Table of Contents
- Jamuna Shrestha and Poonam Pokwal Visit Ohio
- A Story of Yad Gurung
- Experiences with the Bhutanese in Pittsburgh, PA USA
- Mini-Workshop with the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh
- Planting Seeds of Peace
- Crisis in Darjeeling
- A Taste of Empowerment
- AVP Taste of Empowerment Mini-Workshop
- 2017 May-July • Jamuna Shrestha Visits with Resettled Bhutanese in the US
- Jamuna Shrestha to visit the US
- 2016 September • AVP trauma healing workshop
- 2015 November • Workshops help with recovery
- 2015 Oct • Beginning workshops for recovery
- 2015 Sept • Nepal is Beginning to Heal
- Seeking Discernment
- 2015 June • Vidya Sutton returns to Kathmandu after the earthquakes
- Trusting in the discernment of the local Nepalese
- Nepal Earthquake Relief Log
- Visiting communities to listen to stories of loss and repair destroyed hopes for survival
- Nepal Relief Update
- First batch of relief support is distributed in Nepal
- Update from today’s visit to a village
- April 2015 • Earthquakes hit Nepal
- 2015 March • Discernment workshop in Nepal
- Planned Nepal Friends Peace team • March – April 2015
- Bhutanese refugees struggle after relocating in the US
- 2014 Apr – May • Nepal
- 2013 December • Nepal Peace Team
- Training Facilitators for AVP Workshops in Refugee Camps in Eastern Nepal
- Struggles in the Lhotshampa Refugee Camps
- Lhotshampa Refugee History
- Supporting AVP Facilitators in Nepal
Lhotshampa Refugee History
Nepal and Bhutan are both mountain kingdoms that have preserved their nationhood amidst two Asian giants, India and China. Beginning in the late 19th Century, Bhutan invited Nepali immigration to aid in building infrastructure and agriculture. This group of Nepali Bhutanese are called the Lhotshampa. They settled in the south of Bhutan and developed their own cultures, customs, and language that blended their Nepali ancestry with Bhutanese ways.
Bhutan underwent an interesting identity formation in the face of the Chinese invasion and colonization of Tibet in the mid 20th Century. Although Bhutanese religion, culture, and language is close to its Tibetan and Tibetanoid neighbors, it strongly and suddenly embraced and developed its own national identity – probably as a way to avoid a looming and possible Chinese conquest. This is today’s picture of Bhutan, a lasting remnant of the Tibetanoid empire – yet strongly promoting a cohesive national identity, including national dress, language, dance, food, song, royal family, etc.
In the 1980’s Bhutan changed its citizenship laws, especially in relation to Lhotshampa citizenship. At the time the Lhotshampa comprised roughly on third of the population, posing a possible threat to political order. By 1990, government policies became more repressive for the Lhotshampa and they fled as refugees from the government’s actions or were expelled as their citizenship was proclaimed illegitimate. The Lhotshampa’s sudden expulsion left Bhutan with abandoned villages, an injured farming base, and international criticism. A few Lhotshampa still remain in Bhutan, yet face discrimination as a marginalized, minority ethnicity.
By 1992, over 80,000 Lhotshampa had moved to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee camps in Eastern Nepal. Nepal had already been working with refugee policies through the Tibetan Diaspora beginning decades earlier. Although neither cultural refugee group can gain Nepali citizenship, the Tibetans have slightly greater freedom of settlement (since they fall into the partial jurisdiction of the Tibetan government in exile) whereas the Lhotshampa are mainly limited to the UNHCR administered camps.
In recent years, a contingent of nations is working with UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Lhotshampa community on resettlement programs to other nations. The majority of resettlement is to the United States totaling 60,000 in 2012, however Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, and the Netherlands have also settled around 11,000. Many refugees are interested in resettlement due to Bhutan’s continual denial of responsibility and aversion to future repatriation or justice.