Bhutan continued: how to pressure refugees to resettle

Earlier today I told you about the Bhutanese  (Nepalese) refugees we are bringing to the US  over the next five years—60,000 in all!   We also reported in several previous posts over the last year that many refugees were reluctant to sign on, not knowing what to expect from life in the US.   Well, get this, the United Nations is helping them along with their decision by showing photos of already resettled refugees practicing their culture in America.    You can bet there are no photos of unhappy refugees—unemployed and living in poverty.

KATHMANDU, April 25 (Xinhua) — The photos of Bhutanese refugees resettled in the third country of the United States have been exhibited in Bhutanese refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts in eastern Nepal, according to local media on Saturday.

The photos taken by Kashish Das Shrestha in New York cover a variety of topics and even show refugees enjoying momos and other Nepali delicacies there, local newspaper The Himalayan Times reported. 

“I saw photos of resettled refugees having momo in the United States at the exhibition,” said Debaka Rai, a refugee in Beldangi camp, Damak of Jhapa district, some 300 km east of Nepali capital Kathmandu, adding “the photos also shown that the marriages of the resettled refugees in third countries are performed as per our traditions and customs in.”

The exhibition titled “Home” was organized by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the refugee camps. Shrestha captured the photos during six months in New York.

It just occurred to me that we have been wondering aloud why so many Iraqi refugees, who are now disillusioned with their lives here, tell a uniform story of being told how great everything would be in the US if they signed up for resettlement.  Maybe this is how it’s done!

“The exhibition was organized to put to rest the confusions and doubts of the refugees regarding resettlement,” UNHCR-Nepal acting chief, Dian Goodman said, adding “the refugees are fee [free?] to take up the opportunity, however, we are not pressurizing [lets hope the writer means pressuring ?] them.”

Pressurizing or pressuring, either way it doesn’t matter we get the message; both are pretty despicable if the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is distorting the picture of life in America.

How many are in the U.S. from each country?

I came across this interesting chart that lists the percentages of countries’ native populations residing in the U.S.  It’s an odd metric, because a large country such as Mexico has a higher number of its native-born people living here (11.7 million!) than a smaller country such as Guyana (244,000), while Guyana’s percentage is 31.8 percent versus Mexico’s 10.8 percent.  The numbers seem to be more useful to the other countries than to us.  From our point of view, it’s more important that there are over 11 million people here who were born in Mexico than what the percentage is; from the Guyanese point of view, it would seem a desperate matter that almost a third of the people who were born there have moved to the United States, even though the absolute number is a small fraction of Mexico’s.

Hat tip: John Derbyshire, via The Audacious Epigone.

More on culturism: Reply to Jake

I began this as a comment to my post on culturism, but decided to make it a separate post so it wouldn’t get lost.

Jake, I appreciate your thoughtful posts even when I disagree with you. You write:

I work with refugees and speak up for refugees because I am motivated by my faith. I make a serious and honest effort to live out an ethic consistent with the teachings of Jesus as they relate to the Old Testament. My values include helping people who need help, honoring the risen Jesus with my words and deeds, living in purity from personal and communal sins, loving people who are not easy to love, caring for people on the fringes of society, and studying, understanding, and applying the Bible.

I would not accuse you of deliberately trying to destroy western values, or our culture. And I respect your living out your Christian faith. Yet we need to look at the results as well as the motivations of our actions.

First of all, there are probably billions of people around the world who need help. We cannot help them all. So shouldn’t we make an effort to help those most worthy, or those who will most benefit from our help? Certainly we should examine whether our efforts will really help, or will make things worse. Unfortunately many efforts at help fall into the latter category, as with the many billions of foreign aid that have been sent to Africa from the west, enriching despots and enabling them to increase their power at the expense of their suffering subjects.

