Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Unbroken: An Exhibition of Hope and Determination

(photovoice.org)

(photovoice.org)

Dr. Sadik
How are you a refugee? I think that's what they want to hear.

Hari Acharya
Should I get to that instead?

Dr. Sadik
I think so, yes, because we are talking about children in conflict situations.

Hari Acharya
Yes that's what I was going to get to later...I want to get to this because that's what happens...these are the reports that come to the UN. That's how the international community sees Bhutan, and what I wanted to do today is just to let you know that these are not the reports that my country goes by. My story...I have been repeating over and over again...and it makes for tears. It does not make for laughter. It does not make for hope. Every time I read those pictures out there, whatever is written below them...I actually don't want to talk about it...I'm sorry. I'll just finish this and I'll go to that though.

NGO Response says that the circumstances leading to the flight of refugees from Bhutan are replete with well-documented violations of Bhutan's obligation under the CRC. And the failure so far to seek here a durable solution for the refugees represents an ongoing obstacle to Bhutan's fulfillment of these obligations. Bhutan signed the CRC and ratified it in 1990. I was thrown out of Bhutan in 1992. Bhutan came here to the UN and ratified this thing. On the other hand, continuously children, along with their families, were being thrown out. So what happened was my dad opposed the policies that were going on. He got arrested. He was hung upside-down, thrown, beaten up. I protested. I was 19 then. And my father, my family, along with 24 other families who supported us, were bundled out of the country. I was thrown out because my father signed for me. He was forced to sign for it. So the government says that parents are required to feed their children, clothe the children, give them education, they're responsible. When my father pleaded with the officer who was throwing him out, his constant refrain was, "where am I gonna go with this bunch of children?" I have six, seven siblings, younger than me. "How am I going to feed them? Where shall I take them now? I have no home, nowhere...I don't want to go. I want to stay." That was his constant refrain. Bhutan comes up with this report to the UN, and signs and ratifies the CRC, and then here, two years after that...when Bhutan was...this report was due in 1992. It came in 1999. Bhutan was supposed to be drafting this report. It was busy with throwing out kids like me. So that's how I became a refugee. And...I...I've got it here that I have only two minutes more. In two minutes...the things that I have undergone are really long and I will not be able to finish. I will try to summarize this by saying that, of the various things that Bhutan has violated as far as children are concerned, it has violated the non-discrimination, Article 2, of the CRC. Because people in the southern part of the country, who are of Nepalese descendant, are not treated at par with children in other parts of the country. The existence of more than 30,000 children of Bhutan as refugees in the refugee camps in Nepal is itself a huge violation. UNICEF's website cites data of Bangladesh about child mortality. It cites data from Sri Lanka about child mortality, and tries to contrast that saying how good Bhutan is doing. That's not right! Bhutan is not at all good. Bhutan is good if we don't take into account the number of children it has made homeless, it has made stateless, and which it declines to own. If you need more information, I'll put flyers out there by the table, there are websites which you could look at and get more information. For conclusion's sake, I'd just like to finish with this...on September 10th, 1990, the King of Bhutan said, "We do not need priests. Priests do not help us. We need criticism and advice. It is a question of national survival and we must not be adverse to criticism. We are an adaptable people." When I am speaking about what he has done so far to my people, I'm upholding his own principle. And he had made us refugees, thrown us out of the country, for upholding his own principle. And I implore that people like you, with conscience, should pressure the government of Bhutan and your own governments to make sure that the king, the most benevolent king of this century, lives up to his principles. Thank you.