Nepali widow burned alive, accused of witchcraft

February 22, 2012 by  
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nepali-widow-burnt-aliveNepal, February 20, 2012: Thegani Devi Yadav, 40, supported two children and in-laws with her work. The government provides compensation and punishes the culprits. A famous healer and magician, tied her and set her on fire with the help of some villagers. Human rights activists explain that “it is a very common practice” and the legacy of a society “dominated by Hinduism.”

A Nepalese woman was burned to death on charges of witchcraft. A terrible story, which has shaken the conscience of a country where – human rights activists explain – the traditional influence of Hinduism is still alive and women are excluded. The government has promised compensation for the family of around 10 thousand Euros, to ensure the education of children and promises to punish those responsible for a crime, which “happens very frequently,” only that “today the cases emerge” with more ease than ever before.

The victim is Thegani Devi Yadav, a widow of 40 years, mother of two children – a boy of 12 years and a girl of 9 – who, through her work at a building site, also took care of her in-laws guaranteeing them two meals per day. The woman was originally from Chitwan district, 150 km from the capital Kathmandu and was killed for “witchcraft”. She was accused of this by a famous healer and expert in magic arts, named Guruwa, who burned her alive with the help of his cousin and other villagers.

An eyewitness named Ram Bahadur Tharu confirms that “[she] was tied up and burned alive”, while “strongly rejecting the charges and pleaded for her life.” The incident has raised controversy and condemnation of the National Commission for Human Rights, over an “inhuman” act against someone who was “poor and marginalized”. Activist Sharmila Sharma points the finger at “traditional society dominated by Hinduism” and confirms that similar cases occur frequently, but “in the past were hidden by society itself” and the police “did not intervene in time to stop the crimes “.

Interviewed by AsiaNews Dan Bahadur Chaudhari, Minister for Women, Children and Welfare, said he was “saddened” by the tragic event and confirms that “the law does not do enough” because “for many years the traditional Hindu practice recognized witchcraft” . “In many villages, several women – he adds – suffer from this terrible practice and ask for it to be repressed with the appropriate standards.” Nepalese society, in fact, is still inspired by the Hindu religion and sees women as the “second class” sex, more so if widows. For this a reform of the laws is needed and policies that promote equality between men and women as well as an end to discrimination against minorities and the marginalized.

– asianews

Nepal: Religious Liberty Under Attack *Vietnam: Extreme Violence with Impunity

December 2, 2011 by  
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Leafletsfound NepaNepal, November 30, 2011: A crude bomb exploded in Thapathali, Kathmandu, on 22 November, outside the offices of United Mission in Nepal (UMN), a Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been working to relieve poverty in Nepal since 1954. A second bomb was disarmed. No one was injured. Police found leaflets at the site from the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), a militant Hindu nationalist group that has targeted Christians previously. The leaflets accused the UMN of converting Hindus to Christianity. Then on the following Sunday, 27 November, a suspicious parcel was discovered outside the Assemblies of God Navajiwan Church in central Kathmandu. The police bomb squad who defused the bomb said it contained three powerful explosives that would have done considerable damage had the bomb exploded. Meanwhile, on 22 Nov, two Christian brothers, Panchman Tamang and Buddhiman, were
violently assaulted and expelled from their predominantly Buddhist
village in Sindhupalchowk district, north of Kathmandu near the border
with Tibet. Instead of defending religious liberty, the government is appeasing the belligerent by drafting anti-conversion laws. Pray for the Church in Nepal.

Vietnam: Extreme Violence with Impunity

Vietnam House ChurVietnam, November 30, 2011: Leaders of the 2200-member Agape Baptist Church (ABC) — a house church network near Hanoi — were violently assaulted on Sunday 13 November, Compass Direct News reports. They were meeting in Lai Tao village, Bot Xuyen commune, My Duc district at the home of evangelist Nguyen Thi Lan, a former Communist Party (female) official who recently converted to Christianity. Unhappy about conversions in the village, the gang of over a dozen local thugs (including plain-clothed police) burst in savagely beating the leaders while looting and ransacking the home.

Nine pastors and other church leaders along with several of their teenage children sustained serious injuries. Most critically injured was Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau who was unconscious for several hours. When ABC head Nguyen Cong Thanh visited on 15 November he said, ‘All they could do was weep, and I also could not prevent my tears from flowing.’With local hospitals proving reluctant to aid the pastors, ABC eventually evacuated the most critically wounded to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Ms Nguyen Thi Lan and Pastor Nguyen Danh Chau have suffered potentially crippling injuries. No one has been arrested and the gang is threatening to kill Nguyen Thi Lan if she ever returns. The impunity granted to the persecutors guarantees that persecution will only escalate. Pray for the Church in Vietnam.

– elizabeth Kendal

Kashmir Pastor Rev. C. M. Khanna released on bail *Nepal bomb attempt targets Protestant church

December 1, 2011 by  
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Rev. C M KhannaNepal, November 30, 2011: Rev. C M Khanna, Pastor of the All Saints Church from Srinagar, Kashmir has been released on bail, after spending 10 days in police custody at Kothi Bagh police station, Srinagar for a bond of Rs. 25,000.

Rev. Khanna had been accused of blasphemy under sections 295 A and section 153 A of the Penal Code.

EFI welcomes this decision and would like people to remember that the Church has served the community in the valley for more than 130 years.

Pray for peace to prevail in the Kashmir valley and harmony to be maintained. Pray also for the political and religious leadership as they continue to work for peace and prosperity of the state and nation.

– rev dr richard howell

Nepal bomb attempt targets Protestant church


BombNepal, November 28, 2011: Security forces have defused a “powerful” bomb packed inside a sack and placed at the entrance of a Protestant church in central Kathmandu, Nepal.

