Nepal Christians Face Harsh Treatment for Practicing Their Faith

Published 16 July 2018  |  
MNN

In a recent attack against Christians in Nepal, Christian leaders were arrested on forcible conversion charges and a foreign couple was deported.

On July 2, violence broke out as Christian leaders tried to revitalize an alcoholic.

The aggression led to the arrest of Isak Tamang of the Shreejanga Free Church and Pr Dip Rai of the Chengbung Free Church in Taplejung District, in eastern Nepal, on forced conversion and assault charges. Two other Christians, David Limbu and Shristi Limbu, were arrested in the same case.

The incident took place when an unidentified Christian woman had asked Shreejanga Free Church leaders to help her husband, who is not a Christian, with his drinking problem. Her alcoholic husband was made to stay on the church premises without access to alcohol, according to Pr Kuber Gurung, a Religious Liberty Forum Nepal (RLF-Nepal) leader based in Dharan.

During his stay he grew violent over the lack of alcohol and attempted to harm himself and others, and he had to be controlled by force, Gurung said. Later, when the church leaders took him to a prayer tower in Jhapa for prayer and counseling, he filed charges and the Christians were arrested, Gurung added.

Police and the chief district officer had suggested the man to drop the charges against the pastors as they only tried to recover him. But the man demanded 500,000 rupees, which the pastors said was far beyond their ability to pay.

"We hope the [local] administration will bring out some solution, because their demand of 5 lakh rupees is too much for a poor pastor to pay," Pr Tanka Subedi, chairperson of the RLF-Nepal, told Morning Star News.

On July 6, the government deported De Vera Richard and his wife Rita Gonga on charges of forceful religious conversions and alleged violation of the terms and conditions of the business visa, which was granted to them on Nov. 28, 2017. They were working at a restaurant named Sigma in Pulchowk, in Lalitpur and allegedly they were also functioning as pastors at Every Nations Church in Kumaripati.

Richard is a citizen of Philippines, while his wife is an Indonesian national.

The couple was fined 50,000 rupees. They were not jailed but have been barred from entering Nepal for a year, according to MSN.

"This decision of deportation of the couple is too much, especially when it comes from the government in a democratic country like Nepal," said Subedi.

"The government allows them to do business in our country, and because they are Christians, they will certainly attend a church and participate in the community," he added.

Evangelism and conversion are prohibited in Nepal. Article 26 forbids anyone to "convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people."

"We have many Indian pujaris [Hindu temple priests] and a lot of Thai monks in Nepal; the government seems to have no problems with them, but only with Christians," Subedi added.

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