Ms. Debbie Brown writes a great paper on the top 3 countries from which asylees find a new home in the U.S.

Ms. Debbie Brown, a student in my Refugee Law Seminar last semester, wrote a great paper on the top three countries from which asylees to the U.S.


“Finding a New Home in the U.S.”

A brief look at the top 3 countries whose refugees seek to make the United States their new home, while succinctly viewing the maltreatment the refugees face in their own homelands.

Debbie Brown
copyright 2014


Pursuit of the American Dream

When asked if he would ever return to his home country of Burma (Myanmar), Molto’s answer is a definite “No” and his expression emphasizes that clearly. His eyes are filled with fear and resentment when he points to an indentation on his skull above his left eye and describes the horrible beatings he received by policemen in Burma.

Molto Salim Bin Sultan and his wife, Aminah Binti Aliahmada, lived a relatively normal life in Burma until the day when rebel forces came to recruit soldiers, including Molto. Fearing for his life, Molto made the difficult decision with his family to leave their belongings, their home, and their community in search of safety. For almost four years, they walked through the difficult terrain of Burma, experiencing a nomadic lifestyle filled with hunger, dehydration, and violent attacks from the police. It was during this time that Molto was the victim of the attack that caused him to leave Burma and vow never to return.

The family arrived illegally in Malaysia where they found themselves without any opportunities. Their children could not attend school and they could not work legally. The only work they could find were occasional, unauthorized construction jobs for Molto and seamstress work for Aminah. But this work could barely provide for them and their children. Their situation in Malaysia proved even more difficult with the police closely monitoring and harassing them. They were constantly asked to produce legal documents which they did not possess and had to pay bribes of $50-$100 to avoid being taken to jail. After eight years of these hardships, the family finally obtained permission to reside in Malaysia legally, but for the next 22 years the family still had no opportunities for education or employment.

After 30 years of living in Malaysia, Molto, Aminah, and their youngest son Muhamad were accepted to be resettled in America. In August 2013, they arrived in Chicago. While their future seems bright, they continue to think of family members–sons, daughters, and grandchildren– that were left behind. They hope that someday soon their whole family will be together again.  This story is similar to many others, who have left their home for a better future in America; these are the stories that I seek to shed light on in the path to finding a new home in the U.S.[1]


I chose this topic to learn more about what countries have the most refugees trying to start a new life here in the United States. I wanted to learn what type of instability is causing so many people from different countries to leave all that they know, their home, their heritage, their family and to then seek refuge in a new land. I chose this topic because I wanted to learn about the different pressures that must have been so great that there were no other options but leaving. I’m hoping to learn a little more about worldwide factors that influenced America in accepting such a great number of these groups into our borders and allowing them to make America their new home.

To be able to talk about someone seeking refuge in America I first had to begin with learning and understanding the process to become a refugee in the United States. And to begin that process I had to learn what is a refugee and when did their presence first surface in the United States.

A refugee hasn’t always been a term of art or law, In the aftermath of World War I (1914 – 1918), millions of people fled their homelands in search of refuge.[2] Governments responded by drawing up a set of international agreements to provide travel documents for these people who were, effectively, the first refugees of the 20th century.[3] Their numbers increased dramatically during and after World War II (1939-1945), as millions more were forcibly displaced, deported and/or resettled. Throughout the 20th century, the international community steadily assembled a set of guidelines, laws and conventions to ensure the adequate treatment of refugees and protect their human rights.[4] The process began under the League of Nations in 1921. In July 1951, a diplomatic conference in Geneva adopted the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘1951 Convention’), which was later amended by the 1967 Protocol.[5] These documents clearly spell out who is a refugee and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights

a refugee is entitled to receive[6]. It also defines a refugee’s obligations to host countries and specifies certain categories of people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.[7]

Initially, the 1951 Convention was more or less limited to protecting European refugees in the aftermath of World War II, but the 1967 Protocol expanded its scope as the problem of displacement spread around the world. America finally agreed to the 1967 Protocol and in effect accepted the 1951 conventions definition of refugee and how they should be treated as a people.[8]

The 1951 Convention protects refugees. It defines a refugee as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail him— or herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.[9] People who fulfill this definition are entitled to the rights and are bound by the duties contained in the 1951 Convention. Refugees are forced to flee because of a threat of persecution and because they lack the protection of their own country.[10]

The listed criteria provide the basis for applying for refugee relief.  But I began to wonder was it one of these listed criteria or a host of problems that have pushed three particular countries into producing the most refugees that are present in the United States. I believe at the end of my research I will find that the reasons why so many people are leaving their home is composed of two parts. These refugees are fleeing a multi-dimensional level of persecution in their homeland and they believe America might lead to a better life than any other country.

History of Refugee Reform

The 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Grounded in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of human rights 1948, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries, the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, is the centerpiece of international refugee protection today.[11]  The Convention entered into force on April 22, 1954, and it has been subject to only one amendment in the form of a 1967 Protocol, which removed the geographic and temporal limits of the 1951 Convention.[12] The 1951 Convention, as a post-Second World War instrument, was originally limited in scope to persons fleeing events occurring before 1 January 1951 and within Europe.

The 1967 Protocol removed these limitations and thus gave the Convention universal coverage. It has since been supplemented by refugee and subsidiary protection regimes in several regions,[13] as well as via the progressive development of international human rights law. The 1951 Convention consolidates previous international instruments relating to refugees and provides the most comprehensive codification of the rights of refugees at the international level.[14] In contrast to earlier international refugee instruments, which applied to specific groups of refugees, the 1951Convention endorses a single definition of the term “refugee” in Article 1. The emphasis of this definition is on the protection of persons from political or other forms of persecution. A refugee, according to the Convention, is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

The Convention is both a status and rights-based instrument and is underpinned by a number of fundamental principles, most notably non-discrimination, non-penalization and non-refoulement. Convention provisions, for example, are to be applied without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin. Developments in international human rights law also reinforce the principle that the Convention be applied without discrimination as to sex, age, disability, sexuality, or other prohibited grounds of discrimination.

The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay.[15] This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules. Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or criminal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum. Importantly, the Convention contains various safeguards against the expulsion of refugees. The principle of non-refoulement is so fundamental that no reservations or derogations may be made to it. It provides that no one shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.

 Finally, the Convention lays down basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees, without prejudice to States granting more favorable treatment. Such rights include access to the courts, to primary education, to work, and the provision for documentation, including a refugee travel document in passport form. Most States parties to the Convention issue this document, which has become as widely accepted as the former “Nansen passport”, an identity document for refugees devised by the first Commissioner for Refugees, Fridtjof Nansen, in 1922.[16]

The Convention does not however apply to all persons who might otherwise satisfy the definition of a refugee in Article 1. In particular, the Convention does not apply to those for whom there are serious reasons for considering that they have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, serious non-political crimes, or are guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The Convention also does not apply to those refugees who benefit from the protection or assistance of a United Nations agency other than UNHCR, such as refugees from Palestine who fall under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Nor does the Convention apply to those refugees who have a status equivalent to nationals in their country of asylum. Apart from expanding the definition of a refugee, the Protocol obliges States to comply with the substantive provisions of the 1951 Convention to all persons covered by the refugee definition in Article 1, without any limitation of date.

