GCRPPB completes third round of global petition for release of Bhutanese political prisoners

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Global Campaign for the Release of the Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB) has completed its third round of global petition campaigns on December 10 coinciding with International Human Rights Day. The first and second rounds took place on December 10 in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

GCRPPB representatives in their respective countries of resettlement handed the common petition along with the necessary documents to the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Parliamentarians and other institutions appealing for their support towards getting the timely release of Bhutanese political prisoners who have been languishing for several decades in Bhutan’s prisons.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern in her response to the appeal stated that her office has noted the issue and has forwarded for early action to her Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

New Zealand-based Bhutanese Human Rights Activist cum GCRPPB representative Sudarshan Adhikari, who has been working on behalf of this campaign for the last several years, has also sent the appeal to several parliamentarians and NZ based Amnesty International beside Prime Minister.

[RelatedA long and desperate wait for the families of Bhutanese political prisoners]

Similarly in Australia, GCRPPB representative Indra Adhikari has sent appeals to Foreign Minister, Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and other governmental institutions. In The United Kingdom, Bhutanese Community leader Prem Giri petitioned on behalf of GCRPPB to the British Foreign Secretary and his local member of British Parliament urging them to exert pressure on Bhutan to release its political prisoners. In Denmark. Bhutanese Community leader and a GCRPPB representative Purna Dahal handed over the appeals to the Danish Foreign Minister and other governmental bodies urging their support for the release of the political prisoners.

[RelatedBhutanese diaspora calls to rescind award to former Bhutanese Home Minister on charge of human rights violation]

Likewise in the Netherlands, Ram Karki handed over the petition to Dutch Foreign Ministry officials, members of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Netherlands based International Human Rights bodies.

In Canada, Prakash Gautam, a brother of one of the political prisoners Kumar Gautam petitioned the Canadian government on behalf of GCRPPB and in the United States of America, GCRPPB representative CM Nirola together with Nabin Nepal petitioned senators from their respective states.

[RelatedConcerns raised over wellbeing of Bhutanese political prisoners]

Nepal personally met Senator Marshall Blackbone and State Senator Mark Allen Pody and briefed them about the prisoners’ issue before handing them the appeal and the relevant documents. Later, Nepal was informed that Senator Marshall Blackbone sent a letter to the King of Bhutan requesting him to release the political prisoners. The office of the US President and the US State Department also acknowledged the receipt of Nirola’s documents and stated that proper action will be taken after going through the documents.

On the occasion, GCRPPB has also sent an appeal and other documents to the King of Bhutan with a copy to The Prime Minister, cabinet Ministers, and the entire parliamentarians of Bhutan. Nepal Government, Indian Government and Diplomatic Missions of all the eight Bhutanese refugees resettling countries based in Kathmandu and New Delhi, UN Human Rights Council, and the European Union have also been appealed seeking their support to resolve this severe humanitarian issue.

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.