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    » 04/01/2011, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Kathmandu: Christians on hunger strike for cemetery

    Kalpit Parajuli

    The rotating fast began on 23 March in front of Ratna Park, in the capital’s downtown area. Christian leaders will continue until the government does not grant Christians land for cemetery. To avoid a clash with Hindus, Christians have agreed to give up the right to bury their dead near Pashupatinath temple.
    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepali Christian leaders have been on a rotating fast for the past eight days to get the government to agree to a burial place for Christians. The protest began on 23 March in front of Ratna Park in the heart of Kathmandu. It followed a large demonstration on 20 March by thousands of Christians who marched with empty coffins in front of government offices. Despite promises, the authorities have not heeded Christian demands; instead, they have urged them to buy land with their own money.

    In recent years, Kathmandu has seen a great deal of real estate speculation. This has limited the amount of land available to Christians and other minorities for cemeteries, forcing them to bury their dead on top of one another in the same tomb.

    To solve the problem, the authorities in 2009 granted Christians the Shleshmantak forest near the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath.

    The decision sparked protests by Hindus across the country, forcing the local government to ban burials in the forest.

    More recently, the Supreme Court lifted the ban, but police and temple authorities continue to prevent burials in the area.

    Sunder Thapa, who organised the protest and is in charge of the Christian Advisory Committee for the New Constitution, said that the hunger strike would continue if the government continues to ignore Christian requests.

    “Why does the government treat us as non-citizens, and deny us the right to bury our dead,” he asked.

    The activist explains that Christians only want a place where they can commemorate their dead in a dignified manner.

    “We are not interested in the Pashupatinath temple,” he said. “We are willing to give up the land if the Hindu community disagrees. However, the government should provide us burial grounds across the country.”

    In Nepal, more than 70 per cent of the population is Hindu. Traditionally, Hindus are cremated, not buried. Christians represent 3 per cent of the population and together with other minorities have to buy land with the money of the faithful to set up their own cemeteries.

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    See also

    26/02/2011 NEPAL
    Hundreds of Hindu sages occupy Christian tombs in Pashupatinath
    The possibility of Hindu-Christian clashes is growing. Celebrations on 1 March for Maha Shivaratri, a holy day dedicated to Shiva, are at risk. The dispute is over burials by Christians and other religions in an area near the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath.

    22/10/2010 MALAYSIA
    Running out of space in Malaysia’s Christian cemeteries
    In Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas, publicly owned burial space for non-Muslims is running out. Traditionally, Christians avoid cremation, and private cemeteries are very expensive.

    25/01/2008 NEPAL
    In Godavari many have converted to Catholicism since Nepal became a secular state
    With the Nepali state going secular, tens of people have felt free to convert to the Catholic faith. Here a 12-year-old girl and a 55-year-old woman tell their stories. In Godavari a new church is needed to replace the existing one, already too small for the growing congregation.

    28/01/2008 NEPAL
    Kathmandu: Madhesi attack pro-government demonstration, more than 20 people hurt
    Members of the southern Nepali ethnic group protest against the upcoming Constituent Assembly for not respecting the points of view of minorities. Government calls for dialogue, Madhesi pledge three more days of violence.

    29/06/2013 NEPAL
    Drug addiction reaches crisis levels in Nepal with Hindus the most affected
    Almost a third of young people is taking drugs; an increase of 3 per cent compared to ten years ago. According to psychologists, weak educational institutions and unstable families are some of the causes of the problem.



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