In 2001, States parties issued a Declaration reaffirming their commitment to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, and they recognized in particular that the core principle of non-refoulement is embedded in customary international law.[17] Moreover, the General Assembly has frequently called upon States to become parties to these instruments. Accession has also been recommended by various regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the African Union, and the Organization of American States. As of 2011, there were 147 States Parties to one or both of these instruments.

The 1980 Refugee Act

It wasn’t until after World War II that the United States began to differentiate the term “refugee” from “immigrant” and began creating policy that dealt specifically with refugees while working outside of immigration policy.[18] Early action came in the form of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, and the Refugee-Escapee Act of 1957.[19] The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, was the first Act that the consolidated U.S. immigration policy into one body of text.

The United States Refugee Act of 1980 was an amendment to the earlier Immigration and Nationality Act and the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, and was created to provide a permanent and systematic procedure for the admission to the United States of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the U.S., and to provide comprehensive and uniform provisions for the effective resettlement and absorption of those refugees who are admitted.[20] The act was completed on March 3, 1980, was signed by President Jimmy Carter on March 17, 1980 and became effective on April 1, 1980. This was the first comprehensive amendment of U.S. general immigration laws designed to face up to the realities of modern refugee situations by stating a clear-cut national policy and providing a flexible mechanism to meet the rapidly shifting developments of today’s world policy.[21]

The main objectives of the act were to create a new definition of refugee based on the one created at the UN Convention and Protocol on the Status of Refugees, raise the limitation from 17,400 to 50,000 refugees admitted each fiscal year, provide emergency procedures for when that number exceeds 50,000, and to establish the Office of U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Most importantly, it established explicit procedures on how to deal with refugees in the U.S. by creating a uniform and effective resettlement and absorption policy.[22]

Understanding Refugees

The differences between refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugees: Refugees receive permission to immigrate to the United States while they are still abroad. The State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) contracts nongovernmental agencies, referred to as Overseas Processing Entities (OPE) to conduct prescreening interviews and prepare applications of prospective refugees. The applications are then submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs background checks, interviews individuals, and determines whether an individual is approved for resettlement.[23]

Once approved, a principal applicant, either alone or with his or her close family (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21), is eligible to come to the United States through the refugee resettlement program.[24] USCIS collects data on refugees three times: when their applications are submitted abroad through OPE or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), when they arrive in the United States for resettlement, and when they adjust their status to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).Refugees resettled in the United States are automatically eligible to work and to receive public aid cash assistance and medical assistance for up to eight months as an individual and up to five years as a family.[25]

Asylees: According to the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 and based on the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, any alien who is physically present in the country or at a port of entry may apply for asylum, regardless of his or her current immigration status.[26] Asylum is granted after an individual’s application has been processed and approved. A person who is granted asylum is entitled to a social security card, employment authorization, and other assistance.[27] Annual limits on admission: Each fiscal year the president of the United States, in consultation with Congress, determines the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. No such cap exists, however, on the number of asylum applications or approvals for asylum.[28]

Oversees refugee presence of refugees.

Today, about 45.2 million refugees are scattered around the world, a record high in nearly two decades. Of those, 80 percent are women and children. For 34 million of them, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees offers protection and life-saving supplies at refugee camps in more than 125 countries. The 50 largest camps, house more than 1.9 million displaced individuals.[29]

Despite the terminology used—“camps” or “settlements”—many are not temporary; some have existed for years, and for many young refugees, these camps are the only homes they know. The Dadaab complex in Kenya, which includes the three biggest camps in the world, was constructed in the early 1990s. The largest of the three, Hagadera, houses 138,102 refugees, which is equivalent to the population of Pasadena, California.

The UNHCR provides them with food, safe drinking water, tents, bedding and medical care. The organization also helps refugees seek asylum in another countries and, when possible, reunites families forced to split up when they escaped.

Eligibility requirements in the U.S

In order to qualify for refugee status, a principal applicant must (1) be of special humanitarian concern to the United States; (2) meet the refugee definition as set forth in section 101(a)(42) of the INA; (3) be admissible under the INA; and (4) not be firmly resettled in any foreign country. A derivative refugee relative who is following-to-join need not meet all of these eligibility requirements but must demonstrate a relationship as the spouse or child of an admitted refugee and be admissible to the United States. A person whom U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has determined meets the refugee definition may nonetheless be inadmissible to the United States due to criminal, security, or other grounds, and therefore be ineligible for refugee resettlement unless the Attorney General grants a discretionary waiver under section 207(c)(3) of the INA.[30]

Admission ceilings in the U.S. for refugees

Before the beginning of each fiscal year, the President, in consultation with Congress, establishes an overall refugee admissions ceiling as well as regional allocations.[31] The total number of refugees authorized for admission in 2012 was 76,000. The largest regional allocation was to the Near East/South Asia region, which accounted for 47 percent of the authorized admissions number to continue accommodating refugee arrivals from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan.[32]

The Three Leading Countries Statistics

In 2012, the leading countries of nationality for refugee admissions were Bhutan (26 percent), Burma (24 percent), and Iraq (21 percent) (see Table 3). Seventy-one percent of refugee admissions in 2012 were from these three countries.

Other leading countries included Somalia (8.4 percent), Cuba (3.3 percent), Democratic Republic of Congo (3.2 percent), Iran (3 percent), and Eritrea (2.3 percent).[33]

While the top three countries of origin for refugee arrivals (Burma, Bhutan, and Iraq) have remained the same since 2009, and the overall number of arrivals from these countries has stayed relatively constant, there have been some changes.[34] Refugees from Burma have ranged from 23 percent of the total in 2010 to 30 percent in 2011, those from Bhutan have ranged from 17 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2011, and those from Iraq have ranged from 17 percent in 2011 about 25 percent in both 2009 and 2010.[35]

The Top 3 Countries for Strongest Refugee Presence in the U.S.


The country and its history

About the size of Switzerland and similarly landlocked, Bhutan is bordered by China (Tibet) to the north and west and by India to the east, southwest (Sikkim), and south (see Figure 1 in Appendix for a map). Mountainous, verdant, and rural,[36] Bhutan-known as Druk Yul, or Land of the Thunder Dragon to Bhutanese[37]-was never colonized and lived in self-imposed isolation for much of its modem history.[38] it is ironic that the man who established Bhutan as a distinct and sovereign entity-who is considered the country’s “first great historical figure”‘-was a foreigner.