We need to look at our refugee policy in the same light. This is the reason that Ann and I harp on Iraqi refugee policy so much. We are harming many of the Iraqis we bring here, and until very recently the government has refused to consider other options. I believe this is because many of those involved in refugee policy and refugee work are motivated by their wish to do good. They are less concerned with the implications of policy and more concerned about their own self-image. (I am not accusing you of that Jake, because I do not know you.)  Some of them also feel guilty because of America’s role in creating the Iraqi refugee situation and want to atone in a personal way — that is, by bringing as many refugees here as possible.

But our responsibility is to do what is best for these suffering refugees, not to bring tens of thousands here as we are doing, which number will hardly make a dent in the total yet inflict harm upon both the refugees who come here and upon our society.

Similarly, it does not matter whether or not you are motivated by a desire to harm our culture. You say you are not, and I believe you. Yet what is important is the objective result of your actions, not your internal motivation. Of course, you are not responsible for refugee policy, and if you work to help those whom our government has brought here, that is admirable. But you are concerned with wider issues than personal assistance, since you began this dialogue with an attempt to refute those who claim our culture is superior to other cultures. 

You have not succeeded in that. You simply say that we have flaws and other cultures have virtues, which no one would deny. But you also say this:

For example, our nation was founded with the assertion that all men are created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All Americans should be grateful for that conviction of our founding fathers. Indeed, the very notion of accepting refugees for resettlement is consistent with this ideal, if America really believes that these rights belong to all men and women. These are American virtues.

Non-western cultures do not believe that all men are created equal and endowed by God with unalienable rights. If they do believe it, they adopted it from the west. In believing this, and in using it as a justification for resettling refugees, you are asserting the superiority of our culture. If we didn’t believe it we wouldn’t care about refugees from other places.

I take that belief as one of the foundations of Judeo-Christian culture, and especially of American culture, since it is in the Declaration of Independence. (If you respond, you do not need to go through all the instances of our not living up to it, which is just the standard fare of American history courses nowadays.) I think it would be fair to sort possible refugees according to whether they accept that belief, or at least hold beliefs that would not prevent them from adopting it as Americans.

Of all the people in the world, those who most obviously cannot accept that belief are Muslims. It is part of the Muslim religion that they are superior to others and entitled to suppress, repress, tax, lie to and (for some) even kill those who are not Muslims. The motivation of many Muslims today is to spread Islam through any means possible, including both the sword and deception.

It goes without saying that not all Muslims follow this jihadist ideology. Yet we cannot distinguish those who do from those who don’t, for two reasons. One is that those who do follow it lie as a matter of course. The other is that within the Muslim community there is a shifting of opinions, so that those who do not care about jihad can be recruited to it, and radical Islamists are making a strenuous effort to do so.

So even if certain Muslims are sweet, gentle, kind, generous, etc., we need to look at whether their culture is one that allows assimilation to our values or whether it precludes it. Statements from Somalis that they are assimilated because they work and pay taxes show that they have no idea what assimilation would consist of. (And how would they, given the dominance of multiculturalism? We really need the kind of education in our culture that Ann suggests.)

And we need to look at the overall effect of bringing Muslims into our country who either already believe in jihad or who may be recruited in the future. This is only common sense.

Where are all the Bhutanese coming from?

Residents of “welcoming” cities may have noticed in addition to Iraqis and Burmese, the number of Bhutanese (really Nepalese) being resettled has been stepped up.   Today I hope to post a series of three posts (second one is here) on recent news about the Bhutanese—a subject we have written about extensively in the past, here, but not much recently.

This is a story from the San Francisco Chronicle a week ago with background on this new group of refugees.  Sorry to have to quote so much, but the story is complex.  Be sure to read the whole article here.

Oh, and besides informing readers about the Bhutanese it is interesting in light of our recent discussion about the concept of defending one’s culture.

The impressive necklace of cliff-perched fortresses that dot this Himalayan nation’s mountainous perimeter are a testimony to Bhutan’s long-standing effort to keep out foreigners.

