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Some reference points for a sustainable solution

Southern Bhutanese children, both refugees and some of those still living in Bhutan, are denied their right to a nationality. Southern Bhutanese children in Bhutan continue to be discriminated against on a daily basis. Yet Bhutan has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child without reservation. It is open to the King and Government of Bhutan to honour their commitments under the Convention.

A deliberate process of poverty creation excludes a whole section of Bhutanese society from the social and economic mainstream. In pursuit of the millenium goal of poverty reduction, the King and Government of Bhutan may decide to reverse their policy of exclusion.

Thousands of Bhutanese people live in fear and insecurity, despite the fact that King Jigme Singye Wangchuk has propounded Gross National Happiness as the unifying concept for Bhutan’s long-term development. It is open to His Majesty, the supreme authority in all matters of law and justice, to include all Bhutanese in the project of Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan cherishes its strong Buddhist tradition, and holds that Buddhist precepts of compassion, tolerance and non-violence are integral to the Bhutanese way of life. If this is really so, there is still room to hope for a resolution of the refugee crisis consistent with Bhutan's values and high aspirations.

“I tried to stay in my country, and serve the country with loyalty and dedication. I honestly thought things would change, but it has been more than ten years now and there is no sign of improvement. Every year families are forced to leave the country. I and my family members were pushed too far. My nephews and nieces were all denied education. I knew my children wouldn’t be allowed to go to school. I decided that I should think about my children’s future. I just thought I would go and live somewhere and maybe when things improve I could go back.”

From the testimony of a southern Bhutanese citizen of Nepalese origin who left Bhutan in 2001 to seek asylum in another country.