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ICC Note:

Two Christian men are being sought by Bhutan authorities for ties to a thrid man who was arrested for showing a movie based on the life of Jesus.

11/30/2010 Bhutan (Asia News) – In Bhutan, where human happiness is an economic index, human rights violations continue against members of ethnic and religious minorities. The fate of Prem Singh Gurung is a case in point. A Protestant, he was sentenced to three years in prison for screening a movie on the life of Jesus. Two other Christians are currently sought by police. They are accused of working with Gurung to proselytise in Jigmecholin District.  
In 2006, the Government of Bhutan began promoting democracy after centuries of absolute monarchy in which all religions other than Buddhism were banned. The new constitution of 2008 recognised freedom of religion for all Bhutanese, on the condition that the authorities are informed. Proselytising is banned however. The same is true for publishing Bibles, building Christian schools or sending foreign religious into the country. Thus, despite its claim to democracy, the kingdom is constantly criticised for violating human rights, especially those of political dissidents and members of ethnic minorities.

On Saturday, Bhutanese representatives participated in the first conference on human rights in South Asia organised by the South Asians for Human Rights. They included Tek Nath Rizal, leader del Bhutanese People’s Party, who complained about the serious situation in his country. On that occasion, he called on the international community to put pressure on Bhutanese authorities to release Gurung and stop pursuing the other two Christians.

“Bhutan is multiethnic and multilingual state. Twenty-two languages are spoken. Sadly, the government has imposed one official language, ‘dzongkha’, and one religion, Kagyurpa Buddhism. Hinduism, Christianity and even Nyingmapa Buddhism have been suppressed.

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