Often in its history, and especially in recent decades, Bhutan has withdrawn from the outside world-banning foreign television transmissions until 1999,[39] discouraging mass tourism,[40] and acting with hostility toward residents who do not meet the country’s demanding requirements of citizenship.[41]

With a population estimated at about 700,000’0[42] and vulnerably sandwiched between two great powers,[43] Bhutan’s monarchy has feared threats both from abroad and from what it considers internal social disharmony and cultural dilution. “We are a small country between giant and powerful neighbors,” Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuk said in 1992. “We have no resources; we have only our culture and identity.[44] In light of this perceived vulnerability, over the past several decades, Bhutan has instituted increasingly restrictive laws on citizenship and embarked on an aggressive effort to build an “ideology of peoplehood,”” fortifying a conception of national identity around the characteristics of Bhutan’s politically

dominant ethnic group, the Drukpas.[45]

For instance, the government declared a national language in 1961,” mandated a national dress in 1988, and retroactively limited birthright citizenship to those born to two Bhutanese parents in 1985, which effectively denationalizing ethnic minorities who were citizens under previous laws. [46] The government has justified these actions to protect Bhutan from “demographic inundation.[47] The government frames such efforts as protecting a singular culture despite the fact that “the kingdom is multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual.” [48]

The population is divided between three main ethno-linguistic groups: the Ngalongs “of the west; the Sharchhops of the east; and the Lhotshampas (or ‘Nepali Bhutanese’) of the extreme south.[49] The Ngalongs are the politically and economically dominant group. [50] “The Ngalongs, the central Bhutanese and the Sharchhops practice a Tibetan style of Buddhism, which is supported by the state: they and the other Buddhist communities of northern Bhutan are therefore usually known collectively as ‘Drukpas,’ and intermarriage is common between them.”[51]

The Nepali Bhutanese,[52] however, “are in terms of religion, language and culture completely distinct from the first two ethnic groups.” They are mostly Hindu, and speak Nepali.[53] Of Bhutan’s ethnicities, they have suffered the greatest as a result of the state’s narrowing conception of belonging; it has been estimated that one sixth of all Nepali Bhutanese lost their citizenship as a result of the 1985 law. [54] The large Nepali Bhutanese in the region

triggered government fears of cultural dilution and political challenge,[55] leading to a rising hostility that reached its peak in the early-1990s when as many as 100,000 Nepali Bhutanese emigrated from Bhutan to refugee camps in Nepal, either through official inducement, coercion, or force.[56]

Why are so many fleeing?

In the two decades that followed the 1958 Nationality Act,[57] South Asia was rocked by political and social turmoil that drove Bhutan’s monarchy away from a citizenship policy based on territorial presence and toward an increasingly restrictive one based on ethnic, Drukpa identity. In 1959, the People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet, and, in 1965, it embarked on a violent and chaotic Cultural Revolution.[58] To the west, in 1975, India annexed Sikkim, a semi-independent kingdom with a large ethnic Nepali migrant population that “had actively pressed for the merger.”[59] The events in “Sikkim had a lasting impact on the Bhutanese psyche.”[60] A new king, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, had ascended to the throne in 1972 at the age of 17,[61] and he and the government feared that a similar popular movement of the Nepali Bhutanese could threaten Bhutan’s sovereignty.”

Accordingly, among the king’s first major actions was to adopt the Citizenship Act of 1977.[62] Applying retroactively, the act doubled the length of time required for residency to twenty years for those working the land and tripled the requirement to fifteen years for those serving in the government.[63] A non-national wife of a Bhutanese national was no longer automatically eligible for citizenship and now had to apply for it like any other non-national.” It also required prospective nationals to have “some knowledge” of Bhutan’s history and of Dzongkha.” For the first time, it also required each applicant to pledge not to act against the Tsa Wa Sum, or King, Nation, and People, to promote loyalty to the monarchy instead of an ethnicity or region.”

The government then adopted the Marriage Act of 1980, which retroactively introduced punitive measures against Bhutanese who married non-nationals.” Government servants in mixed marriages could not be promoted; no one who married a non-national could be employed in

the foreign or defense ministries and any citizen who married a non-national forfeited his right to educational assistance.”

The government went further in 1985 when another Citizenship Act overrode the previous laws and further tightened citizenship granted by birth, registration, and naturalization. First, it narrowed the jus sanguinis[64] requirements: citizenship could now only be acquired automatically if both parents were citizens, instead of just the father.[65] Second, if a person could show he was domiciled in Bhutan on or before December 31, 1958, he could register as a citizen, but the applicant had to have been registered at that time with the Ministry of Home Affairs[66]; “documentary proof ‘was a nearly impossible requirement in a country with widespread illiteracy, which only recently adopted administrative procedures.”[67]

Third, it allowed for naturalization if the applicant had been in residence for fifteen years for government servants and for those with only one citizen parent, and twenty years for others.[68] Naturalization applicants also had to be able to read and write Dzongkha “proficiently,”[69] “have no record of having spoken or acted against the King, Country and People of Bhutan in any manner whatsoever,”[70] and take an oath of allegiance to the same.[71] The government also reserved the right to reject any application for naturalization “without assigning any reason.”[72] Finally, citizenship could be terminated if a citizen acquired citizenship of another country [73] or showed “by act or speech to be disloyal in any manner whatsoever to the King, Country and People of Bhutan.”[74]

In light of these retroactive restrictions, especially the new requirement that both parents be Bhutanese, many Nepali Bhutanese “went to sleep as Bhutanese citizens and awoke the next morning as stateless persons.”[75] The retroactive operation of its provisions made the act “in essence, a denationalization decree … specifically aimed at the Nepali-speaking [Bhutanese].[76] The government sought to apply the new citizenship act by conducting a census of only the southern areas of Bhutan in 1988. [77]Citizenship cards that had been issued a few years earlier by the government were no longer accepted as proof of Bhutanese nationality, and many Nepali Bhutanese did not have records dating from 1958; accordingly, the census proclaimed about 100,000 residents “illegal immigrants.”[78]

The census “marked a major escalation”‘? in the tensions between the Nepali Bhutanese and the Bhutanese government, as the government now had” proof’ of the influx of a large number of illegal migrants who supposedly constituted an existential danger to Bhutan’s Drukpa heritage. The census was part of a larger project of “cultural protection measures”‘[79]‘ intended “to foster the nation’s identity” in-line with the Fourth King’s vision of a homogenous national integration.’ [80] For instance, in 1987, Bhutan introduced a “One Nation, One People” policy that included a mandatory code of traditional Drukpa dress and etiquette called Driglam Namzhag.’os Dzongkha was promoted,’[81] and, in 1989, Nepali instruction was dropped from schools.’

In light of the “growing sense of cultural marginalization among the Nepali Bhutanese,”[82] dissent grew in the following years, leading to violence and demonstrations. “‘ Because the Citizenship Act allowed the termination of citizenship of any person who showed disloyalty “in any manner whatsoever,” even those who had been classified as full citizens found themselves denationalized for assisting dissident “anti-nationals” in their protests.”‘ The strife led to the massive emigration from southern Bhutan to Nepalese refugee camps beginning in 1989 and 1990.”[83]

In the years that followed, international talks to allow a return of the refugees to Bhutan have failed.”‘ Refused citizenship in Nepal”‘ and unable to return to Bhutan, after about a decade in the camps, the refugees have begun resettling elsewhere.”‘ As of March 2012, about 60,000 refugees had been resettled abroad, with about 50,000 immigrating to the United States.”[84]

What does America do to help?

The U.S. offered to resettle 60,000 of the 107,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin then living in seven U.N. refugee camps in southeastern Nepal, and began receiving this group in 2008. [85] From 2008 to 2011, between 5,000 and 15,000 Bhutanese refugees arrived annually in the United States. Refugees have been resettled to 41 states, with Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Georgia each receiving ≥ 7% of total arrivals. [86]

According to Raj Khadka, who is completing his PhD dissertation on the labor market of Bhutanese refugees, resettlement has provided the opportunity of starting a new life but the challenges that they are facing in the labor market is a big hurdle in establishing themselves in the new countries that are quite different from their own. A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal U.S. government agency, published in Oct. 2012, stated that in the three years to Feb. 2012, the rate of suicides among Bhutanese refugees resettled in America was 20.3 per 100,000 people.[87] This rate was almost double that among the U.S. general population and exceeded the global suicide rate of 16.0 per 100,000, according to figures from the World Health Organization.[88]

Although they face battles in acclimating to America, finding large Bhutan communities has helped the growing number of Bhutan refugee’s to survive in this new world. Once refugees arrive in a state, they are free to relocate elsewhere, and secondary migration to join an already established Bhutanese community is common. Most (60%) Bhutanese refugees resettled to the United States are young adults aged 15–44 years, 15% are 45–64 years old, 5% are 65 years or older, and the remainder are children under 15 years old.[89]


The Country and Its History

Burma, which is officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar, is located in Southeast Asia.[90] The country is roughly the size as Texas, making it the largest country in that region. It shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Burma’s coastline extends along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The population of Burma is about 46 million persons. Sixty-eight percent of the population is Burmese and the rest of the population is divided up among various ethnic minorities.

