Kathmandu: Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB) has expressed its deep concern for the wellbeing of over three dozen Bhutanese political prisoners.
The prisoners are serving life sentences at the Thimphu-based Chemgang Central Prison where unrest unfolded on Saturday.
GCRPPB said in a statement that videos circulating on social media show around 50 inmates shouting slogans demanding justice.
“Such a scene of protest inside Bhutan and that too in such a high-profile prison is very rare and will definitely invite merciless suppression by the security agencies. This unrest by the inmates is bound to create bloodshed in prison,” it said in a statement.
The statement added that families of the prisoners and campaigners are deeply worried about the prevailing situation in the prison and has appealed to the government of Bhutan, international communities, and Human Rights bodies to take note of this development and make sure that all the political prisoners are safe and unharmed.
“The government of Bhutan must release a statement of the present condition in the said prison and work towards fulfilling the demands of the inmates,” reads the statement.
Over 100 political prisoners languishing behind bars
Currently, more than 100 political prisoners have been languishing behind the bars in the South Asian country for decades. Most of them were booked under the National Security Act which demanded life sentences; thus the prisoners are currently serving life sentences. Most of their elderly parents, wives, and children are now resettled in various developed countries after living in various UNHCR aided refugee camps in Nepal for more than 20 years.
GCRPPB has been making repeated calls to free the prisoners by appealing to the King of Bhutan and other stakeholders. The campaign was formed in 2019 to call for the early release of Bhutanese political prisoners. The campaign has lamented that while it has sent several appeals to the king and other stakeholders, the calls have gone unheeded.