Attorney B. Ted Howes of McDermott Will & Emery LLP helps win asylum for a Bhutanese human rights advocate
Bahadur Singh Subba was detained and tortured because he fought for the rights of the Lhotshampas, a Nepali-speaking minority in Bhutan. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government of Bhutan attempted to impose a single national identity on the population. Mr. Subba and his fellow ethnic Nepalis resisted this policy because they felt it was an attack on their cultural identity. The government responded brutally, detaining and torturing those involved in protests, including Mr. Subba. Mr. Subba was detained for eighteen months. After he was released, he fled Bhutan to India, where he was taken to a refugee camp in Nepal. There, he was threatened by Maoist rebels, who had killed other Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal. Mr. Subba came to the United States to participate in a symposium held at the United Nations and applied for asylum. He was interviewed by Human Rights First in October 2005 and was accepted into its pro bono representation program. HRF assigned attorney B. Ted Howes of McDermott Will & Emery LLP to the case. Mr. Howes worked with dedication to establish Mr. Subba’s claim to asylum protection. One challenge was to provide documentary evidence to support torture allegations, which was crucial to establish Mr. Subba’s credibility. Mr. Subba was granted asylum in May 2006. He is currently living and working in Atlanta with his wife and child, who is attending school. Mr. Subba’s mother, father, two brothers, and sister have been resettled from refugee camps in Nepal and now live in Atlanta as well. Mr. Howes describes Mr. Subba as a friend for life.