able to stop him from entering Bhutan, probably, not even the King of Bhutan.

    Mr. Tilak Podel has written a very beautiful and intresting article but with all my respect to him, he was failed to present the truth which is, 2009, in general, has brought more good things to most Nepalese refugees than bad things. His article was not fair and balanced because he presented just one side, the dark side, but unintentionally, hid the bright side. He seems like trying to prove that not a single good thing has happened to Bhutanese refugees in 2009.

    Anyway, let us hope, this new year, 2010, will bring all of Bhutanese refugees resettled here in America and in other countries and also to those Bhutanese refugees, who are still living in refugee camps in Nepal, everything good and nothing bad.

    All I know about Bhutanese/Nepalese people is that they are good people, and I like them very much. Of course, good and bad people are everywhere, but I think there are more good people than bad people in Bhutanese community.

    I am not the only American who feels that way but I know there are many other Americans who feel the same way. I have seen some Americans spending hours of their precious time, spending hundreds of dollars, giving them ride to anywhere they need, and enjoying the company of Bhutanese people.

    Why Americans do not help other immigrants from Somalia, Iraq, Burma and other countries the same way? My answer to this question would be, ” Because Bhutanese and Nepalese are more beautiful and attractive”, and I do not mean to say that they are physically more beautiful, but I mean to say is Bhutanese and Nepalese have very attractive personality. It does not have to be only young beautiful teenaged girls, but in fact, I like so many of Bhutanese/Nepalese who are old men who have young heart. I have met many very old Bhutanese/Nepalese people, men and women, who did not speak one word of English, but they served me tea or food with their deep affection and love that made me feel like doing more and more favors to Bhutanese/Nepalese people.

    Unconditional love and affection is what we all need, and truth of the matter is that money cannot buy love.

    I just cannot wait to visit Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal. I intend to visit Nepal soon. Hopefully, I will have many stories to write for bhtanusa.com after I return to the United States.

    Shahid M. Pasha, Westfield, Massachusetts, 01089 USA

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