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Sisters Pushpa Ghimire (left) and Tirtha Maya Ghale (right) handcuffed to each other, just prior to their release from prison in Nepal on November 4, 2019

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

Two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nepal Wrongly Convicted, Released From Prison Pending Appeal

Two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nepal Wrongly Convicted, Released From Prison Pending Appeal

On November 4, 2019, two sisters, Tirtha Maya Ghale and Pushpa Ghimire, were conditionally released from prison, where they have served over one month of a three-month sentence merely for practicing their faith—a right protected by Nepalese and international law.

Exactly one year earlier, Sisters Ghale and Ghimire were arrested for talking to people on the street who were interested in the Bible. After spending 13 days in police custody, the sisters paid an unusually high bail amount of 100,000 Nepalese rupees (approximately $930 U.S.) and were released. However, the local authorities continued their criminal investigation against the sisters.

On December 10, 2018, the sisters’ criminal trial began and hearings continued for some ten months. On September 25, 2019, the Rupandehi District Court sentenced both sisters to each serve three months in prison and to pay a fine of 2,500 Nepalese rupees (approximately $23 U.S.).

The district judge found the sisters guilty of conversion for merely possessing and distributing religious literature. Since Nepal is a member of the United Nations and is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the government is obligated to ensure that its citizens have the freedom to change their religious beliefs and to manifest these both in public and in private. Regarding Sisters Ghale and Ghimire, they were not coercing others to change their religion, but simply sharing religious literature with those willing to listen. On this basis, lawyers representing the sisters filed an appeal with the High Court on October 31, 2019. The High Court decided the sisters did not need to remain in prison during the appeal process, thus they were released pending the court’s final ruling.

We pray that Jehovah will continue to grant his holy spirit to Sisters Ghale and Ghimire, giving them strength, joy, and peace, as they await the final ruling by the appeals court.—Romans 15:13.