The Bhutan Diaspora Begins

During the nearly two decades they stayed in UN-overseen camps in southeastern Nepal, Bhutanese exiles and their community leaders have regularly pushed for international support and solidarity in an attempt to strengthen their call for the establishment of inclusive democracy and human rights in their homeland. The image of the isolated Bhutanese kingdom is a…

In Bhutan, It’s a Rocky Start for Democracy

  Abdicating King Jigme Khesar Namgye Wangchuk Almost a year ago, a middle-aged Bhutanese woman trader in the Indian border town of Phuentsholing sounded an ominous note for Bhutanese democracy. "We have heard about the polls on the Indian side,” she told Asia Sentinel. “Sometimes, unexpected incidents also come out with the elections. We do…

Shangri-la Votes

   Jigme Singye Wangchuk With democracy nonexistent or in turmoil in four of its larger neighbors – Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh and Nepal – Bhutan is spending the last day of 2007 embarking on the path to democracy. Its first democratic election, taking place Dec. 31, has been bequeathed by its Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk,…

Bhutan’s Plans for Democracy Exclude Hindu Refugees

While the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been winning strokes across the world for its abdicating king’s voluntary decision to bequeath democracy to his subjects, the dark side is the 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, in neighboring Nepal who were kicked out of Bhutan in 1991. The refugees are Nepali-speaking Bhutanese who were driven out after…

Bhutan Learns to Vote

Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between Nepal, India and China, is off on a new adventure. Dragon King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who abdicated from the throne in December after 37 years in power, wants to incorporate democracy into gross national happiness, the measure of prosperity he invented in the 1980s for his isolated country.…