Additionally, Buddhism is the most popular religion in Burma, with almost 90% of the population worshipping Buddha. Other religions that are practiced are Christianity and Muslim. While Burma has a vast array of religious, historic, and cultural sites, tourism is highly undeveloped and probably will continue to be so until Burma’s image changes. Burma is a depressed Asian country, with a per capita Gross Domestic Product between US$200 and US$660.[91] The nation has been unable to achieve any substantial improvement in export earnings because of falling prices for many of its major commodity exports.’ [92] Burma once relied heavily on rice as its main export. Actually it was once one of the world’s leading rice exporters but is now one of the most impoverished nations on the planet.[93] Because of dropping world prices and shrinking markets, in addition to Burma’s isolationist economic policies, teak has replaced rice as the country’s largest export.[94]Burma’s economy is primarily dependent on the agricultural sector.[95]

This is a poor country with a long history of poor management. Burma’s governmental history breaks down into four distinct periods. [96] The first lasted from 1044 to 1886, when kings ruled Burma.[97] The second period began in 1886, when Great Britain gained control of the country and made Burma one of its many colonies.’ [98] Independence from Great Britain in 1948 marked the beginning of the third period of Burmese history;’ [99] under a newly created constitution, the nation became a quasi-federal state with a system of parliamentary democracy.[100]

The most recent period began when General Ne Win overthrew the government of Burma in a 1962 military coup.[101] The coup leaders proclaimed that their takeover was necessary because of the severe breakdown in the political process, decline in the economy, and continued insurgency.[102] This new regime instituted a form of socialistic government.[103] By establishing a socialist regime, the state took over production, distribution, and import-export operations.[104] Later, in 1974, military leaders promulgated a new constitution. [105] This constitution reaffirmed and codified the socialist program of the coup.[106] The new constitution allowed for a transfer of power to a so-called “People’s Assembly.”‘ [107] In reality, the constitution placed Burma under a constitutional dictatorship.[108]

Why are so many people fleeing?

A large part of the dramatic economical plunge falls upon the current ruling party, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). The SLORC’s rise to power represents the familiar story of a military group seizing control of a divided nation and subsequently ravaging the country beyond recognition.

From 1974 until 1988, the government ruled with a strong hand, leading attacks against many of the minority factions that sought to reclaim their country.[109] In 1988, the SLORC assumed control of the government.[110]” They did so under the guise of maintaining law and order and to resolve the deteriorating situation of Burma.[111] The SLORC seized power at a time of nationwide peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.[112] The inevitable clash resulted in a massacre of thousands and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.[113] From 1988 continuing to this day, the SLORC has tightened its grip in Burma.

Even though a multiparty election was held in 1990, in which the opposition gained more than 80% of the popular vote, the SLORC refuses to honor the election results.[114] During September 1990, the SLORC announced that it would remain in power for another five to ten years.[115] The SLORC has taken further measures to ensure that it remains in control. For example, the coup leaders have imposed tough restrictions on political parties.[116] Consequently, of the 200+ parties in existence in 1988, approximately ten remained by 1991.[117] The SLORC’s main problem appears to be a phobia against insurgency. This phobia persisted ever since Burma became independent.[118] The problems between the government and its citizens will persist until the SLORC, as one observer noted,” adopts an enlightened policy of equality, liberty, and fraternity at the national level, and enforces a strict policy of noninterference by Burmese troops in the everyday life of the [Burmese people].”[119]

Undaunted, the SLORC continues its oppressive regime. The SLORC reportedly commits grievous human rights violations, such as imprisoning and torturing peaceful political activists; coercing civilians to serve as weapons carriers, human minesweepers, and prostitutes, and forcibly relocating entire villages.’ The coup leaders have maintained consistently that what goes on inside their borders is strictly an internal affair and of no concern to the international community.[120]The junta’s political objectives have been stated as maintaining law and order, promoting national reconciliation and unity, and building a prosperous modern nation.[121] Basic human rights are seen by the junta as “[p]providing… people with adequate food, clothing and shelter.”[122] The junta states that any other rights will come “[o]only[123] after the living standard of the people is improved.

 The Country and Its Human Rights Problems

Information about human rights abuses by the Burmese government is not substantial. This is due in large part to the government’s unwillingness to supply information to requesting bodies. For example, it has been reported by various sources that political prisoners are being held in conditions that amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.[124] Allegations such as these rarely are disclosed, let alone commented on, by the Burmese government.[125] However, the information that does exist reveals a systematic and harsh denial of Burmese citizens’ human rights.

The current ruling party, the SLORC, took over the government under claims of political crisis and general degeneration of the country. The severe military crackdown resulted in mass executions and fleeing by many of the minorities of Burma. Since 1988, Burma’s citizens have suffered greatly from the SLORC’s actions. The violations that have occurred in Burma read like a virtual laundry list: political and extrajudicial killings;[126] arbitrary arrests and detention;[127] intrusion into the lives of private citizens;[128] excessive force and violation of humanitarian law; denial of freedom of speech, association, religion, movement, and the right to change government; discrimination against women, children, and religious minorities; and the denial of workers’ rights.[129]

The most recent reports from Burma concern the junta’s brutal treatment of political prisoners and the use of forced labor. Specifically, letters from Burmese prisoners, alleging that water and food supplies have failed to reach them, found their way to Yozo Yokata, a United Nations human rights investigator.[130] Undoubtedly, the denial of the basic life essentials constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment. [131]

With 1996 being Burma’s self-proclaimed year of tourism, recent reports have alleged the Burmese military’s use of forced labor to build tourist attractions. These claims have been brought to international attention by United Nations officials,[132] as well as international trade unions.[133] The practice of forced labor violates international law.[134] Even though it appears Burma is not complying with international human rights obligations, nothing substantial is being done to stop the violations. There seems to be little progress being made towards halting the violations.

What did America do to help?

Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary at the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, said that her country had welcomed and settled more than 73,000 refugees from Myanmar since 2005. [135] “The United States is proud to have given a new start to these refugees. Resettled Burmese refugees have thrived in their new homes, and enriched their new communities. Many have become homeowners, small business owners and American citizens,” she said.”We expect several more thousand to arrive in the coming year as the program winds down,” she added. “This successful resettlement program has reached its natural conclusion following the January 24, 2014 deadline for Burmese refugees to express their interest in resettlement to UNHCR.” Eligible refugees in each camp were given three months to decide whether or not to apply for resettlement to the US under the simplified procedures.[136]

The group resettlement program was initiated in 2005, with the support of the Thai and US governments, to offer a durable solution to the tens of thousands of refugees from Myanmar who found themselves in a protracted refugee situation and dependent on international assistance in the nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.[137]

This program, one of the world’s largest resettlement programs recently came to an end in Thailand when UNHCR received the final expressions of interest from eligible Myanmar refugees who wish to start a new life in the United States. [138] Over the past year, nearly 6,500 Myanmar refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border have expressed interest in the US group resettlement programs – 2,500 more individuals than in 2012, an indication that many refugees had been waiting for the last chance before making a final decision to resettle or not.

