Tek Nath Rizal
Rizal was imprisoned by the government of Bhutan from 1989 to 1999 at the Chamgang jail. He had been arrested by Nepalese authorities in Nepal where he had escaped to after protesting against the Bhutanese government's approach to the Bhutanese refugee problem. According to Amnesty International, he was a prisoner of conscience, held by Bhutan "for the peaceful expression of his political beliefs, in particular his campaign against government policies unfairly affecting members of the Nepali-speaking community in southern Bhutan." He was sentenced in 1993 to life imprisonment.
The Bhutanese government has accused Tek Nath Rizal of abusing his position as an elected Royal Advisory Councillor by providing false feedback from the people he represented to the King, and then blaming the government and King for the policies formulated based on his advice. The rift between the people in the south of Bhutan and the government has at least in small part been blamed on his actions.
After his sentencing, the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, pardoned Rizal on condition that Bhutan and Nepal be able to resolve the issue over the certain Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. The issue was not resolved, but Rizal was released from prison during an amnesty granted by the king in December 1999. Rizal attributed his release to the efforts of activists from around the world who pressed for his release.
Teknath Rizal was released by the government unconditionally and he has since settled in Nepal.
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- Amnesty International, "Amnesty International welcomes release of prisoner of conscience", press release, 1999-12-21, accessed 2009-01-16.
- "Tek Nath Rijal", Nepali Times, 2003-05-01, accessed 2009-01-16.
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