•      Mon May 20 2024
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GCRPPB protests at the International Court of Justice in support of Bhutanese political prisoners



Kathmandu, May 13: The Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB), a Hague-based global advocacy forum that has been advocating for the early release of all Bhutanese political prisoners since its formation in September 2019, has organized a protest rally on Sunday at The International Court of justice demanding the early release of all Bhutanese political prisoners.

The Bhutanese community members living in The Netherlands and their well-wishers demonstrated for 2 hours, holding placards and banners that contained slogans like Stop Human Rights Violation in Bhutan, No Gross National Happiness without Human rights, Stop ethnic discrimination in Bhutan, Bhutanese refugees deserve dignified repatriation, Respect presses Freedom in Bhutan, Grant Amnesty to all the Political Prisoners in Bhutan and Release all the political prisoners immediately.

Speaking on the occasion, the founder and the global coordinator of the GCRPPB, Mr Ram Karki, said that despite declaring itself a democratic country with a written constitution that contains every right of the civilised people, Bhutan continued to imprison those same human rights activists whose efforts played a significant role in establishing this present democracy. Karki further said that the constitution of Bhutan empowers Bhutan’s King to grant amnesty to those political prisoners without which such prisoners must continue to suffer in the prisons. Still, the King has been repeatedly ignoring the call for amnesty from the Bhutanese and international communities. However, in the past, the Bhutanese monarch exercised his right to grant amnesty and freed several political prisoners.

Karki further said that the families of Bhutanese political prisoners have been appealing to the King of Bhutan through several mediums to grant amnesty to their beloved, but all such appeals were ignored. The Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (GCRPPB), formed in 2019 with the families’ initiative, has continuously appealed since its formation to the King to grant political prisoners amnesty. However, such appeals were totally ignored. Lately, Human Rights Watch has published a comprehensive report on the Bhutanese political prisoners. It has appealed to the Bhutan King to release them without further delay and even advocated for support from the international community. Still, as of now, no sign of getting them released can be seen.

Coordinator Karki narrated the harrowing situations that the Bhutanese political prisoners have been facing as has been citing recently released Political Prisoner Mr Madhukar Magar, who was released after 30 years of rigorous imprisonment in Chemgang Central Prison in Thimphu.

Furthermore, Karki appealed to the International Community, namely The European Union, the US State Department, the UN Human Rights Council, and other justice-loving people of this world, to use their influence on Bhutan to grant amnesty to all the political prisoners without further delay.

The protest program, which was chaired by the prominent leader of the Netherlands-based Bhutanese community leaders and GCRPPB’s advisor, Mr Gopal Gurung, was organised to pressurise the European Union to put forward the issue of Bhutanese political prisoners during its forthcoming table talks with The Bhutan government, taking place on 8th June 2024 at Brussels was attended among others by senior community members Mr Devi Charan Basnet (Shabdung), Padam Basnet, Dasarath Bastola and others.

As of now, 35 verified Bhutanese political prisoners have been languishing for several decades in the various prisons of Bhutan. 6 of them are reportedly seriously sick due to the inhuman torture they inflicted during the time of their arrest. Several Bhutanese human rights activists, namely Mr Loknath Acharya, Mr Bom Bahadur Tiwari and Kul Bahadur Basnet, have still been missing after they were arrested by the Bhutan police from several locations several decades ago.