Tun Myin, a 30-year-old father of three in Mae La Oon camp, was among the last refugees to express his interest last week. “We were waiting to see what people would do,” he said. “Now all of my siblings are resettling, we don’t want to stay behind by ourselves in the camp.”[139]Access to higher education was another key factor in the decision to resettle. “Life for our children will be much improved in the US. In the camp they cannot progress beyond Grade 10 in school, and they cannot go to university in Thailand,” said Thein Than Aye, a teacher and pastor in Mae Ra Ma Luang camp.[140]

In the past two years, positive developments in south-eastern Myanmar have raised expectations that the refugees may be able to return home in the not too distant future. While UNHCR believes that conditions are not yet conducive for organized returns to take place at this moment, the agency is working with partners, like the US to prepare for this eventuality for those refugees who will decide to repatriate to Myanmar.[141]


The Country and its History

Iraq, a triangle of mountains, desert, and fertile river valley, is bounded on the east by Iran, on the north by Turkey, on the west by Syria and Jordan, and on the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.[142] It is twice the size of Idaho. The country has arid desert land west of the Euphrates, a broad central valley between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and mountains in the northeast.

From earliest times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia—the land between the rivers—for it embraces a large part of the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.[143]

An advanced civilization existed in this area by 4000 B.C. Sometime after 2000 B.C.; the land became the center of the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Mesopotamia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 B.C. and by Alexander in 331 B.C. After an Arab conquest in 637–640, Baghdad became the capital of the ruling caliphate. The country was pillaged by the Mongols in 1258, and during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries was the object of Turkish and Persian competition.[144] The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein collapsed on April 9, 2003, after U.S. and British forces invaded the country. Sovereignty was returned to Iraq on June 28, 2004.[145]

Why are so many fleeing?

In March 2003, the U.S. military launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” in which it invaded Iraq and ultimately removed Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party from political power.[146] From March 2003 to November 2007, U.S. bombing and other military actions, as well as the Iraqi insurgency and sectarian violence, caused an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis to flee their homes.[147] This number represents over one-seventh of the entire population of Iraq.[148] The Iraqi refugee crisis should not be underestimated. It is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.[149]

It is estimated that over 2 million of these refugees fled Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon; the rest are internally displaced within Iraq.[150] The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that by the end of 2007, the Middle East region was host to one-quarter of all refugees worldwide, the majority of whom were from Iraq.[151] Iraq is the second largest source of refugees, with Afghanistan being the largest.[152] Together, these two countries account for nearly half of all refugees worldwide.[153] The Iraqi refugee crisis disparately affects women and children, who comprise over 83 percent of all Iraqi refugees.’[154]

While the sheer numbers of Iraqis displaced by Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrate the breadth of the crisis, conditions facing those refugees further highlight the seriousness of the problem. Conditions for refugees are a continuing issue of concern for human rights organizations. The overwhelming majority of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan live in impoverished camps, where medical treatment for sick and elderly refugees is often difficult to access.[155] In Syria, where an estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees reside, domestic law does not permit Iraqis to work.[156]  This leaves most refugees desperately impoverished.[157]

Humanitarian assistance comes from UNHCR, the World Food Program (“WFP”), the U.N. Children’s Fund (“UNICEF’), the U.N. Population Fund (“UNFPA”), and the World Health Organization (“WHO”).[158] However, due to a lack of financial support from the international community, many basic needs, such as food, medical treatment, and education, go unmet. [159] As a result of the rampant conditions of poverty, some Iraqi refugees living in Syria have turned to sex work and child labor.[160] Rates of sexual assault and domestic abuse have also increased.[161]

Conditions are even worse for the estimated 500,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan, where UNHCR is currently able to provide food assistance to only 9190 people and financial assistance to 7708 families. [162] This low number is due to a lack of resources rather than a lack of need.[163] As in any refugee crisis, the majority of the people displaced are women and children whose husbands and fathers were either killed in Iraq or remained there.[164]


What did America do to help?

In February 2007, the U.S. Department of State announced the creation of the Iraq Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Task Force (“Taskforce”).[165] The purpose of the Task Force was to assist the capabilities of other national governments, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations in providing assistance to internally displaced Iraqis as well as Iraqi refugees.[166] The Task Force coordinated U.S. efforts with these entities, providing funding of UNHCR’s humanitarian assistance efforts.[167] The U.S. Task Force pledged $18 million in funding for the UNHCR in its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees.[168] As part of the Task Force’s goals, the United States also announced a plan to accept 7000 of the eligible refugees into the country for resettlement during the year 2007.[169] This number represented only a fraction of the 480,000 Iraqis fleeing the country in the year 2006 alone,[170] but nonetheless represented an increase over the mere 466 Iraqis who resettled in the United States between 2003 and 2007.[171]

Only weeks after its announcement regarding plans to resettle 7000 refugees in 2007, the United States adjusted the number of Iraqi refugees it hoped to resettle to only 2000 people.[172] During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, President Obama (then Candidate Obama) articulated a strategy to begin to address the Iraqi refugee crisis. The Obama-Biden team stated that “America has both a moral obligation and a responsibility” to address the Iraqi refugee crisis.[173] President Obama pledged to form an international working group to develop solutions

to the crisis and to provide a minimum of $2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees living in the region.[174]

President Barack Obama again addressed the resettling of Iraqi refugees in February 2009, stating, “America has a strategic interest-and a moral responsibility-to act.”[175] President Obama continued his February 2009 address by promising to provide “more assistance and [to] take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting [Iraqi] refugees.”[176] These countries include Jordan and Syria, where numerous Iraqi refugees currently call home.[177] Jordan and Syria receive funding from the UNHCR, to which the United States is a primary contributor, in order to help host Iraqi refugees.[178]







Recommendations to the American Government

  • Providing more help for the resettling of refugees and asylum seekers when they enter into America.
  • Keeping other countries accountable, for the helping of refugees.
  • Having a stronger stance in helping enforce refugee’s rights across the world.
  • Demanding that other countries who have been involved in the convention to live  up to minimum human rights standards before providing funding in any way to them.
  • Taking advantage of and creating meaningful opportunities for newly admitted refugees.
  • Ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and implement a fair, humane, and speedy asylum system.
  • Providing more aid and not ammunition to countries.
  • Better accounting of monetary aid that is sent to foreign governments for the refugees.


Originally I set out to research what particular means of persecution the top 3 countries of refugees were facing, to see if it was a conglomerate affect of being persecuted for race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and determine if it was that plus a hope for a better life in America.

Now I see the causes may be influenced by those 5 criteria but there pushed more by the countries government either choosing or lacking the ability to help its own people anymore. The two factors that are allowing the rise in refugee numbers for these countries seems to be: 1) an unstable and/or unbalanced government with 2) people having a hope for a better future in America.


