Bhutanese communities call for fair trial of their leader Tek Nath Rizal – South Asia Time

Bhutanese communities call for fair trial of their leader Tek Nath Rizal

 May 31, 2023  

Kathmandu: Several Bhutanese community organisations have expressed concerns regarding the circumstances surrounding Tek Nath Rizal’s arrest. “We fear that he will be unjustly used as a scapegoat, and our primary concern is whether he will receive fair treatment,” said the statement issued by various Bhutanese community organisations in Nepal and abroad.

“We the Bhutanese (refugee) community organizations and representatives come together to express our concern for dragging our leader Mr Tek Nath Rizal into a syndicated crime involving a racket making fake-Bhutanese refugees, the joint statement said. “This heinous act has tarnished Nepal’s image and severely impacted the prospects of genuine Bhutanese refugees seeking the permanent resolution of their impending crisis.”

While commending the government of Nepal for initiating an investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam and acting against influential individuals involved in perpetrating the crime, the statement says that the arrest of Rizal, a prominent Bhutanese human rights leader, in connection with this scandal is “unbelievable and without a justifiable motive.” The statement says that accusing Rizal, a dedicated advocate for human rights and a staunch proponent of democratic change in Bhutan, “is a deliberate design of some of the alleged people to tarnish his image, crown him with all blames and escape from the allegation. He has been living on the mercy of the government of Nepal and he needs the most support now.”

The Bhutanese communities have drawn the attention to Rizal’s background and the challenges he faced in his unwavering pursuit of justice in the past. “In the late 1980s, he sought asylum in Nepal, but tragically, he was arrested and forcibly returned to Bhutan in 1989. Subsequently, Mr. Rizal was sentenced to life when endured physical and psychological torture until external pressures eventually led to his release after 10 years,” the statement says. “Now, he is arrested again, this time charging him of corruption and a crime of denationalizing the citizens of Nepal and making them refugees in paper. The motive of the people accusing him is to ruin his future and outset from the leadership of the community. A leader of a refugee community is wrongly accused of such a crime.” 

The Bhutanese communities have demanded that Rizal should be provided with necessary support. “Mr. Rizal’s health is frail, and he has struggled with his mental well-being since his release from the Bhutanese prison. We urgently request that Mr. Rizal be provided with the necessary support to effectively represent himself or fully comprehend the intricate nature of the corruption allegations labeled against him,” the statement adds.

The Bhutanese communities have raised the issues of adverse impact this syndicated crime will have on the remaining refugees’ prospects for repatriation, assimilation, and resettlement as a permanent solution. “The reputation of genuine refugees, who have sought refuge in the camps for three decades, has been gravely tarnished by this fraudulent activity.” They have called for “the immediate release of Mr. Rizal, condemn the act of denationalizing Nepalese citizens with the motive of making them Bhutanese refugees and support the ongoing investigation with a trust that all culprits involved will be brought to justice soon.”

The Bhutanese communities have appealed to the government of Nepal to consider Rizal’s delicate health condition, mental well-being, advanced age, and vulnerability, and the conspiracy against him and release him. “If necessary, he may be asked to report to the court when needed during the investigation process. We earnestly urge the government to ensure a rapid, transparent, and impartial judicial procedure and bring to the court those people who are after Mr. Rizal to ruin him, his leadership, and the issue of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and the Bhutanese Diaspora in the resettled countries,” said the statement issued by said the statement issued by Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio (US), Bhutanese Welfare Association (UK), Global Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners in Bhutan (The Netherlands), Bhutanese Community Association of Southern Tasmania Inc (Australia), Bhutanese Community of Lexington, Kentucky (US), Bhanu Dhungana, former President of Bhutanese Canadian Association (Canada), Bhoj Raj Subba, President of Bhutanese Community of New Zealand and Dr Govinda Rizal, Bhutanese Scholar (Nepal).