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Amid Bhutan Happy Talk, Its PM Calls Refugees "Hordes" That "Threaten Stability"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- When Bhutan's Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley appeared at the UN Thursday promoting his country's Gross National Happiness concept and a conference set for April 2, Inner City Press asked him a less happy question: what about the refugees chased out of Bhutan?

Some have called this ouster of Lhotshampa people akin to ethnic cleansing; people have languished in refugee camps in Nepal for well over a decade. Inner City Press asked, what about their happiness?

Thinley essentially argued that the Lhotshampa were or are not Bhutanese, that they came as "hordes" of economic refugees but Bhutan could not afford them. He told Inner City Press, "Bhutan became an attractive destination to people driven from their homes by ecological issues, economic and political instability, mostly coming from one particular country, Nepal."

Sounding like a number of other countries, Thinley said the Bhutanese "government had to take steps to assure its own security. Tt was the later hordes of people, numbers that threatened stability [and] led to certain administrative measures -- legal, constitutional -- led to situation you mention."

In a final burst of happy talk, Thinley said that it's "showing signs of a durable solution, Nepal and Bhutan are engaged in dialogue on how the should share the responsibility over those people located in refugee camps in the event these people have no options."

The option, which opened only after a decade of unhappiness or worse, has been resettlement out of the region. Perhaps after much suffering some refugees are made happy. But it seems incongruous. Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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