Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Bhutan

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 22 December 2005
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Bhutan, 22 December 2005, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In the absence of a written constitution providing for fundamental human rights, the overall position of minorities within Bhutan remains precarious. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan maintains a despotic autocracy; those campaigning for democratic reforms and the repatriation of refugees (from Nepal) are condemned as 'terrorist and anti-national' elements. The primary minority, ethnic Nepalese, continued to claim that they have suffered from forced expulsions and non-rehabilitation in their native lands, and discrimination in civil service and public-sector employment – claims rejected by the government. There are currently over 100,000 Bhutanese who have been forced to become refugees in the bordering Nepal. Almost all of these are ethnic Nepalese, who were stripped off their nationality by the new Bhutanese Citizenship Law. These refugees, while desperate to return to their homes, have put forward substantial claims of mass torture, persecution and repression by Bhutan's security forces. In what it perceives as efforts to maintain a Buddhist national identity, the government of Bhutan also carried on with a policy of compulsory wearing of traditional Buddhist dress for both men and women of Bhutanese nationality (including minorities) while in public places. This law was rigorously applied, in particular for those visiting Buddhist religious buildings, schools and monasteries, and those participating in official functions and public ceremonies.

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