In the 1980s, however, the tiny Buddhist nation of just 600,000 sandwiched between the People’s Republic of China and India found itself with what it considered to be a foreigner problem.

Bhutan’s minority population of ethnic Nepalese had mushroomed to represent one-third of the population, causing then-King Jigme Singye Wangchuck to start a “one nation, one people” policy to deport and strip many of their Bhutanese citizenship. The campaign ended with the expulsion of about 105,000 Nepalese through beatings, torture and murder committed by the Royal Bhutan Army that lasted until the early 1990s, human rights groups and deportees say.

So, the Nepalese came to be in Bhutan because they had come across the border originally illegally from Nepal;  Bhutan eventually cracked down and wanted to keep its unique Buddhist culture and put in motion a plan to push some of the Nepalese out of the country.   Instead of going back to Nepal they went into India and then were trucked back to Nepal, to camps.

About 105,000 Nepalese eventually crossed into India, where they were trucked to seven camps in eastern Nepal under the supervision of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In Nepal, they have remained stateless, even though they share the same ethnic and cultural background.

Some historians say the backlash was a response to the demographic threat. Others say the monarchy feared anti-royalist and Maoist ideologies that were gaining momentum at the time in Nepal.

Today, about 100,000 ethnic Nepalese still reside in Bhutan, nearly one-sixth of the nation’s population.

A Maoist insurgency has formed in the camps and they go back into Bhutan to organize (like community organizers!) the remaining Nepalese in Bhutan in hopes of overthrowing the democratic government of Bhutan.

Locked in political limbo, these camps have become breeding grounds for a fledgling militancy that seeks to overthrow Bhutan’s monarchy just two years after the king abdicated in favor of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who heads a constitutional monarchy that permitted the nation’s first democratic elections last year.

“This (insurgency) is something Bhutan needs to be worried about,” said an intelligence official in neighboring India who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Analysts say the Maoist insurgency in Nepal – which ended in 2006 – inspired Bhutanese refugees after Nepal’s King Gyanendra was forced to abdicate and a new government formed with former rebels.

The ideological affinity with the Nepalese Maoists is evident in the literature the Bhutanese militants disseminate and the similar names they use to describe their movement: the Communist Party of Bhutan, Tiger Forces, the United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan and United Refugee Liberation Army.

“We are preparing a protracted people’s war,” said a 27-year-old leader of the Communist Party of Bhutan.

Enter the NGO’s who busy themselves mucking around in other countries politics, and always eager for more refugees to be resettled in the West.  In all the articles I have read about this group of refugees, not once have I heard anyone say that maybe Nepal could just take its ethnic Nepalese back—they share the same religion, speak the same language and generally share the same culture!    Oh no, let’s just ship them off to live on welfare in crime-ridden cities in the West (next post!).

Bill Frelick, refugee policy director for Human Rights Watch, says the insurgents, who are believed to number between 600 and 1,000, are still too weak to launch an effective revolution. But other analysts say the alliance with militant Indians, the continuing relocation of refugees and recruiting forays into Bhutan are worrisome signs.

In 2006, the United States and a handful of other Western countries offered to resettle more than 70,000 Nepalese refugees. About 7,000 have already left the camps and the rest will be gone within four years, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UN and the NGO’s told our US State Department (Ellen Sauerbrey at the time) to jump and we did.  The US has promised to take 60,000 Bhutanese (really Nepalese) over the next 5 years.

The Maoists have been fighting to keep their fellow Nepalese in the camps.  But, there could be a silver lining for the Maoists if people are resettled.  Is Frelick now having a little remorse about pushing resettlement?

Frelick said the insurgents could take advantage of the resettlement program by using future remittances to buy weapons and having camps void of more restrained voices. “You could end up with all the more moderate people leaving the camps,” he said.

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to let Bhutan and Nepal work this out themselves instead of letting NGO’s and the UN micro-manage every dispute over territory and culture in every tiny corner of the world?