Bhutanese Refugee Scandal: A Nexus Of Corruption And Global Security Threats

While it remains crucial for current and former Bhutanese refugees to acknowledge and express gratitude to the Nepalese citizens and the country for bringing these issues to light, we must not underestimate the fact that this scandal is not an isolated incident of corruption confined to Nepal's borders.

June 7, 2023, 11:01 a.m.

Nepal is now plagued by political instability and rampant corruption. Given its history of corruption, the magnitude of this crisis is unsurprising. However, the recent Bhutanese refugee scandal, implicating high-profile individuals, goes beyond mere trouble; it instills sheer terror. The direct and alleged involvement of influential political figures, including prominent Bhutanese human rights activist, Tek Nath Rizal, is concerning.

While it remains crucial for current and former Bhutanese refugees to acknowledge and express gratitude to the Nepalese citizens and the country for bringing these issues to light, we must not underestimate the fact that this scandal is not an isolated incident of corruption confined to Nepal's borders. It poses a grave and imminent threat to the United States and its allies. The gravity of this situation demands that the United States closely monitors the unfolding swindle and the ensuing investigation with unwavering vigilance.

In October 2019, CNN reported on the infiltration of fake Somali refugees into the United States and Europe. Regardless of how long individuals with fraudulent identities manage to stay in the US, the law mandates their deportation upon exposure. According to national public radio(npr), over 13,500 immigrants, primarily Chinese immigrants who were granted asylum status years ago by the US government, now face potential deportation. This decision may have infuriated the Chinese government, leading to possible retaliation against the US.

As power dynamics shift towards the East, China has emerged as the primary adversary of the United States and its allies. China, along with Russia, Iran, and their allies, including remnants of the Taliban-era Afghanistan and North Korea, may exploit the refugee channel to dispatch their agents or spies under the guise of refugees to the USA and its allied countries. These counterfeit refugees or agents originating from these nations pose an acute threat to our communities and our nation.

While the US has traditionally extended a welcoming hand to refugees from third-world countries, it is imperative to exercise utmost caution when evaluating whether these refugees have aligned themselves with deceitful Nepalese government officials. Countries that generously embrace refugees must remain vigilant, as the Bhutanese refugee scam may only be the tip of the iceberg. Can Nepal be trusted, or should we raise serious questions about its ability to effectively address legitimate security concerns?

Former prime minister and president of the Nepal communist party UML, KP Sharma Oli, is a close ally of China, and a secretary from his party and a member of the cabinet, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, and Ram Bahadur Thapa are involved in the scandal, raising profound suspicions about whether these politicians actively facilitated the entry of foreign agents into the US under the disguise of fake Bhutanese refugees.

There is a possibility that these Nepalese politicians may have received substantial amounts of money from foreign countries like China or Russia. It is alleged that they dispatched their agents during the Bhutanese refugee resettlement program. Numerous Nepalese citizens have accused corrupt officials of accepting exorbitant bribes to secure legitimate Bhutanese refugee status within a matter of hours, without even setting foot in a refugee camp.

If indeed any fake refugees have been resettled in the USA, the Nepalese government should receive assistance from the US government to conduct a thorough investigation into these individuals and help the resettled former fake Bhutanese refugees reclaim their Nepalese identities. While the resettlement process provided a life-changing opportunity for some, it became a platform for exploitation for others. We cannot overlook the potential role of resettled Bhutanese refugees in these fraudulent activities, making it crucial to expand this investigation beyond Nepal's borders.

A high-ranking Nepalese government official recently accused both Bhutan and Nepal, alleging that "the party's leaders had received a large sum of money from the government of Bhutan." This allegation potentially explains the failure of the 15th bilateral negotiations between Nepal and Bhutan. The official further claimed that "the monarchy of Bhutan used to bribe Nepalese officials with cash and young teenagers in their bedrooms." If true, this sheds light on why the Bhutanese refugee issues were never resolved, and bilateral dialogues failed to address the plight of these refugees.

Additionally, an informant, requesting anonymity, revealed a close relationship between one of the former queens of Bhutan and Arzu Deuba Rana, the wife of former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also serves as the president of the Nepali Congress and is a prominent figure in Nepalese politics. Allegedly, the Bhutanese queen provided Rana with a significant sum of money in exchange for dismissing the Bhutanese refugee lawsuit and dismantling the refugee camps in eastern Nepal.

If this purported deal did occur, Bhutan must face the consequences for its complicity in this deceitful refugee scheme. The moment has arrived to address this issue with the utmost gravity and initiate a thorough and far-reaching investigation.

The International Criminal Court, UN Refugee Agency, State Department, and the FBI must all step in and actively participate in this investigation. Without their intervention, the Nepali government might jeopardize the integrity of the inquiry, thereby perpetuating a menace to the national security of the United States and other nations engaged in refugee resettlement.

Such corruption not only tarnishes the reputation of Nepalese bureaucracy, diplomats, and politicians but also poses a severe risk of state failure and loss of international recognition for the country. To mitigate the damage and restore Nepal's status as a sovereign nation in the eyes of the international community, a thorough and unbiased investigation is paramount.

It is imperative that the United States takes immediate action by establishing an embassy in Bhutan and conducting a thorough investigation to uncover the root causes of the ethnic cleansing in the southern region. Additionally, we must address the concerning possibility of covert Chinese involvement within the United States, making it a pivotal point for an extensive debate.

The Bhutanese refugee scandal poses an imminent and alarming threat not just to Nepal, but also to the United States and its allies. It serves as a thunderous wake-up call that demands urgent and unequivocal action. Rhetoric is no longer sufficient; we must act firmly to protect our national security and ensure that justice prevails.

Niroula, a journalist and former Bhutanese refugee who authored the book titled "The Forgotten Story," currently lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, following his resettlement.

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