Remembering the great Bhutanese leader Dr Bhampa Rai on his first death anniversary

Your departure created a permanent vacuum in the movement against injustice in Bhutan and for the dignified repatriation of Bhutanese refugees.

Ram Karki

  • Read Time 2 min.

Dear Dr Saheb, exactly one year ago, you left us orphaned and went for all the time to come. It is like just yesterday that we used to talk for hours through Facebook Messenger. Every time I asked you ‘How are you doing, Dr saheb’ you used to say that as a doctor you must say that you are doing OK, though you were fighting against several chronic illnesses like a brave fighter. But despite all such sickness, you repeatedly clarified that you would die only after being repatriated to Bhutan with honor and dignity at your village in Bara. This mission remained forever unfulfilled when you succumbed to your illness on that unfortunate night of 19 June 2022.

During my last several conversations before that unfortunate night, you used to ask me to record your voice. “Ram bhai, please record everything I am speaking to you because these are my vision and advice, and if anything happens to me, you need to uphold it”. You further said, “Ram bhai, please continue working and voicing against the injustice done to us by the Bhutanese regime and advocating for the dignified return of our people in the camps”. “I see you are continuously campaigning for the freedom of Bhutanese political prisoners and raising your voice for the people in camps and inside Bhutan, and for that, you always have my blessing”.

Despite all such verbal advice, Dr Saheb, you even sent me a written letter of appreciation on 26 December 2021, six months before you departed for heaven. Your departure created a permanent vacuum in the movement against injustice in Bhutan and for the dignified repatriation of Bhutanese refugees.

Within no time of your departure, a very shameful fake Bhutanese refugee scandal surfaced. Thousands of Nepali citizens were enrolled as Bhutanese refugees to send them to America for resettlement, which was officially closed by UNHCR on 31 December 2016. Your absence and this scandal left genuine Bhutanese, for whom you sacrificed your entire life, in great limbo.

With your departure, Dr Saheb, we lost our only formidable guardian, a guru to look upon, and the feelings of warmth. Still, due to your blessings and immortal guidance, I feel motivated to work for the cause you always lived for.

Despite all such shameful news, I am sharing one good piece of information: our campaign to release Bhutanese political prisoners got boosted due to its success in bringing on board two major International Human Rights Groups, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), to undertake our campaign. Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a comprehensive report on Bhutanese political prisoners on 14 March 2023 which created a huge impact on our campaign. A lot has progressed after that concerning our political prisoners’ campaign.

Finally, I am concluding my letter by reiterating my continued commitment to pursuing ahead towards fulfilling your dream of establishing justice for our people. I expect to have more good news to share with you next year Dr Saheb.

I bow my head to receive your blessings, Dr Saheb. Please rest in peace and continue guiding us to fulfil the mission for which you lived, Dr Saheb.

Ram Karki