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DAGAinfo

20 December 2002
No. 137


In this issue:
  1. FEATURE
    Human Rights Struggle Reaches a Crossroads
  2. NEWS in Brief
    Korea - Anti-American Demonstrations Errupt
    Hong Kong - Hong Kong NGOs Show of Solidarity
    Burma - Ex-Dictator Ne Win's Remains Scattered
    Thailand - Dr. Cynthia Maung Received 2002 Magsaysay Award
    Aceh - Violence in Aceh Continues
    Iraq - U.S. Set to use Mines in Iraq
  3. Urgent APPEALS
    Bhutan: Denial of the Right to Refugee Status
  4. ANNOUNCEMENT
    Opening of Justpeace Website

 

1. FEATURE - top
 

Human rights struggle reaches a crossroads

By Vitit Muntarbhorn

Today is International Human Rights Day. It is also Constitution Day in Thailand - a reminder of the struggle here and abroad for democracy and the entrenchment of human rights in society.

An apt reminder of the precarious situation facing those who advocate and defend human rights was last Wednesday night, when the campsite of the Assembly of the Poor _ a group of villagers and their friends protesting peacefully and calling for justice and redress in regard to national projects detrimental to their welfare _ was attacked by unknown marauders near Government House.

The lessons learned over the years here and elsewhere suggest the need to be ever vigilant in the protection of human rights. Even in a country like Thailand, the enforcement of the people-centred constitution and the implementation of human rights and their linkages to the democratic process remain an arduous task, as there are always vested interests trying to undermine the process. There thus are some key challenges.

First, there is the need for a comprehensive approach to human rights. As shown by the plight of the Assembly of the Poor, the resolution of problems involving development and livelihood issues in the economic, social and cultural fields depends very much upon political advocacy and access.

The right to "rice and water'' can only truly be enjoyed if people's right to freedom of expression, association and political participation is realised. There is thus a key relationship between human rights, democracy, sustainable development/the environment, peace and good governance.

An approach which fosters human rights needs to target a responsive and responsible mindset, laws, policies, programmes, practices, mechanisms, personnel, resources, information, education, and the broad-based cooperation and participation of stakeholders.

The message for poverty eradication and the equitable redistribution of resources should be reiterated.

At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg three months ago, the global community confirmed the target of halving the share of the world's people whose income is below a $1 a day and the share of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. It also targeted a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 and that all children would be able to complete primary schooling by 2015.

Second, there is the need for a balance between security concerns and human rights. This prickly area has been accentuated by the vortex of terrorism, particularly in the aftermath of Sept 11.

On the one hand, there is a need to pursue and punish more effectively those involved with terrorist acts. There is an array of international treaties to counter terrorism and closer cooperation between countries is emerging on this issue.

On the other hand, there is also the need to tackle environmental problems and the root causes of terrorism, including the various forms of exclusion snowballing into frustration and alienation which ultimately lead to violence. From a human rights perspective, it can be added that international standards already permit constraints on human rights in times of crisis, and these need to be followed in dealing with terrorism.

Yet, even in times of crisis, various rights need to be upheld. For instance, rights such as freedom from torture are absolute and cannot be belittled. Those who are arrested should have quick access to the courts, legal representation and the due process of law, including the general presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

While there is a tendency on the part of many governments to call for more restrictive national security laws, most countries already have extensive criminal laws which can be used against terrorism. If new laws are to be enacted, they need to be tested against international human rights standards. They should also have a sunset clause requiring their periodic and transparent review rather than being entrenched forever in the system.

Third, there is the need to protect human rights defenders. These defenders can be non-governmental or (inter-) governmental, individuals or groups.

The principles for their protection are found in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by the United Nations in 1998. This declaration underlines the defenders of human rights' right to freedom of assembly, association and expression, their right to public advocacy and peaceful participation, and their right to effective remedy where their rights are violated.

A worrying sign of the times is that some governments like to brand NGOs all too readily as agents of foreigners. This has enormous implications when these organisations are also branded extremist or terrorist when they are merely carrying out peaceful activities.

There is also a tendency to make foreign and local funding more difficult and to impose screening and closer supervision on the work of NGOs as a whole. A sense of balance and transparency is thus required on all sides, subject to international monitoring and the need for non-violence.