The bomb, which was in a cloth bag and stuffed in a white plastic sack, was discovered Sunday outside the Navajiwan Church, which belongs to the Assemblies of God grouping of churches at around 6pm by the janitor Arjun Magar.

“The sack was left just outside the gate. I became suspicious when I saw another bag inside, so I called the church elders who called the police,” he said.

Police cordoned off the area in Kupondole district before making the bomb safe with a series of controlled explosions.

An army bomb disposal expert later said three high-powered devices were found in the sack and would have caused extensive damage if they had gone off.

Suman Gurung, the church pastor, said people in the area had a lucky escape and that security for services and Church activities in the future would be stepped up.

“We will continue to be vigilant and pray. We didn’t used to examine bags of those coming to worship but from now on we will do that,” he said.

Security has become a major concern for Christians in Kathmandu this week following a bomb attack on the United Mission to Nepal, a Christian NGO, on November 22.

Earlier Sunday, Pastor Gurung, along with several other Christian clergymen in south Kathmandu including two Catholic parish priests, met with police to discuss the security situation.

– ucan

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

July 6, 2011 by  
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Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal

The Singha Durbar in Kathmandu is the official seat of government in Nepal

Christian leaders fear the witness of the Church in Nepal will be seriously threatened by proposed new legislation that would further restrict evangelism and undermine freedom of religion and expression in the country.

A new civil code is being drawn up that includes five clauses regarding religious behaviour. The most concerning of these for Christians is clause 160, which would make it illegal to convert someone or abet them to change their religion “by offering inducements or without inducement”, and preaching “a different religion or faith with any other intent”. Offenders could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees.

A Nepalese Christian leader said:

This clause is of serious concern. This law seems to go further than Nepal’s Interim Constitution of 2007, by making it illegal to act or behave in any way which might lead someone to change their religion, even without offering inducements. This could include a number of actions that most Christians would see as being integral to the exercise of their faith, as it might result in another person wishing to become a Christian.

Nepalese Christians are also concerned about clauses 158 and 159, which would respectively ban “undermining any religious feeling” and “putting an obstacle in the way of religious rituals which have been in existence since time immemorial”. They fear the former could be used to stifle the free expression of religion as well as the scrutiny or criticism of discriminatory practices, such as the caste system or inequitable treatment of women, that are embedded in religious belief. There is concern that the latter clause could be used to protect the traditional religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism, with “newer” religions to the country, including Christianity, being perceived as a threat.

Return to the old order?

For nearly two centuries before 1950 no Christians were officially allowed to live in Nepal. Although the ban was then lifted, in 1960 the country was declared a Hindu kingdom, and for the next 30 years many Christians were imprisoned for converting from Hinduism or influencing others to do so. Foreign missionaries accused of “preaching” were deported.

A secular state was established in 2006, and an interim constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and expression to all groups; every citizen has the right to “profess, practise and preserve” their religion, and people are allowed to convert from one faith to another, although persuading others to change their faith is forbidden. Christians suspected of encouraging conversion can be reported to the authorities and, if found guilty, may be fined or imprisoned.

But the church has enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom and growth; official figures suggest there are now more than half a million Christians, and some church leaders put the figure much higher, though it remains a very small proportion (2-3%) of the population.

Increasing Hindu extremism is, however, threatening the place of Christianity in the country; the Nepal Defence Army (NDA) and other groups want to turn it back into a Hindu nation. Some Nepalese Christians fear Hindu extremists are gearing up for wide-ranging persecution, which the proposed legislation may serve to advance. The additional restrictions certainly appear to be a retrograde step more in keeping with the old order than the provisions made for religious freedom by the interim constitution.

– Barnabas Team

Nepal Plans New Criminal Code Forbidding Evangelism

June 7, 2011 by  
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Christians celebrating Mass in NepalKATHMANDU, NEPAL (Worthy News)–After abolishing Hinduism as its state religion, Nepal is now proposing a new criminal code forbidding a person from one faith to “convert a person, or abet him to change his religion.”

Article 160 of this proposal would also prohibit conversion “by offering inducements, or without inducement”.

Convicted offenders could be imprisoned for a maximum of five years and fined up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees; if a foreigner, the offender would also be deported within one week of completing his/her sentence.

Nepal’s Interim Constitution prohibits proselytizing even though Nepal already signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 18 of the ICCPR guarantees the right to express one’s religion, which U.N. officials interpret as the right to evangelize.

Politicians Assure Christians of Burial Land

May 27, 2011 by  
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Politicians assure Christians of burial landKathmandu, Nepal, 25, May 2011: More than a thousand Christians defied an ongoing general strike yesterday to attend a national convention in Kathmandu of the “Christian advisory committee for the New Constitution.” Among the topics was the result of a 40-day protest held last month in the capital over the issue of giving burial land to Christians. Group vice president Pastor Isu Jung Karki reminded the meeting that members of the government had visited the protesters and promised that land would be identified for burial purposes for the Christian community. “So we are feeling, for the first time, we are first class citizens and we are heard.”

Udaya Sumsher Rana, constitutional assembly member and Congress Party representative, said: “Until minorities are not protected no peace can come to Nepal. I won my elections from the very place in Lalitpur district where you have identified land to be allotted to you. I will help you to use it as soon as possible.” Laxmi Pariyar, constitutional assembly member and the only Christian in parliament, said she had joined in the protest in its late stages. She said it was only a matter of time before burial land would be allotted and added “we learned a lot as we protested.”

Secretary of the Christian Advisory committee Pastor Chari Bahadur Gahatraj told the meeting the Chief district officer of Lalitpur (in southern Kathmandu) was interacting with locals so the identified land in Badikhel could be handed over to the Christians. Gahatraj said: “Once we get this land, then the allotment of lands in other 75 districts of Nepal can move ahead.”

– ucan