Interview for

Bishwa Chhetri

1/18/2021

Interviewed By:

Grady Trexler

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 1:18:10
Summary

A refugee from Bhutan, Bishwa discusses the religious persecution he experienced as a Hindu in the majority Buddhist North, including his eventual imprisonment. He describes his release from prison, migrating to India, and eventually forming a camp in Nepal before becoming the first Bhutanese person granted asylum in the United States.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Bishwa Chhetri

Date: 01/18/21

Location: Harrisburg, PA


Summary: A refugee from Bhutan, Bishwa discusses the religious persecution he experienced as a Hindu in the majority Buddhist North, including his eventual imprisonment. He describes his release from prison, migrating to India, and eventually forming a camp in Nepal before becoming the first Bhutanese person granted asylum in the United States.

Topics: Family, Discrimination, Violence, Conflict Journey, Advocacy, Religious Practice, Asylum Process, Immigration, Cultural Adjustment, Generational Difference


Outline

Section 1: (0:00-14:15)

  • Family/Religious Practice- Growing up in a majority Hindu village in Bhutan

  • Cultural Adjustment: Difference between growing up in rural Hindu village vs. moving north for school, where people were majority Buddhist

Section 2: (14:15-27:27)

  • Discrimination- Slowly, restrictions on Hindus in the North became tighter and tighter as Bishwa went to school in the North, until he eventually got arrested.

Section 3: (27:27-38:52)

  • Violence- After he was arrested, put through a brutal process of solitary confinement/made to write statements.

  • Conflict Journey- Eventually, is released from prison and is able to slip into India.

Section 4: (38:52-46:52)

  • Conflict Journey- He and others form a camp in Nepal. Life is hard, and at first they struggle to survive. People die daily.

Section 5: (46:52-54:04)

  • Advocacy- He and others work to advocate with people in Nepal and India. India tacitly supports Bhutan, and although Nepal wants to support the refugees, they don’t have very much political clout.

  • Religious Practice- Hindus are once again allowed to practice in the camp, although often survival is the first priority. Local Christians also introduce their religion into the camp.

Section 6: (54:04-1:06:01)

  • Immigration: Asylum Process- He decides to come to the United States to do advocacy work there, since it became clear he wouldn’t be able to get back into Bhutan. He becomes the first Bhutanese person to be granted asylum in the United States.

Section 7: (1:06:01-1:18:10)

  • Immigration/Cultural Adjustment- His family members come to the United States. It is very difficult for them to find a good job, and to work through the cultural and linguistic differences.

  • Religious Practice/Generational Difference: For him, Hindusim doesn’t play an active role in his life, but rather serves as a background/roots to ground him. For his parents, they often go to the temple and even during the pandemic, remain connected to a Hindu community.