Magazine article New Internationalist

Stalemate: Nepal and Bhutan at Odds over Lhotshampas

Magazine article New Internationalist

Stalemate: Nepal and Bhutan at Odds over Lhotshampas

Article excerpt

NEPAL is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 60 per cent of its population living below the poverty line. Yet it is also playing host to large numbers of refugees from Bhutan.

As many as 100,000 Bhutanese of ethnic Nepalese origin have been fleeing into southern Nepal during the past two years with reports of torture and harassment. The genesis of the problem goes back to the mid - nineteenth century, when people from Nepal migrated eastwards to Bhutan. They came to be called 'Lhotshampas' by the Drukpas of Bhutan, and they settled in the largely uninhabited southern half of the country. More migrations followed. But there was little assimilation, and hostility developed between the Lhotshampas and Drukpas.

The Citizenship Act in 1985 and subsequent measures making the wearing of Bhutanese dress compulsory were designed to make life uncomfortable for the Lhotshampas. …

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