It seems like the most peaceful South Asian nation could be slowly slipping towards chaos. Within weeks of a series of bomb blasts, including one in the capital city of Thimpu, Bhutan has been rocked by yet another bomb blast in the southern city of Samste.
Bhutan has geared up for elections after declaring a move towards democracy from the century-long absolute monarchy. According to Reuters, the bomb blasts are meant to threaten Bhutan's first parliamentary polls scheduled for March 24.
The United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan (URFB), a newly formed armed group fighting for the rights of ethnic Nepalis exiled in 1991, claimed responsibility for the blast, warning of more attacks unless the March 24 elections were cancelled.
"It is the beginning of our struggle against the regime and it will continue till we achieve our goal," Karma, who identified himself as the commander-in-chief of the URFB and used one name, said in a statement.
Many ethnic Nepalis (also called Lhotshampas) who live in southern Bhutan, are not allowed the right to vote. Over 110,000 of these people are living as refugees in India and Nepal. Bhutan has roughly 675,000 people, according to a 2005 census. Asia Times reports that these bomb blast could be a simmering reminder of the refugee crisis.
Here is a website on Bhutanese refugees (maintained by PhotoVoice and Bhutanese Refugees Support Group).
URFB, Bhutan Tiger Force, Bhutan Maoists Party and Communist Party have been demanding the rights of ethnic Nepalis to vote in the polls.
Please post your comments below.
Earlier on SAJAforum: