Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan objects to ‘pressures’ on Teknath Rizal to change his statement

The Hague-based organization says attempts have been made to pressure Rizal to change his court statement that he had made against other high-profile detainees, while also demanding his immediate release.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB), a Hague-based organization formed in 2019 to campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of Bhutanese political prisoners, has expressed deep concerns over the reports that there is an undergoing effort to pressure Tek Nath Rizal, a former prisoner of conscience, to change his court statement that he had made against other high-profile detainees.

As reported in the news published on  July 8 on quoting Rizal’s lawyer Ram Kumar Suwal, VIP accused Top Bahadur Rayamajhi’s lawyer has been putting pressure on Rizal to change his statement, saying that due to his mind control device effect, he gave a wrong statement against Top Bahadur Rayamajhi saying that Rayamajhi was the main brain behind the fake Bhutanese refugee scandal. “If you change your statement both Rayamajhi and you will be released from the prison” said Rayamajhi’s lawyer to Rizal as quoted by the news report. 

GCRPPB says it has learnt from sources that Rizal was kept in a cramped room with another detainee, Indrajit Rai, one of the VIP accused whom Rizal named in his statement as one the main culprits. “This reason, together with worsening prison conditions, has been causing Rizal constant psychological stress and insecurities,” GCRPPB said in its statement. 

“Our source also mentioned that Mr Rizal has recently been seen as weak and pale, and he has complained of being ignored by the prison authorities for his request to provide him with a good mattress, without which he has been caught with a cold now and then.” 

Rizal was a Bhutanese political prisoner for ten years after being forcefully handed over to Bhutan by the then-Nepal government in 1989. As per an Amnesty International report,  Rizal was tortured inhumanely in Bhutan prison during his ten years as a political prisoner. Since then, he has been suffering from various acute ailments, such as diabetes, blood pressure and other sickness related to his old age. Rizal is 76 years old. 

“Tek Nath Rizal has never compromised in his fight against injustice to the Bhutanese people, both in exile and inside,” GCRPPB statement mentions. “He sacrificed his entire life selflessly for the cause of the Bhutanese people; thus, at the age of 76 years, it is hard for any sensible person to believe that he was involved in a fake Bhutanese refugee scandal.”

GCRPPB has also demanded Rizal’s immediate release stating that “Rizal has wrongfully been accused as one of the culprits in the fake Bhutanese refugee scandal.” Until his release immediate GCRPPB has asked the Nepal government to allot a separate room free of frost and dampness for Rizal away from any of those detainees he named in his court statement, make sure that Rizal is consulted, and his prior consent taken before any stranger visitors are allowed to meet him, provide enough sleeping materials to him to keep himself warm in the room and provide proper medical check-ups periodically on a priority basis due to his fragile health and old age and ensure proper security measures in the prison. 

GCRPPB has requested national and international human rights bodies and civil society leaders to visit him in prison and periodically inquire about his well-being. Further, the organization has asked all the well-wishers of Rizal to show their support and solidarity by visiting him in prison (when possible) to boost his morals.