06/28/2021 India & Nepal (International Christian Concern) – Evangelical Focus Europe recently reported that the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) sent a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council that condemns Nepal and India for spreading false information about Christians. The report was submitted for the 47th session of the human rights council in the “Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
Nepal is heavily known for discriminating against Christians. In 2017, Nepal developed a new Penal Code which authorized police and judicial harassment of pastors and Christians. The code additionally established further constitutional protections for Hinduism (which 80% of the population practices) by restricting religious conversion and “hurting of religious sentiment,” or blasphemy.
Recently, the Nepali government allowed a journalist and the former Hindu nationalist Deputy Prime Minister to discriminate against Christians by falsifying a document by two Christian organizations. Though fact-checkers confirmed the documents had been falsified, the government had no response to the issue.
“The government of Nepal seems unwilling to intervene against the spread of misinformation via digital technology, which further stigmatizes the Christian minority, and threatens the Christians’ ability to freely and safely speak up,” stated the WEA report.
Like Nepal, India has been known to marginalize its religious minorities. WEA’s report stated that disinformation is often spread, such as when Hindus stated that Muslims had intentionally spread COVID-19 to the Muslim community.
“Human rights groups and religious liberty watchdogs have documented escalation of violence, hate speech, and disinformation” the report stated, “Of 327 incidents of violence against Christian minority documented in 2020 by the Evangelical Fellowship of India, at least nine involved organized hate campaigns.”
The international community has long been aware of India’s pressure towards religious minorities. Recently, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) designated India as a country of particular concern, or CPC, in their 2021 year report, “for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)”
The international community needs to hold India and Nepal accountable for their discrimination and disinformation towards religious minorities and encourage action to change laws that are intolerant towards Christians. The governments of Nepal and India should be taking steps to improve their relationship with their religious minorities and create policies to protect religious freedom for all citizens.