[2] The 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol by Guterres Antonio. UNHCR’s Refworld at,containing a vast collection of documents relating to situations in countries of origin, protection policy and legal positions, international instruments, case law, and national legislation.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] The 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol by Guterres Antonio. UNHCR’s Refworld at,containing a vast collection of documents relating to situations in countries of origin, protection policy and legal positions, international instruments, case law, and national legislation.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] United Nations General Assembly resolution 429(V) of 14 December 1950, available at

[12] The Convention enabled States to make a declaration when becoming party, according to which the words “events occurring before 1 January 1951” are understood to mean “events occurring in Europe” prior to that date. This geographical limitation has been maintained by a very limited number of States, and with the adoption of the 1967 Protocol, has lost much of its significance. The Protocol of 1967 is attached to United Nations General Assembly resolution 2198 (XXI) of 16 December 1967, available at

[13] See, for example, the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa 1969, adopted in Addis Adaba, 10 September 1969; the European Union Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted, Official Journal L 304 , 30/09/2004 P. 0012 – 0023. The Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, adopted at a colloquium held at Cartagena, Colombia, 19-22 November 1984, while non-binding, also sets out regional standards for refugees in Central America, Mexico and Panama.

[14] See The 1951 Refugee Convention at (last visited Nov. 18, 2011).

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Declaration of States parties to the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Ministerial Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-13 December 2001, UN Doc. HCR/MMSP/2001/09, 16 January 2002. The Declaration was welcomed by the UN General Assembly in resolution A/RES/57/187, para. 4, adopted on 18 December 2001.

[18] Deborah E. Akner, M. H. (1981). The Forty Year Crisis: A Legislative History of the *Refugee Act of 1980. The San Diego Law Review, 9-89.

[19] Roberts, M. A. (1982). The U.S. and Refugees: The Refugee Act of 1980. A Journal of Opinion: African Refugees and Human Rights, 4-6.

[20] 94 Stat. 102

[21] Roberts, M. A. (1982). The U.S. and Refugees: The Refugee Act of 1980. A Journal of Opinion: African Refugees and Human Rights, 4

[22] Kennedy, E. M. (1981). Refugee Act of 1980. Refugees Today, 141-156.


[24] Id.


[26] Id.

[27] Id.

[28] Id.


[30] Refugees and Asylees:2012,Annual Flow Report, Daniel Martin and James Yankay

[31] In many cases, an unallocated reserve is also designated which can be used in any region if the need arises and only after notification to Congress.


[33] Refugees and Asylees:2012,Annual Flow Report, Daniel Martin and James Yankay


[35] Id.

[36] The World Factbook: Bhutan, U.S. CENT. INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Dec. 20, 2011), (describing climate and land use).

[37] The World Factbook: Bhutan, U.S. CENT. INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Dec. 20, 2011), (describing climate and land use).

[38] See, e.g., Ramakant & R.C. Misra, Introduction to BHUTAN: SOCIETY AND POLITY 11-12

(Ramakant & R.C. Misra eds., 1996) (partly attributing Bhutan’s isolation to its physical inaccessibility to the outside world).

[39] See, e.g., Peter de Jonge, Television’s Final Frontier, N.Y. TIMES MAG., Aug. 22, 1999, at 42

(describing the ceremony in June 1999 when Bhutan welcomed television, becoming “one of the very

last countries on the planet to get plugged in”).

[40] For many years, Bhutan remained all but closed to the outside world. Only 274 tourists visited the country in 1974, growing to 13,626 in 2005 to 2006. Thierry Mathou, How to Reform a Traditional Buddhist Monarchy: The Political Achievements of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan (1972-2006), 2008 THE CENTER FOR BHUTAN STUD. 13 (2008) (citing news reports). In recent years, the government has sought to increase the number of wealthy, well-educated tourists. About 60,000 tourists visited Bhutan in 2011, eighty percent of whom had college degrees. Gyalsten K Dorji, A ‘Numbers’Album ofln-depth Snapshots, KUENSEL ONLINE (May 03, 2012), 1/?p=30649.

[41] See Part II, infra. “Citizenship” in this Note is defined narrowly “as a formal legal status articulating the relationship between the individual and the state. So understood, citizenship is used interchangeably with ‘nationality.”‘ James A. Goldston, Holes in the Rights Framework: Racial Discrimination, Citizenship, and the Rights of Noncitizens, 20 ETHICS & INT’L AFF. 321, 321 n.1 (2006).

[42] The World Factbook: Bhutan, supra note 7 (estimating a population of 708,000 as of July 2011).

[43] Nestroy, supra note 1, at 339 (Bhutan is a “David … sandwiched between the two ‘Goliaths,’India and China”).

[44] Michael Hutt, Letter, His Majesty King Jigme, HIMAL, July 1992, available at

[45] See generally Mathou, supra note 5, at 9 (referring to this process as one of “Bhutanization”).

[46] Richard W. Whitecross, Migrants, Settlers and Refugees: Law and the Contestation of ‘Citizenship’ in Bhutan, in SPATIALIZING LAW: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL GEOGRAPHY OF LAW IN SOCIETY 63 (Franz von Benda-Beckmann et al. eds., 2009) (describing effect of restrictive 1985 law); see also Bernice Carrick, The Rights of the Nepali Minority in Bhutan, 9 ASIA-PAC. J. HUM. RTS. & L.,13, 16 (2008) (same).

[47] H.E. Lyonpo Kinzang Doiji, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Opening Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of Bhutan 5 (Dec. 4, 2009) (transcript available at

[48] Mathou, supra note 5, at 9.

[49] Michael Hutt, Ethnic Nationalism, Refugees and Bhutan, 9 J. REFUGEE STUD. 397, 398 (1996).

[50] the central Bhutanese [who have no specific ethnonym]-with whom extensive intermarriage has taken place at the elite level over centuries-are politically dominant …. ); Saul, supra note 16, at 325 (“The Ngalongs hold power in Bhutan. . . .”).

[51] Hutt, at 398; see also Carrick, supra note 37, at 15 (“[T]he Sharchhops, like Ngalong, speak a Tibeto-Burman language and are also Buddhists.”); Saul, supra note 16, at 325; Satya Shrestha-Schipper, Bhutanese Nepalis or Nepali Bhutanese?, INT’L INST. ASIAN STUD. NEWSL. # 41, Summer 2006, at 16.

[52] Many sources refer to the “Nepali Bhutanese” as “Lhotshampas” or “people of the southern border.” Hutt, supra note 22, at 398-400. The nomenclature can carry political meaning. As Hutt writes: “‘Lhotshampa’ is sometimes used by the Bhutanese government to denote the ‘legal’ or ‘loyal’ Nepali-speaking community that remains within the kingdom, to distinguish its members from those who have departed, while ‘Bhutanese Nepali’ denotes a Bhutanese sub-set of a larger Nepali entity.” Id. at 400. For the sake of consistency, this Note uses the term “Nepali Bhutanese.”

[53] Hutt, supra note 22, at 400; Saul, supra note 16, at 325.

[54] Carrick, supra 37, at 20

[55] Lok Raj Baral, Bilateralism Under The Shadow: The Problems of Refugees in Nepal-Bhutan Relations, 20 CONTRIBUTIO            NS TO NEPALESE STUD. 197, 197 (1993).

