Date: Tue, 12 Aug 97 11:23:53 CDT
From: Ray Mitchell <>
Subject: AI: Bhutan bulletin

Electronic distribution authorised
This bulletin expires: 28 September 1997
EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 14/02/97
UA 270/97 Fear of torture/ill-treatment 12 August 1997

Bhutan: Fear of torture/ill-treatment

From Amnesty International. AI Index: ASA 14/02/97. 12 August, 1997

Karma Chogyel, aged 26, businessman, son of Sonam Phintsho
Rinzin Samdrup, aged 43, Religious Coordinator, son of Nagphey
Thinley Wangdi, aged 56, son of Sangay Thinley
Yeshey, Buddhist monk, son of Sangye Dorji
Karma Chogyel, Buddhist monk
Dhendup Tshering, aged 35, Buddhist monk, son of Banthang
Sangye Wangdi, aged 39, shopkeeper, son of Tulung
Zamtsho, aged 30, farmer, son of Singye Dorji
Dorji, aged 32, farmer, son of Rinzin
Wangchuck, aged 37, farmer, son of Zamtsho

The 10 people named above, all recently arrested in eastern Bhutan by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), are feared to be at risk of torture or ill-treatment in incommunicado detention. Some of those arrested are reported to have been subjected to flogging and to be now held in solitary confinement.

Wangchuck, Dorji and Zamtsho, three farmers from Drametsi, Mongar district, were arrested on 28 July 1997 and initially taken into custody at Mongar town. The following day, Sangye Wangdi, a shop-keeper from Changmi village, Tashigang district, was arrested at his shop in Samdrup Jonkhar town. Also on 29 July, Dhendup Tshering, Karma Chogyel and Yeshey, all Buddhist monks from Kheri Gompa Monastery, Pema Gatshel district, were arrested. On 31 July, Thinley Wangdi, a retired attendant to the King of Bhutan from Lumang, Tashigang district, was arrested in Wamrong, Tashigang district. All eight men are currently believed to be in Samdrup Jonkhar prison, Samdrup Jonkhar district. On 1 August, Rinzin Samdrup, a village Religious Coordinator, was arrested in Chimung, Pema Gatshel district. His place of detention is not known.

Also on 1 August, Karma Chogyel, a businessman from Drametsi, was arrested in Samdrup Jonkhar town and taken to Samdrup Jonkhar prison. Karma Chogyel is Sangye Wangdi's younger brother. According to the information received, Karma Chogyel was arrested because he informed people in Nepal -- where he had recently travelled to -- of his elder brother's arrest. This would appear to be substantiated by reports that RBP officers have threatened other people to keep quiet about the recent spate of arrests or to face arrest themselves.

None of the detainees has yet been charged and or given access to a jabmi (legal adviser) or relatives. There is a suspicion that they may have been arrested because of their alleged membership of the Druk National Congress (DNC), a political organization set up in exile in Nepal. Reportedly, they are also supporters of Rongthong Kunley Dorji, the founder of the DNC, who is currently detained in India where he is opposing his extradition to Bhutan. Amnesty International fears that, as a result of their actual or suspected membership of the DNC and association with Rongthong Kunley Dorji, they may be tortured or ill-treated while in police custody, possibly in an attempt to extract from them the names of other DNC supporters.


The arrests described above appear to be part of a crackdown carried out by the RBP during the past two weeks on people suspected of being DNC sympathizers. Some reports suggest that as many as 50 people, all from Mongar, Pema Gatshel and Tashigang districts in eastern Bhutan, may have been arrested, but the exact number of those taken into custody cannot currently be confirmed.

The fear that the above-named individuals may be tortured or ill-treated in custody is heightened by recent reports that four members of the DNC were tortured by police shortly after their arrest in eastern Bhutan in early February 1997. According to a relative of one of them, the four men, Taw Tshering, Tshampa Wangchuck, Tshampa Ngawang Tenzin and Chhipon Samten Lhendup, currently detained at Tashi Yangtshi prison, were held completely naked for one week in very low temperatures. Rongthong Kunley Dorji himself was reportedly tortured by members of the Royal Bhutan Bodyguards after his arrest, in 1991, on charges of treason.

+ Supporters of Amnesty International around the world are + + writing urgent appeals in response to the concerns + + described above. If you would like to join with them in + + this action or have any queries about the Urgent Action + + network or Amnesty International in general, please + + contact one of the following: +

+ + Ray Mitchell, (UK) + + Scott Harrison, (USA) + + Guido Gabriel, (Germany) + + Marilyn McKim, (Canada) + + Xavier Zeebroeck, (Belgium) + + Anne Nolan, (Ireland) +

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