Recent Persecution Of The Church In Nepal
Many people have asked about the effect of the new anti-conversion law upon the Christian church in Nepal, and whether the level of threat has significantly increased.
The answer in short is that it appears over the last twelve months there has certainly been an increase of pressure and persecution upon the church. Most of this has been carried out at a local level rather than in a systematic way from the top level of government. Consequently, most missionaries and local church workers have been able to continue their work but by using extra caution in evaluating the level of opposition in their local area.
There are many pockets of Nepal where there has been trouble, and many stories of discrimination, intimidation, and arrests. Below are a few accounts of incidents that have taken place throughout the country.
These have been adapted from a recent newsletter of the Religious Liberty Forum of Nepal. You can subscribe to these updates here.
In May 2018 four Christian churches were set on fire and one was bombed in just over a week. No-one was killed in the attacks.
A church in Hindugh, Dhading was burnt and then rebuilt as a temporary church which was again burnt down…so two buildings of the same church were burnt down in a span of three weeks.
A few days later, on the 10th of May, there was an arson attack at Hebron Church, in Hilihang Rural Municipality-6, Panchthar at night when there was nobody in the church. The Church had just concluded a youth conference on the 9th of May.
The same night, 10th May, another church (Doti Church) in Bindur, Doti was put to the torch.
Arrests for Attempting Religious Conversion
Sonia Chanda Thakuri was arrested along with her six month-old baby on 22 March after being falsely accused with attempting religious conversion and destroying Hindu idols. Sonia has since been released, but her case remains ongoing.
Devi Rai was arrested with her friends in Chitwan on 30 April and accused of attempting to convert a Hindu family and encouraging them to destroy the Hindu idols. They were reportedly released a few days after the arrest.
Sumitra Gauli, Radhika Maharjan and Phuldevi Bhattarai, arrested in their church in Kathmandu on 8 May, was falsely accused of attempted religious conversion.
Bhim Br. Pradhan and Nabin Kumar Mandal, was arrested in Morang on 19 May for presenting Christian materials on a laptop. They are accused of speaking against Hindu gods and attempted conversion.
Six people were arrested while distributing tracts in the street of Teherathum on the 9th of May. Two of them were giving testimonies randomly to anybody in Sankranti Bazar, Atharai, Teherathum. Police inspector Dambar Puri arrested them under a report filed saying that people are preaching a religion.
Deepu Karmachari, 50, was arrested under a complaint filed by a local youth.
She had been preaching at the home of Khushbu Kamat when a young man noticed what was going on, and brought the police to make the arrest.
Many other cases could also be cited.
Govinda Dhakal (72), served as a pastor to a local church in Tandi, Chitwan for more than 11 years. He became active evangelist of Christ since 2004 and an itinerant traveler throughout the country proclaiming the gospel. He is actively involved in bible distribution, evangelism, church planting, supporting pastors and children at risk and orphanage. Last year, in his outreach visit to Surkhet, he found a poor family and decided to adopt Niruta BK (11) one of the children, so he could help her schooling.
Niruta was a traumatized child who had been sexually abused, and she was difficult to handle. They could not correct her, she became problematic in her school and attacked other children. So after a year of attempting to develop her, Govinda failed and sent her back to the family in September 2017 with a woman of her neighborhood in Surkhet. To their surprise, shortly after, Niruta's mother with a group of people and policemen arrived at Dhakal's door, and arrested him won the charge of raping Niruta. He has now been sent to jail for ten years. It was clear that Govinda was not given a fair trial, and the accusers even had confessed before the court that they were hoping for a huge amount of money by the false charge.
On the 6th July, a Pilipino couple was deported on the charge of being involved in religious activities while holding business visas. Both were staff members of Sigma Restaurant Pulchowk, a restaurant run by a Singaporean Christian. They worshiped in Every Nation Church, Kumaripati. This may be the first case of deportation due to a religious matter after the coming of democracy.
Please pray for the continued preservation, encouragement, comfort and strengthening of God’s church in Nepal in this time of increasing danger.