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Fact Check: Viral Video Misconstrues UML Chair Oli Referring To His Talks With US For Resettling Bhutanese Refugees

Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

Claim
KP Oli said he was the one who sent Nepali people to the US as Bhutanese refugees
Fact
KP Oli speaking about his role in holding talks with the US government to resettle the Bhutanese refugee languishing in Nepal during his premiership

A video purportedly showing Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli conceding that he is the person who held talks with the United States government to make arrangement for sending Nepali people to the US identifying them as Bhutanese refugees is going viral on TikTok.

Bhutanese refugee scam is a high-profile corruption scandal involving some of the top political leaders for their alleged role in sending Nepali citizens to the United States by providing them fake Bhutanese refugee certificates. A former deputy prime minister, home ministers, a home secretary, a police chief, prominent Bhutanese refugee rights activists, among other political leaders, have been implicated in this case.

Against this backdrop, TikTok user @keysunhitang7 posted a video showing a clip of an interview of former Prime Minister and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli speaking about the third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees languishing in Nepal. Text superimposed on the video allegedly said by Oli in the interview reads, “I am the person who talked with the US government to send Nepalis to the US identifying them as Bhutanese refugees. Rabi ji [Rastriya Swatantra Party Chairman and lawmaker Rabi Lamichhane] and Gyanendra Ji [Rastriya Prajatantra Party lawmaker Gyanendra Shahi] let this Khadga Oli be sent behind bars at the earliest.”  In the interview, CPN-UML Chair Oli is heard saying, “I am the one who held talks with the US government for third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees. As of now, there could only be around 4000 people left and the rest have been sent.”   

The archived version of the TikTok video can be seen here.

The video posted on June 28 has garnered 3227 likes, 228 users have shared it and 113 people have commented until the time of publishing this article.

Fact Check /Verification

To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker split the video into several keyframes and conducted reverse searches on them. But the results didn’t match the viral video.

We, then, searched on YouTube by using relevant keywords from the viral video. The search led us to a video, dated 4 May 2023, of Oli’s interview to the media after his meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal regarding the investigation into Bhutanese refugee scam. On listening to the interview, we found that the audio from 0.25-minute onwards exactly matched the viral video. In the remaining part of the video, Oli says there were three options on the table regarding the management of the 4000 Bhutanese refugees languishing in Nepal. “The first option was to repatriate them to Bhutan by holding talks with the Bhutan government, the second option was to resettle them to a third country and the last option was to resettle them to Nepal. Other than that, I had heard about the attempts to create fake refugees and directed the Home Minister and the National Investigation Bureau to look into the matter, after that we resigned from the government,” Oli tells the media. But he didn’t say that he was the one who sent Nepali people as Bhutanese refugees to the US.

Further, we found another article with a news clip regarding the investigation into the Bhutanese refugee scam published on the website of Kantipur Television. The article carried a YouTube video of a media interview with KP Sharma Oli, who had been criticised for trying to save his party leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi after he was implicated in the refugee scam case, saying he had no idea where Rayamajhi was.

Our findings showed that the claim made by the viral video is misleading and that the viral video misconstrued Oli’s media interview that he was involved in holding talks with the US government to settle the Bhutanese refugee problem as his involvement in sending Nepali people by certifying them as Bhutanese refugees.

Conclusion

No, CPN-UML Chairman has not admitted sending Nepali people to the US as Bhutanese refugees. The viral video misinterpreted his media interview in which he said he held talks with the US government to resolve the issue of around 4000 Bhutanese refugees languishing in Nepal for various reasons.  

Result: Missing context

Sources
ABC TV Nepal /YouTube, May 4, 2023
Kantipur Television,


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Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

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