A strong piece today in the NY Times op-ed section today about Bhutan’s refugee situation will bring widespread attention to an issue I write about in Radio Shangri-la that’s been ongoing for over 20 years.
I’ve tried hard to get mainstream media to write about or talk about the refugees, particularly as they’ve resettled in the US, and particularly as debates have swirled in this country over immigration*, but to no avail.
To be sure, it’s a complex issue and my hope has long been that as the refugees integrate into US culture (as they have by the tens of thousands in the last few years) and their stories get heard that Bhutan will at the least open up a dialogue.
*The issue stems back to a time when there were more porous borders around Bhutan and people of Nepali origin were brought in to help built modern Bhutan. As their numbers grew, fears grew that Bhutan’s cultural heritage (not to mention control of Bhutan by “pure” Bhutanese) would dissolve. Please refer to the final chapter of the paperback edition of Radio Shangri-La, Jamie Zeppa’s Beyond the Sky and the Earth and Hutt’s Unbecoming Citizens for more thoughtful distillations of the situation.