» 01/31/2011, 00.00
BHUTAN - NEPAL
The government of Bhutan refuses to recognize Christian mission
For Tek Nath Rizal, A Bhutanese dissident in exile, there is no formal document or declaration attesting to the news, already reported by many international news agencies. "The past teaches us that such statements are only government propaganda to fool the outside world that Bhutan accepts all religions."
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The recognition of a Christian mission in Bhutan, which was reported in recent days by several international agencies is only a verbal declaration and there is no document attesting to its veracity, Tek Nath Rizal a former royal adviser exiled in Nepal and founder of Bhutanese Freedom Movement reveals to AsiaNews.
"The past - said the dissident - teaches us that such statements are only government propaganda to fool the outside world that Bhutan accepts all religions."
In recent days, many agencies have said the government would allow Christians to register as an organization recognized by the state. The fact would make Christian worship public, and not just private and two Indian Catholic missionary orders have already announced their willingness to open a mission in Bhutan.
Rizal stresses that any subscription or recognition of a Christian organization, however, would not change the current situation of discrimination. "If the authorities want to seriously recognize Christians - the dissident notes - access should be given to the international Christian missions." The simple registration actually implies a close monitoring of activities by the State, which despite the openings in recent years, requires all, except Hindus, to practice Buddhist traditions. The dissident said that at the head of all religious organizations allowed in the country - Buddhism and Hinduism - are the Ngalons, officials directly under the king. To control the compliance of other religions to the dictates imposed by the government they have access to all information relating to community leaders, funding and places of worship. "While any Christian organization - he added - would be overseen by state officials responsible for monitoring their activities and censorship."
Since 2006, the Bhutan government has begun to promote a formal democracy, after centuries of absolute monarchy that prohibited the practice of religions other than Buddhism. The new constitution enacted in 2008 provides for freedom of faith for all Bhutanese, after reporting to the authorities. However, it is forbidden to proselytize, the publication of Bibles, the building of Christian schools and visa permits for religious missionaries. In spite of democracy, the kingdom is continuously accused of human rights violations, especially against political dissidents and ethnic minorities.
Almost no place for minority religions on Bhutan's national TV
Bhutan's government has expanded coverage by state-owned TV to the entire country. Religious minorities complain however that programming is so one-sided that is seems designed to enforce Buddhist cultural hegemony at the expense of all other groups.
Ongoing human rights violations in Bhutan, the sham happy kingdom
Two Protestant men are wanted by police for their ties with Prem Singh Gurung, a fellow Christian who got three years in prison for screening a movie on the life of Jesus. Exiled dissident complains about the violence against political dissidents as well as ethnic and religious minorities. “The regime has tried to fool the international community by using the term democracy,” he said.
Church wants to help quake-hit population
Fr Alex Gurung said the Church is always ready to intervene to help the people. But "missionaries are not allowed. The government fears conversions but we only want to serve everyone, rising above religion."
Gujarat: anti-conversion law due in days
The BJP-led government wants to “revive” a law approved in 2003 but never entered into force because of widespread protests that erupted back then. Whoever changes religion will have to inform the government first. Analysts see this as a political move to curry favour with Hindu nationalists for upcoming elections.
Bhutanese celebrate King Jigme's reign as 110,000 refugees protest
Whilst the king is praised and commended on the 32nd anniversary of his reign for setting the country on the path of democracy and modernisation, 110,000 Bhutanese of Nepali origin, forced into exile, are forgotten.
Pope Francis tells young people that “genuine love” is not a “soap opera”, but Christians’ real identity card
In his homily for the Jubilee of Teens, Pope Francis asked questions and gave answers to the 70,000 present. Stressing the great ideal of love as giving oneself “without being possessive”, he noted that freedom is “being able to choose the good”. He warned young people “who dare not dream,” telling them that “If you do not dream at your age, you are already ready for retirement”. He also received funds raised for the Ukraine, and appealed for the release of bishops and the priests held in Syria.
Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists
Washington is still preventing the use of US dollars in transactions with Iranian banks, preventing business with the outside world in spite of the nuclear deal. This way, the US is helping Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who want to torpedo the agreement in order to maintain their hold on power. Meanwhile, most Iranians hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet. An unstable and bellicose Iran is a boon for arms sales. A report follows.
29/04/2016 NORTH KOREA- USA
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.