Eight Christians in Nepal’s Dolakha district, including one woman, were released from prison last Friday (17 June), nine days after being arrested on charges of distributing Christian literature to children at two schools with the intention to convert them. News of their release was greeted with thanksgiving across the Nepalese Christian community. However, the charges have not been dropped and there remain calls for the group to be punished.
“Three of them are out on bail, whereas five of them are out on ‘general release’,” revealed Tanka Subedi, church pastor and Co-Chair of the Nepal Christian Society, to Barnabas Fund. “The charges against those on ‘general release’ have not been dropped; they have to appear in court as and when summoned,” he continued.
A thanksgiving service was held in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, on the day the eight believers were released.
Last Wednesday (15 June), the Federation of National Christian, Nepal (FNCN), wrote to the Home Minister of Nepal, Bahadur Basnet, appealing to him to release the imprisoned Christians. The FNCN also urged the government and other relevant bodies to maintain social and religious harmony, and to stop persecuting innocent people without any proof.
Following news of the believers’ release, Subedi added a note of caution, saying, “A Member of Parliament for the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP) yesterday [Monday 20 June] demanded maximum punishment for these eight Christians.” Our contact in the region has asked Christians across the world to “continue to pray that the trial may be positive to the believers and a similar incident may not happen again”.
The pastor also said that on 21 June the Welfare Ministry circulated a letter to all District Development Committees instructing them not to approve any religious projects. This, he said, would mean a complete ban on bringing foreign funds into Nepal for such projects.