Tekhnath Rizal has fasted for as long as 27 days while he was jailed in Bhutan and this will be his fourth time to use this Gandhian tactic to put political pressure on the Bhutani regime. This time, he has given a 15-day ultimatum to the international community to step in and help solve his people's refugee crisis. He is prepared to fast unto death.
At Ratna Park, we can already see Rizal's health is deteriorating. He is a diabetic, has heart problems and is running a high fever. But he is determined to continue his fast to put the message across to the world that Nepali-speaking Bhutanis have been ethnically-cleansed from their homeland.
India's involvement is critical in this, but New Delhi is playing a passive role. Rizal had no other way to get the attention of the Indian government but by this fast. So far it has not reacted at all to Rizal's fast. India can't remain aloof.
Rizal has already sent appeal letters to most world leaders calling their attention to the plight of his people. He also wants the Nepal government to facilitate the verification process, work actively with UNHCR and the Human Rights Council to repatriate the refugees and to internationalise the Bhutani refugee problem. He wants the international community to continue giving aid to the refugees and the UNHCR to continue playing an active role to manage the refugee camps.
If the international community, especially India, repeat their usual statement that this is a bilateral problem between Nepal and Bhutan, then Rizal's sacrifice will have been in vain. The refugees are being blamed by the Bhutani regime for the staged incident on 22 December which lead to the departure of the Joint Verification Team from the camps. Rizal believes that the refugees had nothing to do with it, and are being victimised.