The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has pledged to promote freedom of conscience in Nepal, giving minorities the right to choose their own faith in the Hindu-majority nation.
The pledge came from president Anup Raj Sharma after he received a petition from the National Christian Federation who requested the state guarantee full freedom of conscience to religious minorities. According to Asia News, the agency plans to meet with the prime minister and president of Nepal to discuss the request.
“In 1990 some people who had converted to Christianity from Hinduism were sent to prison,” Sharma, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, said to . “I issued orders for their release.”
Nepal became a democracy in 2006 when it had previously been a monarchy under a Hindu dynasty with no freedom of religion. Hinduism remains the dominant religion of Nepal at 81 percent, with Christians only representing 1.4 percent of the population.
“The state should be secular and guarantee more rights to minorities, protecting them from the Hindu majority,” NHRC president said.
Although there is freedom of religion in Nepal, conversion to Christianity is still opposed.
“The NHRC is ready to fight for the rights of all citizens of Nepal. Christians have my word: I will raise the Christian voice before the competent authority.”
President of the National Christian Federation, Sundar Thapa, said “if the government denies Christians their rights, a hunger strike will begin in different parts of the country.”