At a time when many genuine Bhutanese refugees have been waiting years for their refugee identity cards in Beldangi and Sanischare refugee camps, news about the collections of millions of rupees by the prominent Nepali politicians from the local Nepali citizens promising them Bhutanese Refugee identity cards has deeply hurt and angered the Bhutanese refugee community particularly those genuine Bhutanese refugees who are deprived of the said identity card for years.
Cases of malpractices and corruption in issuing refugee identity cards to Nepali citizens are being reported in Nepali press.
Among those most unfortunate deprived includes Mon Bahadur Rai, a former Bhutanese political prisoner with ICRC number BTN-000256-01 who was released on July 28, 2017 after serving rigorous and torturous 20 years in Chemgang Central Prison at Thimphu, Bhutan. Rai and his 10-member family were refugees at Beldangi-1 Sector F Sub Sector 3, Hut Number 231. Still, when he returned, he found that all his family members had left for resettlement.
Despite producing all the previous records, Rai struggled until June 26, 2019 to register his name with the Nepal government’s Refugee Coordination Unit (RCU) in the camp. His name has reportedly been sent by the RCU office in Chandraguri to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Kathmandu for approval of a refugee identity card. To this day, Rai has received no response from Kathmandu for his application. Thus till today, he has been living a miserable life with his brother at hut number 444 of sector C of Beldangi camp without any facilities. Without a refugee identity card, they are not entitled to any facilities in the center.
Rai’s elderly mother and other family members wanted him to be reunited with them in their country of resettlement. However, due to the concerned official’s rampant negligence and lack of human feelings, Rai continues to suffer despite being released from prison in Bhutan after undergoing inhuman torture for 20 years.
Therefore, I would like to request the concerned office of the Nepal Government to kindly issue refugee identity cards to all the genuine and deserved Bhutanese refugees. They are still suffering in the camps.
Nepal has given us shelter, saved our lives, and allowed tens of thousands of us to be resettled in eight developed countries. And now, at the far end, it is not humane to let a few hundred people like Mon Bahadur Rai suffer in the camp without a refugee identity card. Nepal has nothing to lose when it issues identity cards to all genuine Bhutanese refugees so they can receive the facilities entitled to them. When all such deserved Bhutanese refugees are given refugee identity cards, we do not feel pain even if we have to see the news mentioned above.
Ram Karki is Bhutanese Human Rights Activist based in The Hague, the Netherlands.