Nepal, South Asia
Political Leader: Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala
Religions: Hinduism 74.8%, Buddhism 16%, Islam 5%, Christianity 1.9%, Other 2.3%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 4
Acts of Terrorism: 455; Casualties: 193
Percent of Corruption: 75%
% of People in Poverty: 31%
Nepal, officially known as the State of Nepal (previously known as Kingdom of Nepal), is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. It is bordered by Tibet to the north and by India to the south, east and west. Though a small territory, the landscape of Nepal is unusually diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. Eight of the world’s 10 highest mountains are in Nepal, including Mount Everest.
Nepal is roughly the same size as England or the U.S. state of Arkansas.
While Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism, several incidents of domestic terrorism and politically-motivated violence occurred in urban areas and in the Terai, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. In 2007, the communist party of Nepal (Maoists), a designated organization on the Terrorism Exclusion List, became part of the interim government. Despite ending their 10-year insurgency by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006, and entering into the interim government in April 2007, the Maoists, the only U.S.-designated terrorist organization in Nepal, continued to engage in violence, extortion and abductions. The Maoists withdrew their ministers from the interim government between September and December, but left their members in place in the interim Parliament. The government failed to hold the Maoists accountable for violating the peace process, and law enforcement efforts against terrorist activity were minimal.
Meanwhile, ethnic tensions increased in the southern Terai plains. From mid-January to early March, Madhesis (Terai inhabitants culturally and linguistically close to India) protested against the failure of the interim constitution and the interim government to address their concerns. And, an occasionally-violent popular uprising, the Madhesi Andolan, left many dead. Over a dozen extremist groups in pursuit of independence or autonomy, along with some criminal elements, followed the Maoist lead of negotiation via armed struggle. The government of Nepal largely ignored the conflict in the Terai. Anti-money laundering legislation remained stalled in Parliament, although the government responded favorably to U.S. requests to be prepared to freeze the assets of individuals and entities involved in the financing of terrorism when or if such assets were discovered. The United States provided substantial antiterrorism assistance and training to Nepal's security forces, including courses on crisis management, post-blast investigations, and terrorist crime scene investigations.
Nepal is 85% Hindu. Nepal’s Christian minority makes up 1 to 2% of the population. Hinduism is recognized as Nepal’s official religion. Although people are free to follow any religion, it is against the law to convert to others.
Challenges for Christians:
The lengthy civil war took a toll on churches in Nepal. A Gospel for Asia pastor in the country reported that many innocent Christian Believers and church leaders were abducted and killed. Many pastors were physically assaulted or otherwise abused by both Maoists and the Nepal government’s official Army.
John Prakash Moyalan, a 62-year-old Indian missionary, Catholic priest and principal of the Don Bosco Nepali-language School in Sirsiya, was killed by an underground militant Hindu organization in Nepal on July 1, 2008, Compass Direct News reported. The killers, believed to be militants from the Hindu nationalist Nepal Defense Army, left pamphlets stating their belief that Nepal should be a Hindu Kingdom.
With the law-and-order situation in the new republic plummeting since elections in April 2008 and relations with southern neighbor India becoming increasingly acrimonious, Christian leaders here said Indian Catholics in Nepal are facing a greater threat from Hindu extremists. The extremists blame New Delhi for the May 28 , 2008, ouster of Nepal’s Hindu king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and the transformation of the world’s only Hindu kingdom into a secular state.
- Thank God that Nepal’s decade-long civil war has come to an end.
- Pray for the government to be more proactive in dealing with domestic terrorism and politically-motivated violence that occur in urban areas and in the Terai.
- Before 1960 no Christian could even live in Nepal. Thank God that now there is more freedom of religion, but it is still difficult and dangerous to tell other people about God. In 1959, there were just 29 Christians secretly living in Nepal―now there could be as many as half a million. Thank God for this amazing growth.
- Christians who have tried to share the Gospel with Hindus face imprisonment or even murder. Pray against the threat of violence that many Christians face and pray that Nepalese authorities would protect religious freedom for everyone.
- Pray for Church leaders in Nepal to be united in purpose and vision as they seek to further God’s Kingdom. Pray for Nepal to become open to the Gospel and that millions will come to Christ.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, BMS World Mission, Gospel for Asia