Pastor Chari Gahatraj at yesterday's press conference.
The government has agreed in principle to a list of demands by Christians, including the allocation of land for use as burial sites and the setting up of a special commission to ensure their rights are protected.
The concessions, which came after a meeting on Saturday between officials from the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and leaders of the Nepal Christian Federation, were announced yesterday at a federation press conference in Kathmandu.
“The minister, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, has agreed to all our demands and signed a letter of agreement,” said Pastor Chari Gahatraj, secretary of the Nepal Christian Federation.
“This letter will automatically be forwarded to the cabinet, the present one or future one in the event of a change, and the terms will be implemented upon formal approval,” he said.
“We demanded many things but our chief demand was always the provision of burial land for our dead,” he added.
Christians staged a series of protests, including a 40-day relay hunger strike last year, in an attempt to get the government to award them burial sites.
A Christian commission is also to be formed to look into the proper registration of places of worship and ensure various rights of Christians in Nepal are upheld, Gahatraj said.
Other concessions included making Easter Sunday a holiday, measures governing the management and protection of places of worship and the representation of Christians on all government bodies.
The federation was also assured that the new constitution, when an agreement is finally reached, will include secularist provisions on the freedom of worship.
When asked what the federation would do if the government balks on its commitment, Gahatraj said Christians would renew their protests and take them to all 75 central government district offices in the country.
“We will maintain our struggle with tolerance and integrity, but for now we feel we have gained some due recognition for the first time in Nepal."
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