Bhutan. In February, India's army chief, NC Vij, said
that the Bhutanese army's offensive against the Indian
separatist groups in the southern part of the country, which
began in December 2003, had been very successful. He stated
that at least 420 of the rebels had been killed and that a
large number of their weapons were seized. According to the
Indian Army, which has offered Bhutan support in the fight
against the separatists, there were about 3,000 rebels from
mainly three groups in Bhutan when the offensive began.
In March, reports of new attacks against the guerrilla
groups came. The planned return for some of the more than
100,000 Bhutanese who have been living in refugee camps in
Nepal since the early 1990s did not materialize. No solution
to the refugee issue was achieved. Human rights
organizations have appealed to Nepal and Bhutan to seek help
from the UNHCR to solve the problem, which Bhutan has
refused. In April, the Nepal government promised to make an
effort to involve the UNHCR and also India in the process.
The promise came since Bhutanese human rights fighter Tek
Nath Rizal, who lives in exile in Nepal, had launched a
CountryAAH, the total population in Bhutan is 771,619 people in 2020. King Jigme Singye Wangchuk abolished the death penalty in
March. It had not been used since 1964 and was seen as a
contradiction to Buddhist doctrine.
In November, Bhutan, probably the first country in the
world, imposed a total ban on tobacco products. The
government decision means that it is prohibited to sell and
hold cigarettes and other tobacco products. Anyone who
violates the ban runs the risk of fines, and shop and hotel
owners also get rid of their permits. The ban does not apply
to foreign visitors, but if they sell tobacco products to
Bhutanese it is considered smuggling.
Bhutan and the six other countries in the South Asian
cooperation organization SAARC agreed in January to form a
regional free trade zone, SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade
Area). The agreement means that the countries will
gradually, until 2017, reduce the customs duties to
eventually liquidate them on most goods.