"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King, Jr.r..
Bhutan's international reputation precedes it as the Himalayan Kingdom of "Gross National Happiness".
However, Bhutans exiles will tell you a different story; One of cultural persecution, loss of a beloved home, a twenty-year-wait in refugee camps and finally, a new chance in a new country.
Since 2008, over 96,000 Bhutanese refugees have resettled to the United States and thousands more in Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Norway, The Netherlands, Denmark and so on...
This is the story of our new neighbors, The Refugees of Shangri La.
Sandwiched between the rising supergiants of China and India, the isolated Kingdom of Bhutan, hailed by many as "the last Shangri-la", has produced one of the highest numbers of refugees in the world in proportion to its population. Since 1991, over one sixth of Bhutan's people have sought asylum.
The vast majority of the refugees are called the Lhotshampa, meaning "southern dwellers" and they are one of Bhutan’s three main ethnic groups. They were brought from modern-day Nepal in the late 1800's to protect Bhutan's uninhabited southern lands from British occupation. However, over the years, as their population grew and grew, their presence became more of a threat to the ruling elite, than a national asset.
By tracking the chronology of events leading to the eviction, there is substantial evidence that the expulsion of large numbers of Lhotshampas was planned and executed with careful attention to detail.
Over 107,000 Bhutanese have spent more than 20 years living in refugee camps established in Nepal by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Thousands more are living outside the camps in Nepal and India, and some in North America, Europe and Australia.
Since 2008 a resettlement process has seen many thousands of Bhutanese refugees from the camps in Nepal being re-settled primarily in the USA but also in Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway.