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