Triple Trouble

There was a time, until the mid-1980s, when Bhutan was thought by many to be an exemplar of a multi-ethnic nation at peace with itself. The country´s three communities – the ruling Ngalong of the northwest, the large but ´backward´ Sarchop of the east, and the (lately named) Lhotshampa Nepali-speakers of the south – seemed to be making a go at an amicable existence under the be­nign rule of a Ngalong king.

That perceived idyll was shattered by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk´s precipitate action of depopulating the southern hills of a good portion of his Lhotshampa subjects at the turn of the decade. Shangri La was first sullied then, and now, the international watchdog agency Amnesty International has blown the cover over another developing dark secret, the Thimphu establishment´s treatment of Sarchop dissidents.

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Himal Southasian