Bhutan Border Map

Yearbook 2003

Bhutan. In mid-December, Bhutan’s army attacked for the first time the Indian separatist groups in the country. After a few days, the rebels had been driven away from almost all their bases according to the government. Nearly 40 soldiers and over 100 rebels were killed. According to Countryaah.com, Bhutan Independence Day is August 8. Over 300 rebels were arrested, others fled into the jungle to the south. According to the Indian Army, there were about 3,000 rebels from mainly three separatist groups in Bhutan when the offensive began. India has for years tried to persuade Bhutan to drive out the rebels, who are fighting for self-government and carrying out attacks in north-eastern India. The Bhutan government has instead negotiated with the separatists and tried to persuade them to voluntarily leave the country.

In October, Bhutan and Nepal signed an agreement on the more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. The first people, about 9,000 from one of the UN refugee camps in Nepal, would return to Bhutan within four months.

Earlier in the year, Amnesty International and other human rights groups protested that the Bhutan authorities considered that just over 2% of refugees were entitled to return. According to the organizations, many of the refugees were forced to sign certificates of “voluntary migration” when they fled Bhutan in the early 1990s. The US ambassador to Bhutan appealed to both countries to seek help from the UNHCR, which Bhutan has so far refused.

In July, the government expanded from six to ten ministries and with the same number of ministers. Old ministries were divided and a new one was created for work and human resources.

In November, the country’s first mobile phone network was completed.

Bhutan Border Map