Dr. Bhampa Rai has appealed UNHCR and government of Nepal to constitute a joint committee for finding an honorable solution for the remaining refugees in the camps. Dr. Rai is the chairperson of Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee (BRRRC).
Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have left for overseas countries. From the remaining, at least 10,000 are likely to opt for third country resettlement. Hardly 10,000 residual refugees would opt repatriation. Dr. Rai has rightly demanded that the international community get involve for dignified repatriation of the remaining refugee population.
Dr. Rai is an old hand in Bhutanese human rights and democracy movement. He left Bhutan in November 1990 soon after the mass demonstration. He was then practicing surgeon at Chukha regional hospital.
Dr. Bhampa Rai and Dr. DNS Dhakal at Damak, Jhapa, Nepal
In exile he had key role help organize the refugee camps in Nepal. He was General Secretary of Human Rights Organization of Bhutan, President of Bhutan Health Association (BHA) and Board Member of Bhutanese Refugee Aiding the Victims of Violence (BRAVVE). From 2006 he is the chairperson of BRRRC.
Most Bhutanese refugees know him as medical doctor. He was a lifeline at Maidhar refugee camps before UNHCR stepped in with organized relief assistance. He is a tough principled person with total commitment to Bhutan and Bhutanese people. Initially he was not comfortable with third country resettlement option.
“The fight for injustice will continue no matter what”, he said. “Our struggle is not directed towards anybody. After all Bhutan is a small fly between two mighty elephants. Our priority is justice to everyone while keeping safe Bhutan”.
At 65, with liver ailment, and wife suffering from kidney damage, that kind of enthusiasm is rare to find. His father Aita Raj Rai, who died in the camps, had said, “Do not leave the struggle even if everyone abandons it. If the leadership of Bhutan State Congress had not surrendered in the 1960s, we won’t have become refugees.”
Those words are inspiration for him. A man who could have led a comfortable life has chosen to continue to be relevant in the struggle for human rights and democracy in Bhutan.
After all life is not charming when everybody has left for the green pasture and friends ignore to express solidarity for the cause which was a common agenda some years ago.