A disquieting trend after Sept 11 is the use in several countries of anti-terrorism measures to clamp down on human rights defenders, even though these defenders are merely carrying out democratic activities. This implies the need for more government action to prevent abuses and counter the culture of impunity among state actors and non-state actors.

Fourth, there is the need for effective prevention of violations and access to justice. On the one hand, there is a call to nurture a mindset and practices which can prevent human rights violations through more education and capacity-building. On the other hand, access to justice at least calls for effective redress where violations have taken place. This should include access to formal institutions such as the courts.

It calls into play more popular participation in ensuring such justice, such as through public hearings and inquiries to prevent and take precautions against (potential) damage. There is also the challenge of improving the quality of law enforcers, particularly to counter corruption and apathy.

Of special concern is access to and from marginalised and disadvantaged groups such as women, children, migrants/workers, refugees, displaced persons, minorities, indigenous peoples, the stateless, the elderly, those with disabilities, those with HIV/Aids, and the poor - both rural and urban.

The recently established International Criminal Court can be used as an instrument against individuals involved in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also can be an important tool to make those responsible for terrorism accountable internationally. Yet too few Asia-Pacific states are members of the Rome Statute, and they need to participate more and cooperate strongly with the work of this court.

Fifth, there is the need to promote human rights in the context of globalisation. Globalisation has been promoted very much from the angle of greater integration of trade, information and communications in the free market economy, epitomised by the World Trade Organisation. Yet in that process, many groups have regrettably been left at the periphery or discarded altogether.

The globalisation process and the WTO have not been too comfortable in dealing with human rights issues, but these have now arrived unavoidably at their door, particularly in relation to the right to health and access to drugs to help those in need, especially those with HIV/Aids. The protection of intellectual property, particularly in relation to the invention and manufacture of key drugs under the globalisation process should be better balanced with survival needs and the rights of those ravaged by disease.

The integration of human rights in the globalisation process needs to be pursued more strongly. It also can be advocated that if there is a conflict between globalisation and human rights, the latter must prevail. Globalisation "with a human face" is the preferred path to the future.

- Vitit Muntarbhorn is a professor with the faculty of law at Chulalongkorn University. He was formerly a UN special rapporteur on the sale of children with a global mandate under the UN Human Rights Commission (Geneva).

 

2. NEWS in Brief - top
 

KOREA

ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS ERRUPT

On June 13, 2002, Shin Hyo-soon and Shim Mi-sun, both Korean middle school girls were walking along a public road in Yangju Country, Kyonggi Province of Korea on their way to celebrate a friend's birthday. A column of US military vehicles was using this narrow road for a field exercise. In South Korea where more than 37,000 American troops are stationed, it is not uncommon to meet and be disturbed by such convoys. On this day, however, the presence of US military troops was more ominous. A 60-ton AVLM, used to clear mines, pulled to the side of the road and crushed the two young girls to death.

The tragedy and the ensuing US military trial that acquitted the driver and controller of the AVLM of any responsibility for the deaths has ignited widespread anti-American feelings within all sectors in the society. Large anti-American demonstrations, both in Korea and in other countries, have raised the issue of the legality of US bases on foreign soil.

[Source: DAGA Dossier, December 2002]

HONG KONG

HONG KONG NGO SHOW OF SOLIDARITY

Members of the NGO community in Hong Kong held a peaceful demonstration on Monday, December 16, to express their solidarity with South Korean peoples protesting against the growing US military interventions in the region.

In their joint statement, the NGOs highlighted the nefarious role played by the US in undermining the Korean peoples' sovereignty and strongly endorsed their demands to bring about lasting peace.

'We stand with the Korean people in remembering and celebrating the dignity of each of the lives forever affected by the crimes of the powerful,' the statement read. 'We also believe that through their continuing efforts, a new day is now coming when peace, dignity, and respect for human life will flourish over violence and the arrogance of power.'

The statement was signed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), Asian Students Association (ASA), Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA), Hong Kong Student Christian Federation (HKSCF), United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-HK), World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), as well as several concerned individuals. After a lively march to the chanting of slogans, the statement was presented to representatives of the US Consulate in Hong Kong.

