Washington, DC (Christian Aid) -- A gospel worker and two local believers were arrested and jailed on proselytism charges in western Nepal last month. Details of the arrest were made known to Christian Aid just this week.
The three included a gospel worker (34) from a church in Pokhara District, his assistant (26), and a retired soldier from the Royal Nepal Army (46). The three were on their way to visit a Christian family in Pyuthan District when they were stopped and interrogated by police in Arlabang village. The names of the accused are being kept confidential.
In response to the police questions, they answered, "We are Christians and are going to meet one of our Christian brothers in the next village, and then we are going to Pokhara to participate in a Christian program."
The police checked their bags and found Bibles and other Christian literature, placed them under arrest and charged them with "carrying Christian literature, preaching Christianity, and attempting to convert others into Christianity." On that basis they were detained 15 days.
A hearing took place on February 28 in the District Court of Pyuthan. When questioned by the judge, the brothers said, "We are Christians, but have never forced anyone to convert from their own religion to Christianity." The defendants' lawyer tried to convince the judge that the 1990 constitution of Nepal, while barring conversions, still granted everyone freedom to practice his or her own religion.
Despite these arguments, the judge said, "For now they seem to be attempting to preach Christianity. According to the civil code it is illegal to convert another person from one religion to another, or to preach in such a way as to disturb other religions. So they need to be sent to jail."
Whereas it is not illegal to carry Christian literature, any attempt to influence others to change their religion is still illegal. An appeal is being made, but if the appeal loses, the brothers could be incarcerated for three to six years.
Please pray for the three. Gifts to help sustain their families and cover legal costs can be made at www.christianaid.org and earmarked MI-410 702-GOC. For additional information, write firstname.lastname@example.org and put MI-410 702-GOC on the subject line.