We are the children of ‘Shangri-Lost,’ the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan, known for its notorious human rights record and its practice of ethnic cleansing. As children born in refugee camps in Nepal to parents who were forcefully evicted in the early 1990s, we shoulder the responsibility to tell our stories to our younger peers and our friends in our new country- stories about our parents, who were thrown out of their beloved country for speaking out against injustice. While Shangri-La is a term used in the West because of a lack of knowledge about our ancestral country, we thought that Shangri-Lost is an apt term to use for our country, which is crying for its lost children.
We are a group of young Bhutanese children lost in the world, experiencing the identity crisis of being ethnically Nepali on one hand, and Bhutanese by origin and injustice, on the other. Our young generation finds itself trapped in the Bhutanese regime’s narrative that we are from Nepal, a narrative used to justify throwing us out, accused of being illegal immigrants. As more and more illegal immigrants are being manufactured by corrupt regimes around the world, the pain of lost identity among these so-called illegal immigrants has prompted us to face reality and build new lives elsewhere. The only other option for us would have been enduring the violence perpetrated by our rulers, while rest of the world witnessed our tragedies. We are witnesses to similar injustices committed against children in war-torn countries, who get no second chance to tell their stories.
We are unlucky to have been evicted from our home, but lucky to be alive to tell our stories of lost identity- therefore making us the Children of Shangri-Lost.