Nepal (MNN) — Facing the death of a loved one is hard enough. But having to fight just to get them buried? That seems ridiculous.
According to the World Watch Monitor, that’s reality for Christians in Nepal.
These sorts of issues against minority groups–ranging from inequality to violent persecution–have been overshadowed by the earthquakes hitting Nepal these last few weeks. The immediate physical needs are putting the discussion of Nepal’s constitution back on the shelf, adding to the 7-year delay since the monarchy was overthrown.
Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs explains: “They do not have a constitution. The monarchy was overthrown in 2008, so we’re now 7 years down the road. They have not managed to put a constitution in place. There are questions even now about when that might happen, and it really is just a symptom of the dysfunction within the government there.”
Without a constitution, Christians continue to face inequality and wonder about their safety. According to VOM, Christians make up less than 3% of the population. The majority is Hindu.
Nettleton says the both the government’s inability to establish a constitution and it’s reaction to the earthquakes has shown its true status. He says the government claims to have the situation under control when it’s obvious there is a great, overwhelming need for the basics just to keep people alive.
No constitution affects the minorities
In a country where the majority of the people are of one religion, it seems that those at greatest risk to get burned without written laws are the minorities. That includes Christians.
Voice of the Martyrs says the Christian converts are social outcasts, and sharing their faith is often rewarded with fines, imprisonment, or expulsion from the country. Christian literature, including the Bible, is not easily distributed.
There are various reasons as to why the constitution is taking so long to draft.
Nettleton says either way, it’s a big problem: “It is a source of frustration for Nepalese; it is particularly a source of frustration for minority members like Christians who want that constitutional protection put in place. They want to know that they have a government, a document, a system that says ‘It’s okay for you to be a Christian; it’s okay for you to be a part of the minority. Your rights will be protected. And right now, there does not exist a constitution for the country.”
World Watch Monitor says the situation is complicated by the recent election of Hindu Nationalist BJP party in India. They believe that this victory will encourage and embolden Hindus to act out against Christians. Nettleton agrees that the rise of radical Hinduism poses a threat to Christians surrounded by Hindu neighbors.
Nettleton says the earthquake, unfortunate for so many reasons, is another blow to Christian’s hopes for protection.
“I think the concern is that with everybody’s attention on the recovery effort and on rebuilding the country, less attention will be paid to human rights and religious freedom and issues like that. I think that’s a very real risk.”
You may be wondering with all the problems created by the earthquake, why you should care about the law in Nepal. Here’s why, according to Nettleton:
“It needs to matter to us because we understand the nature of being a spiritual family. We understand that these are brothers and sisters.”
He asks you to pray for fortitude for Nepal as they rebuild and also that Christians would continue serving the Lord even as the constitution that could protect them remains in limbo.