A letter from a friend about dying women.

Last night in the wee hours of the morning I received this letter from a dear friend. It explains why for some reason the hunger striking women in the Beldangi 2 camp are left on their own to die. It was send to a close friend of mine, me and one of the Bhutanese support foundations. I can only republish it so the world knows.

Dear Ram Daju and Others,

I am extremely sorry to inform you that condition of hunger strikers is getting pathetic day by day. Today is the 8th day ! They are struggling at the end of their lives, for which every Bhutanese needs to be sympathetic. Still, I am sad to read some emails from the seniors stating that it is baseless to express solidarity to them since most of them are Nepalese !!. I think, our objective should be to save their souls, and this is not the time to question if they are Bhutanese. The refugee community in camp expects a lot from the resettled folks, and such emails will create a different kind of scenario, and this must be seriously considered. The Government of Nepal and the UNHCR will decide who they are.

When we are taking about vulnerable children and their mothers, we need to have different kind of consideration. In my observation, if there are any Nepalis, they are women married to refugees. And, those who missed their registration are mostly the victims of Khosi disaster, which obstructed them to attend their given date of registration when the East-West Highway remained blocked for over four months. So, I feel we are not the authority to judge who they are. Personally, I have my brother, his Nepalese wife and two children, who have been living in camp since 1992. So, when we question of Bhutanese identity of remaining asylum seekers, we need to be careful. The resettlement has not end everything, the community should not be divided. When I am a genuine Bhutanese, so is my brother. And, marrying a Nepali wife at no ground should curtail my brother from getting his refugee status. I am sure, you will also support this explanation.

I have attached the details of the women in fast-unto-death and I am sure this document will explain to a greater extend if they are real Bhutanese or not. These people fulfill enough criteria to qualify them to stay in camps, managed and monitored by the GoN/UNHCR, and this is why they regard they must be given their refugee status, which a must to qualify for resettlement or repatriation. Otherwise, non-Bhutanese are never allowed to make their living inside the camps.

Ram daju, I received an email from the Punya Foundation that it has already initiated a signature campaign to press the authority to bring the hunger strike to an end logically, and basically to save the lives of agitating women. There are questions that the Foundation has taken the step beyond its capacity and reach. However, I feel every Bhutanese and his organization is morally bound to speak on behalf of fellow-citizens. Thus, the initiative should be considered positively. Or, can we bring any other organization in the front to speak on behalf of these people, who have decided to sacrifice their lives unless their demands are met? 

Dear seniors and friends, there are many things that we can do to save the lives of these women. We can jointly write a petition to Nepali Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai. We can also write to all members of the core-group and resettling countries so that they can press, through their respective embassies, the Nepali Ministry of Home Affairs to address the issue on time. We can lobby with the UNHCR’s Geneva-based HQ to grant ration and medical facilities to all asylum seekers on temporary basis (We should not forget that the UNHCR was distributing ration to everyone prior to the official census conducted between 2006-2008). Thus, there are many options that we can opt at this time, instead of blaming these helpless people. If we have supporting documents that majority of asylum seekers are Nepalese or Indians, I am sure we can ask the GoN/UNHCR to remove these people from the camp. I am sure that you must be aware that there are even new arrivals from Bhutan’s prison. Their wives and families have already been resettled. These people are alone in the camp, now. So, are they Bhutanese or Nepali?

And, the last option could also to start an initiative to fill the hungry stomachs. It is said, the number of pending asylum seekers are 3,700. Of this figure, some 1,600 have obtained their refugee ID cards. Thus, if we can feed remaining 2100 individuals for a month or two, the GoN/UNHCR will find ample time to exercise on their demands. This will be a small support and for short period but will definitely break the ongoing hunger strike.

Namaskar and regards,

Vidhyapati Mishra                             
Beldangi-II
Cell : 985-111-6975
Skype : vidhyapati
At this moment, the world shows no interest! Politicians and human rights advocates in the west do not respond to direct emails with only very few exceptions. Even the communities of refugees living in the western countries are to this day silent and do not take a public effort in building pressure to their governments or to Nepal and the UNHCR to end it all. At this moment the world is standing by and fifteen women are dying. In the following table details about these women is made available including reasons for not giving them refugee status:

I am sick of it all. Sick because of the way people are treated in this world and sick of the way the world just looks and stays silent and simply doesn’t seem to care.

Alice

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