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A Story of Yad Gurung

Pittsburgh, PA, June, 2017

Yad Gurung and Jamuna Shrestha listening to his story in his home in Pittsburgh, PA, June, 2017.

Yad Gurung is 74 years old, living in Pittsburgh, PA, USA with family. He has had two wives, five sons and one daughter, but the first wife was remarried to another man. On November 3rd, 1990, he was arrested in Dandabari Gelephun Danda, Bhutan and kept in prison for eight years. During that period he was physically and psychologically tortured. He said that if you’re beaten 10-20 times, you may feel intolerable pain, but if you’re beaten uncountable times, you lose body sensation. You don’t even feel the pus discharging from wounds any longer. This means when a person is continuously beaten, a human being can actually still survive. He was kept handcuffed and foot-cuffed, and forced to do hard labor in the jungle.

After eight years, on November 4th 1997, he was released from prison, but not a single family member was left in Bhutan. All the native Nepali people had been driven out of Bhutan and all their property seized while he was in prison. He didn’t know how to survive in Bhutan. For two years he tried to work building houses, but he had paralysis from the beatings and had to be admitted to the hospital. He had nobody to help take care of him, but the house owner and one labor helped him. After he was discharged from hospital, he took medicines regularly, morning to evening, and walked round and round the Buddha stupa, probably 500-600 times a day chanting mantras for two months. Then he fully recovered from the paralysis. After six months he didn’t need support any longer. He spent another 12 years in Bhutan, but the Bhutanese government tried to arrest him again. So he fled from Bhutan. ICRC found him on the border of India and Nepal, and moved him to the refugee camp in Nepal. But all his family members had already been resettled in California, USA in 2009.
In camps, he did not have a JVT (Joint Verification Team) entry, so he traveled to Kathmandu to meet the home minister to request JVT status, but was not allowed to enter the office building. So he went to a human rights organization at the INSEC office that supported him to get JVT status, which allowed him to file an application for resettlement in a third country. UNHCR and the Nepalese government awarded JVT for 1,838 former prisoners of the 2,132 who applied in 2012.

Jamuna Shrestha and Yad Gurung with the Buddha's mantra displayed. Pittsburgh, PA, June, 2017.

The UNHCR had recorded where his family had resettled, and contacted his family. So he went back to the camp alone, with hopes of reuniting with his family. On February 21, 2013, his family moved to Pittsburgh and finally on August 20th 2015, he was resettled to Pittsburgh USA. After a 23-year-long journey, he finally reunited with his family. Now a-days lives with his wife, two sons and grandson together in Pittsburgh.

He said that, first I would like to give thank you and appreciated to my wife, how she struggled in my absence. I am very happy to got my family back, and I’m feeling like I have a totally new life. In USA everything’s available, and only one thing we have to do is to follow the rules. So I feel very safe and joyful here.
And I would like to say that this life is very valuable, so don’t kill yourself. It’s true that we all have to die someday, and we need to accept that. So during this life, live happily, peacefully and love and respect yourself and others. So every day I do meditation and pray for peace and prosperity for all.
Jamuna Shrestha and Yad Gurung