Bhutan refugees in Nepal send SOS to Yechury | india | Hindustan Times
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Bhutan refugees in Nepal send SOS to Yechury

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 19:54 IST

Languishing in Nepal's refugee camps for nearly 15 years, over 100,000 Bhutanese evicted by the Druk kingdom on Sunday sent an SOS to visiting Indian leader Sitaram Yechury, asking him to intervene with the Indian government on their behalf.

As Yechury, an influential politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist winded up his three-day visit to Kathmandu, a delegation of Bhutanese refugees handed over a petition to him, asking for New Delhi's intervention.

"India says the refugee problem is a bilateral issue between Bhutan and Nepal," said Teknath Rizal, former adviser to the king of Bhutan and ex-member of parliament, who was jailed by his government for protesting against the eviction of Bhutanese of Nepali origin from southern Bhutan.

"However, whenever we try to return to Bhutan through India, the Indian authorities stop us. That shows it's not a bilateral issue. India too is involved and should help us to return."

Since last month, Bhutanese refugees have been on an indefinite sit-in in front of the UN office in the capital to draw international attention to their plight. A second group has also been staging a sit-in in eastern Nepal near the bridge that connects Nepal and India.

Though Nepal has allowed the refugees to live in the seven camps in its eastern parts administered by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, it doesn't allow them to work or own property.

Forced to live on charity, the camps have seen a growing incidence of alcoholism, domestic violence, prostitution and even suicides.