Nepal (MNN) — It was over as soon as it began: an effort to end the months-long Constitution blockade crippling Nepal fell short. A compromise offered by Nepal’s government was denied by protesters, who are supported by India.
Though hardships created by this blockade will continue, so will believers’ plans for Christmas Day.
“I will say this for the Nepalese: they are resilient,” says Noel Becchetti of Asian Access. “These people are tough, and I respect them for that.
“They are still trying to organize a Christian celebration for Christmas, and they’ve invited the President and the Prime Minister.”
Constitution compromise denied
At the start of the week, Nepal’s government announced it would make changes to its highly-debated constitution, in order to appease Madhesi protestors. The Madhesi community–a group with strong ethnic and cultural ties to India–is demanding more political power and the redrawing of state boundaries.
A deeper matter lies below the political surface of this issue, says Becchetti: religious freedom.
“Nepal passed the first-ever constitution in the history of their country in September,” he says. “In that part of the world, the big issues are: what kind of a country are you? Are you a secular country, or are you a religious country?
“In this case, the pressure [from India] was [to] be a Hindu country.”
India’s ruling party is comprised of hard-line Hindu nationalists, says Becchetti, and they were watching the constitution process closely. When a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition developed Nepal’s constitution and chose to pursue secular democracy, India took action.
“In retaliation, within about one week, India blockaded the border with Nepal.”
This constitution blockade has created many problems for Nepal’s people, who were already struggling to recover from this spring’s series of earthquakes. As winter sets in, families are struggling to get by with shortages of fuel, cooking gas, medicines, and other essentials.
Despite the continued constitution blockade, Nepali believers are pressing on to make Christ known.
Constitution blockade can’t stop Christmas
Tomorrow, Nepali leaders who partner with Asian Access are planning a Christmas party to celebrate Christ’s birth. A few years ago, the event and its Gospel message were broadcast on national television.
Because supplies are limited by the constitution blockade, it’s unlikely that food or electricity will be available at this year’s Christmas party. Would you pray that the event happens anyway?
“The government’s been supportive of these efforts, so they’re trying to get some sort of a party together–I don’t know with what, but,they’re going to give it a try.”