The demonstrators assembled in Chater Garden around noon, where a few speakers briefly addressed the gathering. Welcoming the demonstrators to the event on behalf of ARENA, Aditi Chowdhury hoped that the massive peaceful protests in South Korea would inspire similar movements in other countries that would ultimately lead to the withdrawal of US military forces from Korea and the rest of Asia. Bruce Van Voorhis of the Asian Human Rights Commission began on a very personal note saying: 'As an American living in Asia, there are times when I often feel ashamed. This is one of those times.'

Personal, too, was the message from Rev. Shin Sheung Min of the World Student Christian Federation, as he reflected upon the recent happenings in his homeland. The spontaneous protests were a true reflection of people's anger and desires, an expression created by thousands of ordinary people organising in their own communities, he said, and described how large numbers of primary school children and elderly citizens were also out on the streets in below zero temperatures, participating in the peaceful protests, which had their roots in the peoples' deep yearnings for peace and freedom, after more than 50 years of US military intervention in Korea.

Later, carrying placards reading 'Justice not Immunity,' 'US troops out of Korea,' 'No sham trials for guilty Americans in Asia,' and 'Peace and Reunification,' the group marched to the US Consulate. The spirited, colourful march moved through the streets of Central Hong Kong with chants of 'Koreans want Justice!,' 'No immunity!,' and 'Peace in Asia!' ringing in the air.

Upon reaching the Consulate, they asked to present the US Consul General with their statement, along with a dossier on the crimes of the US military in Asia.

The reaction of the Consulate was interesting. Though they already had been informed of the visit, consular staff initially refused to meet or talk with the demonstrators. Police and security personnel surrounded them, as gates were locked around the building.

The NGO delegation refused to leave, continuing to display posters and chanting slogans. In several impromptu speeches, demonstrators decried the arrogance of the US in the world, finding a metaphor in the arrogance of consular officials, who did not even show the decency to come outside and meet with them. With plenty of noise and vibrant colours, the crowd waited in the hot sun, demanding a response from inside.

After a while, a security officer offered to accept the statement himself. The demonstrators made it clear, however, that they would hand over the statement only to the Consul General or an official representative. At long last the Press Spokesperson came out to receive the statement after the security officer made sure that the demonstrators were clear about 'US policy' in such events - maintaining a 'safe' distance from consular officials and not touching him/her.

The statement was then read aloud, before being handed over. It read: 'The Korean people are fed up with this continuing history of US hegemony that has threatened their prospects for peace every day, for more than 50 years. They will not take it any more, and have a spoken with a common voice through their vibrant, community-based initiatives against militarism and violence. We stand in solidarity with their efforts in this important time for peace-loving people everywhere.'

The consular representative received the statement but offered no comment, beyond saying that the US government would consider the demands of the Korean people. To which the group unanimously responded 'Justice, Not Rhetoric!'

[Source: ARENA, Hong Kong]

BURMA

EX-DICTATOR NE WIN'S REMAINS SCATTERED

The remains of former dictator Gen. Ne Win, who died in disgrace under house arrest, were scattered Friday by his daughter in the Yangon River in accordance with Buddhist rites.

Myanmar's state media blacked out news of Ne Win's passing away, making it clear that he was as much a political pariah in death as in the last year of his life.

Ne Win, 91, had been under house arrest since the March 7 arrest of his eldest daughter Sandar Win's husband and three sons for allegedly plotting a coup against the military government. They were sentenced to death in September and have appealed.

Ne Win, once thought to wield great influence on the government until his kin's arrest, died on Thursday morning at his lakeside villa with only Sandar Win by his side.

He was cremated Thursday afternoon in a private ceremony, denied the military honors befitting a general. Only about 25 relatives and friends - but no government representatives - attended.

[Source: Associated Press, Friday, December 6, 2002]

THAILAND

DR. CYNTHIA MAUNG RECEIVED 2002 MAGSAYSAY AWARD

The Magsaysay Award Foundation held the Ceremonial Conferment of 2002 Award for Community Leadership to Dr. Cynthia Maung on October 28, 2002 at Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the ceremony, Carmencita T. Abella, president of Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation made welcome remarks and then read the citation. Dr. Gelia T. Castillo, vice-chairperson of Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation conferred the award to Dr. Cynthia Maung. And Dr. Cynthia Maung addressed the response speech. In response speech, Dr. Cynthia said, " We all come from different parts of the world, but I'm sure that we all have the same concerns about the global refugee crisis."

Dr. Cynthia said, " In our country, over one million people are displaced internally and approximately two million people are displaced into neighbouring countries. For over 40 years, the military regime has controlled Burma. This has left the country isolated and very divided with civil society almost totally disrupted. Children are born everyday without birth registration. Children and young people continue to drop out of school. They are vulnerable to being forced into military activities such as child soldiers and porter as well as trafficking and prostitution. All of these problems affect the psychological well being of the whole nation."

" This award recognizes the courage and dignity of the people who are working towards freedom and peace for Burma. Thank you very much for supporting our struggle and for helping us to build a new partnership with all of you." said Dr. Cynthia Maung.

Former Prime Minister of Thailand and 1997 Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, Anand Panyarachun made the closing remarks on behalf of the Magsaysay Awardees.

Dr. Cynthia Maung is a Karen doctor and has been treating the thousands of Burmese-refugees for fourteen years in Mae Sot (of Thailand), a sanctuary for Burmese refugees in flight from upheaval and civil war at home.

[Source: Asian Tribune]

ACEH

VIOLENCE IN ACEH CONTINUES

The Aceh Commission for Disappearances and victims of violence (KontraS Aceh) reported a number of violence acts that were going on in Aceh during January to November 2002. 1,307 killed, 1,860 were tortured, 1,186 were arrested or arbitrary detention, 377 cases of disappearances (some of them already known where he/she detained, there is found be corpses) and 46 women were sexually harassed. Those numbers of violence were part of practical impunity and violence acts that happened any years before. In 1999, 421 killed with summary/extrajudicial killing, 802 tortured, 293 arrested/arbitrary detention, and 101 disappeared. In 2000, 524 summary killing cases, 419 were arrested/arbitrary detention, and 140 disappearances. In 2001, Aceh commission for disappearances also reported: 1,014 summary killing cases, 768 tortured, 578 were arrested/arbitrary detention, and 377 disappearances.

Based on the data and number that is described above proves that the number of victims of violence and acts of violence have increased each year. We ensure that, the numbers that reported above are lower than the reality acts in field, caused by our limitation to found the remote areas, also caused by the fear of victims or families and witness to report about violence, Thus far there is no exact mechanism provided by the state to protect the victims and witnesses of various crimes against humanity and human rights violations.

Based on the numbers, data or reality, Aceh commission for disappearances and victims of violence (KontraS Aceh) is willing to submit several alternative solutions to decrease the high number of violence acts that are going on in Aceh.

1. Both sides (Indonesian Armed Force/Indonesian Police and Free Aceh Movement) have to build up trust building and have a goodwill to end a longer conflict in Aceh.

2. While getting peace process, both sides have to keep out any statements or threaten each other, because it would become a serious obstacle in building trust and towards the peace process.

3. One of parties, could not be allowed to pressure another party with reason that's to force to peace agreement be signed. Because that is not a good starting on the cessation of hostilities and trust building, and that will create a worse conflict in the future. In another word, conflict will not be a comprehensive ending, but only muffled a while.

4. Both sides have to talked clearly on ceasefire mechanism without under pressure, because ceasefire is the first step to end conflict in Aceh in accordance with democratic and dignity solution.

5. Both sides have to bring the international observer who have capability to reach all of the areas that ensured as stages of violence, and they should have authority "to consider" violence of agreements who has been done by either party.

6. We invoke to the state to provide guarantee for victims and witness of violence acts, and have to announce a clearly mechanism

[Source: Kontras Aceh, December 3, 2002]

IRAQ

U.S. SET TO USE MINES IN IRAQ

The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.

To prepare for a possible war with Baghdad, the Pentagon has stockpiled land mines at U.S. bases in countries ringing Iraq, according to Pentagon records. The decision to make the mines available comes despite a recent report by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, concluding that their use in the 1991 Gulf War impeded U.S. forces while doing nothing to impair Iraqi forces.

Using the mines would stoke the international debate over the merits and morality of using land mines, which can remain deadly long after fighting ends.

From 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed worldwide each year by land mines, according to the United Nations. Of those, 80% are civilians and one-third are children.

