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ICC Note: A series of anti-Christian incidents in Nepal has many Nepalese Christians on edge. Several Christian pastors have been arrested on forced conversion charges after a recovering alcoholic became violent during an intervention. In another incident, a foreign Christian couple was deported from Nepal for attending church. In the past year, physical assaults, false forced conversion charges, and attacks on churches have become more common.

07/14/2018 Nepal (Morning Star News) – In a rash of recent actions against Christians in Nepal, an alcoholic who became violent during an intervention had Christian leaders arrested on forcible conversion charges, and a foreign couple was deported.

Isak Tamang of the Shreejanga Free Church and pastor Dip Rai of the Chengbung Free Church were arrested on July 2 in Taplejung District, in eastern Nepal, accused of forcible conversion and assault. Two other Christians, David Limbu and Shristi Limbu, were arrested in the same case.

An unidentified Christian woman had asked leaders at Shreejanga Free Church to help her husband, who is not a Christian, with his drinking problem, and he was staying on the church premises without access to alcohol, according to pastor Kuber Gurung, a Religious Liberty Forum Nepal (RLF-Nepal) leader based in Dharan.

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

Police and the chief district officer had suggested a way to settle out of court, but the man demanded 500,000 rupees (US$4,507), which the pastors said was far beyond their ability to pay, according to RLF-Nepal sources.

“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,” pastor Tanka Subedi, chairperson of the RLF-Nepal, told Morning Star News.

On Friday (July 6), the government deported De Vera Richard and his wife Rita Gonga on charges of forceful religious conversions. Richard is a citizen of Philippines, while his wife is an Indonesian national.

They were living in Nepal on a business visa granted on Nov. 28, 2017 and were working at a restaurant in Pulchowk, in Lalitpur Metropolitan City, known historically as Patan. The restaurant where they worked, Sigma, is operated by a Singaporean citizen.

The government alleges that the couple, which worshipped at Every Nations Church in Kumaripati, were functioning as pastors of the church, in violation of the terms and conditions of the business visa. They were fined 50,000 rupees (US$450). They were not jailed but have been barred from entering Nepal for a year.

The government reportedly looked into their case after a complaint was registered against them on May 21, prompting an investigation by the Department of Immigration.

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

“But objections are raised by the government when they practice their faith. 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.”

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]