[56] See generally HUTT, supra note 1, at 1-13 (summarizing book, which provides an extensive discussion of the flight of refugees from Bhutan). Authors debate if the Nepali were forcibly removed or left voluntarily. See Gallenkamp, supra note 1, at 15 n.20. Exactly how many fled the country is also contested, although most sources look to the number who entered the refugee camps. See, e.g., HUTT, supra note 1, at 258 (97,750 Bhutanese refugees were registered in the Nepalese camps at the end of January 2000); Baral, supra note 29, at 198 (more than 85,000 reside in the camps); Saul, supra note 16, at 322 (“Since 1990, over 96,000 people have fled from Bhutan to refugee camps in Nepal, or were bom in exile to refugee parents.”); Gallenkamp, supra note 1, at 15 (referencing “the flight and eviction of approximately 100,000 people from Bhutan between 1989 and 1992”).

[57] The Bhutanese Citizenship Act of 1958, officially the Nationality Law of Bhutan, 1958, is a decree by the Druk Gyalpo King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, recognizing the definition of a Bhutanese citizen. The Act was amended in 1977 and then superseded by the Citizenship Act of 1985.

[58] Whitecross, supra note 31, at 62.

[59] Saul, supra note 16, at 326; Whitecross, supra note 17, at 62.

[60] Matthew Joseph C, Political Transition in Bhutan, 41 ECON. & POL. WICLY. 1311, 1312 (2006)

[61] Gallenkamp, supra note 34, at 8.

[62] The 1958 Citizenship Act was altered by the Bhutanese royal government in 1977 through a series of amendments titled “Act on Grant of Citizenship in Bhutan”. The 1977 Amendments supersede all conflicting prior law. They 1977 Amendments introduced both substantive and procedural changes in Bhutanese citizenship law, clarifying the role of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Amendments enacted further conditions and procedures for naturalization, namely lengthening the residency requirement. They further clarified the status of certain bona fide Bhutanese citizens abroad and refined the requirements and procedures surrounding census registration. The Amendments also restate loss of citizenship as the penalty for sedition.

[63] Baral, supra note 29, at 200; Whitecross, supra note 17, at 62.

[64] Jus sanguinis: right of blood, is a principle of nationality law by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth but by having one or both parents who are citizens of the state.

[65] Bhutan Citizenship Act, 1985 (June 10, 1985), available at docid/3ae6b4d838.html.

[66] Bhutan Citizenship Act, 1985, supra note 90, § 3 (requiring such residence to be recorded by the Department of Immigration and Census).

[67] Saul, supra note 16, at 328-29 (citing 1996 U.S. State Department Report). Saul also notes wryly that the Home Ministry was not established until 1968. Id. at 328; see also Lee, supra note 69, at 134 (“Refugee leaders have pointed out that the ministry of Home Affairs was only set up much later.”).

[68] Bhutan Citizenship Act, 1985, supra note 90, § 4(c) (requiring such residence to be recorded by the Department of Immigration and Census).

[69] Proficiency was to be ascertained through written tests. Id. § 4(d).

[70] Id. § 4(g).

[71] Id. § 4(h).

[72] Id.

[73] Id. § 6(a).

[74] Id . § 6(c).

[75] Jennifer Gibson, Bhutan’s Constitution: Fundamental Rights and Duties 28 (Nov. 2011) (unpublished paper) (on file with author).

[76] Lee, supra note 69, at 141; see Carrick supra note 17, at 20 (“An estimated one-sixth of the country’s ethnic Nepali lost their citizenship in this manner.”). Hutt argues that one-sixth of the population of Bhutan and probably half of its Nepali Bhutanese left the country in the years that followed. Hutt, supra note 22, at 416. However, as noted in Part I, supra, population demographics are highly contested.

[77] Hutt, , at 402; Whitecross, at 62

[78] Hutt, supra note 22, at 402; Whitecross, supra note 17, at 62; see 2010 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, supra note 89, at 9 (“Implementation of a nationwide government census in 1985 resulted in the denationalization of many ethnic Nepalese in the country because land ownership documents from 1958 were required to receive citizenship.”). The census classified the population into seven categories: Fl – Genuine Bhutanese; F2 – Returned emigrants; F3 – Dropout cases (that is people not

around at the time of the census); F4 – Children of Bhutanese father and non-national mother; F5 – Non-national father married to Bhutanese mother and their children; F6 – Adopted children; F7 – Nonnationals.Hutt, supra note 22, at 402. Hutt writes that many who did not have the required paperwork were categorized as F2 or F7. Id.

[79] Richard W. Whitecross, Migrants, Settlers and Refugees: Law and the Contestation of ‘Citizenship’ in Bhutan, in SPATIALIZING LAW: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL GEOGRAPHY OF LAW IN SOCIETY 63 (Franz von Benda-Beckmann et al. eds., 2009) (describing effect of restrictive 1985 law); see also Bernice Carrick, The Rights of the Nepali Minority in Bhutan, 9 ASIA-PAC. J. HUM. RTS. & L., 13, 16 (2008) (same).

[80] Gallenkamp, supra note 34, at 8 (describing the creation of a “concept of national ideology” as one of the king’s “main pillars”).

[81] Saul, supra note 16, at 331.

[82] Hutt, supra note 22, at 404

[83] HUTT, supra note 1, chs. 12 & 13 (providing a thorough account).

[84] Kai Bird, The Enigma of Bhutan, THE NATION, Mar. 26, 2012, available at (Of the 60,000 already resettled abroad, “more than 50,000, have gone to the United States, with the rest resettling in Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Britain.”); see 2010 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, supra note 89, at 8; see also Pamela Constable, A Giant Leap of Faith & Culture, WASH. POST, Dec. 18, 2011, at C05 (describing the fish-out-of-water story of Nepali Bhutanese refugees resettled in the Washington, DC suburbs).



[88] Id.

[89] Id.


[91] 12. C.I.A., supra note 11, at 69.

[92] 13. Id.

[93] See Rachel Kleinfeld, Don’t Pay SLORC to Tighten Its Grip, ASIAN WALL ST. J., July 14, 1995 at 6 (“[Burma’s] economic policies have transformed [the country] from a net rice exporter into one of the poorest countries in the world.”); James P. Sterba, FriendshipForged in Shrimp, WALL ST. J., Jan. 11, 1994, at Al (“Once the world’s biggest rice exporter, Burma sank into near bankruptcy.”). 1996]HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN BURMA .

[94] Id. See Matthew Burnett, Forestsand People-Victims in Burma, THE CHRISTIAN ScI. MONITOR, Apr. 6, 1992, at 19 (exploring the emerging problems of Burma’s teak trade).

[95] C.I.A., supra note 11, at 69.

[96]  See LIANG, supra note 11, at 2; Gyi, supra note 1.

[97] TAYLOR, supra note 11, at 148.

[98] . Id.

[99] BURMA CONST. (1974), reprinted in CONSTITUTIONS OF THE COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD (Albert P. Blaustein & Gisbert H. Flanz eds., 1990) (containing a translation of the Burmese Constitution, as well as a brief history of the country) [hereinafter BURMA CONST.].

[100] LIANG, supra note 11, at 19.

[101] Id General Ne Win is commonly credited with ruining the country. See Sterba, supra note 7 (“[Burma]economically ruined by [Ne Win’s] so-called Burmese Way of Socialism.”); Magistad, supra note 10 (“Ne Win’s 26-year rule isolated this former British colony and ruined its economy.”).

[102] BURMA CONST., supra note 19; TAYLOR, supra note 11, at 291.

[103] BURMA CONST., supranote 19, at 20 (Article 5 announces, “A Socialist society is the goal of the State.”).

