Kathmandu: Hundreds of resettled Bhutanese and their well-wishers from around the world have sent petitions to the King of Bhutan requesting him to release all political prisoners from prisons in Bhutan.
The petitions were sent to the Bhutanese monarch on February 21, on the occasion of his 43 birthday, appealing him to release all political prisoners out of mercy.
Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB) says that more than 50 Bhutanese citizens are languishing in various Bhutanese prisons for the last several decades.
“During September-October 1990 and later, several peaceful demonstrations and movements took place all over southern Bhutan, demanding cultural rights from the Bhutanese government. Many activists were imprisoned due to their involvement in these political acts,” the Global Campaign said in a press statement.
The GCRPPB has urged the international community to condemn Bhutan’s continued imprisonment of human rights activists. “No government should ever repress freedom of culture, expression, or peaceful protest. We appeal all the peace-loving people worldwide to support and protect these Bhutanese human rights activists and ensure their right to dignity,” the organization said.
Global Campaign for the release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB) successfully concluded a 15-day mass letter-writing Campaign that started on February 1 and ended on 15 February 2023. During this Campaign, hundreds of resettled Bhutanese and their well-wishers from around the world posted or emailed a standard letter to the King of Bhutan requesting him to release all the political prisoners from the prisons in Bhutan.
A fifteen-member committee formed for the purpose from nine different countries took an active role in the success of this Campaign. They include Suman Chhetri and Indra Adhikari from Australia, Prem Giri from the United Kingdom, Prakash Gautam and Tika Dhungana from Canada, Thugten Drukpa from Denmark, Ram Bahadur Baniya from Norway, Ram Karki and Gopal Gurung from the Netherlands, DB Lechherbo from Beldangi, Nepal, Hari Subedi, Ashika Dhaurali and CM Nirola from the United States of America and Bhoj Raj Subba Lingden and Bishnu Adhikari from New Zealand.
Those who could not send the letter by post emailed the prime minister of Bhutan at his email address as [email protected] and [email protected]
Full text of the petition:
His Majesty the King of Bhutan
Ref: Appeal to Release Political Prisoners
With due respect, on behalf of the Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB), I wish Your Majesty a pleasant birthday. May the year ahead bring much more happiness, prosperity and good health to His Majesty and the entire Bhutanese population worldwide.
Taking this auspicious occasion of Your Majesty’s 43rd birthday, I would like to submit my sincere request for your kind consideration.
It is a universal fact that Bhutan has become a democratic country with a constitutional monarchy in place. I commend you for your leading role in this. And yet, despite these political changes, more than 50 political prisoners are languishing in Bhutan’s various prisons.
Many of these political prisoners’ family members have already resettled in eight western countries after spending many years in refugee camps in Nepal. Besides few, most of them have successfully gained citizenship in the countries they relocated to, and others are in the process. Some such families are still in Nepal’s refugee camps and desperately hope to reunite with their family members who are still serving sentences as political prisoners in Bhutan.
Despite living in economically developed countries and enjoying all necessary life amenities, the resettled families of the political prisoners feel incomplete and emotionally desolate. For decades, their loved ones have been serving prison terms in Bhutan, and they have remained disconnected for several years. The agonies of these families are more miserable and are challenging to describe.
The political prisoners are their dear husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, and friends. It has become increasingly difficult for them to live a modest life, no matter where and how they live.
The parents of those political prisoners have started dying without their wishes to see the face of their beloved son being fulfilled. And the children of those prisoners who were just born when their father was arrested have great desires to see them. They have been waiting for decades to get opportunities to live the rest of their lives peacefully together.
With my heavy heart, I request your good office to gracefully use the constitutional Royal Prerogatives (per Article 2.16.c of the Constitution of Bhutan) to provide amnesty to their beloved family members. I would be ever grateful to Your Majesty if my honest and sincere appeal is duly considered.
I humbly look forward to Your Majesty’s positive response to my appeal.
Sender’s Name and Address