In advance of a possible war, Pentagon records show, the U.S. military has stored land mines in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and on Diego Garcia, a British-owned island in the Indian Ocean where U.S. forces have a base.

In 1997, international negotiations produced a treaty to ban the use of land mines; 146 countries are parties to it. The United States has not signed the treaty, but in 1998 President Clinton directed U.S. armed forces to phase out use of land mines by 2003, except in Korea.

[Source: Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY]

 

3. Urgent APPEAL - top

 

Denial of the right to refugee; Political maneuvering, stagnation and human rights violations

One year has past since the refugees of Khudunabari, the first and smallest Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, were verified on 14 Dec. 2001, but there has been little or no activity to verify the remaining 88 percent of, or 89,100, Bhutanese refugees.

It was hoped that verification would lead to the speedy repatriation of the 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who have been in exile for over a decade. However, like the first bilateral discussions between Nepal and Bhutan in 1993 where they agreed to do precisely this, the refugees languish in camps, victims to political maneuvering. Repatriation seems to be years, if not decades, away.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Despite its signature to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Bhutan took measures to ethnically cleanse the Nepali speaking Bhutanese known as Lhotshampas. Lhotshampas are Southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin, most of whose predecessors settled as farmers in southern Bhutan between 1875 and 1940. With the aim to implement its one nation one culture policy based on the traditions of the ruling Ngalong ethnic group, the 1958 Citizenship Act giving citizenship to Lhotshampas who had lived in Bhutan for at least ten years and owned land, was retroactively narrowed by the Citizenship Acts of 1977 and 1985. Not only was the requirement of residence in Bhutan extended from ten to twenty years, but language and cultural requirements that reflected those of the Ngalongs were also made compulsory. The 1985 Act began to be enforced arbitrarily on southern regions alone, with additional outrageous requirements: those who could not show documentation from 1958, even if they had documentation of residence in 1957, were not considered citizens. Protests and petitions to the king that began in 1990 resulted in violence, costing the lives of both citizens and officials. Unfortunately, even those who petitioned peacefully were deemed "anti-national" and many were imprisoned. Policies were created so that anyone who were deemed "anti-national" would be evicted from the country. Evidence shows that threats, coercion, torture, rape, arrests, and harassment were used to make many Lhotshampas leave Bhutan; during this time homes were destroyed and 76 of the 114 schools in southern Bhutan were closed. Some refugees were forced to sign Voluntary Migration Forms (VMF), to which the government denies. From 1990 to 1993 over 80,000 refugees crossed the border to India and then Nepal.

Unfortunately, little has been done to change the situation. For over a decade the dignity and livelihood of the Bhutanese refugees have been violated, and though the refugee status, by its very nature is supposed to be temporary, refugee life has become systematized and institutionalized. For ten years these refugees have queued for their rationing of food and clothing, and, unlike Tibetan refugees in India, are prohibited from working. Movement is restricted and, due to donor drain, educational opportunities for youth have been curtailed. The bleakness of repatriation has led some to consider violence. Furthermore, safety within the camps cannot be taken for granted. Cases of sexual violence committed by UNHCR officials against Bhutanese refugee women and girls have been recorded since 2000.

Though bilateral talks between Nepal and Bhutan agreeing to a verification process leading to the repatriation began in Oct. 1993, it was only during the 10th bilateral meeting on Dec. 2000 that they agreed to establish the Joint Verification Team (JVT), which was made up of either Bhutanese or Nepali officials alone. The process was criticized as being opaque ?as neither by what equation one would be deemed Bhutanese or what they would with the findings was told ?and slow, and a mere show to appease the international community. Though measures were taken to speed the process in the 11th bilateral talk in Aug. 2001, Amnesty International estimated that six years would be necessary for all refugees to be verified. Though the interviews that began in Khudunabari, the least populated of the seven camps, ended on 14 Dec. 2001, the JVT did not disclose the results of the verification. Furthermore, the JVT made no further actions to proceed in completing the verification of the six remaining camps, leaving approximately 88 percent or 89,100 yet to be verified, according to the Association of Human Rights Activists Bhutan (AHURA Bhutan). AHURA, 99.8 percent of the Khudunabari refugee families presented valid documentary evidences to the JVT.

