Im­mor­tal Lines - Speeches of the 4th Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck

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A Bhutan Times Pub­li­ca­tion ( Hard­cover- 195 pages) BOOK RE­VIEW BY Gopi­lal Acharya

“There is no such thing as Pales­tini­ans.” The world shook when Golda Meir, the erst­while prime min­is­ter of Is­rael, ‘ the only man in the cab­i­net’ made this state­ment in 1969. There were voices of re­sis­tance, but in­audi­ble in the ‘ world ac­cord­ing to Golda Meir.’

Her for­mi­da­ble pres­ence was too tough to be op­posed. The mighty pow­ers kept quiet. Even after her res­ig­na­tion in 1974, she re­peat­edly shocked the world with her re­fusal to flaunt her po­si­tion on the ‘ Palas­tine Ques­tion’ as the world called it.

Two years later, on Au­gust 16, a young King stood up to speak at the fifth sum­mit of the Non- Aligned Move­ment in Colombo. From a coun­try, where only a hand­ful of them had heard of Pales­tine, the King spoke for the ‘ na­tion­less’ peo­ple of the Mid­dle East.

Heads of states, grey haired, sea­soned old chaps, watched in awe in­spir­ing cu­rios­ity as he spoke. “The sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East con­tin­ues to pose a grave threat to in­ter­na­tional peace and se­cu­rity,” con­tin­ued Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 20year old King in a firm and com­mand­ing bari­tone far beyond his years, “… that the Pales­tinian ques­tion is at the heart of the prob­lem, and there can be no just and durable peace in the re­gion un­less Is­rael with­draws from all Arab ter­ri­to­ries oc­cu­pied by her since 1967, and un­less the in­alien­able na­tional rights of the Pales­tinian peo­ple are fully re­stored, in­clud­ing the right to re­turn to their home­land and es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent State in Pales­tine.”

The same mes­sage res­onated in all the NAM sum­mits where His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo stood to speak. Two years later in Ha­vana, the cap­i­tal of Com­mu­nist Cuba, he said in a prophetic tone, “Ef­forts made by the great pow­ers to­wards re­lax­ation of in­ter­na­tional ten­sion have yet to con­trib­ute to the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries… the prac­tice of in­ter­fer­ing in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of sov­er­eign states con­tin­ues abated. In­creas­ingly, re­course is be­ing taken to po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic pres­sures, threats of force and sub­ver­sion.” What His Majesty voiced almost two decades ago still holds true. In Pales­tine, in Afghanistan, in Iran - the de­vel­op­ing na­tions are forced to bend be­fore the mighty; those un­will­ing are threat­ened with eco­nomic sanc­tions and threats of ag­gres­sion.

Note the venue of the speech, the land of Fidel Castro. It was at a time when the United States of Amer­ica was yearn­ing to get rid of the lit­tle red threat. Here is a ques­tion for a quiz com­pe­ti­tion. Re­move the name of the speaker and ask the com­peti­tors to iden­tify the speaker. His Majesty the king can be eas­ily mis­taken for a rev­o­lu­tion­ary spirit with an undy­ing pas­sion for jus­tice and lib­erty

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