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May 31,2007
Rights group pleads for Bhutanese refugees
by UPI

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Human Rights Watch Thursday urged police in Nepal to give better protection to Bhutanese refugees living in camps in the Himalayan kingdom.

The plea from the rights group in New York came after this week's violent clashes at the camps, in which two refugees died. Separately, a third refugee died in a clash with police in neighboring India.

HRW said the violence is the result of some of the refugees in the camps in eastern Nepal trying to return to Bhutan through India.

HRW blamed one incident on a group claiming to be members of the Bhutanese Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), which attacked refugees who had voiced support for a U.S. offer to resettle the Bhutanese refugees.

"Nepali police need to protect the Bhutanese refugees and their right to peacefully express their views on resettlement or return," said Bill Frelick, director of refugee policy for Human Rights Watch. "Factions of Bhutanese refugees divided over the resettlement issue should reflect on the tragic loss of these young lives and conclude that fighting each other will not solve their plight."

The refugee problem goes back to 1991 when Bhutan, which has a population of about 700,000, began expelling those considered ethnic Nepalese, the report said.

Copyright © 2007, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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