Bhutanese journalists make ‘Declaration de Exile’

The first media conference of the Bhutanese journalists taking asylum in Nepal for the last 17 years has concluded in Damak on October 20 adopting 9-point ‘Declaration de Exile’.

The conference was organised jointly by three media organizations operated by refugees in Jhapa and Morang. They are Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan Third World Media Network (TWMN) – Bhutan Chapter; and Bhutan Press Union (BPU).

The one day long conference vowed to continue making efforts for press freedom in Bhutan and urged the refugee organizations and international press freedom bodies to extend necessary support in their endeavour.

The conference also made several demands to the Bhutan government for amendments in the draft constitution before being endorsed, regarding the media laws and acts.

The declaration was made public in the presence of Bhutan People’s Party president Bala Ram Poudel, Druk National Congress General Secretary Tenjin Dorji, Bhutan Gorkha National Liberation Front General Secretary Lalit Pradhan, Bhutan National Democratic Party leader Mohan Tamang and officials of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).

Two other media groups, Bhutan Media Network and Reporters’ Forum have also extended support to the declaration and announced to help implement the commitments.

I. P. Adhikari is a Bhutanese journalist who writes about Bhutan and Nepal, and is a member of the Association of Press Freedom Activists-Bhutan. He founded Bhutan News Service. A former Bhutanese refugee, he was forced to leave Bhutan with his family in 1992.
in 2001, he started The Shangrila Sandesh, and in 2004 he and Vidhyapati Mishra started the Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan. In 2007 they started Bhutan News Service. He worked in The Rising Nepal, The Himalayan Times, Nation Weekly and while living in Nepal as refugee.

Adhikari moved to Adelaide, South Australia under the resettlement program of the UNHCR for Bhutanese Refugees. There, he founded Yuba Sansar, a weekly Nepali-language radio program on Radio Adelaide.