[104] LIANG, supra note 11, at 19.

[105] BURMA CONST., supra note 19, at 4; TAYLOR, supra note 11, at 291.

[106] LIANG, supra note 11, at 19.

[107] Id at 30

[108] Id.

[109] See generally TAYLOR, supra note 11, at 291; Ragland, supra note 3, at 301. Between 1985 and 1990, the average life expectancy of a Burmese citizen was 60 years. C.I.A., supra note 11. However, for undocumented reasons, the life expectancy for the years 1990-1995 dropped to 57.6 years. This author contends that the recent drop in life expectancy may be due to the cruel and inhumane tactics of the current military regime.

[110] BURMA CONST., supra note 19, at 4.

[111] Id.

[112] Ragland, supra note 3, at 303

[113] Id

[114] KCWD 1995 ABC-Clio, Inc., Myanmar

[115] 1d.

[116] Id.

[117] Id.

[118] Gyi, supra note 1, at 232-42

[119] Id.

[120] Josef Silverstein, Burma’s Brutality is a World-Class Problem, ASIAN WALL

ST. J., Feb. 20, 1992, at 6 (“The military rulers of Burma claim that all the unrest within

its borders is its ‘internal affair’ and of no concern to the international community.”);

Myanmar Opposes Human Rights Pressures, ASIAN POL. NEWS, Sept. 7, 1992, available

in WESTLAW, 1992 WL 2351412 (“Myanmar, accused of having one of the world’s

worst human rights records, joined other nonaligned movement members (of the Association

of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN))… in opposing outside pressure to respect such rights.”).

[121] Myanmar’s Ruling Junta Sets Out Political Objectives, ASIAN POL. NEWS, July 10, 1995, available in WESTLAW, 1995 WL 225764 [hereinafter Junta’s Political Objectives].

[122] Id.

[123] Id.

[124] E.g., AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 218 (1995) [hereinafter AMNESTY

1995]; Teena Gill, Burma-Outlook Foreign Investment Tied up in PoliticalTug-of-War,

INTER PRESS SERV., Dec. 12, 1995, available in WESTLAW, 1995 WL 10136519

[125] BurmaJailAbuse Tied to Smuggled Letters, BOSTON GLOBE, Dec. 27, 1995, at 2.

[126] Amnesty International reports that three members of the Kayin minority were accused of being insurgents. Subsequently, after being detained, the soldiers stabbed the men to death and reportedly slit the throat of a 14-year-old boy. AMNESTY 1995, supra note 46, at 220. It has been reported that the military has captured members of

the Kayin minority, dressed them as insurgents, photographed them, and finally executed them. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 219 (1994) [hereinafter AMNESTY 1994].

[127] SLORC continually arrests and detains citizens with the purpose of converting them into porters for the military. AMNESTY 1995, supra note 46, at 220.

[128] Political opposition members and minorities appear to be the sole target of  abuse. The military continually abuses, harasses, and arrests citizens who participate in peaceful political activity. SLORC can do so because of a law they passed which criminalizes peaceful political activity. Amnesty 1994, supra note 49, at 218.

[129] For a more complete picture of the situation in Burma, see AMNEST 1995, supra note 46; AMNESTY 1994, supra note 49.

[130] BOSTON GLOBE, supra note 47

[131] See Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Dec. 10, 1984, 23 IL.M. 1027 (1984). This convention, in Article 1, defines torture as: any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person… a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or suspected of having committed, or intimidating … him or a third person,. .. when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation

of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. Unfortunately, Burma is not a party to this convention. However, evident from the number of state parties to this convention, its principles probably can be viewed as evidence of customary international law.

[132] E.g., id. (“U.N. Human Rights Reporter Yozo Yokata reported last year that Burma may be using forced labor to spruce up landmarks for foreign tourists in an effort to promote 1996 as ‘Visit Myanmar Year.”‘).

[133] See id. (noting the complaints issued by both the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation).

[134] See, e.g., Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labor, Jan. 17, 1959, 320 U.N.T.S. 291. This convention states that its members undertake “to suppress and not to make use of any form of forced or compulsory labor.., as a method of mobilizing and using labor for purposes of economic development.” The reports which declare Burma’s intentions as “beautifying” the country are obviously economic in nature. Sadly, Burma is not a party to this treaty either.


[136] Id.

[137] Id.

[138] Id.

[139] Id.


[141] Id.


[143] Id.

[144] Id.

[145] Id.

[146] See, e.g., Press Release, Office of Press Secretary, Fact Sheet: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Three Years Later (Mar. 18, 2006), available at 1.pdf.

[147] Bill Felick, Refugee Policy Dir. For Human Rights Watch, The Human Cost of War: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis, Testimony Before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (Nov. 15, 2007), https://hrw.orglenglish/docs/2007/1 1/15/iraql7340.htm [hereinafter Felick Testimony]

[148] 4World View: A Chance to Do Right by Iraq (Chicago Public Radio broadcast Aug. 16, 2007), available at https://www.chicagopublicradio.orgfProgram wV..aspx?episode=12746.



[151] 7U.N. High Comm.’s for Refugees [UNHCR1, 2007 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons 7 (June 2008), available at [hereinafter 2007 Global Trends].

[152] Id. at 8.

[153] Id.


[155] Kevin Walsh, Victims of a Growing Crisis: A Call for Reform of the United States Immigration Law and Policy Pertaining to Refugees of the Iraq War, 53 VILL. L. REV. 421, 424 (2008).


[157] IRAQ: RHETORIC AND REALITY, supra note 6, at 11

[158] Id.

[159] Id. at 11-14.

[160] Id. at 3.

[161] Id. At 12-15

[162] IRAQ: RHETORIC AND REALITY, supra note 6, at 18-19.

[163] Id.

[164] IRAQI REFUGEE WOMEN AND YOUTH IN JORDAN, supra note 5, at 3.

[165] Randall Fenlon, Developments in the International Arena: Creation of a New Iraq Refugee Task

Force, 21 GEO. IMMIGR. L.J. 333, 334 (2007).

[166] Id.

[167] Id.

[168] Id. at 335.

[169] Id. at 334.

[170] U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees [IJNHCR], UNHCR Return Advisory and Position on International Protection Needs of Iraqis Outsqide’ Iraq 2 n. 5 (2f006), available at

[171] Fenlon, supra note 157, at 334-35.

[172] H.R. 3674, 110th Cong. §§ 7-8 (2007); Walsh, supra note 15, at 437

[173] Organizing for America, War in Iraq, Plan for Ending the War in Iraq, https:// www.barackobama.comissues/iraq/index-campaign.php (last visited Oct. 27, 2009) (follow “Foreign Policy” hyperlink; then follow “Ending the War in Iraq”).

[174] Id.

[175] Obama’s Speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C., N.Y. TIMES (Feb. 27, 2009), [hereinafter Camp Lejeune]

[176] Id.

[177] Jeff Crisp et al., Surviving in the City, UNHCR POL’Y DEV. & EVALUATION SERV. 3 (July 2009), available at 4a69ad639.pdf.

[178] See Financial Figures, UNHCR, (last visited Mar. 29, 2011) (recognizing the United States as a top five donor to the UNHCR, contributing $510 million in 2008); see generally Crisp, supra note 9, at 1 (noting UNHCR services offered to refugees in Syria and Jordan).

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