In-Action:

A year has past, but the next (12th) bilateral talk is still pending, and both states have yet to come to any conclusion as to how the Bhutanese refugees should be categorized. Nepal's proposal of a two-part categorization (Bhutanese and non-Bhutanese) during the 11th bilateral talk was rejected by Bhutan. Bhutan instead insisted on the four-part categorization agreed in 1993 a) Bonafide Bhutanese, if they were forcefully evicted, b) Bhutanese who emigrated, c) Non-Bhutanese, and d) Bhutanese who had committed criminal acts? but many NGOs and refugees have been concerned that this violates international norms of citizenship and would take away the citizenship of many Bhutanese refugees, especially since many of the terms of the categorization remain undefined. Bhutan's main contention is that many of the refugees in the camps are not in fact true Bhutanese nationals, but illegal migrants, local citizens of Nepal, or those who willfully forfeited their right to citizenship by leaving the country. Evidence shows the contrary.

Furthermore, thus far no measures have been taken to discuss the repatriation procedures and the conditions to which the refugees will return. Evidence state that the government has pillaged houses and villages of the refugees, only to repopulate them with Northern Bhutanese. Discrimination against the Lhotshampas continues within Bhutan's borders. Civil servants who had relatives in refugee camps were forced to retire and Lhotshampas continue to be harassed. Though Bhutan is party to the CRC, and is obligated not to discriminate children based on ethnicity or descent, in June 2001, the Committee on CRC expressed concern because Lhotshampas children received de facto discrimination in access to education and services.

Role of the UNHCR:

Though the UNHCR's responsibility is to promote the conclusion and ratification of international conventions for the protection of refugees, its involvement to speed the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees has been disappointing and the UNHCR remained unresponsiveness to Oxfam-GB's 2000 report on sexual abuse in the camps. Only after a Nov. 2002 expose from the Khatmandu Post did the UNHCR headquarters investigate and admit that 16 UNHCR officials were guilty of committing sexual violence against Bhutanese refugee women and children. As the UNHCR has taken steps to review the refugee camp situation, it can take greater participation in the verification process, urging both governments to come to a proper conclusion regarding the categorization of the refugees.

Where has the International Community been?

Though the international community responded with outrage to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, little consistent attention has been given to the plight of the Bhutanese refugees. Governments and donor agencies continued to pour resources into Bhutan, and only a handful of NGOs sought to place the needed pressure on the governments of Bhutan and Nepal. Though the European Parliament passed a June 2000 resolution, calling on Bhutan and Nepal with cooperation with all parties involved to reach an agreement for the early and voluntary repatriation of refugees to their country of origin, its members like Denmark, Austria, and the Netherlands continue to donate funds to the Bhutanese government, without directly addressing the refugee matter. These three states, in addition to other donors like Japan and Switzerland are all party to the CSR. Furthermore, donor states, which also include India and Kuwait, have all ratified or acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and affirm that fundamental rights are not exclusive to their State's citizenry but to all human beings.

Furthermore, India is Bhutan's largest donor country its lack of involvement has been disappointing, particularly because a) 25,000 Bhutanese refugees are said to be residing in India and b) many of the Nepal-based refugees had fled first to India, only to be taken eastward to Nepal. The Indo-Bhutan Treaty of 1949 states that while India will not interfere in Bhutan's domestic administration, Bhutan will be guided by India's advice to international relations and as India has great influence as a sub-regional leader, India can play a critical role in furthering the discussion between Nepal and Bhutan.

SUGGESTED ACTION

As there has been little movement since the verification of the first camp, and as the Bhutanese refugee situation is an international matter, AHRC urges you to send letters to the governments of a) Bhutan, b) Nepal, and c) India, d) donor countries (Denmark, Austria, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland), and the UNHCR.

 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT - top
 

CENTER FOR JUSTPEACE IN ASIA WEBSITE

The Center for Justpeace in Asia, a new initiative of DAGA, has opened their website at http://daga.dhs.org/justpeace/.   The webpage will link grassroots justpeace activities with the broader justpeace movements. An electronic newsletter will also be produced offering brief summaries of regional justpeace activities, urgent action calls and reflective articles on current events. If you wish to receive this newsletter, you can send a request to:  justpeace@daga.org.hk.

 


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