Nepal: Christians arrested over charges of converting people to Christianity

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Seven Christians have been booked in Nepal, over charges of evangelizing by handing out Bible handbooks to students. These Christians were charged of attempting to convert people to Christianity, which is illegal since last year. The detainees include Christian principals from two schools, and five staff members of a Christian organization, Teach Nepal. Family member of one of the detainees said, this was part of police’ crackdown on Christians.

Christian persecution in Nepal

These seven Christians were charged of handing Bible handbooks to about 885 students in Nepal’ Dolakha District. According to International Christian Concern, ICC- a Christian persecution watchdog, a family member of one of the detainees said, “The police treated them as if they were criminals, placing everyone in handcuffs. The officer who is in charge of this arrest refuses to listen to anyone and is making the Christians’ lives hell.”

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All seven of these Christians were asked by the police to sign a document which read that distribution of Bibles and related material is illegal therefore, they will never attempt to distribute Bibles or related materials; however, they all refused to sign that document.

While remarking in this regard a pastor told, ICC, “The Christian community in Nepal believes that this is a very serious case. Although we are working hard to get the prisoners released, the people here are nervous after hearing about this case. We feel that we have to be careful about everything that we do.”

In 2015, evangelism was strictly prohibited under the Constitution of Nepal, which meant spreading the gospel now officially carries penalty. Tensions have been on the rise after the law has been passed, moreover, in September 2015, the Hindu extremists warned all Christians to leave the country accusing them of corrupting the nation.

William Stark, Regional Manager of ICC for South Asia, termed these arrests threats to Christianity in Nepal. “Last year, many were concerned when Nepal adopted its new constitution that included the controversial Article 26. Christians feared that this article would be a weapon used to stop the growth of the Christian community,” he said.

“Today, Nepalese Christians have seen their fears realized with seven Christians being put through ‘hell’ simply for sharing their faith. No one should fear arrest and imprisonment for sharing their faith. ICC calls for the immediate release of these seven Christians and for Nepal to review and amend Article 26 of their constitution as it clearly violates the religious liberty of all citizens of Nepal.”